Friday, October 10, 2008

The Common Ills

I was supposed to be attending the Iraq study group but made the mistake of mentioning to a few what I was planning on blogging tonight and the reaction was, "Write it early so I can link to it!"

The Common Ills hits the four year mark next month. I thought I'd push ahead in line and write about that.

I had many ideas of where to start but Ruth pointed out, "The only place to start is with C.I." She is correct.

Throughout 2003-2004, I was among the many friends of C.I.'s saying, "You should start a blog." In one regard, we were being selfish. C.I. is famous for her letters. There are people I haven't seen in years but feel as if I've kept up with them due to C.I.'s letters. The letters are page turners and they address everything and anything. When I was a smoker, I'd have to light up to enjoy the good read. In February 2003, C.I. had to fill in for a friend who had scheduled some college campus events to speak out against what seemed (and what was) the impending illegal war. C.I. grabbed those and was supposed to finish them out at or near the end of March. However, the illegal war started.

So we all loved the phone calls (those of us in C.I.'s inner circle) and we loved what remained of the 'letters' (largely observations of campus reactions to the illegal war and much shorter than most of us were used to). But to be honest, a lot of us thought, "A blog would be a way to get those letters still."

Equally true was that many of us thought a blog would mean C.I. could go off the road. So we pestered and we pleaded. C.I.'s response was always, "I don't even know what a blog is." After the 2004 election, C.I. participated in a "what worked and what didn't" conversation. It was illuminating in many ways but the only thing C.I. could really think of for "what I could have done but didn't" was do a blog.

If you know C.I. what happens next is not at all unexpected. C.I. left the meeting, went home and tried to learn about blogs. But there's never time so after about 20 minutes, C.I. just tried to learn how to set up one. Within a half-hour of arriving home, C.I. had done just that. I was a small handful of people (20) that C.I. passed on the news to. In fact, we were on the phone that night.

I could talk about how to find readers but that's really C.I.'s story. If she wants to tell it, she will. One thing she's written of online is that the multi-posts on day two were really just practice and comfort.

She knew no rules and wasn't sure what to do or how to do it. Due to the fact that the New York Times had ticked her off that day, that became the paper they referenced. But C.I. has a shy streak that you really have to know her to grasp. She can go out before a crowd and you'd never know there was any discomfort if you didn't really know her.

So it's no surprise for those of us who know her that her first post that first Friday was the sort of thing where her hands were shaking and she was extremely nervous. She didn't want that discomfort level so she planned 'easy' topics for Saturday that would let her post multiple times and get comfortable.

Due to her own interests, they caught attention. Again, she can write about that. But she had people leaving comments and e-mailing. I'll go ahead and share her greatest regret. One of the nicest comments (there weren't any mean comments) was from a young woman (I think she was 17) who had her own blog. C.I. did not know how to do a "blog roll" then. If she had, that young woman would have been on the blog roll just for that first comment. But when comments were closed (I'll get to that), that comment was closed. (There may be a way for C.I. to read it. If so, she's not aware of it and no one else is.)

But one of the posts that second day of blogging is the only one that C.I. would ever change. She feels she was "gushing." It didn't read that way but you could tell she was touched by the fact that people were commenting and sending e-mails. I honestly think it is more the self-referential factor that has C.I. embarrassed about that post.

As someone who has known her for years (we went to college together and became friends, but I knew her before that), I know that "Let me talk about me" (facts, feelings or memories or dreams) is not a topic C.I. ever offers in conversation. So I truly believe that's where the discomfort factor comes in.

Jim, Jess, Ty and Dona were leaving comments and e-mailing from that Saturday. They go way back in the community.

C.I. always says (and often writes) that the community shaped The Common Ills. Those aren't empty words. They shaped the focus, the content and you name it. The first big attention getting thing at The Common Ills was probably "When NPR Fails You, Who You Gonna' Call? Not the Ombudsman" which resulted in a ton of links. C.I. didn't plan to write that. Someone wrote in asking that the topic be addressed and C.I. did it. From there, many more would get attention from outside the community, but that first one came solely because a reader wrote in that he was unhappy with the NPR ombudsman's response. So C.I. read the response and explained why the commentator should never have been invited on. (A point that the ombudsman should have known but apparently didn't or didn't want to write about that.)

That got a lot of attention and a lot of comments. In December 2004, comments would be shut down. Keesha had shared repeatedly that she didn't like the comment option. She had visited many blogs and would feel comfortable with one and then comments would be left attacking her for her race. C.I. promised her that comments would be closed if that ever happened. There were two Blue Dog Democrats who always had to leave comments and one day they attacked Keesha with racist statements. That's when C.I. closed comments (and had to learn how to do that).

