Friday, April 20, 2007

Quick post

Mike and I are attempting to move quickly tonight and we thought we'd grab some headlines from Democracy Now! for a number of reasons.

"Justice Dept Plotted to Restrict Minority Vote Turnout" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile the McClatchy newspapers is reporting the Justice Department might be facing another potential scandal. According to the paper, for the past six years the Bush administration has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates. Several of the ousted U.S. Attorneys were reportedly fired in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. Civil rights advocates contend that the administration's policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats. As part of this strategy, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights. On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans.

April 1st, we wrote "The Big Waah" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). Yesterday, Alberto Gonzales was questioned by the Senate for approximately five hours. He did a lousy job. His voice broke, he lurched and looked shifty. The firing of the attorneys took place. The question is why? If you missed it, the answer wasn't provided in Gonzales' testimony yesterday. So what's being covered up?

Many have looked at the known facts and make a strong case for the issue of voting rights. That no longer appears to be a strong case, that appears to be what happened. So it might be time to remember some of the voices who complained that the Gonzales probe wasn't about anything 'important' and how it wasn't about Guantanamo and they weren't interested in it and . . . There were always strong signs that it was about disenfranchisement. So those who dismissed it should be asking themselves if they think conspiring to disenfranchise voters is a big deal or not?

In the meantime, Rebecca's been covering the Gonzales cesspool for weeks now.

"Harry Reid: The Iraq War is Lost" (Democracy Now!):
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has admitted for the first time that the war in Iraq has been lost. Reid said, "This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday." On Wednesday over 300 Iraqis died making it one of the bloodiest days on the war. The U.S. Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus admitted the events on Wednesday marked a setback for the U.S.
Gen. Petraeus: "Yesterday was a bad day There are no two ways about it. And a day like that can have a real psychological impact."

The war is lost? "NYT: The war is lost but Gordie's hot for 'doggie style'." We both wanted to include that. It's one of our favorite titles C.I.'s used. Yes, Harry Reid, the war is lost. As they say in a twelve-step group, admitting is the first step. So exactly what do you intend to do now?

"U.S. Builds Wall in Baghdad Dividing Sunni and Shiites Neighborhoods" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile the U.S. military has begun building a three-mile concrete wall in Baghdad to cut off a Sunni district from the Shiite neighborhoods that surround it. This marks the first time the U.S. military has built a wall in Baghdad to separate Sunnis and Shiites. Critics say it could lead to the Balkanization of Baghdad.

C.I. called me and was considering including this but couldn't get a word for it. "Balkanization" may be the accepted term in use but what's going on, like so much of the "security measures" in Iraq reflect what the Israeli government does to Palestinians. C.I. called thinking I might have an idea on a word. I don't. By the way, please read "And the war drags on . . ." There are people who still aren't speaking out against the war, let alone talking about it. I think the group C.I. spoke to captures that and the need to reach out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another service member, "development" passes for an answer in Baghdad ("Time-shares" is next), Helga Aguayo explains the status of her husband (war resister Agustin Aguayo), and Bobby Gates finally gets to act out his long held dream to be Marisa Tomei.

"The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscienious objector,"
Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today. Helga Aguayo sketched out
how her husband came to see the illegal war as immoral while serving in Iraq, how he attempted to receive CO status, the obstacles there and a great deal more including the the convictions of missing movement and desertion. On the latter, she noted that it "is unheard of for people that are gone less than thirty days -- soldiers that are gone less than thirty days." Aguayo was gone from
September 2nd through September 26th. The rule of thumb is that if you are gone less than 30 days, desertion isn't even a possible charge. Not only was Aguayo gone less than 30, he turned himself in. Helga Aguayo explained how the two felony convictions mean trigger an automatic appeal:

Helga Aguayo: And the other thing is that Agustin will not be discharged. I'm getting congratulations -- 'Oh, congratulations, he's coming home' -- we don't know when he's coming home, one. And, two, he actually will not be discharged from the military for twelve to twenty-four months from now, because he got a bad-conduct discharge and it's such a serious offense. He has two felonies. It goes onto an automatic appeal, and because of that, he will remain active-duty, which means he has to abide by the standards that is required of every soldier. He could potentially be charged with anything else during the time that he's on voluntary or involuntary leave or administrative leave. They'll give him of the three, if it's approved. And we won't know if it's approved.

Amy Goodman: Could he sent back to Iraq?

Helga Aguayo: I hope not. I don't think so. I think it would be -- I mean, Agustin's gotten a lot of support. And I, you know, would definitely just go to the press and go to the people. I don't think it would be in their best interest to do that.

Agustin Aguayo's repeated attempts to receive CO status demonstrate the need for the system to be fixed. As does the case of Robert Zabala who had to take the issue to the civilian courts to be awarded his status. The two, and many others, illustrate the problems with and arbitrary nature of the way the US military chooses to recognize (or not) CO status.
This is why the
Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Aguayo is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Turning to news in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Baghdad Thursday to provide war weary Iraqis and US service members with a bus and truck show of My Cousin Vinnie.
David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong (New York Times) report that he visited "to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a momment when Mr. Maliki's ability to deliver appears limited, at best." This allowed Bobby Gates to attack the part of Lisa with vigor as he stomped his feet in the safety of the Green Zone.

Bobby Gates: Well I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get an oil law passed as soon as we installed you. Meanwhile, ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, no oil law, Iran is making us nervous and our bully clock is TICKING and the way this war is going, I ain't never going to see the theft of Iraqi oil.

While Gates was telling/ordering al-Maliki to step it up,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, had dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said."

As most play mum on that revelation,
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes, "Washington today said it would take political reconciliation in Iraq into account when it decides this summer whether to reduce troop numbers." Translation? There will be no real reduction unless the people insist upon it. Just more stalling tactics on the part of the US installed puppet and more bluster from the bullies of the US administration. Meanwhile, the government of Turkey has set a deadline. KUNA reports that Turkey now has: "a 'specific timetable' for trans-borders operations including intrusions into northern Iraqi, Turkish NTV news website reported Friday. . . . The plan, envising the intrusion of thousands of Turkish troops into northern Iraqi areas to hunt rebel Kurds, is about to be a reality, according to the report."

Meanwhile in "New Listings" news, need a getaway? How about some place just east of a river, a gated community with rustic charm?
CBS and AP report that gated communities are coming to Baghdad in the form of "a three mile wall": "When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community or Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said."

Gated communities? And people think the US administration has no ideas in the tank.
While the US administration continues their attempts at stand up,
Tom Clifford (CounterPunch) notes the very real increase in Iraqi deaths including that last month was the deadliest in the last 12 months and that the escalation has claimed at least 7,400 reported deaths. And in some of the reported violence today in Iraq . . .


AFP reports a Nasiriyah bombing that killed 4 "including an 11-year-old girl". Reuters reports an eastern Baghdad mortar attack the killed 1 person and left 4 injured as well as a truck bombing in Falluja that killed 2 people and left 37 wounded. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that gunfire and helicopter fire were used around a mosque as US forces attacked what they hope are 'guilty' people since they killed four -- however, they originally denied the deaths and the attack only to correct that later on..


Reuters notes two police officers shot dead in Baquba and eight wounded, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (2 more injured), and 1 person shot dead in Kufa. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Employees working for the North Oil Company were targeted in Kirkuk by gunmen yesterday evening. The gunmen attacked the employees' while they were coming to Baghdad, the incident took place on Karkuk-Baghdad motorway when the insurgents opened fire injuring 4 employees."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Friday.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a rocket struck Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah Thursday night."

And in news of activism,
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes the national Make Hip Hop, Not War tour which attempts to welcome important segments that have otherwise been overlooked. Ford writes: "The 'Make Hip Hop, Not War' movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war 'movement,' which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founded of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, 'This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?'"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Be pissed off, not silent

So the Supreme Court stabbed women in the back today and did so with a lot of help from supposed friends. C.I.'s "The Supreme Court decision didn't 'just happen'" just went up. If you're ready to scream over the verdict, I am, you should remember that reproductive rights were sold out not in one day, but in many, not by our enemies, but by our supposed friends. C.I. notes not to give a penny to NARAL. I second that. I also suggest that you do as C.I., Rebecca, Ava and myself do, don't give your donations to the Democratic Party. Give your donations to candidates you believe in. The Democratic Party sold out reproductive rights, as a party. It felt good in 2006 to open those pleas for money and just toss them in the trash.

