Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where's the focus?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Tuesday, August 22, 2005. A
day after the Bully Boy's inner-dialogue in front of the world, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, British whispers say there may be a pull out, a witness says he didn't believe Jake Kovco's roommates told the truth about what happened when Kovco died April 21st, and Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case.
Starting with the Bully Boy of the United States,
Oliver Knox (AFP) reports on the "revolt" Bullly Boy's facing with some Republicans (Chris Shays) calling for a timeframe for withdrawal, some cheerleaders lagging and the general mood of the United States.
On the mood,
CNN's latest polling (released Monday) found that only 35% of those surveyed "favor the war in Iraq" while 61% were opposed to it which is "the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago."
Though Bully Boy boasted yesterday that, as long as he was the leader, US troops would remain in Iraq, there is good news in the CNN poll for Bully Boy as well. He can break that promise without shocking many -- "
Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence."
On the topic of the cheerleaders . . . Did someone cry "War Cheerleader Down!"?
Or was that the sound of Thomas Friedman ripping
another pair of tights/pantyhose? Robert Parry (Consortium News) examines the laughable Thomas Friedman's record of 'analysis' and concludes that it's past time that Friedman and his fellow War Cheerleaders, who got it all wrong from the start, "have the decency to admit their incompetence and resign." Parry digs into the writings/record of Friedman and notes that: "Friedman, despite botching the biggest foreign-policy story in the post-Cold War era, . . . retains his prized space on the New York Times Op-Ed page".
As the War Cheerleaders cheer a little lower and think a little slower (is that even possible?), the
Guardian of London reports that "a senior military commander" (British) has stated that British forces in Iraq could drop from "7,000 to between 3,00 and 4,000 by the middle of next year". This as another British commander, "British Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Fry," calls Iraq "a civil war in minature." Fry tells Robert Burns (Associated Press) that it's "important that the conflict not be described as 'civil war'" (this after doing just that) because, among other things, it "encourages . . . adventurous media reporting." Perish the thought.
As one British commander offers (carless?) whispers of a partial pull-out and another wants to play word games,
Bloomberg reports that "U.K. voter support for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party fell to its lowest in 19 years" and that "[t]he Liberal Democrats, who opposed the war in Iraq and have criticized Blair's relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, gained more than the Conservatives in the past month." The BBC breaks down the poll's findings as follows: "Tories on 40% -- nine points ahead of Labour on 31%, with the Lib Dems on 22%." The Times of London, on the same poll, reports: "Nearly three-quarters of the public believe that Tony Blair's foreign policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists". Support for Blair, like support for Bully Boy, has fallen.
In Iraq?
CBS and AP report a hidden bomb claimed the lives of two civilians in Baghdad. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Muqdadiya which has wounded at least fifteen and a roadside bomb "near Yusufiya" which has wounded two civilians and killed a third. AFP reports what we'll call a 'corpse bomb' in Muqdadiya which caused damages to a police vehicle.
AFP reports that eight "young Shiite men from Najaf . . . were pulled from buses by gunmen late Monday . . . and shot dead in the street." CBS and AP note that, in Baghdad, an engineer "was shot dead while . . . in his car" while "crossfire" claimed the lives of two civilians in Amarah. Reuters notes the following: Ramadi -- a body guard of the governor of the Anbar Province was killed in a drive-by; near Kirkuk -- two civilians shot dead; Baquba -- a police major was shot dead (his driver wounded); and in Mosul -- a civilian shot dead.
Reuters notes that Dawoud Salman (Shi'ite Endowment employee) was found dead in Baghdad while another corpse was found "near Hilla."
Turning to kidnapping news, the priest kidnapped last Tuesday (
hit the wires on Friday, the Pope issued a plea for his return this weekend) in Baghdad is apparently alive. Reuters reports that a ransom note has been recived and that the Misna news agency has spoken to Father Saad Syrop Hanna.
Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer known to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Despite confusion in the e-mails, he has not been charged with anything today. (A program announced he had, they were covering Thursday's Article 32 hearing.) Lt. Col. Mark Keith is weighing the testimony and will issue a conclusion on whether or not action should be pursued. Tuesday
The KPFA Evening News had a report on Watada and they spoke to his father Bob Watada who supports his son and is currently speaking in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bob Watada stated of the illegal war, "They're killing innocent men, women and children -- that's a violation of the Geenva convention which we agreed to. We're using depleted uranium, we're using cluster bombs, we're using phosphoric, we used to call it naplam, but they're phosphoric gases to burn the people. These are all war crimes. Talk about the torture that's going on in Abu Ghraib and other places. You know the rapes of the civilians and so forth. And Ehren would be forced to participate in this illegal war and would be forced to participate in these war crimes that are going on every day."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Tu. 8/22
1-3 pm brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave.,
Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902

