"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
More deaths in Iraq today, the UN issues a body count for Iraqi civilians, questions emerge in the inquiry into the death of Australian soldier Jake Kovco, and news on war resisters and peace demonstrators.
Reuters reports that 59 people died after a bomber drove "his minivan into a busy market on Tuesday, lured labourers onboard with the promise of jobs and then blew himself" and those gathered up. The attack took place in Kufa and police "were pelted with rocks by angry crowds, many of whom demanded that militias loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take over security". The Associated Press skips that but does note that the explosion took place "across the street from Kufa's gold-dome mosque". Reuters reports that some chants at the police included: "You are traitors!", "Your are not doing your job!" and "American agents!"
When even violence as the sort that took place in Kufa this morning can't get attention, one wonders how many are registering Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Don't Forget the Bloodletting in Iraq" (Editor's Cut, The Nation)? Will we grow used to that violence? Will only larger numbers register in the future? As Howard Zinn wrote (in Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal) "The only way we can stop the mass killing of civilians -- of women and children -- is to stop the war itself." Along with news of Kufa, other news took place as well. The BBC notes that "at least four members of a Shia militia" were killed by British troops. CBS and the AP note that, "near Hawija," a bombing took the lives of seven Iraqi police officers and left two wounded. The AFP reports "a gruesome incident, one sheep seller was killed in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, when a bomb hidden under a girl's severed head exploded as he lifted it". Reuters notes the following: in Baghdad, Abu Ali al-Garawi ("head of Badr in Diwaniya) was shot to death; in Mosul four people died and two were wounded in a bombing; in Habaniya an Iraqi soldier was killed by mortar rounds; in Falluja a "police major" was shot to death; and, in Haditha, three translators working for the US military were shot to death.
In addition to the severed head noted above, Reuters reports that 14 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya ("blindfolded . . . shot at close range").
AFP reports that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq places the Iraqi civilian death toll at 5,818 for May and June alone (with most of the victims losing their lives in Baghdad).
Speaking today with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, Ruth Rosen discussed her recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." Rosen explained what led her to focus on the violence targeting Iraqi women and, in one example, explained: "And I also wanted to find out the story behind Abu Ghraib. We never heard. We heard many men sexually humilitaed but if they were humilitated it stood to reason that women would have been at least as humilitated if not more". Rosen and Lewis discussed many topics including women who were held in Abu Ghraib and tortured. Rosen explained, "It does appear that women have been on other bases held as prisoners."
(More on this topic can be found in CODEPINK's "Iraqi Women Under Siege" -- pdf. format.)The war drags on. Some, wisely, leave the so-called coaliton. Others get called back in. While Japan has withdrawn troops, the BBC reports that Scotland's The Black Watch will be deploying for Iraq for the third time since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to Australia, there are more developments in the case of Jake Kovco who died on April 21st while serving in Iraq. Conor Duffy discussed with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC) the fact that "the military officer is Sergeant Stephen Hession. . . . And he's told the board of inquiry that the pistol that show Private Kovco was in a different postion to what it was just before the room was sealed." Dan Box (The Australian) notes the testimony of two military police officers which revealed: "The room where Jake Kovco died was cleaned, stripped of equipment and repeatedly traisped through by fellow soldiers before inverstigators could gather evidence that might have proved crucial in determing the cause of his death." Belindea Tasker (The Courier-Mail) notes that, in addition to the above, "his clothes [were] destroyed before forensic experts could carry out any tests". Reporting on the program PM (Australia's ABC) Conor Duffy reported more events from the inquiry including the fact that including the fact that a letter from Jake Kovco's wife Shelley and two short stories by Jake Kovco were read to the board for "a glimpse into Private Kovco's state of mind". As noted yesterday, Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, want soldiers serving with their late son to be called to testify before the inquiry.
On Monday's The KPFA Evening News, Wendell Harper reported on the peace movement. Demonstrators, CODEPINK activists, Daneil Ellsberg, labor activists and others came together in Oakland to make their voices heard, many taking part in the Troops Home Fast. What follows are some of the voices (selected by Zach, Marisa and myself) featured in Harper's report:
Protestor 1: "Ehren Watada needs support finacially, because of legal fees, and, of course, the rallies like we're having today."