The Democratic Party thought they could screw over their most loyal voters and get away with it. They can't. They are as much to blame for this decision as are the five Justices on the Court who voted for it.

"Group: 230 University Professors Killed So Far In Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
Two professors from Mosul University were murdered on Monday - the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting. The school's dean of political science was shot as he walked through the university gate. A second professor was killed in front of his home. The International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors estimates that over 230 university professors have been killed since the Iraq war started. 56 are reported missing and more than 3,000 others have fled the country. Schools in Iraq have also been targets of frequent attacks. In January at least 70 people died in a double suicide bombing at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University. Another suicide bomber struck the school in February killing 40 more students, faculty and staff.

Did you hear a special on that? Did the news cycle stop so we could all note this (over and over)? No. Is anyone proposing a moment of silence? No.

So what sort of attitude, what sort of mindset does one have to have in order to wring the hands over Americans only? What sort of attitude refuses to accept that the United States is responsible for these deaths? It's probably the same mindset that Harry Reid -- a foe of reproductive rights -- has when he thinks he can make political hay off the Court's decision. We're apparently all so stupid, in their eyes, that we only care about lives when it is American lives and we believe anything a corrupt and corrupted politician says.

"UN Holds Conference on Iraqi Refugees"
The United Nations is urging the international community to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Iraq. The UN is holding a two-day conference to discuss how to help the four million Iraqis who have fled their homes. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, addressed the conference.
* Antonio Guterres: "The dramatic needs of the Iraqis and the challenges faced by host countries need an urgent and meaningful expression of solidarity by the international community, so well represented here today, as well as an effective action to share the humanitarian burden. That should include financial, economic and technical support, but also expanded resettlement opportunities for the most vulnerable."
Angelo Gnaedinger, the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also spoke.
* Angelo Gnaedinger: "Bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, abductions, murders, the destruction of civilian property and forced displacements are a daily reality for millions of Iraqis. In this dreadful situation and after years of violence, one wonders if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars."
Meanwhile Iraqi officials are now estimating the war has produced 900,000 orphans.

I didn't hear Democracy Now! today. I did, but not the episode available at the website. I listened via KPFA. Click here and you can hear Noam Chomsky. We were listening at lunch, Sunny and I, or starting to, when it became obvious this wasn't what C.I. mentioned this morning. So I called and C.I. said, "I heard it on KPFA this morning. They must have broadcast another episode elsewhere." There were apparently technical problems with the show today. So you had two episodes. The Noam Chomsky broadcast (which I highly recommend) and then the one you can hear at the site (which I recommend you skip).

900,000 orphans in Iraq. Created by the illegal war. There will be no KPFA special on that. There will be no call in for that. It's not judged "important." The children aren't important enough. By proxy, I'm not either. Thanks for clearing that up.

As someone who lost her parents when she was still a child, I say thank you to the crap-rate media and to indy media for caring so damn little about the parents that died in Iraq and the children who will grow up without parents.

Friday's moment of silence? If you're a hypocrite participate. But 900,000 children will grow up (grow up if they are lucky) without parents. It's not the time for silence, it's not the time for feel-good moments. It's a day for being pissed off, a month for it, a year for it, a time for it.

"An Interview with Steve Connors and Molly Bingham: Meeting the Resistance in Iraq" (Kevin Prosen, CounterPunch):
Meeting Resistance is an unprecedented new documentary that goes deep into the heart of the insurgency against American forces in Iraq. Over the course of ten months, journalists Steve Connors and Molly Bingham interviewed ten anonymous members of the resistance centered in the al-Adamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Through candid interviews with the diverse members of the insurgency, the film calls into question many of the official myths about the Iraqi resistance promoted in the western press and lays bare the complex psychological, political, and religious motivations of the diverse groups and individuals which began organizing resistance cells almost immediately after the fall of Baghdad. I had a chance to speak with Steve Connors and Molly Bingham after the film's world premier at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival last weekend.
To begin, could you please describe how you began reporting in Iraq?Molly Bingham I was in Iraq in March during the invasion. Steve and I both got into Baghdad not long after the statue fell and worked as freelance photographers until about June of 2003 when we took a break for six weeks. We started Meeting Resistance in August 2003.
One of the stories I was working on as a freelancer was about places Saddam Hussein was seen before he disappeared. So I went to the Abu Hanifa mosque in the Adamiyeh neighborhood of Baghdad, where Saddam had reportedly been sighted. I met a gentleman who offered to show me around and I ended up chatting with him for a little while. After a while my translator told me he was in the resistance. I was surprised, like "that guy?" He was around fifty, had a paunch, mild mannered and gentle, welcoming to me as a foreigner there. I got back to the hotel and talked to Steve about it. We had started noticing small scale attacks against troops, and decided to look into it further.
What sort of dangers did you face working as "unembedded journalists" in Iraq?
Steve Conners One was that we were approaching people who were clearly involved in violence, and were pretty dangerous; we didn't know if they were going to be dangerous to us. Our main defense was actually our defenselessness; it was Molly and me and a translator and a driver. We had no bodyguards, we just were hanging out and being what we are. When we first met each of the characters in the film, we were told by them in no uncertain terms if anything went wrong, which we took to mean if we were working for the American military or intelligence services, we would be killed. They knew where we lived.
Another was just generally being around Baghdad. There were bombs going off all over the place, lots of American convoys trucking around, they didn't take to kindly to anybody walking too close to a convoy. A lot of Iraqis were shot for driving too close to the convoys. Iraq was a very dangerous place even then.
Did anything surprise you about the social and political makeup of the resistance?
MB: I think the thing we found was they were socially diverse, some had served in the military, some had not. There were some Sunni and some Shi'a, like the Traveler and the Syrian. What surprised us was in some ways how understandable, normal it was once you heard them explain what they were fighting for, their motivations. It started to make more sense. We didn't know what we would find, but that was a little bit surprising. They said "we are defending our land, we don't want to be occupied. Our honor is attacked by foreign troops on the soil."
Generally their feeling wasn't anti-American hatred, or hatred of America "because of our freedom." It was because soldiers were on the ground. It wouldn't have mattered if those troops were French or Chinese or American.
SC: In some ways we were not surprised, in some ways we were really surprised. We were always on a learning curve. There was an amazing quote by the Teacher, it didn't make the final cut of the film. He said we want to have a good relationship with America, but send us your engineers or scholars, not your warriors who shoot the place up.

While getting coffee this morning, I overheard the conversation in line, in front of me. A woman said she didn't want "to sound dumb, but if you don't ask a question, you're dumb" so she asked. She is correct, asking questions is not dumb. It's a sign of interest and it's one of the ways we learn. Sadly, she asked an idiot. Why, she wondered, were Iraqis "killing each other?" The idiot explained it was because they were promised "70 virgins when they got to heaven. They want sex with virgins." I don't butt into conversations but I was tempted. As it was, the woman saw me roll my eyes and asked me what I thought? I told her. I told her "70 virgins" surely didn't explain all the cases of female bombers who blew themselves up while blowing up others unless they were all lesbians. I told her "70 virgins" sounds like an urban myth or an attempt to wrongly link 9-11 with Iraq. I shared my opinion that the US created and encouraged the line between Shia and Sunni and then, as they did in Afghanistan, backed radical right-wing religious types who set about not only to wipe out any traces of modernity in Iraq, but also to wipe out Sunnis. The idiot shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, I just get my news from Fox."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a war resister is due to be released, former US president Bill Clinton talks Iraq,
The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild and Andrea Lewis discuss Iraq, the two day United Nations conference on Iraq draws to a close and the US military announces another death.

Starting with what CNN Headlines News brushed off, in all their "newsie-ness," as the "goings on" in Iraq (30 seconds sandwiched between Monday's shootings and the soap opera of a murder trial), bombs have rocked Baghdad (and possibly if they had an 'expert' to talk to Headline News might give a damn?). Today, caught off guard, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone had already tossed off the daily soundbyte before realizing what was happening in the capital.
Al Jazeera quotes Willie Caldwell stating: "We've seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges." Little Willie wasn't the only one caught with his pants down today, Der Spiegel notes that, earlier in the day, puppet of the illegal occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, had been bragging things were just swell and that the security of Iraq would be turned over to Iraq "by the end of the year" due to these highly effective (non)strategies. And Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports on the master of double-speak (with a minor in understatement), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who, in Cairo: "A political solution could come quickly, Gates said, pointing out that there are not 'thousands in the street' in Iraq trying to kill each other. The violence is mostly confined to death squads, al-Qaeda terrorists and former members of Iraq's ruling class, the Baath party."

