Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday light post

I've been so bad about remembering to note things so let me start off by noting Betty's "Betinna's new B.F.F." from Saturday which is a chapter that puts a new character into the Gail Collins storyline. When Betty made her outline, Gail Collins was the editor of the New York Times' editorial page. Not any more. So Betty was casting around for a way to use the planned storyline with another character and "Cathy Pollit" proved popular from a week or so back so "Cathy Pollitt" will now have the storyline. This isn't a minor detail. This character will be very important in the next few months so make sure you pay attention. Trina's "Liver and Onions in the Kitchen" went up Saturday as well. I actually love liver and onions but haven't eaten liver since the 80s when C.I. told me it's our bodies' dumping ground. Which I should have known (and did) but just getting the visualization from C.I.'s very descriptive examples was enough for me.

If you still eat liver, Trina's explaining how to fix it. She's talking about other things as well, but reading it, I could only focus on liver and onions. I preferred white onions because they get translucent. On that, I will add that I was a child who thought, "When I'm older . . ." The sad reality is that when I got older most of the things I thought I would be doing, I either didn't or did and stopped due to health risks. I think if my child-self could see me today, she would be hugely disappointed. Although my idea that when I drank wine I would use it with ice cream for a malt disappoints me in my child self. I never tried that. But when I became aware of wine being drank by adults, I was heavily into strawberry milk, strawberry milkshakes, etc. I thought, possibly due to the color of red wine, that "I'll show them" and make a malt with it when I was older.

Kat, Ava and C.I. have been back out on the road again speaking about Iraq all week. We joined them today, Rebecca, Ruth, Mike and I. It really was wonderful. Yesterday, Mike's "Center for Constitutional Rights, Marjorie Cohn" was about how the mainstream media minimizes the very real desire for the illegal war to be ended. That really came home today and it underscored even further how out of touch Democrats are. The media may be playing Dems as the sure thing for 2008 but the only sure thing I see is disgust with Dems.

They've earned it by doing nothing. I don't know that this will translate into votes for the Greens. It shouldn't translate into votes for Republicans but, as C.I. has pointed out for months, the Repubes will have to redirect their campaign after they have a primary victory. If that happens, the Dems will be in an especially bad position.

I will most likely be voting Green because the Democratic Party refuses to get serious about the illegal war. I noted that was a very big possibility back in 2005 and it's now very probable.

"Turkey ready to face criticism over Iraq" (Mark Tran, Guardian of London):
Turkey is prepared to pay the diplomatic price for any attack on Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said today.
Amid fears that a Turkish incursion would destabilise one of the few relatively peaceful regions in Iraq, Mr Erdogan said the government was becoming impatient after a series of rebel attacks, and was making preparations in case a cross-border strike was deemed necessary.
"There could be pros and cons of such a decision but what is important is our country's interests," Mr Erdogan told reporters in response to a question about the international repercussions of such a decision.

While the Dems have dithered and Bully Boy's 'surged,' tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq have grown inflamed. Bully Boy's illegal war is now about to bring in other countries. Strangely, there doesn't appear to be a great deal of concern about that when you compare it to the still not happening Iran war.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new possible outbreak in Iraq, Democrats in Congress no longer just cave -- now they whine too, torture continues and women remain under attack.

Denise Winebrenner Edwards (People's Weekly World) notes, this was to be the week of the second court-martial of Ehren Watada until US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted a stay through at least October 26th. Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports on an October 8th San Francisco press conference held by Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee where Luke Hiken (of the National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force) explained, "Under our constitution, the military is under the judiciary of the United States. In other words, all federal court systems, up to the United States Supreme Court, have authority over the conduct of military personnel when appropriate. Accordingly, federal district courts, all the way up to the courts of appeal and U.S. Supreme Court, intervene when there are violations of U.S. military regulations or laws that contravene the U.S. Constitution. The trial council indicated that there was no jeopardy attached to the case, because the defense had not completed its entire presentation, which is nonsense. In (such a case) jeopardy is attached the second the first witness is called by the prosecution." Hiken is referring to the double-jeopardy issue. In February, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided. Opening arguments were presented. The prosecution called their witnesses. And their witnesses did a pretty good job of making the defense's case. That was day two. Day three was when Watada was supposed to testify. Instead, Judge Toilet was suddenly shocked by a stipulation he had read, he had agreed to, and he had explained to the jury. Despite his own involvement at all steps of the stipulation, suddenly Judge Toilet wanted to say Watada didn't understand it. This was the excuse Judge Toilet created to call a mistrial. He did so over defense objection. Because the trial had started, double-jeopardy had attached -- as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has pointed out since the start.

Through Thursday, November 1st, we'll be including, in the snapshots, this National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force announcement: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild
National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Watada is only one Iraq War resister.
Courage to Resist reports on James Circello Jr. who self-checked out in April of 2007 and writes about his experience in the poem "I saw kids turn into animals:"

I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

Courage to Resist also has an interview (transcript and audio) with war resister Mark Wilkerson conducted by The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz. At one point, Wilkerson explains, "I discussed many of these issues with a lot of other soldiers there [in Iraq]; a lot of them just didn't want to think about it at all. And then when I got back, to see the way the media portrayed the war and the way many people thought the war was going on, and then finally, after a few months, seeing some resisters coming on television -- I remember seeing Camilo Mejia in an interview and thinking, 'Wow, there are people out there like me, who are confused and angry and upset.' This 'conscientious objector' that I applied for, it was a very rough patch for me. It was a period of -- I ended up applying for conscientious objector in June. I took the rules fo conscientious objector home, and in the course of one night, I answered all the questions. I filled out my form. It was mostly seething. I was very angry, so I put all the emotion into what should be a very proper, very well thought-out document and application. I turned it in. I was told that I had a week to fill it out. And then over the next several months, I sometimes got in many arguments and heated debates with my chain of command -- my first sergeant, my platoon sergeant, some military chaplains, military investigators, military psychologists . . ." November 2005, he was denied CO status -- as most who apply are -- and decided to self-check out. He announced he was turning himself in August 2006 at Camp Casey and was eventually sentenced to imprisonment in Fort Still, OK.

in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today. Paul Fattig (Mail Tribune) reports that Condon will also "give a talk about his work at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Earlier this week,
National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (at Truthout) addressed the issue of torture noting that the administration continues to deny it tortures when the reality is the White House has okayed torture for some time, "Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody." AP quoted former president Jimmy Carter declaring this week on CNN, "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime." Yesterday the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released (PDF format warning) "Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007" which found many human rights abuses but let's zoom in on the issues having to do with imprisonment. Those being held went from 17,565 in March to 21,112 by the end of June leading to overcrowding in holding facilities across Iraq, prolonged periods of waiting for something resembling justice to arrive, denial of "access to legal counsel and to family visits," and "reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facitilities under Ministry of Interior facilities, including police stations. Several such cases were document during the reporting period, where UNAMI was able to interview and examine victims of physical abuse shortly following their release or following their conviction and transfer to a Ministry of Justice prison." So torture and abuse is alive and well in Iraq. For all the Bully Boy's grand words of creating a torture free Iraq, Abu Ghraib (and other earlier, less well known events) demonstrated that the US will torture so it's no surprise that the Iraqis placed in charge (by the US and its puppets) will as well. Dropping back to the snapshot on September 6th:

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".