Keesha and other members truly shaped the community. Liang and Marcia are early community members. When comments were closed, it especially became necessary for C.I. to represent the community and to speak for them. That was a lot of pressure and it's not anything that the rest of us would ever attempt to tackle. For one thing, we don't have the time to go through multiple e-mails before we write a word.
But that is C.I. She will always raise a voice for those who feel no one is speaking for them.

It was a left site from the start. It was a feminist site. It was a blog. That changed before the comments were closed. C.I. jokes about how she never learned to do a blog. What she did do was build a community.

This time, what's going on right now, is actually more helpful to explaining The Common Ills than any other period. That's because it's similar to when C.I. started The Common Ills. Look for discussions about Iraq. You will have a hard time finding them. Iraq was a topic for The Common Ills and Jim will tell you that is one of the things that drew Ty, Jess, Dona and himself to The Common Ills that first weekend. No one was talking about Iraq. Everyone was still in the election.

They would stay in that mode for the next month as well. In January, the 'anti-war' AlterNet would publish an essay that was a War Hawk reconsideration of the Iraq War. (Tom Hayden, when he still had some common sense, managed to call that essay out.) If you notice how C.I. finds a way to cover Iraq each day right now, you've got a good idea of the silence everywhere else that we had to put up with in 2004.

Calling cards are a big deal with Jim and he (rightly) has always noted that Ava and C.I. are The Third Estate Sunday Review's calling card (their writing). C.I. created calling cards at The Common Ills early on and that's what allowed the community to build up. There was a move away at allegedly 'left' sites from abortion and from the illegal war. C.I. didn't play that game.

Another game C.I. didn't play was "Bash the Bitch." It was very, very popular online and went far beyond Judith Miller. Every woman was a target to be carved up. The blogger bois had their (male) heroes and pretty much hated all women and thought they could sexualize them. Todd S. Purdum's "atheletic cup" was an early effort at making the point about the difference in the way a woman was treated and a man was treated. (C.I. knows Todd's wife very well. Todd does not stink. That was an effort to show the way a woman's writing was called out. The bulk of drive-bys got that but to this day, C.I. still gets e-mails asking about that. Despite noting repeatedly at The Common Ills that Todd doesn't stink.)

The same thing happened with members of Congress. Any man could be elevated as a hero and could be applauded but it was as though there were no women in Congress -- unless they could be called out. C.I. wrote a piece on Barbara Boxer and Shirley Tubbs Jones in January of 2005 that took The Common Ills to a new level. It was those entries that really helped define The Common Ills.

You knew Iraq would be covered, you knew that feminism would flow and you could usually count on some hard hitting press criticism with or without humor.

By January, community sites started. I'll focus on A Winding Road here because it was one of the first three and it is no more. A community member named Folding Star started that site. FS covered the Senate and books. FS got e-mails that were nasty and finally began wondering what was the point? After that continued, FS shut down A Winding Road about seven months after it started.

You really have to have a thick skin to be able to blog. (Within three weeks of its start date, The Common Ills was not a 'blog.' It was what everyone wanted C.I. to cover and never "What I wanted to write about.") It's a lesson most have had to learn.

C.I. didn't have to learn it and that's what most people outside the community never grasp. If you don't like something C.I. wrote, it's not the end of the world to C.I. It is something C.I. will take seriously. She'll think about it for days and days, mulling it over. That results from two things. First, C.I. doesn't think she's the last word. (Many would argue I put that mildly.) Second, she will gladly acknowledge she could be wrong ("and I often am" -- pops up all the time at The Common Ills). Equally true is that C.I. can handle negativity aimed at her better than mass love. That's always been the case. C.I.'s hard wired that way.

But Folding Star was a lesson for a lot of people who had sites then and would start one later. C.I. always made clear that no one should ever blame FS for folding up tent. No one should. If you spoke to most people doing sites in the community, you'd grasp that they have thought about it. Wally almost shut down his site in 2006.

This is probably a good point to discuss the going dark in November 2008 aspect. In 2005, C.I. had gone through a great deal (including cancer). She was tired. She was tired of the road, she was tired of the lack of concern about the illegal war in the country at large, she was tired of getting up each day and having to post entries to The Common Ills. A number of other issues came together during a writing session for Third and C.I. declared The Common Ills would probably close down in November of 2008. (She also noted -- and this shocked Jim as much as the closing down -- that the illegal war would still be going on.)

That is typical C.I. The idea of doing something forever, something that can sometimes feel like serving a jail sentence, was too much and she needed an end point she could work to. So knowing that come November 2008, the whole thing could end allowed her something to work to.

