Friday, August 25, 2006

Tricky Dick in the (White) House again (humor)




















Recommended: "Iraq Snapshot"
"And the war drags on"
"'British Leave Iraqi Base; Milita Supporters Jubilant' (Amit R. Paley)"
"Other Items"
"On Our Vacation, Thomas Friedman Got Burned"
"thoughts on the bully boy with the emphasis on 'boy'"
"Vets worry the draft's coming back, Zogby obsesses over Tom Cruise"
"Bob Herbert disappoints"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bob Herbert disappoints

I usually find Bob Herbert interesting to read. Today, he offered up "A Triumph of Felons and Failure" and there wasn't much worth applauding.

African-American Herbert felt the need to sing the praises of Panamaian-American Juan Williams's new book. The author should be enough to cause Herbert to shudder.

But racist Juan is making a case and Herbert's trying to help out a brother so we all suffer. Juan Williams feels that we need African-American leaders. Anyone who's read my site even a little knows I agree with that.

What I don't agree with is that Juan knows a thing about leadership. Maybe it's all the snarky appearances on Fox News as a suck up to right wingers, maybe it's the fact that Juan's the biggest cry baby, whiner in the world? Probably it's the fact that when it comes to racist, it's hard to get more racist than Juan Williams.

So Herbert reads Juan's book and he's in the uproar that racist Juan wants him to be. My goodness! Drug dealers tried to kill an informant and then tried again! This time succeeding.
Bob's reaching far and wide to try to prop Juan up which is why he includes Billie Holiday on his 'respectable' list of African-Americans.

I like Billie Holiday's voice. I think she made a difference with her art. I wouldn't, however, hop on my moral soapbox about drugs and African-Americans and then do a shout out to Billie Holiday.

So drug dealers, big time drug dealers, resort to violence? That's not really a "Black" issue. It was true in prohibition. It's called "crime." It knows no race.

Juan's whining, and Herbert joins him, about the way the kids talk today. (I'm old enough to say "kids.") You know what, I don't care for the ho this and pimp that. Anyone who's read my site knows that. They also know I don't care for the ghetto fab/bling-bling life.

But they're smart enough to grasp (my readers) that I'm talking about what is marketed to us, not what we decided one day we wanted to be. It's not like, at the age of seven, we were thinking, "When I grow up, I'll be a cowboy! No, a drug dealer!"

Who's hurting Black America? Juan Williams and all the little suck ups to the right wing that want to act like our problem has to do with our inability to educate ourselves.

If Black America is in crisis, and it may well be, it's because we're marketed with that nonsense, it's because we don't have an economy that supports us, it's because of a lot of things.

But don't push it off on the individual. That we are a race that does reject the marketing (and most of us do and Bob Herbert should know that), that strives to overcome (like we've done year after year), that usually has the worst of the worst public education resources but still manages to turn out our success stories -- those are our problems and our reality.

Herbert (and he may be using Juan's examples) wants to cite magazines and the "Don't Be A Snitch" campaign. That's marketing and Herbert should know that.

Who's huring us? Madison Avenue and Washington, DC.

Herbert (and Juan) want to get bent out of shape about 'out of wedlock' births. I don't know what world they live in but there have always been 'out of wedlock' births and always will be. In fact, does Herbert know the life stories of the heroes he lists? Take Billie Holiday. She was born out of wedlock.

Juan's a joke and most of my friends know that. They see his wimpy, prissy self on TV and think he gives us all a bad name. Juan can be a joke all he wants. He can Uncle Tom it from here to heaven. It doesn't really matter to me because Juan Williams doesn't matter to me.
But Bob Herbert can be a lot smarter than Juan and usually is. So it really ticks me off that he's rushing in to push Juan's racist message.

There are serious problems for the community, facing the community. I don't deny that. But the culture being pushed is being marketed. Bob Herbert should know that. Education scores go to the educational system's we're offered (which has to do with the funding).

It's interesting that Harry Belafonte doesn't make Bob Herbert's list. I didn't see Ossie Davis on it either. Bob's tilting right to back up Juan.

He's kidding himself and writing a column that hurts the community because White readers are going to read that junk and think, "Yeah, those people can't even get their act straight."

Bob and Juan are real worried. Juan goes reactionary and that's no surprise from an Uncle Tom. It is a surprise from Herbert because, although he's not a lefty, he is usually a lot smarter than he came off today. His column hurts the community.

The vanishing of a manufacturing base in urban areas hurt the community more than any of the things Juan wants to fret over. That's too bad because since his argument is directed to White America, he might want to warn them what lays ahead for all of us now that the big business isn't interested in manufacturing in America. It's the reason that real wages are down when compared to the early seventies or prior.