The US is as aware of what's going on as is the United Nations -- in fact the US is aware of their own tactics and, if the United Nations knows about the US tactics, it's doubtful they would report them.
Joshua Partlow and Column Lynch (Washington Post) report today that the UN report was ready months ago (August) "but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official." Of course, the delay was really to make sure nothing flashed a little reality while Crocker and David Petraeus were in the midst of Operation Happy Talk on Congress. But the reality is that, forget what the US itself does, torture being conducted by Iraqis placed in charge -- known torture -- reflects back to the US and turning a blind eye does not make it any less culpable of War Crimes charges for the torture.

Sticking with war crimes, yesterday
Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. More information can be found here at CCR and in Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' "EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting" (Democracy Now!) from yesterday. The lawsuit is over the September 16th Baghdad slaughter where Blackwater employees killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. Anne Penketh (Independent of London) quotes Ivana Vuco ("the most senior UN human rights officer in Iraq") declaring, "For us, it's a human rights issue. We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed" and -- pay attention because this applies to torture as well -- there is a "responbility to investigate, supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing." "I don't recall" and "To the best of my memory" may have allowed the Reagan administration to avoid convictions but possibly Bully Boy should just stick with the classic "I am not a crook"?

Stayin with the UN report and human rights issues, one of the key areas to emerge in the report is Kurdistan which -- despite the p.r. hype -- has never been 'safe.' Human rights organizations have long been documenting the problems in the northern region. The new UN report (
PDF warning) notes the 'peaceful region':The human rights situation in the Kurdistan region remains of concern in a number of areas, including continuing incidents involving violence against women, the abuse of detainees and the prolonged detention without charge or trial of hundreds of detainees held on suspicion of terror-related offences. UNAMI is encouraged, however, by sveral measures adopted by the KRG authorities in recent months in an effort to address some of these concerns, including the review of long-standing detention practices followed by the regional authorities' security forces. UNAMI hopes that such measures, if seriously followed up, would pave the way for greater accountability for government officials suspected or known to have abused their authority.Along with the targeting of journalists (and the Kurdish response that 646 licenses have been given to news outlets -- and how that has nothing to do with the targeting -- arrests and detentions -- of journalists) and the persecution of Assyrians and Turkoman, the region has an 18% increase in violence against women ("15 deaths caused by blunt objects, 87 deaths by burning and 15 deaths by shooting for the first quarter of 2007; for the second quarter, there were 8 deaths caused by blunt objects, 108 deaths by burning and 21 deaths by shooting"), a serious lack of punishments for these deaths (both in arrests and -- when the rare arrest is made -- in sentencing). The situation for women throughout Iraq is awful. Earlier this week, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Article 41 in the still unfinalized constitution which "women's rights activists and legal scholars" argue "opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, 'I divorce you,' three times" while Basra is demonstrating "signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month" -- over "what the women wear or because they are using makeup." It smells like 'freedom' to Bully Boy and Laura Bush. To the rest of the world, it smells like something else.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


AFP reports, "Iraqi civilians bore the brunt Friday of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr, as a US air raid killed 15 women and children, and a sinister suicide attack on a playground shocked a northern town." This is the attack noted in yesterday's snapshot. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes this is "one of the highest civilian death tolls acknowledged by the military since the March 2003 invasion" and also notes the playground attack which claimed the lives of 2 children with seveteen wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (Iraqi police officers) and left fifteen more injured and a Salahuddin bombing ("inside a bag of flour on a handcart") in which "[a] woman was killed and 16 people most of them children".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in an attack in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead and his wife injured in a home invasion in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mahaweel.

Torture, bombings, lack of potable water, cholera, what else?
Reuters reports the latest issue, "The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or ogans of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency."

Turning to US politics. As
Cedric and Wally noted yesterday US Senator Barack Obama who would like to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president has a new "trust me" campaign. Having repeatedly run on the fact that he was against the illegal war in 2002 but unable to vote because he wasn't in the Congress, he's now taking Senator Hillary Clinton -- who would also like to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee -- to task for voting for what some see as an authorization for war on Iraqn. Obama is highly offended by Clinton's recent vote in the Senate. So offended that some might wonder how he voted? Answer: He didn't vote. He's taking her to task for what is a bad vote but he didn't care enough about the issue to be present to vote. That's leadership?

Leadership? Let's turn to other non-leaders. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday,
David Swanson (AfterDowningSt) noted Pelosi's latest bits of insanity including her despair that people would protest outside her mansion ("If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering!" hissed our modern day Marie) and how people like her weren't "advocates. We are leaders." Rebecca noted in her post to Pelosi, "poor nancy. oh the horror! in her botox mansion with americans outside! she might have been so troubled by the sight that her frozen face almost registered emotion. the horror! 'they are advocates,' sputters the cowardly trash, 'we are leaders!' well where the hell are you leading the country, princess crap?" Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan notes (at CounterPunch) that Pelosi's attitude "is truly the problem with what was once a Representative Republic and now is a country run by 'elected' officials who believe that they, indvidually and collectively, are above any accountability and are not answerable to their constituents. Our public servants erroneously believe that they are leaders! . . . No, Ms. Pelosi, you are not a leader. You have proven time and again in what you laughably believe is a 'mistake' free run as Speaker of a Democratic House that you will do anything to protect an Imperial Presidency to the detriment of this Nation and the world, particularly the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Democratic Congress supported BushCo's disastrous and deadly surge; handed him over billions of their constituent's tax dollars to wage this murder; have by their silence and votes countenanced an invasion of another country; approved more restrictions on the rights of the citizenry to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure; Ms. Pelosi does not even know if 'torture' (which violates international law and the 8th Amendment in our Bill of Rights) is an impeachable offense; and worst of all the impeachment clauses were taken 'off the table' in an ongoing partnership with BushCo to make the office of the presidency a Congressionally protected crime conglomerate that is rapidly sending this Nation down a crap-hold of fascism."

Meanwhile the Dems in leadership are crying.
David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) notes that there is "tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base" and provides the opportunity for Dems to once again blame the voters as opposed to taking a look at their own actions. The Republican base gets frustrated with their leadership all the time. And Republicans generally respond to that. They don't blame the base, they don't whine about the base, they don't publicly insult the base. But, taking the lead from Pelosi, Democrats in Congress have no problem hectoring and trashing the voters who put them in power. When you have to make non-stop excuses for your actions, then the problem is probably you and not the base. When you're so ineffectual that you continue to cite the minimum wage nonsense as your point of pride (blood money because Dems snuck it into an Iraq bill), you've got nothing to be proud of. Instead of whining at and blaming the base, Democrats in Congress need to grow up real damn quick and grasp that the 2008 elections that they feel are the end-all-be-all are not going to benefit from the repeated trashing of Democratic voters. Leadership needs to take some accountability and Pelosi especially needs to stop trashing Democratic voters publicly.