6-9pm Buena Vista United Methodist Church- Reception & Event 2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda Contact: Rev. Michael Yoshii 510/522-2688

Wed. 8/23
10:30-noon UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026
Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711 7-9:30pm Reception & Educational Event St. Paul's Church, 405 S. 10th St,
San Jose Contact: Rose Takamoto 408-725-2933

Thu. 8/24
noon-3pm World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408

7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
"I'm trying to publicize my son's cause and publicize what's going on in Iraq,"
he tells
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet). Scherr reports that Ehren Watada's civilian attorney, Eric Seitz, told her that, if there is a court-martial, "our intent" is to "put the Iraq War on trial". Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is preparing an editorial to run on Ehren Watada's case.
We will again note: :
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use public@defenselink.mil to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org. will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other resistance news,
Jeff Paterson (Indybay IMC) reports on this past weekend's rally "outside Fort Lewis, Washington" in support of Suzanne Swift which calls for "an honorable discharge for the Iraq veteran and sexual assault victim who went AWOL instead of returning to Iraq." Among those taking part were Swift's mother Sara Rich and CODEPINK's Ann Wright (US army Col. retired). [And yesterday, Jeff Paterson, of Not In Our Name, was wrongly billed by me as "Jeff Patterson." My apologies.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Bagdad death of Jake Kovco continues and apparently the only one not allowed to traipse through the crime scene was the officer making the assessment.
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that, in his testimony to the inquiry, Major Mark Willetts was "refused permission to enter the room at the Australian embassy compound in Baghdad but observed it from outside and saw photos." Australia's ABC notes that Willetts testified that while he wasn't allowed to enter "the room was occupied by military people, with no investigative skills". Paul Mulvey (Perth Now) reports that Willetts encounters with Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 & 19) weren't productive and that Willets "believed . . . they were witholding evidence" because "I find it difficult [to believe] that two men in the room would not have had more information in regards to what happened." For those who've fogotten, both roommates have stated they saw nothing (19 has stated he was getting a drink out of the room's mini-fridge, 17 states he was looking elsewhere ). The AAP quotes Willetts stating: "It's a small room; there were three people in there; it would have been very difficult not to have known what was going on in there." Tracey Ong notes Willetts' testimony regarding Soldier 21 who has now retracted his statement that he heard "Allah Akbar" yelled "10 seconds before the shooting" -- of Soldier 21, Willetts testified: "He was quite adament, in fact he was emphatic he heard Allah Akbar."
CBS and AP report this on Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi: "An Iraqi investigative panel has launched an independent probe into the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl allegedly by American soldiers currently in U.S. custody, who will be tried in absentia if necessary, an official said Tuesday." The probe actually began Thursday and is expected to last at least a week. Abeer's 15th birthday would have been last Saturday.
Robin Morgan reported the following (Guardian of London via Common Dreams): "The victim's name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Abeer means 'fragrance of flowers'. She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they changed into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and 'took turns' raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings."

Since C.I. did the snapshot, Reuters has added this: "*MOSUL -- Gunmen killed a family of five, including two children, after entering their home in the al-Zanjeeli district of Mosul 390 km north of Baghdad, a hospital source said." I believe that takes the number of dead to 25. And that's just what got reported. With so little press coverage of Iraq, we probably we'll never even know of a fourth of the civilians who die each day.

My cousin asked me if I thought, in Israel, independent media ignored their wars and instead covered Iraq around the clock? That would be interesting, wouldn't it? If everyone's independent media was more concerned with covering something else? It reminds me of a blogger who always writes about George Bush and Tony Blair even though he doesn't live in the United States or England. Shouldn't he cover his own country? It's not like there's nothing going on there and they supposedly have freedom of speech. So it just seems cowardly that if the guy is really in the country he claims (a "Western" nation) he'd rather go over Bully Boy and Tony Blair day after day when his own leader's no prize. But maybe he's not really in that country? He sure does follow the US media for someone supposedly living oceans away.