Worrying about a trashy magazine put out to sell you things and part of a marketing won't change the facts that our inner cities fell apart when the jobs left. It's a self-pleasing tale though and it allows White America to pretend like the problem is with "those people." As one of "those people," I'm not surprised I'm more informed than Juan Williams. I am surprised I'm so much more informed than Bob Herbert.

A big thank you to C.I. for listening to the above. I'm not really comfortable with calling Herbert out. He's a centrist but he can be a strong voice and we don't have a lot of them. C.I. listened and offered encouragement on a day when "And the war drags on" will have to be done and the snapshot also had to be pulled together.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Thursday, August 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, John Abizaid must be drinking something stronger than cough syrup,
Ehren Watada's father Bob continues speaking out to raise awareness about his son, a British military flack plays word games, Operation Happy Talk launches a new wave and reality (as is so often the case) crashes into the propaganda.
BBC sums up the reality this way: "At least 12 Iraqis and three US soldiers have died in bombings and gun attacks across Iraq in the last 24 hours, officials say." As Elena Becatoros (Associated Press) notes: "The killings came despite assurances from U.S. officials that progress was being made to improve security in the capital."
We'll start with the violence and chaos.
Elena Beatoros (AP) notes that a US soldier died today "when his vehicle was hit by a a roadside bomb south of Baghdad." Reuters notes three car bombs and two roadside bombs today in Baghdad have taken at least four lives and left 24 injured. The AP notes that three police officers were killed in Baquba (minivan bomb) that left another wounded and, on the edges of Baquba, a roadside bomb claimed the lives of three Iraqi soldiers.
A US soldier was killed on Wednesday (one of the three noted at the beginning) in what the BBC describes as "
small-arms fire" to the south of Baghdad. Also dying on Wednesday from gunfire (and not included in yesterday's snapshot -- it wasn't reported then) were three police officers in Balad. Reuters reports seven who had been shot dead were taken to a hospital in Mosul and that three police officers were shot dead in Balad (those six are today, yesterday three police officers were shot dead in Balad).
Elena Becatoros (AP) notes that a US soldier was shot dead in Baghdad today while on a patrol.
Reuters reports a corpse discovered in Suwayra ("handcuffed . . . gunshot wounds"); one discovered near Latifiya ("handcuffed, blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds"), a third discovered in Tikrit; a fourth discovered Baiji (this was the body that went with an earlier discovered severed head) and three more ("handuffed . . . gunshot wounds") were discovered in Baghdad.
And in the face of the above, General John Abizaid launched a wave of Operation Happy Talk that out does the strongest happy talker. (Okay, maybe not
Dexy Filkins.) "I think there has been great progress on the security front in Baghdad recently," declared Abizaid. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, knew Happy Talk wasn't enough. Instead, AFP reports, he "has banned television channels from broadcasting gory images of daily bloodshed in the country". Keep it off the TV screens, the thinking seems to go, and Iraqis will forget that they're occupied. This 'policy' seems to invite government censorship as someone has to determine what will "arouse passions and sectarian feelings". All this time after Paul Bremer had a hissy fit over an editorial cartoon, the press is still the occupation's first target.
Meanwhile British troops of the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars are . . . on the move.
Ross Colvin (Reuters) reports a lot of talk about how they're 'stripped-down' and mobile (in Landrovers) but the reality is that they're also homeless -- they've "abandoned their base in Iraq's southern Maysan province on Thursday". Though the base was under "nightly attack" and though it has, indeed, been abandoned, British flack Charlie Burbridge disagrees that "the British had been forced out of Amara".
Meanwhile, in the United States, Ehren Watada's father Bob continues his efforts to get the word out on his son, the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Momo Chang (Oakland Tribune) quotes Bob Watada saying: "Ehren is not doing this for himself. He is doing this for every American who believes in democracy and the Constitution. . . . And I am very proud of him." NBC11 reports Bob Watada, speaking in San Jose, saying, "My son is very strong. He's going to -- even if there's a court-martial, he's going to go to jail instead of killing innocent Iraqis -- that's the real tragedy here."
Chang notes that Bob Watada will have taken part in 25 speaking engagements during his brief time in the San Francisco Bay Area and that Sarah Olson (one of two journalists the governments wants as witnesses against Ehren Watada should a court-martial be scheduled) has stated, "It's not my job as a journalist to help the Army prosecute Lt. Watada."
Bob Watada continues to speak out and here are some of the upcoming events:

Thu. 8/24
7pm Reception & Educational Event Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct.,
Sacramento Contact: Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action 916-448-7157

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27
4-6pm Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Ehren Watada is only one resister. Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein spoke with war resister Carl Webb who has repeatedly refused to serve in the Iraq war. As noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Webb recieved a letter saying that he was released from the Texas National Guard but, as Jeff Mackler pointed out, Webb also got a second letter saying that "they were reassinging him to the pool for the people who could be drafted." ("Drafted" refers to the stop-loss/backdoor draft program. Those new to this topic can refer to Scott Cannon and Rick Montgomery's "Back-Door Draft Shakes The Military" from the Kansas City Star.)
Replying to a question from Bernstein as to whether or not he had any regrets, Webb replied, "No, I have no regrets at all" and noted the importance of raising awareness about the GI resistance and getting the word out on "how much GI resistance there is in the military because that's why I'm here, to tell my fellow soldiers that they don't have to obey orders, that they have to refuse by any means necessary."
Webb discussed the story of his refusal to serve in an illegal war and noted, "I'm here hoping to be an example not only to do those being called up but to anyone in the military". Webb will be speaking this Saturday in San Francisco:

Aug. 26 7:30 pm
Socialist Action Bookstore
298 Valencia St.
San Francisco

Jeff Mackler is running for the US Senate out of California the seat currently occupied by War Hawk Dianne Feinstein. Yesterday, on The KPFA Evening News, Feinstein revealed that she'd come to the conclusion intelligence was misused and abused to lead us into war. Three years and a primary challenger was all it took. Possibly in three more years she may be able to note the illegal nature of the war as well.
Rebecca noted Bernstein's interview with Carl Webb yesterday.]
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. The lead in the reports is about a big, teary performance delivered by a witness -- Brigadier Paul Symon. The
AAP tells you Symon is "Australia's former commander in Iraq" and that he "says he will take responsiblity for the bungled return of Private Jake Kovco's body" and he did so, according to the AAP, via "emotional evidence". Australia's ABC informs that poor Symon "was reduced to tears". If some felt it was performance akin to the one Patrick Walters reported on March 9th of this year (where Symon announced to the world that the corner had been turned and that troops were 'turning the tables') it may go to the fact that he blew his credibility in the eyes of some a long time ago. It may also have to do with the excessive coverage his dramatics overshadow a genuine response by the family of Jake Kovco.
But let's back up, for those who've forgotten or are late to the discussion, Jake Kovco didn't make it back to Australia as planned. Instead,
Juso Sinanovic was sent to Austrlia -- a problem since he should have been sent to Bosnia (Sinanovic died on April 17th). As Elizabeth Jackson reported on AM (Australia's ABC), April 27th: "The Body of an Australian soldier killed in a shooting accident last week in Baghdad has been accidentally left behind in Kuwait. Privated Jake Kovco's body was due to arrive in Melbourne late last night on a flight from Kuwait. But it didn't." Jackson interviewed Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) who declared that Kovco "was at all times appropriately identified by the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Army" which we now know, one of the few things the inquiry has established, that's not true.
In terms of Paul Symon, he was the commander when Kovco died. He was reponsible. That he broke down in tears after reading "