The first Christmas, a number of members e-mailed. Krista's gone public about her e-mail so I'll share that story. She'd just graduated college the previous May, found a job in Florida, moved out to Florida and started working. But she didn't have the money to fly home and her parents had their own financial issues that year and she didn't want them to spend money on a plane ticket. So she told them she had to work. She didn't. It's changed a little online but, back then, Christmas meant two to three weeks of nothing online at most sites. (Air America Radio also went into repeats back then. I have no idea if they still do.) The e-mails like Krista raised an issue C.I. had not thought of. It resulted in the fact that C.I. never takes a day off. There's never been a day where C.I. hasn't posted in four years.

If you think about that, you'll probably grasp why anyone would need an end point to work towards.

(Of course, it should be noted that C.I. works with Third every weekend as well as doing The Common Ills.)

Having an end point allowed C.I. to keep going.

Those of us who insisted C.I. should do a site have been proved right.

The reason for that is that C.I. I really think she has come through online. She is not afraid to express her opinion but she's not afraid to allow other opinions and she will go out of her way to defend anyone under attack. She has a fairness that is sorely lacking in many quarters (online and offline).

A perfect example is when the New York Times slimed Paul Bremer. C.I. doesn't care for Bremer but when Bremer responded to the unfair whispers that the paper ran as fact (and unsourced), C.I. took up for Bremer's stand. You didn't find that a lot of other places. Do we actually believe that Bremer could do whatever he wanted without White House approval? There's no way in the world. It was gossips trying to find a fall guy and going to Bremer. Bremer made huge mistakes and needs to take responsibility for them. But to claim that Bremer acted alone is dishonest.

Oklahoma members found themselves in a bind. Ralph Nader did not make the ballot. Nor did Cynthia McKinney. In fact, their only choices are John McCain, Barack Obama or not to vote. They can't write in. They deliberated for weeks and came out with their answer this week: They're endorsing John McCain.

That wasn't a surprise to C.I. (who'd told me last week she expected that to happen). But if you paid attention this week, even before they told her their decision, you saw C.I. preparing for that, anticipating it. You have seen C.I. defend their right and that goes to C.I.

C.I. doesn't care how you vote. C.I. was covering that in 2004 and noting that no one 'steals' an election by garnering votes. C.I. also made clear that your vote is your vote and only you can decide what to do with it. When the decision was announced, it wasn't a shock to the community because we've all grasped the basics on who owns your vote: only you.

The reaction of the community has not been outrage at the Oklahoma members. That goes to the ground work that C.I. has laid.

That's probably the most value of what C.I. has done. Yes, in terms of the Oklahoma decision but also in terms of many other things. C.I. has always been ahead of the curve, her entire life. "Trust those instincts," I've always told her.

What we're hearing (valid criticism) about Barack Obama and Barack's campaign are all points C.I. laid out some time ago. That's really true of any issue C.I. has covered.

Having known her for years, I was amazed at the groundwork laid re: Iraq this week. It's the sort of thing you may not catch if you're not looking but, even if you don't catch it, you absorb it.

A lot of people (online or offline) are caught up in the "response." C.I.'s marking out new territory, breaking new ground. By mid-January, some of the issues C.I.'s raising will be seized upon by others who will rush to play catch up.

So it's just been really great to see. Any of us who try to blog or do a site have to learn how to communicate and how to be who we are. Find a voice is the more precise term. Rebecca will tell you that she was all over the place for her first three or four months. She had the beginning of her voice but it waivered from time to time and she had to find it. With C.I., she just took who she is when she's speaking, who she is when writing a letter and who she is offline.

She's also known her limitations and grasped that she can't cover everything. So you will see the focus shift and narrow. As someone who blogs (and does so very badly), I really appreciate and admire what she's managed to do.

That's leaving aside the personal issues (the cancer in 2005, the return this year), that's leaving aside the hectic schedule, that's leaving aside so many things which, if factored in, really amaze me.

But she found a way to communicate and to keep the war front and center.

The Iraq War.

Begun in March 2003 and still ongoing.

But we saw the 'anti-war' crowd rush off to that war with Iran that they've been telling us (since 2004) is about to break out any day. They've got to stop it. Repeatedly. But it never started. All the time they wasted on that non-issue took time away from Iraq. The illegal war drags on because our 'voices' refuse to take it seriously.

For four years, C.I. will have covered the Iraq War as the illegal war it is. Look around and find the others (online or off) who can say the same.

Didn't we see our big 'anti-war' group trying to garner press attention this week by protesting . . . Wall St. Yes, they always have something to do other than Iraq. Unless Iraq is big in the news and then the 'anti-war' group suddenly remembers it.