And for those who don't get how weak Congressional Dems have been, note
this from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about wiretapping, the controversy now, the frustration that people have with the Democrats, supposedly the opposition party, going along with the Republicans.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, the background is that after 9/11, as we all know now, Bush gave the military the authority to wiretap phone calls without warrants, in defiance of a 1978 law that required warrants for that situation. And he used a very aggressive legal theory about the President's powers as commander-in-chief to bypass laws at his own discretion. Because that program was only legal if that theory were true, that meant that the fact that they did this set a precedent that says that theory is true, and future presidents will be able to cite that precedent when they want to evade any other law that restricts their own authority.
So now, going forward, one of the ways this agenda has been able to be so successfully implemented was that there was no resistance from Congress. At the very moment there was this stronger push coming out of the Vice President's office to expand the presidential power as an end to itself in any way possible, because of one-party rule for six years and because of the atmosphere of crisis after 9/11, there was no push back. And that's how the ball was moved so far down the field.
And one of the things that's been very interesting about the last year is now we have split control of government again, and so the question was, how is that going to change things? And what we've seen from the Protect America Act in August and the dynamic going forward is that even with split control of government, the dynamic is still there. Congress is just as it was for the first twenty or thirty years of the Cold War, when the original imperial presidency was growing under presidents of both parties, by the way. Congress is again unwilling to push back against the White House's assertion that it needs ever more authority, and checks and balances will result in bloodshed. And so, I think, going forward, that you can see that this dynamic is going to be with us. And, of course, two years from now, we may have one-party control of government again, the other party, but that will just sort of hurl us further down this path, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of the President seeking to protect those in the corporate world who go along with his policies -- well, first of all, obviously, there was the retroactive immunity to the airline companies after 9/11 for their failure to act to provide a kind of security on their planes, giving them immunity from any possible lawsuits, and now this effort by the administration to try to provide retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that went along with his surveillance program.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, and what this is, is because Congress has demonstrated that it's really not going to do anything about the basic fact that the President asserted he could bypass a law and then he acted on that assertion, and, you know, that established he can do that, or whoever else is president at any given moment from now on can do that, that the one sort of last place where critics of this sort of extraordinary development could still have some traction was the lawsuit against the companies, which had also evidently broken privacy laws by going along with this. So, by seeking retroactive immunity, it's sort of the last place closing off the possibility of accountability.

Meanwhile the
Illinois Green Party holds a fall membership meeting Crystal Lake, IL October 13th and 14th at the McHenry County College.

Candidates in attendance will hold a press conference Saturday from 1 to 2 pm at McHenry County College and they include:Kent Mesplay (Presidential)Jerome Pohlen (U.S. Congress, 3rd District)Moe Shanfield (U.S. Congress, 9th District)Dave Kalbfleisch (U.S. Congress, 10th District)Rodger Jennings ( U.S. Congress, 12th District)Steve Alesch (U.S. Congress, 13th District)Tony Cox (State Representative, 9th District)Kevin O'Connor (State Representative, 41st District)Sandy Lezon (State Representative, 50th District) Charlie Howe (State Representative, 115th District) James Geocaris (McHenry County Board, 3rd District)

On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Isaiah, Granny D, Lance Selfa

Below is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bully Mama Interrupts from Monday.


Since the announcement that Jenna was engaged, Isaiah's had Bully Boy in various wedding dresses. In the latest one, the only person on the face of the earth who scares Bully Boy discovers him playing dress up and swooning over Blackwater's Erik Prince to Barney the White House dog. Who would that person be? Big Babs Bush herself.

This is in the snapshot but let me post it here because I don't blog on Thursdays and by Friday, the program may have already started:

October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc. In most markets, the program airs on Friday, check your local listings.

That's PBS and it will air on Friday evening/night in most markets. It's an important topic. Speaking of TV, due to the book discussion that didn't get published (yet), when we were all working this weekend, Jim didn't do what he usually does (or maybe I'd fallen asleep -- it was the longest writing edition) and read Ava and C.I.'s latest. "TV: Diveristy Network Style" is Ava and C.I.'s latest. Sunny loves it and was on me all week to read it. I finally had time today and it is wonderful, so make a point to read it.

"'Run Granny Run': New Documentary Depicts 94 Year Old's Senate Run" (Beverly Wang, Associated Press via Common Dreams):
At 89, Doris Haddock walked 3,200 miles across the country to draw attention to campaign finance reform. At 94, she waged a quixotic campaign for U.S. Senate. Now, at 97, she will see those feats on screen in a documentary.
"Run Granny Run" depicts Haddock’s 2004 decision -- with no money and no campaign experience -- to go from an activist for voter registration to actively seeking votes in a campaign against the powerful incumbent Republican Sen. Judd Gregg.
The documentary initially had been planned as a road-trip film chronicling Haddock's efforts to register women and minorities in swing states during a critical election year. But when the presumptive Democratic nominee dropped out of the Senate race, Haddock jumped in on the last day to file.
Filmmaker Marlo Poras decided to hang on though the November election, and recorded 350 hours of footage. "I was thrown into the fire and just kept on following her," Poras said in a telephone interview.
"Run Granny Run" won the audience award at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas. It will be broadcast on HBO at 9 p.m. on Oct. 18.

Still TV, yes. Also still political. I haven't seen the documentary but Granny D is inspiring. I'm trying to think what October 18th is? I believe that's Thursday. Which means unless I record it, I'm missing the first airing.

"A Maverick, But Not the Good Kind" (Lance Selfa, Socialist Worker via Dissident Voice):
For a brief moment in early October, the political punditry took note of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the long-shot libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Paul was the only Republican to raise more money in the third quarter of this year than the second quarter. In fact, with a haul of more than $5 million in the quarter, he has more cash in the bank than former front-runner Sen. John McCain.
If this were only a question of an obscure matter in some corner of the Republican universe, socialists probably wouldn't give it any notice. However, Paul has managed to attract support from a wider layer of people, including those opposed to the Iraq war. To them, Paul comes off as a straight shooter who speaks unpopular truths against a two-party establishment that would rather not listen.
Indeed, that is probably one of Paul's strongest qualities. Whatever one thinks of his politics--and most of this column will be sharply critical of them--he's not a phony. He believes what he says, and he has a record of many congressional votes when he stood alone or with single-digit minorities against a tide of opinion. He's no hobnobber or power broker. He annually returns to the U.S. Treasury money unspent by his staff.
But why would opponents of the war--generally thought to be on the left side of the political spectrum--be open to the appeal of one of only four members of Congress to endorse Ronald Reagan for president in 1976?

I really do not understand the fascination with Ron Paul that some have. He's against the illegal war, yes, and he's also against most of the things that the majority of Americans favor. On the plus side, it is a testament to how powerful an issue the illegal war is to people. I think most -- or I hope most -- people who think kindly of him do not know what he actually stands for.

I could be wrong and maybe we're all so disgusted with politicians who will not listen, will not serve, that Americans want to dismantle the entire thing? If so, politicians have no one to blame but themselves.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, more officials are targeted in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, and more.