a statement he had written to his superiors on April 27, explaining how the wrong body was sent back to Australia" says little about his compassion for Jake Kovco (it can be argued he had none, hold on for that), it has to do with the public humilitation of having to publicly have all eyes on him while he read his "Oops" in public.
The delicate flower was weeping for himself. After cry baby dried up his tears, he resumed testifying and went on to refer to Jake Kovco, as
Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports (and one of the few to lead with this), as "a piece of cargo." This caused a genuine objection from Judy Kovco (as opposed to the earlier theatrics from Symon) who shouted, "He's not a piece of cargo. Don't you dare. He was my son."
Now remember, this was the grown man who broke down in tears when he had to read his "Oops" to the hearing. That wasn't about Kovco, the tears. That was about the humilitation of having to own up to mistakes under his command. Demonstrating this point further is Symon's response to Judy Kovco which was to describe his reference to Jake Kovco as "
a piece of cargo" as being "not well chosen."
Tara Ravens ( reports on his "Oops" he read to the hearing: "If mistakes are found to be made . . . I accept responsibility for those mistakes. If mistakes have been made outside . . . I would expect their senior management to accept responsiblity in exactly the same manner. After all, someone has to take responsiblity for this dreadful mistake." Yes, someone does. And despite the April 27 "Oops" where he spoke of "responsibility" it's still not happening. The AAP notes that, at the hearing, while doing his responsiblity 'talk,' he "implored the federal government to adopt better repatriation policies." Blah, blah, blah, "human emotions" are messy (this is a summary of Symon's supposed acceptance of responsibility) and we need "technical solutions" blah blah blah. Referring to the body of Jake Kovco (the first Australian on the ground death in the current war) as "we have here a piece of cargo" doesn't indicate that Symon's lost in "human emotions."
The inquiry also addressed the movement of Kovco's body. Again, Symon says it wasn't his fault.
Symon states: "When the advice came not to move the body, it had already been moved so I could not turn the clock back".
Yesterday, Soldier 47 gave testimony stating that he had "instructed authorities in Baghdad not to move the body" -- before leaving for Baghdad "immediately." Though Symon congratulated himself for "common sense and good judgement," there's no indication that he applied either. Tracy Ong reports: "Brigadier Symon said a request from military policy in Syndey that Kovco's body remain in Baghdad came after it had been moved to the US morgue at the airport at the request of medical staff. He said he thought he was helping military police by having the body moved to the evacuation point in Kuwait where they could see it sooner." The evacuation point refers to the private morgue -- soldiers have testified that if the US morgue had been used, the mix up wouldn't have happened and they've criticized what they saw as the cheapness in the decision. Ong notes Anzac Day and Symon denies that there was a rush to get Kovco home in time for that holiday while admitting "I could see a certain poignancy in a good soldier being returned to the nation on Anzac Day."
Anzac Day is April 25th. It's a national holiday in Australia, a day of memorial beginning in the 1920s and furthered by the human costs of WWII (it became an official holiday in 1916 to mark the actions of the newly independent Australia in WWI). A certain poignancy in Jake Kovco being returned to Australia on that day?
Does Symon mean poignancy or does he mean PR?
Possibly the remark underscores the PR hopes of Symon who's had his hand in selling and shelling an illegal war. The hopes of a PR coup (remember, the month prior Symon was -- falsely -- telling reporters a corner had been turned) may be the what added further stress to an already difficult mourning for Jake Kovco's family and friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bob Watada and more from the Snapshot