If we had ten of C.I., the illegal war would be closer to ending.

Barack Obama is not going to end the illegal war. He admitted June 5th that he won't decide what he'll do if elected until he's elected. His on the road 'promises' to end the illegal war aren't promises. But even those false promises don't promise an end to the illegal war.

Norman Solomon, Jeremey Scahill, Laura Flanders, Matthew Rothschild . . . Think of all the 'anti-war' voices and how they have destroyed their own credibility. I don't know if C.I.'s going to continue The Common Ills much beyond November (it will go through January due to a promise Ava and C.I. made on an unrelated issue) but if C.I. feels like continuing, the reason to do so is that C.I.'s one of the few in this country who has maintained their credibility. The rest have defined their role as cheerleading the War Hawk Barack into the White House.

That will not be forgotten. It's so strange because during Vietnam, we saw these sell outs but they waited until the 1976 election -- after the US left Vietnam.

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

All of the above sites spun off from The Common Ills. I'd hoped to talk about Isaiah's comics, Kat's CD reviews, the community newsletters and more. But I've run out of time. So I'll just steal from Kat and say, "It is what it is."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed, yesterday's assassination causes more suspicions of the US, Iraqi Christians are targeted says an Archbishop, and more.

Yesterday at the White House, spokesperson Dana Perino was asked about Iraqi Christians "losing representation in Iraq's Muslim-dominated legislature" and Perino responded that "I think that that was resolved and the Christians' rights were restored." (Full answer: "I'll check, but I think you should double check, because I think that that was resolved and the Christians' rights were restored.") No, they were not.
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "a separate bill" will be sent "to parliament to restore" Article 50. The bill may or not pass. But the provincial elections bill, which passed by Parliament, passed the presidency council and was signed into law by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, eliminated Article 50 which guaranteed representation to religious minorities. Yesterday, Kim Gamel (AP) reported that in Mosul so far this month, 7 corpses of Iraqi Christians have been discovered, notes that a person's religion is listed on the state i.d., that there are approximately 800,000 Iraqi Christians still in the country, and quotes Chaldean Archibishop Louis Sako stating, "We are worried about the campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul." The Kurdish Globe reported yesterday that the Yazidis and the Christians continue protesting over the elimination of Article 50 and quotes Jamil Zeito ("head of the Seriaques-Chaldeans Public Council") stating, "We will demonstrate and protest until we achieve autonomous rights for Christians in our districts as well as fair representation for religious minorities, including Christians, in the provincial elections. The protests and demonstrations will not stop till we accomplish our fair rights; ignoring the rights of minorities indicates incomplete democracy in Iraq." And, as AINA reports, the issue has led to protests elsewhere as well such as the Iraqi embassy in Sweden where protestors gathered and Isak Monir ("spokesman for the Chaldean Federation in Sweden") explained, "Since the decision to exclude minorities representatives was taken by the Iraqi parliament the violence against Christians has increased remarkably. The groups who want Iraq cleaned from other ethnic and religious groups maybe felt that they are backed up by the parliament and consequently have begun to kill Christians again. They want a homogeneous Iraq -- cleaned from other ethnic and religious groups." Ethan Cole (Christian Post) notes the 3 Iraqi Christians killed on Tuesday in Mosul and he explains of Mosul "the city is a historic center for Assyrian Christians, who view it as their ancestral homeland. It is home to the second-largest community of Christians in Iraq, after Baghdad." Asia News (via Catholic Today) identifies the dead: More Christian blood in Mosul. On October 7, a father and son were killed in the neighborhood of Sukkar while they were working. Amjad Hadi Petros and his son were killed because "they were guilty of being Christian" in a place where a "systematic persecution" is being seen. In a second attack, recorded in another of the city's neighborhoods, a fundamentalist group broke into a pharmacy and killed an assistant, also of the Christian religion. We also recounted the execution, on Monday, October 6, of Ziad Kamal, a 25-year-old disabled shop owner in the city. The young man owned a store in the neighborhood of Karama: he was taken by an armed group from inside his store and brought to a nearby spot, where he was shot to death. Also, on Saturday, October 4, two more men were barbarously assassinated in two other areas of Mosul: Hazim Thomaso Youssif, 40, was killed in front of the clothing store he owned, while 15-year-old Ivan Nuwya was shot to death in the neighborhood of Tahrir, outside of his house in front of the local mosque of Alzhara.

Vatican Radio offers a report:
Vatican Radio: Concern is growing once again over violence against Christians in nothern Iraq where, in the last week alone, seven of them have been killed in the city of Mosul. Attacks have tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide but these latest killings have sparked renewed fears. The Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Luis Sako, has condemned the violence.