Starting with war resisters. In June of 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) ruled a mistrial over defense objection. His second court-martial was to have started this week; however, the double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution means he should not be court-martialed twice and US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle has ordered a stay through at least October 26th while this and other issues are reviewed. Amnesty International issued a statement of support for Watada last week and Susan Lee (the Americas Program Director) stated, "It is unacceptable that Ehren Watada should face punishment for peacefully expressing his objections to the war in Iraq. His internationally recognized right to conscientious objection must be respected." Sam Bernstein (US Socialist Worker) explains, "Watada's attorneys are also asking that he be allowed to leave the Army since his term of service ended in December, but the pending legal proceedings have prevented his discharge. . . . Now there will be three weeks of hearings so that Settle can decide whether a retrial amounts to double jeopardy. If it doesn't, a retrial would begin as early as October 26. Antiwar activists -- led by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak out and Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- will use the next three weeks to organize solidarity protests."

War resister Pablo Paredes has been working in Puerto Rico on the issue of counter-recruiting.
The Canadian Press reported last month that Paredes found the counter-recruiting "campaign has been more welcomed than efforts on the mainland" and quotes him stating, "There's not an ownership over this war. There's definitely a sense of 'That's someone else's situation. In schools that allows for a lot more fairness for groups that oppose the war." Among the many others working on this issue are Aimee Allison and David Solnit who have written Army Of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World (published by Seven Stories Press and available at Courage to Resist). The promotional tour for this book has many dates added to it. Click here for the full schedule. We'll note the October events still to come:

Wednesday Oct. 10th -- Swarthmore, PA. For more information, e-mail:;

Thursday Oct. 11th -- NYC, NY. For more information:;

Friday October 12th, -- NYC, NY Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, 7 pm to 9:30 pm. For more information:;

Saturday October 13th -- New Haven CT, The Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden, CT 06517, 1 pm to 4 pm. For more information:;

Saturday October 13th -- Hartford, CT
La Paloma Sabanera Cafe, 405 Capital Ave, Hartford, CT 06106;

Sunday October 14th - Boston or Western Mass, Traprock Peace Center. For more information:;

Monday October 15th -- Boston or Western Mass, Traprock Peace Center;

Tuesday October 16th -- Rochester, NY;

Wednesday October 17th --
The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 6th Avenue, Troy, NY 12181;

Thursday October 18th -- Syracuse, NY, For more information:;

Friday October 19th -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair;

Saturday October 20th -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair;

Sunday October 21st -- Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Anarchist Bookfair

That's the October events currently posted. October events have already passed and more may be added. If you're interested in the tour you can
check here and more dates may be added in the new year but currently there are no dates schedule for the southern portion of the US except for Fort Benning in Georgia (November 16 through November 18). Aimee Allison and David Solnit speak with Matthew Rothschild on this week's The Progressive Radio. They addressed topics of military access to students, student and parent rights, the threat of the draft and much more. "create associations that will be more likely to

David Solnit: They have what we call the military recruitment complex which is a whole series of research analysis, cutting edge, major public relations corporations and then the on ground recruiters. So together they spend billions of dollars using the most sophisticated and modern public relations propaganda techniques to, as they say, penetrate youth culture and create associations which will make people more likely to accept the military as a normal or healthy thing.

Matthew Rothschild: Can you give us some specifics because I was at an anti-war protest here in Madison, Wisconsin and there was a counselor for a high school , in a high school, who said the most pernicious thing for him was these military recruiters coming and setting up gymnasium type things -- that a person could do the quickest climb or the most push-ups or the most sit-ups, it really appealed to the macho kids and he couldn't, he couldn't get them out of there.

[. . .]

Aimee Allison: One of the things that I think the military recruiters on the ground rely on are sustained access, regular access to high school kids in particular so they can develop relationships. For the recruiter, they become father or friend or guide and take students out to Burger King and, you know. But of all of the messages that they learn, that recruiters learn, through their hard sell and sustained selling techniques, they never mention the word "kill." And the reason why is because it's very deeply ingrained in human beings not to kill. And we've all had these kind of, someone makes us mad and there's a reason we don't act on that because our church, and our family and our society condition us against that kind of violence. So it's the center of the recruiters' message to tell them all the things they can do with their life without letting them know about what the military really is and that is an institution designed to train someone to kill on command and that was the most surprising thing for me in my own experiences.

On the issue of a draft being brought back, David Solnit stated that the work of the peace movement results in reactions from the other side and while people must keep their eyes open, that's not the overreaching issue today. Solnit and Allison both feel that so much more work needs to be done to build a real resistance within the general public. On the topic of the draft, pay attention once-Young Lions who now puff out the sagging chests and tell the youth of today your half-baked tales,
Louise Bernikow (Women's eNews) provides the history missing in so much of the once-Young Lions reminds that "the anti-war organizing was also being done by women of several generations and many political persuasions. Opposition to wars has always been part of women's history: Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day march for peace filled the streets of Boston after the Civil War. By the 20th century, Women's Strike for Peace had evolved out of the anti-nuclear movement into a visible force against the Vietnam War. Among its founders, and quite visible on Moratorium Day, was New Yorker Bella Abzug, soon to be elected to Congress, where her first official act would be to demand a date for withdrawal from Vietnam. In 1972, Abzug would demand Nixon's impeachment for 'defying the will of the people to end the war.' As night fell in the capital city on Moratorium Day, 15,000 people carried candles around the Washington Monument, led by Coretta Scott King, identified by the press, in the custom of the times, as "Mrs. Martin Luther King." Although young men captured the camera's eye as they burned their draft cards, much of the work of organizing draft resistance was done by women. Singer Joan Baez performed protest songs everywhere with a banner behind her that read: 'Girls say yes to boys who say no.' In Greenwich Village, the Peace Center, directed by writer Grace Paley, organized and counseled scores of conscientious objectors willing to go to jail rather than serve in the war." The poster and the very real involvement of women were dealt with in July.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Geneva Jalal Antranik and Marani Awanis Manouik were killed yesterday in Iraq. Their "crime" was driving. Their killers were Unity Resources Group.
Andrew E. Kramer and James Glanz (New York Times) address the slaughter in 28 paragraphs today and wait until the 26th paragraph to provide the women's names. Apparently you cover the slaughter by burying the dead. Tina Susman and Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) report, "Unity Resources, which is run by former Australian army personnel, was investigated last year in connection with the shooting of a 72-year-old agriculture professor at the University of Baghdad, according to Australian media. The Australian Foreign Ministry at the time said the professor, Kays Juma, was shot because his vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint in the capital.Some witnesses confirmed that a flare was fired, but at least two said guards fired into the vehicle after it had been partially disabled by warning shots. One witness said the vehicle, which carried at least three women and one child, had rolled to a halt when the women inside were shot." Jay Price and Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) add, "A man at a gun portal in the back of the last armored vehicle began shooting an automatic weapon into the hood and windshield of car. Then another guard leaned out of a door and did the same, police said. Between them, they fired about 30 times, said Hamed Ali, an Iraqi policeman who was manning a checkpoint at the shooting site. The car was about 75 yards from the armored vehicles when the shooting started, he said as he showed journalists the skid marks. 'There was no reason at all to shoot at these women,' he said." CBS and AP note the excuses of Unity Resources and quote Marou "Awanis' daughter and a student at Baghdad's Technology University" asking, "What is the use of the word 'sorry'?" Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "The victims were driving home from work when their vehicle came under fire by guards with the Australia-based Unity Resources Group."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on an official today in Tikrit -- the target: Jassim Jabbar (Head of National Security Center) -- that left 2 people dead and seventeen wounded, a Baghdad bombing wounded two people "near the Vegetable Oils Plant" and a Sulaiman Bek bombing wounded two people. Reuters notes the death toll in the attack on official increased by 4 for a total of six dead, a Zaab truck bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi military service member and left five people wounded (two non-military) "in an attack on an Iraqi army base," a Mosul minibus bombing (targeting the Kurdistan Democratic Party) claimed 2 lives and left sixteen injured and a Diwaniya mortar attack that left eleven female students, "three teachers and a man" of "a girls' primary school" injured.