Wally and I did a joint post (scroll down for the post right before this one). I'm also noting C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot" (and that's it for this post, church night). The snapshots are always worth noting but this one has Bob Watada in it and we need to all be getting the word out on Ehren Watada.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
Ehren Watada's father Bob continues traveling and speaking to raise awareness about his son's case, a new poll by the New York Times continues to demonstrate the trend of Americans turning against the war and another witness in the military inquiry into the death of Jake Kovco blasts the way the investigation was conducted.
Today Bob Watada spoke with Philip Maldari on
KPFA's The Morning Show about his son Ehren Watada, the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Bob Watada spoke of the potential consequences that his son could face but noted that Ehren was aware of the consenquences, that there's " a real crisis in this country," and that even "knowing that he may got to jail" his son knew he had to take the stand he did an refuse to deploy. Bob Watada spoke of how his son's discovery of the lies that led a nation into an illegal war changed everything: "When he found out what was going on in Iraq, the president lying to the people, lying to Congress, lying to the military," he knew that he couldn't go to Iraq both for himself and for those who'd be serving under him.
Bob Watada spoke of the expectation that the US military will use Ehren Watada as an example in an effort clamp down on the dissent within the military. And, in answer to Maldari's question of what can be done, he spoke of the importance of public opinion in his son's case: "If the military sees that there is a large swell of public opinion on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, they're going to think twice about what they're doing."
The importance of public support/action was also demonstrated in the calls. One that stands out is caller Alden, WWII veteran, in The Underwater Demolition, spoke of being stationed in Hawaii and "about March of '46 the word came through that all the G.I.s were going to be sent back into China to start a war against the new Chinese government. Following this, a couple of days later, there was about 10,000 GIs in Honolulu protesting, saying 'We are going home' and about three days later another one, ten-to-twelve thousand G.I.s saying 'We are going home' and that stopped it. And that was what was going on back in those days and I'm just so supportive and feel completely what Watada is doing and the way he put it and the father and the way he puts it -- that is just outstanding."
Bob Watada is attempting to raise awareness of his son's case and upcoming events include:

Wed. 8/23
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

Fri. 8/25
No. Cal. Japanese Christian Theological Forum Berkeley Methodist United Church- chapel 1710 Carleton St/McGee in Berkeley Contact: Laura Takeuchi 510-848-3614

Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070

Sat. 8/26 7-9pm
Educational & Cultural Event Berkeley Friends Church; 1600 Sacramento St., Berkeley Contact: Betty Kano 510-684-0239