Archbishop Sako: In Mosul the situation is terrible especially for the Christians and many families left the city, children cannot go to the school and also people cannot go to work they are staying in their houses. Just a real tragedy for them. I made an appeal to the Mosul population because I am from Mosul -- I lived years in Mosul, in a parish -- and I had many, many relationships with Muslims most of them so I made a call and an appeal. This appeal has been delivered in all the local medias. This could be helpful to encourage Muslim moderates to react and to do something.

United Nations and Peoples Organization notes the Wednesday meeting of the European Parliament of the EPP-ED in Brussles which addressed "Christian Communities in the Muslim World: Iraq". Archbishop of Mosul Basile Georges Casmoussa called the crisis "heartbreaking" and stated Iraq Christians make up 40% of the refugee population despite being only 4% of Iraq's population. He also noted that that "aid was not reaching Christians in Iraq". The report also notes: "Kirkuk was identified as a crucial issue by Ms. Naglaa Elhag, of the IKV Pax Christi organization, in her presentation on 'The Situation of Refugees in Iraq' -- the topic of the final panel. Until this was addressed and Europe adopted a cohesive policy there were few positive signs to be seen in the region Ms. Elhag concluded. Even outside Iraq, Christians continued to find themselves excluded from basic social services and had to face ongoing intimidation and violence. There was also a pressing need to hold the Iraqi government accountable for its failure to adequately protect the Iraqi Christian minority." Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) reports Archbishop Louis Sako declared today, "We are the target of a campaign of liquidation, a campaign of violence. The objective is political. . . . We have heard many words from Prime Minister Maliki, but unfortunately this has not translated into reality. We continue to be targeted. We want solutions, not promises." So, to toss back to Dana Perino, no, "that" was not "resolved."

Dana Priest (Washington Post) was online at her paper yesterday afternoon for a discussion with readers and the topic of the National Intelligence Estimate [] was raised. Priest: "The jist of the NIE has been known for a while, since all the reporting that the Washington Post and other major news organizations have been doing over the past year says, basically, the same thing. In this sense, the NIE does not offer a big revelation; it just brings the series of daily intel/military analysis on Afghanistan to a higher level with more visibility. Unlike the days before the Iraq war, many people have access to what's happening in afghanistan and are willing to share it with reporters, in part because they are frustrated it's not getting more attention and they believe it should if, as we have said since 9-11, defeating terrorism is a priority." Wednesday Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the upcoming National Intelligence Estimate (which may or may not be released prior to the US elections in November), "The draft NIE, however, warns that the improvements in security and political progress, like the recent passage of a provincial election law, are threatened by lingering disputes between the majority Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs, Kurds and other minorities, the U.S. officials said. Sources of tension identified by the NIE, they said, include a struggle between Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen for control of the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk; and the Shiite-led central government's unfulfilled vows to hire former Sunni insurgents who joined Awakening groups." At the White House yesterday Dana Perino noted that US Secretary of State Condi Rice has not read the report. Not a slam at Condi, just noting that the report is under wraps. Rice noted she hadn't read it in brief remarks to the press before meeting with Maris Reikstins (Lativian Foreign Affairs Minister) in DC, "Well, in fact, I have actually not seen the NIE. I will -- I assume that we'll be briefed on it shortly. But in any case, we had asked for the intelligence community to take a look. It's important that it do so." The issue of the NIE was raised at Thursday's State Dept press briefing conducted by Sean McCormack who noted, "She [Rice] has not yet seen it, and I don't believe any of the policy makers in the State Department have seen any drafts of this assessment. I would expect at some point that they will be briefed on it."

