"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue on the ground in Iraq today, Thursday, August 3rd, Donald Rumsfeld speaks like an excited child, Bully Boy plots a getaway from a vacation getaway, and peace activists and members of Iraq's parliament prepare for their face to face meeting to address reality.
Among the peace activists that will be taking part in the Friday and Saturday meetings in Jordan are Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and Diane Wilson. Katy Hillenmeyer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) takes a look at another activist making the journey, 72-year-old, retired nurse Barbara Briggs-Leston. Barbara Briggs-Leston explains the peace summit: "We're trying to call attention to the Iraqi's own plan, as opposed to the United States' plan. Let's let the Iraqis decide what happens to them. We've been deciding, and we've done an appalling job."
CODEPINK and Global Exchange are co-sponsoring the trip which stems from the attention the Troops Home Fast actions garnered "after 28 days of fasting." The fast is continuing: "We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war" and today at least 4,350 people are fasting around the world.
As some advocate for peace, others say more of the same. Such as Donald Rumsfeld's latest remarks (reported by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen, Reuters):
"If we left Iraq prematurely as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave
Afghanistan. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines. And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do." And . . . and . . . and . . . What might be cute in a five-year-old child just makes Rumsfeld appear he needs to call time for a pee break.
He certainly needs to learn how to make a non-circular argument but, at this late date, even the War Hawks find it difficult to call their weak excuses for US troops remaining in Iraq "logic."
His circular statements, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, come a day after he struggled to define what the meaning of "is" is in a Defense Department press conference. After noting that "Sunnis are killing Shia; Shia are killing Sunnis," Rumsfeld went on to muse, "Does that constitute a civil war? I guess you can decide for your yourself. And we can all go to the dictionary and decide what you want to call something. But it seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage.
It certainly isn't like our Civil War. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes."
It was all so far from reality, he came off like Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president) claiming yesterday that by the end of this year (that would be four months from now), Iraq security forces will be in control of all 18 provinces. Rumsfeld's performance yesterday was refuted by the BBC report of William Patey (England's "outgoing ambassador in Baghdad) warning Tony Blair (poodle and prime minister) that civil war, not democracy, awaits Iraq. The BBC's Paul Wood characterized the document as "a devastating official assessment of the prospect for a peaceful Iraq, and stands in stark contrast to public rhetoric."
In the United States, John Abizaid (head of Centcom) testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee. Abizaid offered that "the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it. And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war" (CNN). Reuters notes that Abizaid stated that a year ago this time, he never would have predicted the possibility of a civil war.
Looking at the Patey memo, Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) concludes "whatever happens, the vision set out for Iraq by George Bush before the invasion in 2003 of a beacon of democracy for the Middle East is not going to happen."
And in Iraq? The BBC's Paul Wood probably best sums up life in Iraq post-invasion:
"An Iraqi man, Ahmed Muktar, told me a typical story of these times. His family fled sectarian violence in the suburb of Dora. But his brother-in-law returned to check on his house. He was kidnapped. The police, the hospitals, the morgues - none had any official record of the missing man. So his family went to the dumping ground for bodies on the edge of Dora. There they found him, amid a pile of 50 corpses, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head. They had to recover him while under constant automatic fire, the police and troops nearby too scared to help."
Reuters reports that a new US target is apparently the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr:"U.S. troops opened fir on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr . . . wounding at least 16 people." CNN notes a Wednesday home invasion that led to four dead in Wajihiya. Reuters notes that it was the home of a police officer (apparently not home) and the dead were three women and one man (not the police officer).
The worst known took place in Baghad. AP reports that "at least 12 people" are dead and 29 wounded from a bomb "hidden in a parked motorcycle." The BBC notes that the explosion "set ablaze" surrounding shops.
Reuters reports two police officers wounded from a roadside bomb in Latifiya; three Iraqi soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Balad;
Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Samarra, one in Kut, one in Numaniya, and three in Dujail.
In Latifiya, two passengers of a car were injured and the car and driver "snatched" by assailants in an attack, Reuters reports, while, in Isahqi, a "food contractor for the Iraqi army" was kidnapped.
In legal news, AFP reports that the "[f]our US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured." This is the May 9th incident in which US soldiers allegedly killed three Iraqis who had been detained and handcuffed. The AFP observes: "The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit." The four accused who are refusing to testify are: William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber.
In Australia, the most recent news from the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco is that Alastar Adams will give testimony from Kuwait, "via a video link," as to how the coffin shipped back to Australia supposedly containing the body of Jake Kovco instead contained the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic.