AFP reports: "A fire incinerated human flesh, cars and vehicles after a deafening blast that sent a dense cloud of putrid black smoke spewing in the afternoon sky as rescue workers screeched through the streets to scenes of horror. Fire engines doused nearby cars and buses as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried the wounded to hospital and civilian volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city's overflowing morgues." Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) quote eye witness Ahmed Hameed who declares, "The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood." So bad were the bombings that, AP notes, Secertary of Defense Gates called them "horrifying" (before quickly trying to make political hay by screaming, "It's al Qaeda! It's al Qaeda! I just know it is!"). Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that of the various bombs that had gone off today in Baghdad, it was the "car bomb at a market in the mainly Shiite Muslim deistrict of al-Sadriyah killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 100 others".

On February 3, 2007, a truck bombing in a market in central Baghdad market resulted in mass fatalities. In that bombing, BBC reported the fatalities at 130 ("At least 130 people"). That bombing took place in the same district (Sadriya) as today's worst bombing. Before that, in September of 2005, a bombing in Baghdad killed 114 on a day when the total fatalities from violence in Baghdad was 152. Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) list the fatalities for today at 170 people, note that 122 is the number of fatalities from the Sadriya district bombing and put the total number of bombings in Baghdad today at four. The death toll may climb (as it has done all the morning) as some wounded do not make it and some corpses are discovered. Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) reports that there were five bombs and writes: "Victims of today's late afternoon attack included construction workers repairing damage from last month's bombing, and rush-hour commuters at a bus depot, waiting for rides home." The Australian reports that it was six bombs and notes: "The market is situated on a side-street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is about 500m from a Sunni shrine, while the area also has a large number of Kurdish resisdents."

Yates and Tait (Reuters) note that people in Baghdad are blaming the puppet for the latest violence, that children were victims of the market attack and note one man in the street yelling, "Where's Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here." It was supposed to an easy day for the puppet who had, early in the day, declared that Iraqis would be in control of all their country by years end as part of his part in a photo op later in the day. The US military had issued their statement (credited to General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and Ambassador Asquith) early in the morning, self-stroking over the fact that the Maysan Province was being turned over to Iraqi control. As the Associated Press notes, the puppet was a no show at the photo op ceremony despite having been an announced guest. As US Senator Crazy, John McCain, could have told the puppet, "Watch out for When Photo-Ops Go Bad!" Still, as Yates and Tait report, al-Maliki's prepared speech was read, even though he himself was unable to travel the 200 miltes from Baghdad to Maysan.

The count as this completed is 170 dead in Baghdad from car bombs (Reuters) with "more than 200 wounded".

CBS and AP note another of the Baghdad bombings, where a car containing a bomb was "crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslime neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtade al-Sadr. The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45". CNN notes two other Baghdad bombings -- in the Karrada district where 11 died from a car bombing and a roadside bombing that killed 2 people. BBC updates the attack on the checkpoint to 35 dead and notes the observation of their correspondent Jim Muir: "The bombers are proving that they can slip through thte tightened security net and defy the clapdown".

Other bombings?

Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that killed two people. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "2 farmers from Al Bo Asi Al Abagiyah village died today after [being] injured in American strike [a] few days ago."


Al Jazeera reports "two brothers were killed and a policeman was hurt in a gun battle in Baquba. The dead were believed to be civilians caught in the crossfire". AP reports four police officers were shot dead in a Baghdad attack that also left six civilians dead. Reuters reports that a police officer and Iraqi soldier were wounded in Tal Afar, a father, mother and child were wounded in Kirkuk (father is an unidentified judge) and three people ("son of Iraq's deputy interior minister and his two bodyguards") were killed in Baiji.


Reuters reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Ramadi (and that 17 were found in Ramadi yesterday) and 8 in Mosul. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Along with the photo op of the turnover, other plans also went up in flames as chaos and violence reigned in the capitol. Lebananon's
The Daily Star reports that the puppet had talks with "some insurgent groups," that al-Maliki confirmed that on Tuesday, and stated, "We are having meetings with groups that are not part of the political process . . . They asked us not to reveal their name. The talks are still going and they are part of the national reconciliations."

In news of another talk,
Daphne Barak (Asharq Alawsat) interviewed former president Bill Clinton and, in the discussion on Iraq, Clinton responded, "I don't have an answer for it . . . . There will always be consequences to whatever decision we take. There is no guarantee. . . . I don't know any paniless altermatives. . . If we stay in Iraq - there are bad consequences, if we leave in a hurry there are consequences too! Really there are no good alternatives. . . . I think Hillary has it right that we have to make " Barak later asks, "Back to Iraq, are there any other dangers which we are not aware of?" Clinton responds, "We have to reposition some troops in Kurdistan or outside nearby. We have to protect the Kurds, and prevent Turkey to go into Kurdistan. That's the biggest danger in the area right now. We have to watch out if Sunni Iraqis will become a beachhead. Although Turkey is our long time ally -- and Turkey and Israel have a good relationship -- we can't allow Turkey to enter Iraq! What Hillary is fighting for is, that no one should go into a preemptive war again."

Also noting Iraq is US House Representative and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich who writes, "Remember four years ago, the Administration told the American people, 'We have no choice but to attack Iraq, because they had weapons of mass destruction.' Well, they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. But what they did have is $6 trillion worth of oil. And so now we're being told that we absolutely have to get ready to go to war against Iran; and, in fact, the Administration is preparing for such a war. We're being told they have the capacity to strike at American or other nations with nuclear weapons some day. Uh . . . well, not really. But they do have have $6 trillion worth of oil. It's really time that we ended this corrupt politics that we have in this country, where all these politicians are saying, 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran,' meaning even a nuclear attack. And yet, apparently, diplomacy is not one of those options that's on the table. Why is it that Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards would all mimic the same speech that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have given: 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran'."?

Addressing Iraq and Congress today was
Matthew Rothschild who spoke with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today.

Andrea Lewis: Certainly the Democrats have made a lot of gestures and talk about getting the troops out sooner and cutting off the funding. It seems to me to be kind of stalled -- the whole plan. What do you think about what's going on on that front?

Matthew Rothschild: Well, first of all, news today in Iraq, terrible day, in Baghdad, 127 people killed in a series of blasts in Baghdad so this idea that Baghdad is becoming a nice, safe, quiet place to visit according to John McCain, clearly not the case. I do think that the Democrats are not doing enough to demand withdrawal within 6 months or, max, a year and not having loopholes where even if that thing passed and even if Bush were to sign it, Bush would still be able to stay in Iraq for years and years because even the Democrats' legislation allows the president to keep training Iraqi security, keep going after al Qaeda and, you know, helping out patrolling Iraq in defense of US personnel which could be Haliburton. It could be US contractors over there. So with those loopholes even in the best of bills this war could go on under Bush -- or under Bush's sucessor if it be Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama. None of the Democrats are demanding withdrawal without conditions and that's what's going to have to happen at some point because otherwise, you know Bush is going to keep this going and I think the Democrats are going to capitulate. I think Harry Reid, not only has he capitulated on gun control, but he's going to capitulate on this, he's going to take even the kind of fake deadline the Democrats have in that legislation and he's going to take those away. And so Bush will get his funding and this war will go on and it's going to go on until the 11th hour on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office and then the Democratic president, if it be a Democratic president, or the Republican successor is going to continue to wage that war unless we really raise the stakes that people of this county, not just Democrats, but the people across party lines are way ahead of the politicians on this. They want the troops to come out within a year. And, at some point, we've got to raise our voices a little bit louder.

[Note -- I've smoothed over Rothschild's response by removing "uh" and "you know"s. I have no problem with them and think it's better to include to reflect speaking styles; however, I was in the middle of something else and had to lose the flavor to keep the context.]