As noted in
yesterday's snapshot, Iraqi MP Saleh al-Auaeili was assassinated yesterday. al-Auqaeili had been one of the 30 member Sadr bloc in Parliament. Tensions are high over the assassination and Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) reports overnight fighting in the Sadr City section of Baghdad between, on one side, Sadr supporters and, on the other, Iraqi and US forces. Fleishman also notes that Ahmed Massoudi ("a Sadr spokesman") states, "The occupation sent us a message by staging this attack [the assassination] because of our stance against the agreement." Sam Dagher (New York Times) quotes Sheik Salah al-Obeidi (Moqtada al-"Sadr's chief spokesman") stating, "By killing Ugaili they are silencing a major opponent of the agreement" -- which would be the treaty the White House and the puppet of the occupation want to pretend is a SOFA. Sheik al-Obeidi ties the assassination in with other pressure to push on the treaty including US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte's visit to Iraq this week and he also notes that a demonstration will take place October 18th in Baghdad "against the American presence in Iraq." Ernesto London (Washington Post) quoted MP Ahmad al-Massoudi stating, "We have laid the blame on the occupation forces and the Iraqi government for the martyrdom of [the lawmaker] because the explosion happened in an area that is under the control of" the US military (the Green Zone). Marwa Sabah (AFP) reports that the "[m]ourners shouted anti-American slogans . . . as relatives hugged each other and wept while the wooden coffin of Ogayly was brought out of his home early on Friday draped in the tri-colour Iraqi flag." Khaled Farhan (Reuters) notes a statement released by Moqtada al-Sadr: "The martyr gave most of his time to eject the occupiers. . . . And for this reason the hand of the hateful occupation and terrorism killed him." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that observers (US and Iraqi) are noting a shift from acts of violence targeting mass numbers of people to assassination attempts "using magnetic bombs, weapons with silencers and bicycle bombs. As provinicial elections approach, some officials worry that assassinations will increase as political parties try to eradicate their competitors." Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quotes the statement by al-Sadr reading, "Here is another star that brightens in the sky of martyrs, of Sadr followers and the sons of Iraq. Another martyr waters the land of Iraq with his blood, a martyr that sacrifices himself for the sake of Iraq and the people of Iraq, a martyr that gave all of his time to expel the occupier and not to sign agreements with him."

Tensions in Baghdad also include the ongoing conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey.
Hurriyet notes reports coming out stating that Turkey will be "direct talks with the regional administration in the northern Iraq in its fight against the terror organization, PKK". CNN notes that Turkey bombed northern Iraq again today. Reuters provides the catch-up for the latest tensions, "Turkey's parliament on Wednesday approved a government request to extend for another year a mandate to launch military operations against PKK rebels based in northern Iraq from where they are suspected of crossing into Turkey to attack soldiers.
Turkish authorities are under mounting pressure after a series of deadly attacks on Turkish security forces and police, which has left more than 20 dead in recent days." Meanwhile the
Turkish Daily News offers this observation, "It looks like the [Turkish] government will not bow to pressure from the opposition which calls for a ground incursion to Iraq as well as setting up a security zone in the border." At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Sean McCormack was asked about Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan's statements regarding " a buffer zone in northern Iraq" to prevent attacks by the PKK on Turkey and McCormack replied, "We are working with the Turkish and Iraqi governments on a common problem, and that is the threat of terrorism from the PKK." An October 17th vote for a non-permantnet seat on the United Nations' Security Council will be held and that Turkey is a candidate for that seat. Asso Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) quotes PKK "senior leader" Bozan Takeen declaring in a phone interview "from his hideout in Iraqi Kurdistan," "We are ready and our forces are ready. We are not afraid of them. If they want to attack Iraq's Kurdistan, then the Middle East will turn into a fire ball."

Meanwhile Wednesday, in the Green Zone, US Maj Gen Jeffery Hammond declared:Now, take for example, the transition or transfer of the Sons of Iraq to Government of Iraq control. Now, we have two phases to this plan. The first one is the transfer of the Sons of Iraq to the, to the Government of Iraq control, which will include the assumption and the payment of their salaries starting this month in October. We're working very closely with our Iraqi counterparts to make sure this works. The Government of Iraq has committed to accept responsibility for the Sons of Iraq and it's been mandated in the Prime Minister Order No. 118‑C, and we're going to be there to assist in the transfer. We spent the last few weeks working hand in hand with the Iraqi Security Forces, the IFCNR, our Iraqi partners and I'm confident ‑‑ I'm confident this is going to go well. But again, effective this month, the Government of Iraq will start paying the salaries for the Sons of Iraq.

Actually . . .
Anwar J. Ali, Sam Dagher, Stephen Farrell, Erica Goode and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) report on the tensions brewing among the "Awakeing"s including graffiti appearing that is "the motto of a feared paramilitary unit during Saddam Hussein's era": "Allah. Homeland. Salary" -- which "Awakening" Sgt. Alaa al-Janabi ("Dora Awakening") states is "our slogan." al-Janabi goes on to cite that the Iraqi government is not paying them enough money to live on and offer "We're not going to fight again. Unless they make us." Saleh al-Jubori ("a leader of the Awakening Council in Dora") states that "there is no trust between us and the National Police" and, "if the Awakening is let go, Dora will go back to worse than it was before. I hope you don't consider this a threat." And staying with the topic of "worse," Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports "that secret executions are being carried out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki's 'democratic' government. The hangings are carried out regularly -- from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell -- in Saddam Hussein's old intelligence headquarters at Kazimiyah. There is no public record of these killings in what is now called Baghdad's 'high-security detention facility' but most of the victims -- there have been hundreds since America introduced 'democracy' to Iraq -- are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete out to their own captives."