Some would argue Bully Boy ran from the National Guard -- some might agree he's running from Cindy Sheehan. The AP reports that Bully Boy, the vacationing leader, will have far less than his usual weeks and weeks of summer vacation, and has instead reduced it to "nine days" based at his ranchette in Crawford. Bully Boy plans to return to DC August 13th. Camp Casey, on land Sheehan now owns in Crawford, will open on August 6th this month. Camp Casey will be open from August 6th through Septemeber 2nd. On the importance of Camp Casey, Sheehan writes: "Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else."
Cindy Sheehan's doing her part so I hope you are too. I'm trying to do my part. Are we getting anywhere? Did you read the snapshot? Looks like a tiny little sliver of truth got told to the Senate. How's that going to play tomorrow? When it's written up and printed in papers are reporters going to act like the head of Centcom saying what he said is no big deal?
On Free Speech Radio News tonight, they played some of the hearing and John McCain (I'm no fan) was making the point that everytime they pull troops for Baghdad, they're taking them out of somewhere, like Mosul. He was hitting hard on that and pointing out that troops were pulled from Falluja for Ramadi and now those troops are being pulled from for Baghdad and what I thought about when he was speaking was "That's just like the press." They go running here and there and drop every story in the process. You can really tell that with the Iraq coverage.
In my local paper, I'm lucky to get one story on Iraq a day. It's like the whole press forgot that there's a war on. Or that Iraq's going to hell.
Elaine talked about the snapshot but I got an e-mail on it so let me explain what she already did. There was a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and some issues were raised in that (C.I. didn't participate in that roundtable) including the fact that the Iraq snapshot was important and, if the rest of us thought so, shouldn't we be noting it anytime we blogged?
The snapshot was supposed to be just a brief thing. A paragraph or two. The Operation Happy Talk blabs on and C.I. was getting sick of it. So the snapshot was there for some reality. The community was behind that snapshot and it grew and grew with less and less highlights on other topics. Now it's just focused on Iraq and before the war on Lebanon began or blew up, it was already important to the community. That's when the question was basically put out there how come we weren't noting it at our sites? If we supported it, we needed to be. Not just a link, but the whole thing.
The point was made that, yes, a lot of us have the same community members going site to site but what about those instances when someone stumbles upon one of our sites? If we believe in the snapshot, wouldn't we want them to see the reality?
So with it being put to us like that, if we're not doing a humor site, we really had no reason not to include it. It's more important than a lot of things I've linked to or quoted. So that's why we do it now.
Back to today's snapshot, how much is the peace movement making a difference? Bully Boy doesn't want to be in his beloved Crawford -- he doesn't seem to be able to be anywhere near Cindy Sheehan. Maybe his guilt makes him flee?
"Heat Wave Misery" (Free Speech Radio News)
The heatwave that killed over 150 people in California last week is now rolling through the Midwest and the East Coast, where another dozen people have died due to the heat and where electrical grids are struggling to remain on. Rebecca Myles has more from New York.
It is hot. It's hot all over the nation. You got people dying in Chicago, dying in California, dying in Texas. Dying just about everywhere. This is global warming and people can play like it's something else or call it "climate change," but this is serious. This is just the beginning. We could change our energy consumption methods tomorrow, start recycling tomorrow, make all these changes and it wouldn't have an immediate impact because these things take time.
That's not, "So forget about it!" That's saying, everyone needs to figure out something they can do. If you can't or won't take public transportation, think of one thing you can start doing this summer. Maybe it's just buy some plants. We need more plants. We need more trees. Plant a tree. It'll probably live longer than you and if everyone who could plant a tree would, that would help. It wouldn't cure. But we all need to be thinking about what we can do.
So don't sit there and think, "Oh, I can't do anything!" Think of one thing you can do and do it. Maybe in a few months, you'll be able to think of another. We all need to be trying and until we are doing that, we're just making the mess bigger.
We need everybody working on this. We need solutions bigger than we can manage as well. That means pressure on the government to start pouring money into this which will create jobs and will help the economy. This is as important to the next decades as any other project. Take, in the US, the roads project. That really changed the way Americans live and travel. (And helped us end up with this problem.) We need a big government project that will employ the people and spend money on something that's going to address this issue.
I wanted to talk about this and Mike was cool with it. It meant putting something else on hold that's important. But I really think that while we're seeing all the suffering from the record heat, we can really register what's going on around us. It will only get worse if we don't start dealing with it. Mike may have wanted to pick something else (we both are highlighting the headline from Free Speech Radio News) but I really pitched this because I think it's one more way we can reclaim our power. Not scream, "Save us!" We can do our part and we can DEMAND that our representatives do their part and address this issue.
I worry that for some the environment is a "soft" issue so they don't pay attention to it. With the heat right now, I think this may be a really good time to get people to connect what's going on right now with our own actions. There has been so much smoke and mirrors on the environment coming from the administration, trying to deny it exists, trying to change global warming to "climate change" because the term is less alarming. We should be alarmed and hopefully this summer hear will wake up some people.
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