Sun. 8/27 4-6pm Speaking Event AFSC building, 65-Ninth St., SF Contact: Martha Hubert 415-647-1119

A complete list of the events Bob Watada will be taking part in can be found
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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
Of the various stops he's made so far to speak of his son, Bob Watada said, "It's been really postive here in the Bay Area. Just about everywhere we've gone, we've had packed crowds. . . The other day I had somebody who came up before the program started and said he was a veteran and he didn't really think he could support me or my son. . . . At the end of the evening he came up to me and said 'Whatever you need, whatever your son needs, I want to help you out.'"
In other peace news, Cindy Sheehan will rejoin
Camp Casey III after "several days" reports the Associated Press. Sheehan is back in the Providence Health Center in Waco "recovering . . . after having a hysterctomy" on Tuesday. Next week, Sheehan is scheduled to be in Salt Lake City participating with the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and others in protesting Bully Boy's August 31st speech (during a trip on which Condi Rice is accompanying him).
That's how Sheehan plans to end the month, at the beginning of the month she went to Jordan with Ann Wright, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Geal Murphy, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and others to meet with Iraqi legislators.
Eric Horsting (Washington Beachcomber) reports that also on the trip was filmmaker David Rothmiller who shot footage "to create campaign material for Jeeni Criscenzo, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 49th district in California."
As the November elections approach, many get edgy and itchy. A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News continues to note the shift in public opinion of the illegal war. Summarizing the poll,
Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly (New York Times) note of those surveyed: 51 percent "saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort"; 53% said the "war was a mistake"; 62% agreed that things in Iraq could be rated "somewhat or very badly"; 46 percent felt the Bully Boy "had concentrated too much on Iraq". Hulse and Connelly's article also features comments from three follow up interviews. Those views worthy of being noted? Two Republicans and a self-described independent.
In Iraq, the violence and the chaos, to no one's surprise, continues.
In the Baghdad, city of so-called crackdowns, a roadside bomb (possibly targeting Jawad al-Bolani, the Interior Minister) claimed the lives of two civilians and left others wounded
according to the Associated Press. AFP notes that a roadside bomb killed two civilians "between Basra and Nasiriyah." KUNA reports that "[a] car exploded . . . near an army special ops check-point in Dorra" and "that the explosion resulted in several deaths and injuries among the special ops troops in the area." In Mosul, the AP reports, one woman was killed and ten people were wounded by a suicide bomber while, in Falljua, a roadside bomb claimed two lives and left twelve wounded.
AP reports that "1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi . . . was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah". Reuters notes that eight people were shot dead in Baquba and a police officer shot dead in al-Hay. AFP notes that, in Kut, "two civilians were shot dead" with a child and one other adult wounded.
AFP reports that six corpses were found beneath a bridge "between the two volatile cities of Mahmudiyah and Latifyah" and three were discovered in Baquba.
In Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues. The most recent developments revolve around Soldier 47's testimony. Australia's
ABC reports that Soldier 47, "[a] military police investigator" went to Baghdad from Melbourne to investigate the death of Jake Kovco and that "he was informed on the day of Pte Kovco's death to deploy immediately to Baghdad." AAP notes that during Soldier 47 three hour, video-link testimony (from Baghdad), he "detailed a litany of miscommunication and army bungles surrounding the death of the Victorian soldier who was shot in his Baghdad barracks room on April 21." The Daily Telegraph reports of the testiomony that "he was also angerd and surprised that Pte Kovco's body had been flown from Baghdad to Kuwait agains the orgers of the military police's special investigations branch" and "frustrated that forensic evidence was lost when the body had been washed and treated while Pte Kovco's clothes had been destroyed." ABC New South Wales notes that Soldier 47 voiced his frustration over being "told he could not view notes made by Private Kovco's room-mates" and finding out that "the room-mates were in Kuwait, not Baghdad, so he could not immediately interview them." Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 47 gave up custody of Jake Kovco's body because a) he wanted to "get to the scene of the shooting" and because "certain integrites had already been compromised" (see "forensic evidence was lost" two sentences prior).
Soldier 47's testimony of frustration and anger over the investigation echoes
Major Mark Willetts testimony yesterday where he complained about being refused access to the room Kovco died in (Willetts was "the officer in charge of the immediate investigation") and feeling that Jake Kovco's two roommates were being less than fully forthcoming.
In addition,
ABC notes that Soldier 30 is asserting that "some of the claims made about his troops during the course of the inquiry are simply not true" specifically he refutes Soldier 21's claim that "quick draw" games were played with weapons. Two weeks ago, Soldier 30 (who spoke today as he spoke then -- via video-link from Baghdad) asserted that he had given orders that the death/crime scene not be preserved for morale issues Soldier 21, the section commander, is most famous for issuing a statement following the death of Jake Kovco that he heard a cry (in the barracks) of "Allah Akbar" which translates as "God is great." When Soldier 21 testified to the inquiry earlier this month, he renounced that assertion. Then, as
Sydney 2GB reported, "He told the inquiry it had become unclear whether he'd in fact heard the comment."
In other legal news, on April 26th, Hashim Ibrahim Awad died in Hamdania after being allegedly kidnapped by US troops. Charged with kidnapping and the killing were the "Pendelton Eight" -- Saul H. Lopezromo, Derek I. Lewis, Henry D. Lever, Lawrence G. Hutchins II, Trent D. Thomas, Tyler Jackson, Marshall Magincadla, and Jerry E. Schumate Jr.
Thomas Watkins (AP) reports that four of the eight want to skip the Article 32 hearing and instead "proceed straight to trial." Reportedly, John Jodka III's attorney was the one who made the request first (and did so on Friday) which isn't in the AP report. Reportedly not all involved were informed of the request when it was first made. Jerry E. Shumate was the last to join the four in making the request. Watkins reports that the military has denied the request and the Article 32 hearing could start as early as August 28th. But Gidget Fuentes (Navy Times) reports the schedule for the hearings as: September 12th: Jerry E. Shumate Jr.; September 25th: Marshall L. Magincalda, Robert B. Pennington, John J. Jodka, Melson J. Bacos; and October 18th: Lawrence G. Hutchins, Trent D. Thomas and Tyler A. Jackson.