And, although I know every community member is aware of whom I mean, I should point out that his country is still part of the so-called coalition of the willing and that his country is led by its own bully boy/war cheerleader. So after awhile, you have to wonder who he writes for and why he is so uninterested in holding his own government accountable -- they've pushed through their own versions of the Patriot Act. You never seen his country discussed ever. Why is that?

So independent media in this country decided that the Iraq war was something they could check out on for several weeks. They can do whatever they want, they just shouldn't expect people to keep checking them when they've dropped Iraq. That is the war that should be covered first and foremost day after day. By all means, give us international coverage of other nations but you've got to first cover Iraq because that is the location of a declared US war.

I don't see it as bravery. I don't see every site, every news organization, every radio program in independent media all telling you, "We're the only ones telling you the other side to the Israel and Lebanaon conflict" as informative or needed.

Robin Morgan wrote about Abeer and good for Morgan. It's too bad Democracy Now couldn't tear themselves away from the constant hand wringing over Israel to cover Abeer. Fourteen years old and she's dead. Because of US troops. But Amy Goodman's too busy doing segment after segment in episode after episode on Israel. That was just ridiculous. It's not like Iraq stopped existing.

I don't know what to think about Dahr Jamail. On the one hand, he was on his way to Iraq and ended up in Beruit when the whole thing went to hell so I do understand why he was covering it. But, and I like his writing, I didn't care. By the time I could have read anything he wrote, I'd already heard hours and hours of coverage on what Israel had done that day or the next or that hour or the one before. So I just didn't care.

I probably go to Dahr's site at least twice a week normally. Even if I haven't seen that something new is up. But about five weeks ago, I stopped going. I just don't care.

I know more about what Israel's done than I do about what the United States has and that's not media that Americans can use. Even without the war, say Iraq wasn't going on right now, there are still so many domestic issues that need to be covered. Instead it was Israel, Israel, Israel. When I was in California, I had a blast (and thanks to C.I. for having me) but my biggest disappointment was The KPFA Morning Show. Andrea Lewis is an important broadcaster. I hope everyone African-American knows about her. White people should as well. But it's rare that we can find strong voices these days, we being African-Americans, because they get destroyed or targeted. When the trip to California was first being planned, the thought of being able to hear her over the radio was one of the things I was looking forward to. Lebanon? What is that, a thirty minute segment every day on The Morning Show?

C.I. pulled a Medea Benjamin quote from last week's The Morning Show but Medea brought that up. The topic wasn't even Iraq. The topic of that segment was . . . Lebanon. Last week, Julian Bond wrote a column for the Washington Post and I understood what he was talking about but wondered if he was going to get slammed for it. He was saying that the African-American community needed to start focusing on AIDS because it was effecting us. He wrote about how in the 80s, when it was seen as something targeting Whites more than African-Americans, we had other important issues to work on so we could look the other way (he may have said we thought we could look the other way). AIDS knows no race.

But I understood what he was talking about. There are so many issues in our underserved community that we really need to make a point to put a primary focus on the ones directly effecting us. I don't think independent media did that for the last month and a half.

I was largely bored anytime I listened to KPFA last week because it seemed like they only had one topic. This may have just been due to when I happened to catch it but it's very true that the KPFA Evening News makes Israel the story for the first ten minutes night after night -- and that got real old. And C.I. and The Third Estate Sunday Review gang are doing a lot of work on immigration in addition to Iraq so I met a lot of young activists and they were so bothered by the way they can get no coverage for that issue. Or that The Nation wrote two supposed articles on the issue and this left magazine was pushing the hideous legislation that the New York Times has pushed. The only answer, talk to the activists on this issue, is no legislation. The legislation that's been pushed in the Senate and the House (supposedly the Senate's better -- that's what the media tells you, that's not true) will hurt immigrants.

Israel and Lebanon were/are news stories. They aren't the most pressing ones right now in the United States and those who can't see that are kidding themselves. They're turning people off to the stories they want to push because after hearing it day after day, you get sick of it. It's the same reason some hot topic on cable goes real good for a week or two and then the ratings dip. People get tired of it. They want to hear the news that directly effects their lives.

So those are my thoughts for tonight. Read Rebecca. You'll be sorry if you miss her tonight.

Lastly, yes, the drawing last night was huge here. I saw that this morning and was embarrassed. Now I like it. If you're looking at it in explorer (the way some who e-mailed are), you're missing out. Look at it in Mozilla. I think it looks better there.

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