Staying with violence,
Reuters notes that 28-year-old journalist Diyar Abbas was shot dead in Kirkuk today joining "at least 135 journalists [who] have been killed in the line of duty since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Tuesday the Committee to Protect Journalists featured Robert Mahoney's report on 27-year-old Iraqi journalist Jehad Abdulwahid Hannoon who had surived a shooting in Baghdad and, with help from the international journalism community (including CBS News' Lara Logan), was able to come to the US where he had "successful surgery in a California hospital to repair his bullet-shattered right leg." CPJ notes "135 journalists and 50 support workers" have died in Iraq. Here, we say 185 journalists. "Support workers" are doing a great deal more than that classification implies. So Diyar Abbass becomes at least the 186th journalist to die in Iraq.

In some of today's other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left twelve wounded, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 12 lives with twenty-two more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left fourteen wounded. On the Mosul roadside bombing, China's Xinhua cites a police source who explains, "A roadside bomb detonated in the afternoon at a popular marketplace in the Bab al-Tob neighborhood".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

In legal news, mercenaries in Iraq got a setback today.
Matthew Barakat (AP) reports that KBR contractor Ira L. Waltrip -- caught with child pornography -- was informed by US District Judge T.S. Ellis III that he wasn't any getting any special breaks and that the argument that Waltrip was doing the same duties soldiers do so should be punished the same way one of them would have been was bunk. The Judge informed Waltrip's attorney that, "He wasn't there because he volunteered. He was there to get some money."

Public TV notes.
NOW on PBS examines the American Dream as gas prices soar and home values crumble. PBS' Washington Week finds Gwen sitting down with Washington Post's Dan Balz, National Journal's James Barnes, Wall St. Journal's David Wessel and mystery guest Karen Tumulty (Time magazine) who may or may not do her Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte impersonation. Both programs air tonight in some PBS markets, check local listings.

Turning to the US presidential race,
Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate. Rosa has the following upcoming campaign event this weekend in New York:

Jericho 10th Anniversary Weekend of Resistance Saturday, October 11, 2008 @ 12 Noon Rally at the Harlem State Office Building (Corner of 126th St. & A.C. Powell Blvd.) March through Harlem @ 1 p.m. Closing Rally in Morningside Park @ 2 p.m. Between 112th & 114th near Morningside Ave. entrances

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Sunday he will be Fairfax, VA to speak at a press conference and rally at Geroge Mason Univeristy beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden is his running mate. As
Wally and Cedric noted yesterday, Barack seemed to offer some sort of Born Free/Elsa excuse for his friendship with Ayers whom he called "rehabilitated." Jake Tapper (ABC News) ponders rehabilitation:

And Ayers has made it clear that he is unrepentant.
''I don't regret setting bombs,''
Ayers told the New York Times in 2001. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' Asked if he would do it all again, Ayers said ''I don't want to discount the possibility. I don't think you can understand a single thing we did without understanding the violence of the Vietnam War."
In a comic strip that Ayers recently posted on his blog, Ayers tried to explain the "we didn't do enough quote" from seven years ago, writing, "It's impossible to get to be my age and not have plenty of regrets. The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being. During the Vietnam War, the Weather Underground took credit for bombing several government installations as a dramatic form of armed propaganda. Action was taken against symbolic targets in order to declare a state of emergency. But warnings were always called in, and by design no one was ever hurt.
"When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough s---."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.' The war in Vietnam was not only illegal, it was profoundly immoral, millions of people were needlessly killed. Even though I worked hard to end the war, I feel to this day that I didn't do enough because the war dragged on for years after the majority of the American people came to oppose it. I don't think violent resistance is necessarily the answer, but I do think opposition and refusal is imperative."
(He doesn't think violent resistance is NECESSARILY the answer?)
So today, with today's facts, does Obama think Ayers has been "rehabilitated"?
No, he doesn't think so, a source at the campaign tells me.