In war resistance news,
Agustín Aguayo was to be released today from the brig in Germany he had been sentenced to since his March 6th court-martial for refusing to deploy to an illegal war. AP reports that he was released: "With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said US European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner." Aguayo was repeatedly denied Conscientious Objector status. First by the military and then by the civilian court system (he will be appealing). The Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress for COs: "Our voices together are magnified when we gather and organize to lobby congress for the sake of rights for the conscientious objector. It is important to support servicements who become conscientious objectors, to lobby for a place for conscience in an inherently violent organization suffering from a dire lack of it. A law to protect the rights of conscientious objectors (CO) in the military is needed. With no end in sight to the brutal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the globe, the number of COs in the military is increasing. The GI Rights Hotline has experienced a sharp increase in the number of calls from those seeking a CO discharge. The current military policy for COs is not working: they face harassment, they are forced to violate their beliefs and they are denied CO status for arbitrary reasons. A law passed by Congress is needed to fix the broken system and to put specific procedures in place for the CO discharge process. May 16th will be a day for voters to make their voices heard for the proposed bill, the Military CO Act." Links:

Come and lobby in Washington, DC or lobby your member of Congress at their local office near your home.
Click here to sign up for lobby day.
Click here for information on the Military CO Act
Information on subway access, directions and parking.
Map of the Area Driving Directions Metro Access Parking -->

On May 15th, International CO Day, CCW is participating in 2 events:
Congressional Briefing: 9:00 am - 12:00 pmAn Aspect of Religious Freedom: Conscience in the Military,sponsored by FCNL, Peace Tax Fund, and John Lewis
Advisory Council, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm @ Church of the Brethren (tentatively)
Church of the Brethren337 North Carolina Ave. SE Washington, DC 20003

Today, in Geneva, the two day, United Nations organized, "International Conference on Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighbouring Countries" concluded. The
UN notes that 60 nations participated in the conference on "the nearly 4 million Iraqis who have fled their homes" and that UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, hopes that Iraqis will return to Iraq and that he "voiced hope that international gratitude for the burden assumed by receiving countries -- with Syria hosting 1.2 million Iraqis and Jordan another 750,000 -- would soon translate into financial support. He also sought an increased amount of resettlement to third countries, considered necessary for the most vulnerable refugees." BBC reports that the puppet government of Iraq is willing to give $25 million to Syria and Jordan for housing some of the displaced. By contrast, the US offered $18 million. If you don't grasp the difference, Iraq is a client state of the US at present, a client state that still guarantee basic services (let alone security) to Iraqis. But it has promised $25 million while no-big-spender Bully Boy has okayed $18 million -- to pay for the crisis he created. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has declared that:

1) The Iraqi Government, in [consultation] with the countries hosting large numbers of displaced Iraqis, will establish offices to address the issue. These offices will work closely with the host countries, the UNHCR and non-governmental organisations.

2) The Iraqi Government has allocated 25 million US dollars to fund the work of these offices.

3) The large numbers of displaced Iraqi people are straining the infrastructures of hosting countries. The Iraqi Government will extend financial assistance to host governments, and its relevant ministries, to support their infrastructure.

Dahr Jamail (IPS) reports that Baquba's displaced who have sought refuge in Damascus refer to Baquba with the term "dead city" and notes that "armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns" and quotes Aziz Abudlla (who was a professor in Baquba) stating, "I think well over half of our city has left, and those who remain never leave their homes. Those who are left sit in their homes and wait for their death. They may take their fate from a terrorist entering their house, or a car bomb, or a shooting."

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) interviews Caitlin Esworthy (Port Militarization Resistance of Olympia) about actions to end the illegal war and the attacks peaceful activists suffered from the Tacoma police. Zeese asks about the "police reaction" and Esworthy responds: "In sum: force, intimidation and erasure of numerous constitutionally protected rights. Over the course of the two weeks (from March 2nd to the 17th) the police chose to daily escalate their tactics in response to the large groups of people voicing their opposition to the occupation of Iraq and in favor of keeping the 4th Brigade home. There were pedestrians and drivers that resulted in disorientation and intimidation, use of "less-than-lethal" (read: sometimes lethal) weapons on non-violent protestors, RAMPANT violation of citizens' right to not be videotaped by public officials without probable cause, officers refusing to identify themselves, restriction of the right to wear backpacks on a public street and the repeated restriction of citizens' rights to assemble within reasonable proximity to that which they are protesting so that the nature of their protest is not fundamentally altered (both of which are supported by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions), vehicles being searched without cause or warrant, the list goes on." A video clips are provided.

iraqagustin aguayo

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nora Barrows-Friedman, John Walsh, Zinn

I've scrapped my opening paragraph. C.I. has Mike and I on the phone with it up to the speakers to make sure we're hearing Nora Barrows-Friedman's reporting on Flashpoints. Right now a man she's speaking to is explaining how the Palestinians are being used as labor to build the settlements. The most frightening and disgusting thing (a hard thing to select, granted) was hearing the report on the Israeli soldiers using two young Palestinian boys as human shields and hearing the Israeli soldiers dismiss what they were doing as no big deal. "Ruth's Report" had Ruth asking the very obvious question of why KPFA refuses to use the resource they have in Nora Barrows-Friedman? It's a good question. She's reporting from the region. Why are her reports confined to one show?

Why would you refuse to utilize her? The KPFA Evening News? It can't say, "We air right after your program, could we get a remote with you early in our program? Or could you record a report for us?" Certainly nothing prevents them from featuring her report that's airing right now and crediting it. But it doesn't happen. "Ruth's Report," read it. It's amazing and very pertinent.

This actually pairs up well with one highlight I had already picked out.

"Why is the Peace Movement Silent About AIPAC?" (John Walsh, CounterPunch):
"AIPAC!" was the forceful one-word answer of Congressman Michael Capuano when we asked him, "Why was the Iran clause forbidding war on Iran without Congressional approval taken out of the recent supplemental for the Iraq war funding?" I nearly fell out of my chair at his reply - not because this was news but because of who had just said it. Capuano is a close ally of Nancy Pelosi, her fixer and enforcer. That was last Friday morning when a small delegation from Cambridge and Somerville, MA, were visiting the Congressman, known for his bluntness, as part of the nationwide UFPJ (United For Peace and Justice) home lobbying effort during the Congressional recess.
Later that day, Dennis Kucinich made an appearance at Harvard, where he was asked the same question, the reason for removing the Iran provision. "AIPAC," I volunteered out loud. Kucinich looked my way and said, "Exactly." Again my chair almost failed to contain me.
A few weeks earlier we had gone to the offices of Senators Kennedy and then Kerry to discuss the war. (My intention was to call their attention to to which the Kennedy aide was sympathetic and the Kerry aide predictably hostile.) I raised the question of AIPAC directly with Kerry's aide, inquiring about its hawkish influence on Kerry and other Senators. Suddenly the aide was quite engaged. Leaning forward, he said: "That will never be discussed publicly. That will never be discussed publicly." Clearly even Kerry's office is unhappy with the pressure that comes from AIPAC.
It is widely acknowledged that the reps and senators are ticked at AIPAC, and their hostility seems to be growing these days. With upwards of 60% of their campaign contributions coming directly or indirectly from the Israel Lobby, the Democratic congressmen are not free to respond to their antiwar base. This opens them to an antiwar electoral challenge on the Left or Right from forces not subservient to AIPAC. And that could cost them their next election, a little thing which has them very worked up. Capuano's cry of "AIPAC" was no simple outburst of candor but a cri de coeur for his career.
So here we have even Congressmen and Senator's aides complaining publicly about AIPAC. AIPAC is being outed all over the mainstream media, largely thanks to the door opening work of Mearsheimer and Walt. AIPAC is skewered routinely by Justin Raimondo on and by Alex Cockburn and many others here on CounterPunch. But there remains no anti-AIPAC campaign within the mainstream antiwar organizations, like UFPJ or Peace Action. (Even one supposed Congressional ally of the peace movement was announced as a celebrity guest at the recent colossal AIPAC meeting in Washington, where half the Congress shows up and Dick Cheney is a regular speaker. What gives?)

I agree, AIPAC needs to be called out. I also agree with C.I.'s point when the presidential candidates were parading themselves before AIPAC -- why is someone running to the be the leader of the US attempting to curry the favor of a group of lobbyists for a foreign government?
John Walsh is correct, AIPAC needs to be called out but, just as with Nora Barrows-Friedman reporting being featured elsewhere, don't hold your breath.