Crunch time for Bully Boy (humor)









Recommended: "Iraq Snapshot"
"Bob Watada on KPFA's The Morning Show today"
"NYT: Iraq coverage slips right out of the paper"
"Al Harrington, John McCain, Iraq"
"joker jeff defends his 'girl' who leaves the audience with a wrong impression"
"My Home Tower (Records)"
"Where's the focus?"
"The hit squad that tried to silence truth tellers"

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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and 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.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Condi Rice stars in Little Miss Sunshine

If you're looking for a film to see, I'd suggest Little Miss Sunshine, here's the movie poster:


Here's the film summary:

Little Miss Sunshine. Michael Arnot's semi-fictional script follows a Secretary of State as she beams and presents mock concern over Israel's armed aggression towards Lebanon. SoS breaks out into song at key moments throughout -- hell's version of Julie Andrews.

That's not really the film summary, it's a joke Ava and C.I. came up with for several films. With help from Mike and Wally for one joke in their eight 'films.' I wanted something funny before copying & pasting the snapshot (which has humor in it as well, by the way). Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, August 21, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq, Ehren Watada's father Bob travels to raise awareness of what his son is facing, Cindy Sheehan and others continue to up the ante, Soldier 14 testifies he was scared of a widow, and the Bully Boy holds an inner-dialogue with himself while the world watches.
Having long ago spent any perceived political capitol his illegal war of choice or the 2004 elections might have fronted him, Bully Boy struggles to justify why the United States should continue a war that, on Sunday,
claimed the lives of three more American troops in the al Anbar Province. Daniela Deane (Washington Post) reports that the Bully Boy stated it would be a disaster to leave . . . the disaster that is Iraq (link contains video to the speech) -- sounding a bit like the guy who begs you to invest in his sure-thing investment and then, when it goes to hell, tells you that if you pull out, it will destroy him. That is what is now at stake. Not Iraq, not US trooops, Bully Boy's own historical role and don't think he hasn't grasped that. Deane quotes the Bully Boy stating: "We're not leaving so long as I'm president" apparently goading the growing impeachment movement, "That would be a huge mistake." "Huge mistake" would be a nice way of describing the illegal war the Bully Boy started with lies and inference.
If there's a grown up present in the White House, might they suggest to the "We're not leaving" Bully Boy that he listen to
KPFA's Against the Grain from this afternoon, where Sasha Lilley interviewed Dan Berger on the topic of the Weather Underground and what denials/refusals led to the formation of that group? (Lilley, not C.S. Soong as I wrongly stated Saturday, conducted the interview.) As Deane (Washington Post) notes: "Bush made his comments as support for the Iraq war among the American public continues to plummet and Bush's approval numbers stay stuck in the 30s. More conservative commentators are raising questions, expressing doubts or even attacking the president outright on his foreign policy decisions, with the Iraq war figuring prominently." That's something he might want to consider, as well as Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decison in ACLU v. NSA ("There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution"), before he issues his next royal edict on what he says the nation will do. His only alternative is to out-Nixon Tricky Dick. (Something he already seems bound and determined to achieve before he completes his term or is removed from office.)
On the ground in Iraq, Baghdad's so
-called crackdown (6.0) returns to 'normal' crackdown status (which never worked either) as the vehicle ban is lifted in Iraq's capital. And the reaction? CNN reports an armed attack in Adan Square resulting in at least one dead and at least five wounded, while in western Baghdad an Iraqi army patrol was attacked resulting in three deaths (Iraqi soldiers) and two wounded (ditto) and, just north of Baghdad, a US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb. As Reuters notes, the roadside bomb death brought to four the number of US troops killed in the last 24 hours. In addition to the three Iraqi soldiers killed in Baghdad, AFP reports a civilian was killed by a drive-by shooting.
Outside of Baghdad, things weren't 'calm' (though that's today's talking point -- look for it in print tomorrow and wonder about domestic outlets -- whether they cheer the war or not -- who use calm to described a 24 hour period that saw four US troops die).
Reuters notes violence in Basra -- Fadhil al-Magsusi was shot dead (he's "colonel in the Facility Protection Services") and that two members "of the Interior Ministry Intelligence Service" were shot dead on Sunday -- while in Iskandariya a roadside bomb claimed the lives of two Iraqi police officers. AFP reports a bomb injured a police officer in Baquba. CNN adds to the Baquba details noting two shot dead and another two wounded in Baquba from shootings and "In another incident, gunmen shot dead an Iraqi civilian in Khalis town about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baquba. Two people, including a teacher, were killed by gunmen in Balad Ruz, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of Baquba Monday morning, an official with Baquba police said."
That makes eleven (includes the American soldier) and that passes for "calm" as surely as
Bully Boy's failed war of choice passes for "success." In the reality based world, The Feminist Wire reports that 35 lawyers in Iraq have been killed since October of last year "many of whom were defending women's rights." While Andy Webb-Vidal (Financial Times of London) reports that things are getting nasty between US military outsourcer Blackwater and the mercenaries they contracted for security duties from Columbia (where else?) as the mercenaries claim that they are being paid only a quarter of what they were promised. (Apparently Blackwater pays a monthly salary and not by 'the kill.') The dispute could spell problems for many reporters in Baghdad since the thirty-five mercenaries are assigned to the Green Zone.
Last Thursday, in the United States,
Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing was held. Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Currently, the presiding officer, Lt. Col. Mark Keith, is weighing whether or not the record/evidence demonstrates the need for futher action (which could include a court-martial). Washington's Spokesman Review quotes Watada stating: ""You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians." Following Thursday's hearing, Jeff Patterson (Indybay IMC) reports that Watada spoke to a group of supporters in Tacoma, Washington and restated "his willingness to go to jail for the truth if needed." Patterson (of Not In Our Name) reports that attorney Eric Seitz explained that the Watada's defense is based on "the duty of individual soldiers to look at the facts and fulfill their obligation to national and international law" and that it is the prosecution's efforts that put the war on trial.
Bob Watada, father of Ehren, is currently speaking at various events in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness of his son's case. Upcoming events for today and tomorrow include:


Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco
Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007 Tu.