The attacks on officials continue in Iraq.
KUNA reports that Abdurrazaq Qassem was kidnapped yesterday in Basra where he is "the director of Basra International Airport." Abdul-Razzaq Hashim is the spelling Reuters offers. The targeting of officials continues in Iraq. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes his name as Abdulrazzaq Qassim as well. On the topic of the air war, CNN notes 13 dead "west of Baghdad" from a US airstrike.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Railways Commission worker was killed and five injured in a gunfire attack on their bus in Bayaa, 1 person was killed and six were injured in an attack on "a Kia mini bus in Saidiya" while Abdulameer Mahmoud (National Information and Investigation Bureau chief) was wounded in a Kirkuk attack "late yesterday" -- another official targeted.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, Hmood Abdullah Hmood's corpse was discovered in Kirkuk late yesterday (three days after he was kidnapped), and a corpse was discovered in Hawija.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from a noncombat related cause in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Oct. 10." And they announced: "An MND-C Soldier died from a non-combat related event Oct. 10." ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the illegal war began is currently 3820. CNN uses the count 3,821.

Tensions continue to flare on the Turkish and Iraqi border.
CBS and AP report, "Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels near Iraq on Wednesday, a possible prelude to a cross-border operation that would likely raise tensions with Washington." Turkish Press reports that the country's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated a measure will be introduced in the Turkish Parliament tomorrow calling for "an incursion into northern Iraq to pursue PKK terrorists." AFP notes, "Under Turkish law, parliament must authorize any deployment of Turkish troops abroad." Al Jazeera informs that the prime minister "is under pressure to respond to a series of recent attacks on Turkish security forces by fighters from the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) that killed 15 soldiers. The Turkish leader said prepartations to put the measure before parliament 'have started and are countinuing'. The plan was unlikely to reach parliament before the end of a four-day religious holiday on Sunday, an official from Erdogan's Justice and Development party said." In the United States today, Dana Perino (press flack) gave a briefing in the White House referred to Turkey as "a very valuable ally" and was asked if a Congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide that the Bully Boy had come out against resulted from "Turkey blackmailing the United States" to which Perino responded, "Absolutely not." Perino also declared, "We have said that we want to work with the Turkish government and the Iraqis, the Iraqi government, to eradicate the terrorist problem there in northern Iraq. We do not think that it would be the best place for troops to go into Iraq from Turkey at this time. We think that we can handle this situation without that being necessary." Suna Erdem (Times of London) notes, " Until now, though, Mr Erdogan has appeared reluctant to pursue an act that could result in a military quagmire and cause serious diplomatic problems. The authorities in Washington and Iraq, already struggling to control insurgent violence, are unwilling to condone anything that could cause unrest in the country's most stable region. Turkey's rulers would also probably prefer to do without the complication of a military operation at a time when they are seeking to kick-start their membership talks with the European Union."

Turning to peace news,
September 7th, we noted the police abuse Tina Richards, Adam Kokesh and Ian Thompson were the victims when they attempted to put up posters -- actually, when they attempted to hold a press conference discussing the legal way to poster in DC for the upcoming peace event sponsored by A.N.S.W.E.R. and others. Last Thursday, the Washington Post notes, Richards, Kokesh and Thompson "appeared in court" and were instructed the DC Superior Court trial will start (for the 'crime' of postering) on January 3rd. At his site, Kokesh addresses the Flock of Seagulls (aka Gathering of Eagles): "Chris Hill ('National Director of Ops' for the Gathering of Eagles, a pro-war advocacy group) and other members of his group verbally and physically attacked a Gold Star father of a fallen soldier who was participating in a anti-war march on 9/15. The Gold Star father, Carlos Arredondo, was marching with a picture of his fallen son when Hill and members of the pro-war group began verbally harassing him and then physically confronted him to take away the photo of his son. In the process Mr. Arredondo was knocked to the ground and kicked. Hill wrestled the photo of Mr. Arredondo's son, Alex, away from Gold Star father, claiming to have liberated it. The Gathering of Eagles Group had attended the anti-war march for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the protesters." And (Language Warning) also here where he includes photos of their attack on Arredondo. The "Gathering" is set to land in the Bay Area Wednesday October 17th where they will attempt to bully CODEPINK into stopping their activism at the military recruiting center in Berkeley on Shattuck Ave. Apparently Flock of Seagulls loves war so much they want all to have a right to bleed to death in an illegal war.

In other disgusting news,
CBS and AP note, "The U.S. released 60 Iraqi prisoners, including 10 youths, Wednesday. As a gesture of good will, the U.S. military has pledged to release more than 50 detainees a day during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends later this week." CNN gets in on the nonsense quoting US Maj Gen Doug Stone delcaring that not one "of the 1,000-plus Iraqi detainnes freed in recent weeks have broken a pledge not to return to the insurgency" -- CNN's so caught up in the hype that they fail to make the obvious point that Stone really wouldn't know if they had or not. But is there one damn adult left in broadcast news? If so, might they sound the alarm of these 'releases' which are the sort of things despots do to curry favor. If those imprisoned shouldn't be (and the majority shouldn't), then they get released for that reason, not in "a gesture of good will." This is really disgusting and that it's not registering says something truly troubling about our news media which seems to be longing for a King John.

October 12th,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc. In most markets, the program airs on Friday, check your local listings.

adam kokesh
andrew e. kramer


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Illegal spying (inactive Congress), Ken Silverstein

I told Mike I thought I was too tired to blog tonight and he suggested we both just grab headlines from Democracy Now! like we used to which, besides being easy, seemed like a way to show support for Amy Goodman who's broadcasting with Bell's Palsy. It's not a life threatening disorder. It shouldn't be a permanent one. But it does take courage to do that.

"Democrats Back Down on Pledge To Restrict Wiretapping" (Democracy Now!):
The New York Times is reporting Congressional Democrats appear to be backing down from promises made two months ago to roll back broad new wiretapping programs granted to the National Security Agency. A Democratic bill to be proposed today in the House would impose some controls over the N.S.A.'s powers but would give the government broad, blanket authority for wiretapping. Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies said: "This still authorizes the interception of Americans" international communications without a warrant in far too many instances and without adequate civil liberties protections." Senate Democrats are drafting a competing proposal that might retroactively grant immunity for telecommunications companies that took part in the N.S.A.'s warrantless domestic spying program.