"Noam Chomsky Accuses Alan Dershowitz of Launching a 'Jihad' to Block Norman Finkelstein From Getting Tenure at Depaul University" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: You begin your book with two quotes. One of Eugene V. Debs: "While there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." And Henry David Thoreau: "When the subject has refused allegiance and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished." You also write more about Henry David Thoreau. You write about him going to jail.
HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, well, Thoreau is worth reading today and remembering today, because Thoreau committed just a small act of civil disobedience against the Mexican War. I mean, the Mexican War had some of the same characteristics as the war in Iraq today, and that is that the American people were lied to about the reasons for going into Mexico, and they weren't told that the real reason for going into Mexico was that we wanted Mexican land, which we took at the end of the Mexican War, just as today we're not being told that the real reason for being in Iraq has to do with oil and profits and money. And so, the situation in the Mexican War, against which Thoreau objected, was in many ways, you know, similar.
And Thoreau saw that, and he saw that American boys were dying on the road to Mexico City and we were killing a lot of innocent Mexican people, and so he decided not to pay his taxes and spent just a very short time in jail, but then came out, delivered a lecture on civil disobedience and wrote an essay on the right to disobey the government when the government violates what it's supposed to do, violates the rights of Americans, violates the rights of other people.
And so, that stands as a classic statement for Americans, that it's honorable and right to not to pay your taxes or to refuse military service or to disobey your government when you believe that your government is wrong. And so, the hope is that today more soldiers who are asked to go to Iraq, more young people who are asked to enlist in the war against Iraq, will read Thoreau's essay on civil disobedience, will take its advice to heart, realize that the government is not holy, that what's holy is human life and human freedom and the right of people to resist authority. And so, Thoreau has great lessons for us today.

As I noted yesterday, I have nothing against Noam Chomsky but I'm far more interested in what Howard Zinn has to say and I also think it's true that, later in the broadcast, there was more than enough man crush from a guest on Chomsky. Chomsky's a wonderful thinker. Howard Zinn is that as well and he is also of the people, by the people and for the people. While MIT has been a wonderful platform for Chomsky, I wasn't in favor of that institution when I was in college and I haven't grown fonder of it over the years. I do not think that Chomsky is part of the military industrial complex but I think MIT is and has long been part of it (I felt that was glossed over in the last interview on the program -- and done so by treating it as historical issue when it is very much of part of what goes on today). So that may be another reason I've not noted anything from Chomsky from the joint-interview that aired yesterday and finished today. Again, I have nothing against Chomsky and had he been the focus of an interview, I'd probably have quoted him but in terms of making one choice from the joint-interviews, I'm going to focus on Zinn. I didn't care for the second interview at all -- the second of the program, the one that followed Chomsky and Zinn. I felt there was too little time given to it and with the terrain covered quite a lot had to be skimmed. I also disagreed with some points advanced (and disagreed with them in real time as well). My biggest criticism? We watched it online when I heard the line up. As someone who slightly knew the last guest, I'd suggest a hair cut is in order -- strongly in order unless the goal is to land on a box of Dolly Madisons as their spokesperson.

I'm having some computer problem right now so I'll stop here. I just lost the ability to italicize and when that happened to Kat and Rebecca (I can't provide links either), they quickly lost the ability to type in the Blogger/Blogspot screen so let me just post this -- incomplete as it is.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi refugee crisis receives some attention in Geneva, claims are bandied all around regarding events of violence in Iraq, Robert Gates got a goody bag and wants to share and Americans not only think the illegal war was not worth it, the also think it is "lost."

Starting with war resister news, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, shared Saturday of how his son's struggle has inspired him. Ehren Watada, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February 2006, his court-martial ended a mistrial and his next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th. Brian Charlton (AP) reports that Bob Watada spoke Saturday at a Honolulu meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists where he explained, "It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself." Charlton notes the stroke Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) suffered. That was in January at the rally in DC, shortly after Bob Watada spoke. Ann Wright managed to catch Sakanishi as she was falling.There are many lessons to be learned from Watada and other war resisters. Ehren Watada is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Al Jazeera reports on Abu Fares who left Iraq with his family but returned after the start of the illegal war in 2003 which he felt was cause for hope and return (the disposing of Saddam Hussein) only to discover that "Everything was chaos. We spent days with no water or electricity. I had to write my will every time I wanted to leave the house." The family has now returned to Iran with no plans to return to Iraq. The issue of refugees is one that Dahr Jamail and Ali al Fadhilly have reported on at length for IPS and Dahr has also reported on it frequently for Flashpoints. Last Tuesday, on Flashpoints, Dahr spoke with Emily Howard about the refugee problem and the refusal to address it by it the US. He noted that those fortunate enough to afford to leave (buying their way out of arrests frequently) become internal refugees (wandering or living in refugee tents) or else the become external refugees who leave the country. Friday on KPFA's The Morning Show, Dahr spoke with Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz about the Iraqi refugees who had gone to Syria and noted, "I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer. And according to UNHCR, there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone. The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here, hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well. I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well. But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people. So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing. So the crisis is certainly going to grow exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now. What are they going to do when their savings run out? Syria right now has approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate. Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low. And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen. And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month." [Those unable to listen to the broadcast can click here for that and other remarks by Dahr.]

Today the United Nations held a conference in Geneva on the subject of the refugee crisis. BBC reports that Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, "urged Iraq's neighbours not to close their borders to refugees, and states further afield to do more to help tackle the humanitarian crisis." Sephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that the appeal includes a request "for international aid for nearly 4 million Iraqis". The United Nations states: "Hundres of concerned participants from governments, aid organization and United Nations bodies gathered in Geneva today" and quotes UNHCR head Antonio Guterres citing a "moral imperative" which requires the actions of "[a]ll of us -- representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society". Meanwhile Nicholas Keung (Toronto Star) reports: "The UN has raised only half of its $60 million goal for 2007, a figure that includes $2.5 million pledged by Canada." Deutsche Welle notes, "Germany's Department of Foreign Affairs had announced on Monday that it would make 2.2 million euros in aid available to Iraqi refugees and displaced persons." IRIN notes that the conference continues tomorrow

From refugees to the puppet government that created (or assisted the US government in creating) the problem. On the heels of Moqtada al-Sadr's block exiting their six minister position in the coalition Nouri al-Maliki cobbled together and filled well after the Consitutionally mandated deadline, the US government launches a global push to shore up support for their puppet. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be "using potential U.S. arms sales and other military assistance" to shore up support in the Middle East for al-Maliki. David S. Cloud (New York Times) notes that Gates' trip will include encouraging "leaders to back Iraq's government and to put aside their doubts about Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's ability to curtail sectarian violence". Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) informs that "Defense Department officials acknowledge that the support for Maliki in Sunni-dominated nations is not as firm as they would like." Or at all. Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman via WatchingAmerica) predicts that, when the US does withdraw from Iraq, "the current government -- if it still exists at the time, God forbid -- it would certain encounter its political death, both nationally and internationally, especially if it's notion of using extreme repression to further the national reconciliation process remains unchanged. The problem is not in any of these options, but al-Maliki himself and his delusional promises of building a military force capable of action as an alternative to the Americans, without purging the existing force of sectarian elements."

The attempts to shore up support for the puppet government outside the US comes as Gary Langer (ABC News) reports on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll which finds: "A bare majority of the Americans for the first time believe the United States will lose the war in Iraq, and a new high -- two-thirds -- say the war was not worth fighting." Possibly Robert Gates will next take his goody bag house to house throughout the US?

Turning to US Congressional news . . . Cloy Richards served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. His mother is Tina Richards. Eric Leaver (Foreign Policy in Focus) sums up the event that introduced many people to Tina Richards: "Instead, the biggest brawl the public saw was between House Appropriations committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and the mother of a Marine and an anti-war activist, Tina Richards. Responding from Richard's plea to stop the war Obey screamed, "We don't have the votes." But it was never clear that Obey and others were in fact seeking the votes to end the war. Instead they were seeking the votes for what ended up being in a weak compromise." As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Tina Richards was arrested on Monday outside the office of Nancy Pelosi while calling on the House Speaker to stop funding the war." After the press attention following Obey's public meltdown, Nancy Pelosi stated she wanted to meet with Tina Richards but has yet to make time for such a meeting. Stacy Bannerman (Military Families Speak Out) notes that Congress owns the war having gone with "stay the course" and notes what it look liked up close to see even those Congress members opposed to the war cave: "When members were 'released' to vote for the supplemental funding bill, the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus became the 'Stay in Iraq' caucus. New branding materials are in the works. When the people that got elected on a strong anti-war platform voted to continue the war, they broke a sacred trust with their constituents. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Jim McGovern (D-MA) et. al, clean out your desks and return the keys to your office. Immediately. When Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), a long-time, outspoken opponent of the war, cannot look me in the face as he passes by on his way to vote, I know that he knows that what he's doing is wrong. The rationalizations for continuing to fund the war under the patently false guise of 'supporting the troops' are just a different page from the same book that was used to build the case for war."