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

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

A full list of events can be found
here. The Santa Cruz Sentinal notes one of Friday's events, a 7:00 pm benefit showing of Sir! No Sir! at the Veterans Memorial Hall -- 846 Front St., Santa Cruz -- co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz chapter of Veterans for Peace and the Resource Center for Nonviolence.
And we'll continue to note the following:
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 to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In other peace news,
Saturday, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and over fifty others protested an Austin, TX appearance by Karl Rove with chants of "Try Rove For Treason" and cries of "Karl Rove, You Are A Criminal." The Associated Press places the number of participants at seventy. The Austin American-Statesman reports that "Tiffany Nicole Burns of Los Angeles has been charged with inciting a riot and criminal trespass because she 'responded with physical resistance' when an officer tried to apprehend her outside a ballroom at the Renaissance Austin Hotel." Burns is out on bail but, if convicted, could face a maxiumum of 180 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2000. Burns told Austin's CBS 42, "The police made it really clear to me that their objective was to get us out of the reception so we wouldn't bother Karl Rove while he was speaking. Rather than let us, find some peaceful resolution and leave after we said what we came to say." CODEPINK notes: "Who's that telling Karl Rove he should be indicted for war crimes? Or interrupting Dick Cheney at the RNC? Or walking 40 miles for peace? Or planting a peace garden in Crawford, Texas in 105 degree heat? It's CODEPINK'S beloved Tiffany Burns. Always pushing the envelope (and getting arrested!)" (link contains video of an interview with Burns).
Despite the protests, the questions remaining about his role in the outing of then CIA agent Valerie Plame, the predictors said to bode poorly for Republican election prospects in November, there were no reports that the portly Karl Rove's extremely healthy appetite was effected.
Whether the Bully Boy and Condi Rice will have such healthy appetites next week in Salt Lake City when they are greeted by
protests led by the city's mayor Rocky Anderson and Cindy Sheehan remains unknown at present.
Associated Press notes that Sheehan traveled "about 100 miles" from Camp Casey III to take part in the demonstrations in Austin. Actions at Camp Casey III continue through September 2nd then it moves to DC for Camp Democracy (opens September 5th). CODEPINK reports on the hard work put into a recent addition at Camp Casey III: the Visions for Peace garden (link contains photos).
The upcoming DC events in September to protest the illegal war are only a few weeks away. In a review of Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's new book
The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies, and the Mess In Iraq, David Swanson (Political Affairs) notes that Rampton will be at speaking at Camp Democracy in DC and that "[o]ther speakers at Camp Democracy will include: Cindy Sheehan, Antonia Juhasz, Gael Murphy, Raed Jarrar, Anne Feeney, Lennox Yearwood, Ann Wright, John Kim, Kevin Fagan, Ryan McAllister, Regina Miranda, Mike Gravel, Elizabeth Holtzman, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth de la Vega, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, Dave Lindorff, Barbara Olshansky, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony Arnove, Howard Zinn, and many others."
Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. Last week, DNA tests came back on Kovco's gun which is identified as the weapon that killed him. Some of the DNA on it not belonging to Kovco was identified as belonging to Soldier 14. (Some, not all could be conclusively identified.) After refusing to consent to a police interview last week, Soldier 14 again took the stand today and, as Australia's
ABC reports, he continued to maintain that his DNA must "have been transferred by a megaphone, telephone or military radio they both handled on the day of Private Kovco's death." Soldier 14 also used his testimony to note Shelley Kovco, widow of Jake Kovco and the mother of their children Alana and Tyrie Kovco. Leonie Lamont (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that in reply to questioning from Shelley Kovco's attorney (Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Berkley) Soldier 14 stated he had wanted to speak to her but "felt that people were out to get me, they thought I was responsible, and I thought she was one of those people. The last thing I wanted to do was have to listen to someone accuse me when I knew I had nothing to hide." A strange statement since Soldier 14 is speaking of the time immediately after Jake Kovco's death and until Friday's DNA testing was revealed, no one was aware who, if any one, might have handled the gun that killed Jake Kovco. As Tracey Ong ( notes, Soldier 14 continues to maintain that he never touched Jake Kovco's pistol and that, via video-link from Baghdad, Kovco's roommates (Soldiers 17 and 19) gave testimony regarding how often the soldiers showered and washed their hands -- seeming to address the issue of whether stray DNA could have landed on Kovco's gun without Soldier 14 ever touching it. As Belinda Tasker (The Daily Telegraph) notes, Soldier 14's avoidance of Shelley Kovco -- out of fear of being accused of something,apparently -- translates as Soldier 14 aoviding contact with her for "more than three months" and notes that Soldier 14 said "people were telling me" that Shelley Kovco was out to get him -- apparently no one asked Soldier 14 who these people were or why, since his DNA was only identified last Friday, anyone would think he was suspected of anything in the death of Kovco. No one has placed Soldier 14 as being present in the room when Jake Kovco died, however, Leonie Lamont reports that Soldier 14 testified he was in the room next to Kovco's and, although he maintains he did not leave his room, he stated to the inquiry that he did yell "about the keeping the noise down" [music] and went over to the room after he heard the gunshot. Tracey Ong reports: "Soldier 14 will return to the stand for a fourth time as early as the end of the week for further questioning by Frank Holles, counsel representing Pte Kovco's parents, Martin and Judy. Lieutenant Colonel Holles is away on another case this week" and notes that Soldier 14's lawyer voiced his objection to this stating that the stress was too much and Soldier 14 needed to return to the, apparently, more peaceful, less stressful locale of Baghdad. The roommates testimony (via video-link from Baghdad) rejected, ABC reports, the notion that Kovco's death resulted from "a prank" Kovco was playing and both Soldiers 17 and 19 continue to maintain that although they saw him dancing around (to the Cranberries), they did not see the gun go off.