Cedric's "Dem leadership busy caving again" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DEMOCRATS GET READY TO CAVE AGAIN!" addressed that story yesterday. I really don't know how many times we can learn that our Democratically-controlled Congress has betrayed the nation again and still be shocked?

It's become like a really old soap opera: Another Congress. Each day there's another tragedy for the nation and you picture Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in one another's arm screaming, "NO!" as the cheesy organ music swells.

Though they are very good at the melodrama, they are lousy at their jobs. Their jobs include oversight and they've offered none as the ACLU points out.

"ACLU Urges Senate to Move Ahead With Contempt Charges, Rejects Claims of Executive Privilege (10/2/2007)" (ACLU):
Washington, DC -- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to move forward with contempt proceedings against White House officials who refused to cooperate with legitimate subpoenas issued under congressional authority. The ACLU also released a memo to assist Congress in understanding the limits of executive privilege and the authorities it has to compel compliance with the subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program. The ACLU's memo concludes that the documents requested are not covered under the privilege and should be released immediately. The administration has already missed two deadlines set by the committee.
"Many presidents have overreached by claiming executive privilege to hide documents and witnesses from public oversight, and each time Congress has slapped their hands," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Today's Congress must do the same if it wishes to operate as a meaningful and equal branch of government."
The courts have long held that executive privilege is not absolute, and even where it applies it can be overcome if the other branches of government can show they need the information. Congress has significant legislative and oversight interests in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program because it is currently considering legislation to replace the Protect America Act.
Most importantly, the courts have held that the privilege cannot be invoked to hide government wrongdoing. Even where issues concerning national security are at stake Congress has a right to the information it needs to fulfill its constitutional obligations. Facing a possible constitutional crisis capable of destroying our crucial checks and balances, the ACLU also reminded Congress just how vital its oversight and legislative role is.
"The federal courts have long held that Congress has the authority not only to pass laws, but investigate their implementation," added Fredrickson. "Congress is facing an historic moment where it can either fight for its rightful place in our constitutional system of government or accept the president’s continued and sweeping claims of supremacy. It's do or die time for the separation of powers."
To read the ACLU's memo on executive privilege, go to:

To add a little perspective to this issue (I'm not referring to the ACLU press release which lays it out fine), FISA is not part of our original government. You have fools today who think FISA is perfectly acceptable. It is not. But they've grown up under it and are ready to give the secret court more powers, just not the ones Democrats want. So you have "critiques" from fools.

You can file Russ Feingold under "fool" or "liar" on this issue. There are some on the so-called left pushing making it easier for FISA to spy and arguing that warrants are needed now for calls that could have been traced under FISA (a secret court created in the 70s in the aftermath of Watergate) so they need to change the legislation and they cite that the FISA court wants it. Well want in one hand . . . The reality is FISA issues warrants. If there's a problem getting a FISA warrant to spy currently then the problem is not that the call is being routed through the United States.

We do not need to give blank checks on spying and that's what making warrantless spying would be doing. FISA is a joke (and a threat to liberty). They rubber stamp over 96% of every request they receive. To act is if FISA is suffering because they have to issue warrants -- and that the answer is to do away with warrant requests on some calls -- is nonsense and foolish.

"FCC Won't Investigate Role of Telecoms in Domestic Spying" (Democracy Now!): Meanwhile the Federal Communications Commission has announced it will not investigate whether Verizon, AT&T and other telephone companies handed over customer phone records to the government as part of its domestic surveillance program. FCC Chair Kevin Martin cited National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell's claim that such an investigation would pose an unnecessary risk of damage to the national security.

Well why not? Why should the FCC, dominated by Bully Boy appointees, bother to do their job when Congress isn't doing their own job?

"Facts and Darfur" (Ken Silverstein, Harper's magazine):
All groups, left, right and center, sometimes make sensational claims and cite dubious statistics. Political organizations do it for obvious reasons and advocacy groups do it because it calls attention to their cause and helps bring in money. For years, the Southern Poverty Law Center hyped the threat of the Klan in the course of raising a $100 million-plus endowment. This same sort of game is apparently being played by Save Darfur, whose “mission is to raise public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur." The group has claimed in ads that as many as 400,000 civilians have been killed in Darfur, saying on its website that this results from a "scorched-earth campaign by the Sudanese government against Darfuri civilians."
The problem is that the 400,000 figure is inflated and the whole Save Darfur campaign oversimplifies the conflict there into black and white. Or to be more precise, into black and brown--the Save Darfur story is that good Africans are being killed by bad Arabs, even though many of those Arab victimizers are just as dark-skinned as the African victims. Even advocacy groups on the ground have criticized Save Darfur, saying it has distorted realities and that its policy prescriptions are dangerous.
I'm not offering an apology for the Sudanese government, which is guilty of egregious war crimes in Sudan. When I was at the Los Angeles Times in 2004 I wrote a story about intelligence collaboration between the CIA and Sudan's Mukhabarat that was widely circulated by Save Darfur and I've accepted invitations to speak at events organized by advocacy groups. But the situation in Darfur, and Sudan more broadly, is far more complex than what is typically reported here.
As to the number of deaths in Darfur: last year, a member of the Save Darfur coalition ran full-page ads in British newspapers that claimed that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had unleashed "vicious armed militias to slaughter entire villages of his own citizens. After three years, 400,000 innocent men, women and children have been killed."
The ads, virtually identical to ones run by the group here, were challenged by the European Sudanese Public Affairs Council (ESPAC), which is close to the government in Khartoum and funded by companies that do business in Sudan. Earlier this year, the British Advertising Standards Authority ruled in ESPAC's favor, saying studies did not support the 400,000 figure, which it deemed to be a disputed "opinion," not a fact.
Aid groups, too, have been angered by Save Darfur, especially its calls for UN intervention in Darfur and the imposition of a "no-fly" zone there. In an email to Save Darfur sent earlier this year, Samuel Worthington, head of an aid group called InterAction, wrote, "I want to privately convey to you our strongest objection to the wording used in your current Save Darfur media and e-mail campaign. As someone who like you is a strong advocate for human rights and the protection of populations who do not have a voice I am deeply concerned by the inability of Save Darfur to be informed by realities on the ground and to understand the consequences of your proposed actions." The email accused Save Darfur of "misstating the facts" and said that the policy recommendations offered up in its ads "would set into motion a series of events that could easily result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals."

It's amazing that a group like Save Darfur could have any credibility left after the New York Times revealed the group spent twelve million dollars in 2006 and not one penny went to aid or aid workers in Darfur. Where did the money go? Advertising. That group has repeatedly distroted and mistated -- and done so in a such a manner that it's not a reach to say it was done deliberately. A moment of reality peaked through in the spring when a scholar spoke on Democracy Now!