In claims news today, a Sunday raid in Baghdad's al-Amil neighborhood conducted by US forces is straying from the approved US military narrative. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports today that eye witnesses say that the US military randomly opened fire, killining indiscriminately and quoted one Iraqi stating: "People were sleeping when the U.S. forces raided the area. Shooting started and people came out to see what happened. Two were killed in the shooting. A mother and her son came out to see what happened and they were also killed during the shooting. So we have four killed and two others wounded." At some point the US military may launch an investigation into the event. Like the investigations into the helicopter crashes, they will, no doubt, drag on and on. However, remember this is the claims department section, the US military has completed an investigation in less than 24 hours and, they announce, they have cleared themselves as they maintain that those killed in Ramadi yesterday "were not Iraqi policemen as originally reported." In other claims, CNN reports a group has posted online the assertion that they killed 20 Iraqi security forces they kidnapped on Saturday in Baghdad. And, finally, AP reports that a group thought to be (or claimed to be) linked to al Qaeda has "claimed in audiotape posted on the Internet Tuesday that the group had begun manufacturing its own rockets."

Turning to actual reported events in Iraq today . . .


Reuters reports a car bombing in Hawija that left 3 dead and 4 wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded 3, and a truck bombing -- near Mosul -- which killed 1 person and left 4 Iraqi soldiers wounded.


CNN reports a professor, on his way to work at Baghdad University, was shot dead.


Reuters reports 9 corpses discovered in Mosul, 11 in Baghdad, and 4 in Diwaniya.

Today, the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died April 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Sunday, the total number of US service members killed in Iraq during the illegal war which began March 2003 passed the 3,300 mark. Noting that maker being passed today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed: "The conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. troops. More soldiers have died since October than in any other six-month period of the war."

In Italy, a murder trial began today and . . . kind of ended. While escorting the just released journalist Giulian Sgrena to Baghdad International (March 4, 2005) the car carrying Sgrena and Italian intelligence came under fire from US troops. As Tracy Wilkinson (Los Angeles Times) notes that US service member Mario Lonzano was being tried in absentia in Rome today. Germany's Der Spiegel sums it up this way: "While everyone agrees that Mario Lozano, an American soldier, fired the fatal shots that killed Italian agent Nicola Calipari in Iraq to years ago, that is where the agreement ends. For the United States government, the case is closed but Rome sees things somewhat differently. Italy is putting Lozano on trial for murder even though he is refusing to attend." BBC reports this statement by the attorney, Fraco Coppi, for Caliparia's widow, on Lonzano not being present, "His absence is his own choice. It does not represent an obstacle to ascertaining the truth. We are absolutely serene. The evidence gathered is indisputable." Democracy Now! quotes Giuliana Sgrena on the trial itself: "It is a mixture of anguish and of hope. Of course, as I wanted this trial, I am very happy that now it will start. But of course, for me it means to go back to two years ago and what happened two years ago. And so it is very painful for me to think of these things and the details, because at the trial we need to go into details, so it is very painful for me. But we have to face the trial because it is a very important step." A step taken but not completed. CBS News' Sabina Castelfranco reports that the trial "has been postponed until May 14th". Alessandra Rizzo (AP) notes an immediate adjournment by the judge "for technical reasons."

In other legal news, Marty Graham (Reuters) reports that US service member Sanick Dela Cruz is no longer charged in the November 19, 2005 massacre/slaughter in Iraq and quotes the statement issued by the US Marine Corps: "Charges agains him were dismissed on April 2 after the government balanced his low level of culpability in the alleged crime against the potential value of his testimony."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn

Monday and I'm tired. I'm writing late because we went to an event. Do not expect much.

"Where Are the Cries of Outrage Over Military Rapes? Beyond the Strange Furor Over Imus" (Ralph Nader, CounterPunch):
Now that the Don Imus flameout has once again demonstrated that vile words energize many activist groups and many media more than do devastating deeds, it is useful to revisit this strange dimension of public furor.
The latest three word outburst in Mr. Imus' practice of sexist and racist remarks may be compared with the continuing sexist and racist behaviors that civic opponents would argue should at the very least receive equal time from those who become indignant over cruel, bigoted language.
On March 18, the New York Times ran a lengthy cover story in its heralded Sunday Magazine about widespread sexual harassment and rape of female U.S. soldiers by their male colleagues in Iraq. Written by a reporter, Sarah Corbett, the article combined the available official studies, and statements of specialists, with poignant narratives by women soldiers whom she interviewed intensively.

I like Nader. I hope he runs in 2008. But, really, that story was weak and, worst of all, the Times sat on it. That's one of the reasons Ava and C.I. kept pushing for the subject to be addressed at The Third Estate Sunday Review. They knew the Times magazine was sitting on the story. When it finally did run, shortly after Ava and C.I.'s "Women and the military" (I've explained before the rest of just polished, Ava and C.I. researched and wrote the real draft of this and their piece was published February 11, 2007, the Times ran their piece a month later -- it was ready, but they were sitting on it).

Nader recommends "(For more information see" and I'll include that because I do agree it's a good site (Nader is a part of that site, I don't understand the hieararchy/masthead, but he's a part of it, Kevin Zeese is as well and I forget the third person, sorry -- I'm new to the site, I only discovered it when C.I. started linking to it). My only real problem with the article falls in to one area: the praise for a watered down article that could have been published months prior. Everything else I agree with. Congress has been silent? In a snapshot last week, C.I. pointed that out. From Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Though Suzanne Swift's reaction was perfectly normal, even before you get to the fact that she suffers from PTSD, not only was she abandoned by the military command that damn well should have prevented what she went through, the US Congress -- all those brave talking Senators, male and female -- sat on their collective asses which apparently kept their lips from moving. The military conducted a whitewash investigation (that still found validity and confirmation in some of Swift's charges), her offer was sign a paper saying she lied or face a court-martial. Swift was court-martialed, stripped of her rank, sentenced to 30 days and then placed back in the same system that not only did not refuse to ensure her safety, but failed to after she sought help. To repeat, Congress sat on its collective ass. That's Hillary Clinton, that's Carl Levin, that's Barbara Boxer, that's Russ Feingold, that's Susan Collins, that's Mr. uber-goodness Joe Lieberman.

So of course I agree with Nader's calling out of Congress. But I do not and will not agree with the paper (NYT) getting praise for a watered down article that they sat on for months. For anyone to believe this article made it into print in a reasonable length of time, you'd have to assume the writer wrote one sentence a day. (I may also feel the way I do because I'm so tired. But I have hated that article since it finally made it into the Sunday magazine.)

Today, Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn in a joint interview. Now normally, Chomsky being interviewed would result in an excerpt if time permitted. Sorry, I rank Howard Zinn as the most important voice this country has had for four or five decades. (I'm never sure how to count that -- do we count the one we're in? Then five. Or does it have to be over before it counts as five?) In fact, Mike, Rebecca, Flyboy and I went to hear Howard Zinn (and Amy Goodman tonight).

"In Rare Joint Interview, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn on Iraq, Vietnam, Activism and History" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Howard Zinn, how did Vietnam end, the war end and what are the parallels that you see today? Do you see parallels today?
HOWARD ZINN: Well, I suppose if you believe that Henry Kissinger deserved the Nobel Prize, you would think that the war ended because Henry Kissinger went to Paris and negotiated with the Vietnamese. But the war ended, I think, because finally after that slow buildup of protests, I think the war ended because the protests in the United States reached a crescendo, which couldn't be ignored. And because the GI's coming home were turning against the war and because soldiers in the field were -- well, they were throwing grenades under the officer's tents, the "Fragging Phenomenon." There's a book called Soldiers in Revolt by a man named David Cortright and he details how much dissidence there was, how much opposition to the war there was among soldiers in Vietnam and how this was manifested in their behavior and desertions. A huge number of desertions and essentially the government of the United States found it impossible to continue the war. The ROTC chapters were closing down.
In some ways, it's similar to the situation now where the government in Iraq, the government is finding, our government is finding that we don't have enough soldiers to fight the war. So they're sending them back again and again. And where they're recruiting sergeants here in the United States, they're going to enormous lengths, lying to young people about what will await them and what benefits they will get. The government is desperate to maintain the military force today in Iraq. And I think in Vietnam, this dissidence among the military, and its inability to really carry on the war militarily was a crucial factor. Of course, along with the fact, we simply could not defeat the Vietnamese resistance. And resistance movements -- and this is what we are finding out in Iraq today -- resistance movements against a foreign aggressor, they will get very desperate, they will not give in. And the resistance movement in Vietnam would not surrender.
And so, the US government found it obviously impossible to win without, yes, dropping nuclear bombs, destroying the country and making it clear to the world that the United States was an outlaw nation and impossible to hold the support of the people at home. And so, yes, we finally did what a number of us had been asking for many, many years to withdraw from Vietnam and the same arguments were made at that time. That is, when we called in 1967, well, I wrote a book in 1967 called, Vietnam, the Logic of Withdrawal and the reaction to that was, you know, we can't withdraw. It will be terrible if we withdraw. There will be civil war if we withdraw. There will be a bloodbath if we withdraw. And so we didn't withdraw and the war went on for another six years, another eight years, six years for the Americans to withdraw, eight years totally. The war went on and on and another 20,000 Americans were killed. Another million Vietnamese were killed.
And when we finally withdrew, there was no bloodbath. I mean it wasn't that everything was fine when we withdrew and there were re-education camps set up, and the Chinese people were driven out of Hanoi on boats, so it wasn't -- . But the point is, that there was no bloodbath, the bloodbath was what we were doing in Vietnam. Just as today when they say, oh, there will be civil war, there will be chaos if we withdraw from Iraq. There is civil war, there is chaos and no one is pointing out what we have done to Iraq. Two million people driven from their homes and children in dire straits, no waters, no food. And so the remembrance of Vietnam is important if we are going to make it clear that we must withdraw from Iraq and find another way, not for the United States, for some international group, preferably a group composed mostly of representatives of Arab nations to come into Iraq and help mediate whatever strife there is among the various fractions in Iraq. But certainly the absolute necessary first step in Iraq now is what we should have done in Vietnam in 1967 and that is simply get out as fast as ships and planes can carry us out.