Mike did a press roundup on Barack's Ayers stories last night, Kat called out AP's Philip Elliott who does not seem to grasp the number of "40," Ruth contemplated the press mistakes, Rebecca noted the lack of standards and Marcia congratulates Oklahoma community members (as have Kat, as did Elaine and Mike). Oklahoma community members are supporting the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The McCain-Palin campaign has
a new TV ad entitled "Ambition" (click here to read more about it):

ANNCR: Obama's blind ambition.
When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers.
When discovered, he lied.
Obama. Blind ambition. Bad judgment.
Congressional liberals fought for risky sub-prime loans.
Congressional liberals fought against more regulation.
Then, the housing market collapsed costing you billions.
In crisis, we need leadership, not bad judgment.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

In addition,
the Republican ticket notes:

Today McCain-Palin 2008 announced that Bill Bruins, a dairy farmer from Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, joined the McCain-Palin Farm & Ranch Team National Steering Committee. Bruins joins a distinguished team of elected officials and leaders in agriculture who share a common goal with John McCain: to provide the leadership necessary to create prosperity in America's rural heartland. "John McCain understands agriculture's need for a comprehensive national energy policy that will combat rising energy costs," Bruins said. "I support John McCain because he will foster greater opportunities for agriculture to thrive in a market-driven society by reducing taxes and government regulations. Most importantly, he understands that reducing trade barriers expands international commerce and increases farmers' income." In addition to serving on the McCain-Palin Farm and Ranch Team National Steering Committee, Bruins joins former Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Jim Harsdorf as a Wisconsin state co-chair on the Wisconsin McCain-Palin Farm & Ranch Team. "Bill's understanding of agriculture from both state and national public policy involvement makes him a great addition to the McCain-Palin team in Wisconsin," Harsdorf said. "Bill Bruins is a hands-on dairy and crop producer who understands the importance of John McCain's support for free trade, his commitment to reducing the inheritance and capital gains tax on farmers and his plan to reduce high energy costs by pursuing domestic energy sources." The continuing success of American agriculture and the health of America's rural heartland require a leader who understands that productivity and innovation are created by the effort, ingenuity and investment of individual Americans. As president, John McCain will address the key issues facing agriculture and rural America:
Establishing a comprehensive energy strategy
Controlling taxation and regulation
Judicial restraint and preserving property rights
Providing a sustainable, market-driven risk management system for farmers
Promoting agricultural markets and reducing trade barriers
Improving incentives to invest in technology and rural infrastructure
Encouraging common-sense conservation and food safety measures
Securing America's borders and implementing a fair and practical immigration policy
Recognizing the role of agriculture in national security
Strengthen America's economic competitiveness by eliminating wasteful government spendingThe benefits of American leadership in agriculture extend well beyond our borders -- America's contribution to meeting the food, fiber, feed and energy needs of a growing world population through efficient production and technology innovation are critical to our national security. More details on John McCain's statement on "Prosperity for Rural America" can be found on the McCain-Palin 2008 web site at MCCAIN-PALIN 2008 FARM & RANCH TEAM NATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE*

And finally,
Team Nader notes:

This morning, as markets around the world are crashing, Nader/Gonzalez is on the rise.
And we need your help right now.
Here's why:
We have a chance over the next week to run inexpensive radio ads.
In battleground states all across this country.
To expose The Bailout Boys -- Obama and McCain.
And to let the American people know that on November 4, they have a choice.
The people's candidate -- Independent Ralph Nader.
The man who stood against the bailout of Wall Street crooks.
And for regulation that would have prevented the current crisis.
Here's the problem:
We want to run the radio ads from October 21 to Election Day -- November 4.
In thirty markets all across this country.
Our radio guy tells us he needs the money by Monday to be able to reserve air time for the last two weeks before the election.
Throughout this year, when we have asked, you have delivered.
Thanks to you, we have not missed one fundraising deadline this year.
Now, we are in a corner.
Over the past week, you have donated $130,000 to our October Surprise Fund.
On our way to our goal of $250,000 by Sunday midnight.
Now, to reach our goal, we need 12,000 of you -- our loyal supporters -- to
kick in $10 each.
We know that many of you have dug deep for the past seven months.
So, after you hit that contribute button, pick up the phone and get your friends, relatives, neighbors -- who are angry about the bailout and looking for an independent outlet -- to support the one candidate who has stood with the American people against the corporate criminal elite on Wall street.
To give you a sneak preview,
we have cut a demo tape.

If we reach our goal by Sunday night, we will be professionally producing a version of this demo ad and getting it out to our radio guy in Los Angeles.
As the Dow collapses, the Nader/Gonzalez shift the power platform is on the rise.
So, donate now -- whatever you can afford -- $10, $100, $1000 -- up to the legal limit of $2,300.
Help us fund our nationwide radio ad buy.
Inform the American public.
There is a choice on November 4.
Vote Independent.
Vote Ralph Nader for President.
Onward to November.
The Nader Team

ethan colekim gamel
the new york timesalissa j. rubinerica goodesam dagherstephen farrellanwar j. ali
robert fisk
the washington postdana priest
leila fadelmcclatchy newspapers
nancy a. youssefjonathan s. landaywarren p. strobel
jeffrey fleishmanthe los angeles times
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