"Truest statement of the week" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, May 20, 2007): AMY GOODMAN: John, we just have thirty seconds, but do you think oil is a secret motive with US relations with Sudan?
JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Possibly. I mean, yes and no. I mean, look, I think China is much more transparent about oil in Sudan. The US relationship with Sudan is a complex one, and for the last few years it's had a lot to do with cooperation on counterterrorism and intelligence gathering, as well. The Sudan conflict is a lot more complicated than it tends to get presented out as in the media, to be honest, especially the Darfur conflict. And oil kind of plays a part, but it's not the main driving factor.
-- from "'Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil'," Democracy Now!, last Thursday. The sound you hear is 100 Modern Day Carrie Nations hissing and their flock scratching their heads in confusion.

I wonder how many people have grasped that the US is setting up bases in Africa? Or that 'experts' predict Africa will be the next region the US must (out of kindness, to be sure) 'police.'

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, mercenaries in Iraq are still in hot water, the allged coalition loses more, Ehren Watada is not being court-martialed today (at least one US paper missed that news over the weekend), things heat up between Turkey and Iraq, 57 is the highest count thus far for the number dead from violence in Iraq today, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Despite
Michael Winter (USA Today)'s blog post ("Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy to Iraq, faces his second court-martial at Fort Lewish, Wash.") posted last night, there is no court-martial for Ehren Watada today. The court-martial has a stay in place until at least October 26th. As Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes, "US. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle in Seattle, WA took the unusual step of intervening in a military proceeding, ordering a halt to the second attempt by the Army to court-martial Lt. Ehren Watada, while he considers the merits of Lt. Watada's claim that he is being subjected to double jeopardy by being re-court-martialed a second time. Watada, who in June 2006 refused orders to ship out to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, claiming that it was an illegal war and that it would subject US military particpants to participating in war crimes, made his argument last February at a court-martial proceeding that eneded in a mistrail when the military and the military trial judge realized that the young lieutenant was winning his case. Rather than risk losing on acliam of the Iraq War's legitimacy, the judge in the prosecution sought, and the hearing officer granted a mistrial. However, under established precedent, all the way to the US Supreme Court, it has been accepted that it is not appropritate for prosecutors to declare mistrials and then seek another trial, for the obvious reason that prosecutors would always resort to such a tactic if they found themselves in danger of losing a case. Only when the defense wins a mistrial ruling can the prosecution seek a second trial. Precedent notwithstanding, the Army decided it couldn't let Lt. Watada walk away from the war claiming it is illegal, so it has attempted to court-martial him again." Mari-Ela David (Hawaii's KHNL) quotes Kenneth Kagan -- one of Watada's two civilian attorneys -- stating, "As you can imagine Lt. Watada is feeling incredibly relieved that A, he's not going to have to go to trial on Tuesday and B., that somebody finally is going to take this case seriously and give it a meaningful review.". At the Veterans for Peace confrence last year (August 12, 2006), Watada was one of the speakers (a/v and text both here) and his speech included this:

I stand before you today, not as an expert -- not as one who pretends to have all the answers. I am simply an American and a servant of the American people. My humble opinions today are just that. I realize that you may not agree with everything I have to say. However, I did not choose to be a leader for popularity. I did it to serve and make better the soldiers of this country. And I swore to carry out this charge honorably under the rule of law.Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War - but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.Now it is not an easy task for the soldier. For he or she must be aware that they are being used for ill-gain. They must hold themselves responsible for individual action. They must remember duty to the Constitution and the people supersedes the ideologies of their leadership. The soldier must be willing to face ostracism by their peers, worry over the survival of their families, and of course the loss of personal freedom. They must know that resisting an authoritarian government at home is equally important to fighting a foreign aggressor on the battlefield. Finally, those wearing the uniform must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that by refusing immoral and illegal orders they will be supported by the people not with mere words but by action.

Philip Greenspan (Swans Commentary) reflects on the historical nature of resistance within the military, "An unprecedented massive mutiny during the Vietnam War was the coup de grace for the US. Col Robert D. Heinl, Jr. in an englightening article on that mutiny states 'It is a truism that national armies closely reflect societies from which they have been raised. It would be strange indeed if the Armed Forces did not today mirror the agonizing divisions and social traumas of American society, and of course they do.' What happened then can recur and symptoms are already appearing. Reenlistments are down. The services are having difficulty meeting enlistment quotas although they have downgraded requirements and expanded the age for enlistment. West Point graduates are increasingly opting-out when their commitment is complete. Over twenty retired generals defied tradition to criticize the commander in chief. Desertions and AOWLs are increasing."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

"I mean, is part of the problem that even though they've had this rogue reputation, they've been successful?" Joan Biskupic, USA Today, demonstrating a desire to jump into the gas baggery on PBS'
Washington Week over the weekend and also demonstrating she's hopelessly out of touch when it comes to the issue of Blackwater or any other mecenaries operating under US contract in Iraq. Today, Aileen Alfandary, on KPFA's The Morning Show, noted the latest victims of the mercenaries who think the country of Iraq is a turkey shoot -- mercenaries "killed two women". Sources at the Iraqi Interior Ministry inform CNN that the women had been driving through Baghdad and the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, Abdul Karim Khalaf, states that the women's vehicle was hit by at least nineteen bullets. CBS and AP place the slaughter "at an intersection in central Baghdad, notes the US State Dept states their own staff were not part of the convoy but "an American nongovernmental organization may have been involved" while CBS and AP note that the two "deaths threatened to increase calls for limits on the private security firms, which have come under intense scrutiny since the Sept. 15 shooting deaths of as many as 17 Iraqi civilians allegedly by guards with Blackwater" -- Blackwater is not said to be the mercenary company involved in this slaughter, to be clear. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the mercenary company is thought to be Australian. Mariam Karouny and Haider Salahudding (Reuters) report that the company is Unity Resources Group which is a Dubai-based company that has been "on a U.S. State Department list of security firms doing business in Iraq. The State Department Web site said the company was staffed and managed by experienced security professionals drawn from the special forces and police SWAT communities of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Europe." AFP reports eye witness Sattar Jabar states a third woman was "wounded in the shoulder" and that children in the car included at least one who "had been struck by flying glass." On the September slaughter, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times has revealed that the widow of the Iraqi vice presidential guard killed last year by a Blackwater employee has yet to receive any compensation. The Iraqi guard was fatally shot while on duty in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone by a drunk Blackwater employee named Andrew Moonen. After the fatal shooting Moonen was flown out of Iraq. He was never charged with a crime. Two months later, Moonen reportedly returned to the Middle East to work for another private military company, Combat Support Associates." Tina Susman and Raheem Salman are the LAT reporters who covered that story and wrote of thirty-year-old Umm Sajjad and the two sons she now raises without their father (ages six and ten-years-old) and quote Umm Sajjad stating, "The money of the whole world is not able to compensate for my husband, but what I want is enough to guarantee my children's future . . . and to buy a house. I don't want them to feel that they lost their father. My responsibilities now are to act as both a mother and a father." Umm Sajjad was also misinformed by someone because she was under the impression Andrew Moonen had been tried in Iraq for the death of her husband -- that has never happened.