I should have something wonderful to add to that because I should be able to quote from tonight's event. But? I'm so tired. My plan was to drive back home tonight but Trina said, "No one's driving home." She said I looked too tired and to sleep over. Which I will gladly do and may even go in late tomorrow morning. I'm exhausted. Long day, long weekend before it. (Long day was due to sessions, not do to Zinn. Or to Goodman who was very wonderful as well.)
Trina's latest went up Saturday, "Macaroni Coleslaw in the Kitchen."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, April 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Moqtada al-Sadr's walks out on the Iraqi parliament, a spoiled brat gets a public spanking, the US military announces the deaths of two more service members in Iraq, and Norman Solomon, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky talk realities of war with Andrea Lewis and Amy Goodman.

Starting with news of war resistance. The sound you here is a long WHIIIIINE as a spoiled brat gets a public spanking.
Clancy Sigal (at The Daily Trojan) walks spoiled brat through some basic realities in his response column to the realities of broken contracts:

We've been here before during Vietnam, when the desertion rate skyrocketed as soldiers, sailors and marines began to realize what a bogus, pointless war it was. War-resistance inside the military, including going AWOL, finally broke the Army and forced the Nixon administration to the bargaining table. Once again we're faced with a dilemma: Who violated the 'contrat' -- the government or the runaway soldiers? Pope Benedict XVI deserted the Nazi Wehrmacht. Muhammad Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War, which he believed was racist and warranted. And so it goes. Does the U.S. government, and its military and Veterans Administration, honor or dishonor its 'contract' by forcing combat-weary GIs back into battle through its notorious 'stop loss' policy of refusing to discharge soldiers on due ldate and extending their deployments in a horrendous civil war? Does the Pentagon honor its obligation when it sends medically unfit soldiers back to the meat-grinder - and, again notoriously, without the proper equipment or weapons?

Again, the sound you hear is a pampered, spolied brat getting a public spanking via Clancy Sigal. In other news of war resisters, Bully Boy's escalation has had many effects -- more Iraqis killed, more US service members killed and Linjamin Mull,
Patrick Maloney (Canoe News) reports, reached the decision to self-check out of the US military and move to Canada following Bully Boy's announcement. Linjamin Mull was a NYC social worker who signed up as a result of "a crushing student debt" and achieved the rank of specialist in the army. Meanwhile, Jenny Deam (Denver Post) reports on Justin Colby who served as a medic in Iraq and made the decision to self-check out on July 4th of last year and moved to Canada. Deam notes, "Army figures released last week show 1,710 soldiers have deserted in the past six months. The numbers are rising as the war goes on: 3,101 walked away between October 2005 and October 2006; 2,659 walked away during the 12 months before."

Yes, it is a movement, a growing movement, an ever growing movement. Mull and Colby are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott,
Ehren Watada (whose next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th), Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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 today the six cabinets filled by Moqtada al-Sadr's block are now vacant.
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) explains: "A key Shiite Muslim bloc in Iraq's governmental pledged Sunday to quit over Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's refusal to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a move that would further weaken the country's leadership at a time of soaring sectarian violence." Edward Wong and Graham Bowley (New York Times) listed "protest at the refusal of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to set a timetable for American troops to withdraw from Iraq." (No link. Currently the New York Times has 'withdrawn' the story. You can find it quoted here.) AFP quotes a statement issued by the puppet of the occupation: "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki welcomed the announcement of his eminence Muqtada al-Sadr." The puppet was the only putting up a brave front, the Turkish Press quotes White House flack Dana Perino who steps away from her stand up schtick on the beleaguered US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales long enough to declare, "Doalitions in those types of parliamenty demoncracies can come and go." That funny Perino! "Democracies"! She cracks herself up. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted: "The Sadr movement controls six cabinet posts and a quarter of seats in Iraq's parliament. The pullout follows one of Iraq's bloodiest weekends in months. McClatchy newspapers is reporting nearly 300 people were killed in violenace around Iraq Saturday." [CBS and AP's count on Sunday for the Karbala bombing Saturday was 47.] Jim Muir (BBC News) offers analysis, "Nobody expects Mr Sadr's move to bring the government down. Nor did observers believe that was his intention. Rather than leave the cabinet seats empty, he himself suggested that the six abandoned portfolios be given to non-partisan independents, and some of his aides urged that competent technocrats be appointed. . . . The Sadr bloc has 32 of the 275 seats in the current parliament, and intends to continue its activities there and in the Shia coalition, despite withdrawing from government. Another member of the Shia coalition, the Fadhila party, announced early last month that it was pulling out of that alliance because of the government's poor performance and sectarian quota composition. But only if other major factions such as the main Sunni bloc and Iyad Allawi's secular Iraqi List were also to walk out of the government, would it be at risk of collapse." Ross Colvin and Yara Bayoumy (Reuters) note "concerns about whether Sadr's Mehdi Army, which Washington calls the biggest threat to Iraq's security, will maintain the low profile it has so far duing a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad."

Democracy installed into Iraq and controlled by the US, Perino's so funny. The reality of Iraq is noted by
Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) who reports that attorney Badie Arief Izzat wasn't in Iraq today "for the trial of former Iraqi officials charged with participating in attacks against the Kurdish minority in the 1980s" due to being spirited out of the country and to Damascus by the US military who, when he was due to be arrested (for statements that Iran was responsible for the gassing, not Iraq) by Iraqi security forces, "surrounded him". Izzat tells Jamail, "I was taken to an American safe house in the Green Zone and guarded by US forces who refused to hand me over to the Iraqi court." US forces spiriting lawyers out of a country to protect them, from so-called 'insurgents,' but the Iraq legal system? Spin it, Perino, spin it.

And when she does, expect her remarks to be carefully jotted down and reported with a straight -- and non-questioning -- face. Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis spoke with Norman Solomon on a number of topics including any lesson learned by the media after they knowingly and eagerly enlisted as telemarketers in order to sell the illegal war:

Lewis: So, you think the media gets that now? That the war wasn't such a great idea and that maybe they need to have some distance? I should say the major media.

Solomon: Well, you know, it's like what Mark Twain said about smoking is easy to quit, I've done that hundreds of times. And so, after every war, especially it turns sour, there's this kind of high profile on the sleeves soul searching and then its back to square one. So I do think if you ever have another situation where there's a country called "Iraq" and a dictator called "Saddam Hussein" and a lot of talk about "weapons of mass destruction" there will be some exempliary skepticism from the US media but, that aside, I mean change "Iraq" to "Iran" and just a somewhat different configuration, we're on the same boat -- the same sort of madness -- if it's up to the mass media, that again is where independent media such as the one we're on, many other efforts around the country, web TV, radio, print is really essential to kind of counter and try to oppose and overcome the sort of, I won't say natural, but in place spin cycle that comes through. I know we'll mention this a little later but let me be sure and plug here there is an independent media guide out in Marin and North Bay and we're having a benefit sponsored by the
Marin Peace & Justice coalition and Students for Social Responsibility. Everybody's invited to come see a pretty far along rough cut of this film. It's this Saturday night, the 21st of April, at 7:30 pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield in what they call Oleney Hall.