Protestor 2: "If you're familiar with Suzanne Swift, she's the 21-year-old who just turned 22 on Saturday who was abused by her commanding officer in Iraq, came over here and then refused to go back when she found out she would have to go back to her old unit. She was arrested, put in the brig and is currently in the brig, and her mother is started a campaign to get an honorable discharge for her."
Labor activist: "Two-thirds of the American people say get the troops out now. 80% of the Iraqi people say get the troops out now. 72% of our troops in Iraq say they want to be home by the end of the year and 29% of those say: 'Out now.' What part of 'out now' doesn't this Congress understand."
"I'm Sara and I'm participating in a fast because I'm hoping that it will speak loud enough to people that it will stop this war and stop violence."
"I'm Jane Jackson and I'm hungry for peace."
"I'm Sam Joi and I'm with CODEPINK Women for Peace and we have to be determined that this war is going to end by the end of 2006 no matter what anybody says."
Kurdish-Iraqi woman: "I've been fasting in San Francisco actually for our homeless. These wars are causing refugess around the world. I personally know what it is to stay in refugee camp and not have a meal, to be infected with a meal, they give it to you. I have had that experience, my friends dying, because they gave them wrong food to eat."
Those were some of the voices featured in Wendell Harper's report. (Brian Edwards-Tiekert highlighted some of the voices on KPFA's The Morning Show second hour news break this morning.)
Troops Home Fast reports that "4,117 people are engaging in solidarity fasts around the nation and in 22 other countries" today.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, KHNL reports a protest in support of Ehren Watada which drew "[a]bout two dozen people rallied in Honolulu" yesterday for 90 minutes on behalf of "a half dozen organizations and churches that believe the war in Iraq is illegal." Watada has refused to deploy to Iraq and engage in the illegal war. Watada has stated: "I felt that going into a war waged out of decption, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."
Another Hawaiian, Maui's Chris Magaoay, is interviewed by Ana Radelat (Gannett News Service) who takes a look at war resistors who leave the armed service. Magaoay enlisted in 2004 and "[l]ess than two years later, Magaoay became on of thousands of military deserters who have chosen a lifetime of exile or possible court-martial rather than fight in Iraq or Afghanistan." Magaoay, who went to Candad this year, tells Radelat, "It wasn't something I did on the spur of the moment. It took me a long time to realize what was going on. The war is illegal."
Turning to Canada, we noted war reister Patrick Hart for the first time on March 9th when Lewis steered us to Peter Koch's "Brave Hart." Koch has provided an update noting that, the first week of this month, Patrick & Jill Hart (along with their son Rian) appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. There has been no verdict yet but, as Koch notes, "everyone who has received a decision has been denied."
So that's a lot of news. A lot more than you probably heard or saw. Hopefully, you read that much (maybe more) online and will in some newspapers tomorrow. But I'm not sure.
I'm yawning. The heat is killing me. I don't know how people hold up. And don't give me that El Nino or anything else -- this is global warming. Which means if we don't get serious about the environment, we can expect a lot more of this.
It is just too hot. I take the bus to work. I did that even when gas was lower. Only time I take my car is if we're having an office party and I've got to bring something, ice or whatever. But if there's anything worse than burning up in the heat (and I was this evening), it's stepping into the ice cold bus. It's just too much of a shock to my system.
I remember when temperatures first started climbing around here during the summer at the end of the nineties. Year after year, you'd hear "El Nino." I wonder if people still say that and, if not, what excuse they're using now?
Another thing I notice while I'm waiting outside, at the bus stop, after work -- cars put off a lot of heat. The sidewalk's narrow there and you've got the street right on you so when the light changes and cars are piled up, you can just feel this wave of heat from them.
Sunday night, after church, we were standing outside talking and the sun had been down for some time but it was still like you were standing in an oven. I finally had to go (I do drive to church, I also pick up Three Cool Old Guys and take them to church in the morning and, after we grab something to eat, back to the retirement home). (They don't go to church in the evening because it's so hot.) But I said I was either going to have to start wearing shorts or cutting out right after. I'm one of those people who can stand in the parking lot talking for an hour but it was just too hot.
So those are my heat inspired thoughts tonight.