Staying with violence.
AP reports that "at least 24" died in Iraq yesterday from bombings. Mariam Karouny and David Clarke (Reuters) note their agency counts at least 56 reported deaths from violence today. Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) places the count at 57.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad mortar attack left six injured, while a Baghdad bombing "near the old bridge in Jisr Diyala" claimed 1 life and left eleven wounded, and four Baghdad car bombings claimed 10 lives and left fifty-eight injured. David Clarke and Aseel Kami (Reuters) count 22 dead from two car bombings in northern Iraq. Reuters notes at least 30 injured in the bombings while a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left three people injured,


KUNA reports that Sheikh Ibrahim Abdel Karim was assassinated today in Baghdad by unknown assailants. Reuters reports, "Gunmen killed Abdul-Aali Thenoon, the deputy police chief of Nineveh Province, and wounded his driver in a drive-by shooting in the city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . . . Gunmen wounded Abdul-Amir Mahmoud, the head of police intelligence in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said." Reuters also notes a police officer shot dead in Kirkuk. Christian Bethelsen (Los Angeles Times) reports a Baghdad home invasion that claimed the lives of a the father, a "son, another relative and a neighbor."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses discovered in Baghdad today and 3 in Babil.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the border between Iran and Iraq has been repopened by Iran -- this is in northern Iraq, in the Kurdish region -- and Zavis notes, "In a deal announced Sunday, the two sides pledged to crack down on Iranian Kurdish rebels who are using Iraq as a base to launch attacks against Iran, and Iraqi militants who are using Iran as a base to attack Kurdish regional authorities." But wait. Iran shares a border with Turkey and Turkey shares a northern border with Iraq. Hidir Goktas and Gareth Jones (Reuters) report that -- as tensions continue to flare between the Kurdish region in Iraq and the Turkish government -- "Turkey's prime minister gave the green light on Tuesday for possible military action in northern Iraq to confront Kurdish rebels there, drawing a warning from the United States, which fears wider regional instability." Turkish Daily News reports that the 15 Turkish troops killed "late Sunday and early Monday" are thought to have been killed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and that, as a result, "Military action to crack down on the PKK bases in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq was one of the strong measures on the table."

Meanwhile the announcement yesterday regarding the drawdown by the United Kingdom is,
according to AP, only "the latest blow to the U.S.-led coalition . . . The alliance is crumbling and fast: Half a dozen other members are withdrawing troops or intend to. By mid-2008, excluding Americans, there will be about 7,000 troops in the multinational force, down from a peak of about 50,000 at the start of the war 4 1/2 years ago, a new review by The Associated Press shows."

Yesterday in England, thousands of demonstators gathered to say no to war.
Brian Eno, in a speech (posted at CounterPunch), delcared, "What this says to me is that the current American government -- and ours, for as long as we follow them -- thrives on a state of war. They need it because it allows them to carry on with business as usual whilst at the same time suppressing dissent 'for security reasons'. It allows them to sidestep the democratic process by maintaining a continuous state of emergency. For the sake of our country, and Iraq -- as well as for the sake of all those who in the future are going to be cast as 'our enemies,' we must get off this war-mongering treadmill. Our government talks about our 'special relationship' with America, but we should be asking how special that really is." Prior to an our before the march, arrests were expected with the authorities calling the march illegal. As the BBC notes, "The Stop the War Coalition timed its protest to coincide with Gordon Brown's Commons statement on Iraq. Students, campaigners and trade unions joined the rally in Trafalgar Square, before marching down to Parliament." Chris Bambery (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports the at least 5,000 participating included students and "The big turn out of students on the march demonstrated Stop the War's success in establishing itself on campus this year. The hundred and fifty students joined a feeder march from the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London. Alexandria Szyellowski had travelled from Warwick university because she felt it important 'to exercise democracy'. She said there was an active Stop the War group at the university. Birmingham university student Rachel Hudd chipped in to say she'd come to protest at the police ban. She added that she felt that students needed to build a Stop the War group at her college. Matthew Vickery had come from Sheffield Hallam University where a Stop the War group had just been launched. 'This is the first thing we've done as a group. The students have come down. People were furious when they found out the march had been banned'." The Stop the War Coalition makes a point "to thank everyone who managed to attend yesterday, everyone who helped organise and publicise the demonstration and the many hundreds of people from around the country and the world who have e-mailed and phoned their messages of support." Clicking here will take you to photos, videos and blog posts of yesterday's demonstration. Mike Wells (UK Indymedia) contributes a photo essay focusing on the police tactics. Jennifer Hill (Reuters) reports that four people were arrested. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would draw troops down to 2,500 (from 5,500) by spring 2008. Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Brown's government faces increasingly vociferous opposition to the war. A YouGov poll this year showed that 30% of respondents wanted troops out as soon as possible, while an additional 40% wanted a time limit of no more than 18 months. Thousands of protestors marched through central London to Parliament on Monday to voice opposition to a war in which 170 British soldiers have lost their lives. Protesters were dismissive of the reductions Brown announced. 'The smaller the number of British troops is, the more stupid the British policy is. What can you do with two and a half thousand troops? It's simply a political gesture to support George Bush,' said David Wilson, a spokes[person] for the Stop the War Coalition, which organized the march." Jeni Harvey (Rochdale Observer) reports member of Parliament Paul Rowen was among the protesters and quotes him stating, "The Lib Dems have long called for our troops to come home. That is why I joined the Stop the War Coalition in their march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament. If the former Prime Minister Tony Blair had listened to our leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, in January, then all of our troops would be coming home this month. . . . It's time to bring all our troops home and that's why I was proud to join the march. I know that this will be welcomed by the dozens of Rochdale residents who called for me to join the march." On March 13, 2006, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted Ben Griffin, "In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as 'untermenschen' -- the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing 'dozens of illegal acts' in Iraq." Griffin was among the speakers at yesterday's rally and Military Families Against War has posted video of his speech: "Sometime today Gordon Brown will probably announce a drawdown in British troops in Basra. He only did this last week as a feeble piece of electioneering. And if you look at the photos of Gordon Brown and the soldiers behind him, the looks on their faces say it all -- they're fed up. Even when we bring those troops out of Basra -- who are, at present, an insignificant number anyway -- there will still be a continued presence of British troops in Baghdad. By a sizeable force the special forces are currently operating there under the direct control of America. Now when we bring our forces out of Basra, questions have to be asked about what our special forces are doing in Baghdad and whose interests they are serving?" In March of 2006, Alistair Highet wrote about Griffin in "Observer: Vietnam All Over Again" for the Hartford Advocate -- which now appears to be gone but we noted it then and Highet quoted Griffen telling the military board review that "I did not join the British army to conduct American foreign policy."

In the US,
Military Families Speak Out's Dante Zappala raises serious questions (Philadelphia Inquirer via Common Dreams): "The question is: What are we funding? Are we really benefiting our military by leaving them under-equipped and stretched thin? What is their mission amidst a civil war fought, in part, with weapons we flooded into the country? Does continuing this morass not somehow benefit al Qaeda? Politicians will gloss over these questions and the brunt of the unending carnage will be absorbed by people like my nephew. Some pundits, meanwhile, cheer from the sidelines and ask these children to accept their tragedy as historically insignificant. How awful will we, as a nation, become to maintain this war?"