Tickets to the showing are $8 and the event is wheel chair accessible. The film bears the same title as Norman Solomon's most recent book,
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death. Though the themes are similar this isn't a Solomon reading his book in front of a camera -- it's an actual documentary film. Sean Penn narrates the film. For a review of the book click here. The war was also addressed on Democracy Now! today as Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn for the hour:

AMY GOODMAN: Vice president Cheney is saying this war can be won.

NOAM CHOMSKY: There's an interesting study being done right now by a former Russian soldier in Afghanistan in the late 1980's, he's now a student in Toronto who's comparing the Russian press and the Russian political figures and military leaders, what they were saying about Afghanistan, comparing it with what Cheney, others and the press are saying about Iraq and not to your great surprise, change a few names and it comes out about the same.
They were also saying the war in Afghanistan could be won and they were right. If they had increased the level of violence sufficiently, they could have won the war in Ira--in Afghanistan. They're also pointing out -- of course they describe correctly the heroism of the Russian troops, the efforts to bring assistance to the poor people of Afghanistan, to protect them from U.S.-run Islamic fundamentalist terrorist forces, the dedication, the rights they have won for the people in Afghanistan, and the warning that if they pull out it will be total disaster, mayhem, they must stay and win.
Unfortunately they were right about that too, when they did pull out, it was a total disaster. The U.S.-backed forces tore the place to shreds, so terrible that the people even welcomed the Taliban when they came in. So yes, those arguments can always be given. The Germans could have argued if they had the force that they didn't, that they could have won the Second World War. I mean the question is not can you win. The question is should you be there.

[. . .]

HOWARD ZINN: And of course it was an educational experience for us. Noam was talking about in response to your question about victory and winning. And the question is, of course, why should we win if winning means destroying a country? And there's still people who say, oh, we could have won the Vietnam war, as if the question was, you know, can we win or can we lose, instead of what are we doing to these people.
And, yes, Noam said, yes, we could win in Iraq by destroying all of Iraq. The Russians could have won Afghanistan by destroying all of Afghanistan. We could have won in Vietnam by dropping nuclear bombs instead of killing two million people in Vietnam, killing 10 million people in Vietnam. And that would be considered victory, who would take satisfaction in that?
What we saw in Vietnam is, I think what people are seeing in Iraq. And that is huge numbers of people dying for no reason at all. What we saw in Vietnam was the American army being sent halfway around the world to a country, which was not threatening us and we were destroying the people in the country. And here in Iraq, we're going the other way, we're also going halfway around the world to do the same thing to them. And our experience in Iraq contradicted as I think the experiences of people who are on the ground in Iraq contradicted again and again the statements of American officials.
The statements of the high military, statements like, oh, we're only bombing military targets, oh, these are accidents when so many civilians are killed. And, yes, as Cheney said, victory is around the corner. What we saw in Vietnam was horrifying. And it was obviously horrifying even to G.I.'s in Vietnam because they began to come back from Vietnam and oppose the war and formed Vietnam Veterans against the war.
We saw villages as far away from any military target as you can imagine, absolutely destroyed. And children killed and their graves still fresh by American jet planes coming over in the middle of the night. When I hear them talk about John McCain as a hero, I say to myself, oh, yeah, he was a prisoner and prisoners are maltreated and everywhere and this is terrible. But John McCain, like the other American fliers, what were they doing? They were bombing defenseless people. And so, yes Vietnam is something that by the way, is still not taught very well in American schools. I spoke to a group of people in an advanced history class not long ago, 100 kids, asked them how many people here have heard of the My Lai Massacre? No hand was raised. We are not teaching -- if we were teaching the history of Vietnam as it should be taught, then the American people from the start would have opposed the war instead of waiting three or four years for a majority of the American people to declare their opposition to the war.

Turning to England, the so-called 'war on terror' lost some milage today when one of the popularizers of the phrase decided to drop it.
Al Jazeera reports that "war on terror" is as out of date as gaucho pants according the Britain's international development secretary Hilary Benn who states: "We do not use the phrase 'war on terror' because we can't win by military means alone". However, that is the least of the problems for Bully Boy that are crossing the Atlantic. The Times of London reports that an inquest into the March 21, 2003 British helicopter crash opened with the cornorer Andrew Walker charging that the US military provided no assistance -- "inexcusable" was the word used to describe the non-action, that the US witnesses were no where to be found, that the inquest was provied only with the Jamgan Report and "not allowed to see an engineering report that could reveal problems with the helicopter" and that "Americans have also declined to let him see a recording by an air mission command aircraft, which is thought to reveal what the helicopter pilots see before the crash." And, still in England, Mark Oliver (Guardian of London) covers the release of photos from the postmortem on Iraqi Baha Mousa who died in British custody and whose death will be addressed by the upper house of parliament (House of Lords) tomorrow.

Turning to Iraq,
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports: "Over the past five months, enemy tactics have turned squarely against U.S. and Iraqi troops. As sectarian killings and kidnappings have fallen by about 70 percent in Diyala, attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops have increased by a corresponding amount, according to Col. David W. Sutherland, the top U.S. commander in the province." Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) notes the tactics of the resistance, "They meaneuver in squads, like the American infantrymen they try to kill. One squad fires furiously so another can attack from a better position. They operate in bad weather, knowing American helicopters and surveillance drones are grounded. Some carry G.P.S. receivers so mortar teams can calculate the coordinates of American armored vehicles. They kidnap and massacre police officers." Oppel also notes that in Diyala and Baquba, you're dealing with two populations -- Shia and Sunnie and that "Shiite-dominated security forces in the city inflamed tensions by persecuting Sunnis". The US government backs the attacks by training the attackers, by funding them. The US government created the split after invading the country. Sahar (McClatchy News' Inside Iraq) makes that point very clear by noting a friend named Um Noor: "She was happily married for twenty years, when Iraq was occupied. After a while strange, little used words start flying around. Sunni . . . Shiite . . . Sunni . . . Shite . . . Then fighting started breaking out because of this long submerged difference. In her neighborhood, as in the greater majority of Baghdad's neighborhoods, no one is really sure who on their bloc is Sunni, or Shiite; and nobody really cares. Soon after, the IEDs and car bombs started taking their toll from people still bewildered as to: Why is this happeng? BOOM! She loses her husbad, on his way to work, a Shiite. Being a Sunni herself, she is urged -- very strongly -- to move away; their part of Amil is Shiite controled. Having nowhere to go, she stays. A car stops in front of their home. BANG, BANG, BANG! She loses her son (20), her brother, and her nephew. She takes her remaining children and flees, finding no haven -- except in Abu Ghraib, (Sunni controlled) where she lives in perpetural fear lest her dark secret be uncovered: that her kids are -- of course -- Shiite. Her two remaining sons (16 and 10) live imprisoned in their hut; she has buried all their IDs and tells everyone that they got lost . . . . . . . . and as a result they cannot receive rations. They are starving to death. How, and why, has it suddenly become important, this Sunni-Shiite business; and since when did Iraqis care?"

In today's violence . . .


CNN reports 8 dead from a Baghdad bombing in the Karrada district (23 wounded). Reuters notes a bombing in Ishaqi that killed 9 (10 wounded), a mortar attack in Mahmudiya that killed 3 (18 wounded),


CBS and AP report a mass shooting in Mosul which left 13 Iraqi soldiers dead and 4 more wounded. Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports on the shooting deaths of three Iraqi soldiers in Ramadi who were shot by US soldiers in what the US military says was a "mistake." Reuters reports that the US military shot a man in Baghdad who was "armed" and that "local Iraqis" stated "the dead man was an airport highway security guard"; Mohammed Abdullah al-Zubaidi was shot dead in Mosul, Talal al-Jalil was shot dead in Mosul (he had been "the Dean of the Political Science College"), a tribal leader shot dead in Baiji and an imam in Hawija.Corpses?

Reuters notes 7 corpses discovered in Falluja, 3 in Hawija, and 6 in Mosul.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier died when a combat security patrol was attacked with small arms fire in a southwestern section of the Iraqi capital April 16. One other Soldier was wounded during the attack." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in a southern section of Baghdad April 16. The unit was conducting a security patrol in the area when the attack occured." ICCC reports the total number of US service members who have died in the illegal war is 3308. (Sunday the 3,000 mark was passed.)