Finally Friday

I missed Flashpoints on KPFA tonight but I am listening to a special Dennis and the staff are doing with the staff of Voices of the Middle East.

I was trying to focus on getting another chapter up at my own site. Which is Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man and this is Betty filling in for Rebecca while she's on vacation. But I read Wednesday's column and Friday's as well and didn't feel like there was much there. I did grab a line I'd written in the margins of my outline but otherwise didn't use anything from it. I'm so sick of Thomas Friedman and you just know he's in hog heaven (read his columns if you doubt it) over the tragedies of the Middle East. So I wrote "Thomas Friedman says, 'Drop the five on the dresser before moving to the bed'" which does nothing to advance the story at all. Is it funny? I have no idea. I wasn't feeling very funny at all. I spent the first thirty minutes glaring at the columns and then turned on the TV to watch That '70s Show thinking it might put me in a funny mood but it didn't. Then the phone rang and it was my sister saying that my daughter was announcing she was ready to go home so I went to pick her up from the planned sleep over (if you've read some of my posts here, you know she won't sleep over at my sister's -- she wants to when my sons are going to but, once it starts getting dark or she starts getting sleeping, she wants Mommy).

I got back here and was going to give up but she wanted to color. I got her some paper and the crayons (she really enjoys drawing her own pictures -- I think it's because my oldest always tells her, when she's using a coloring book, that she's going out of the lines) and she slid me over a piece of paper and said, "Write, Mommy."

So while she colored, I wrote the latest. Again, I have no idea if it's funny or not. Want to know what's funny? Cedric's "A Bully Boy Press and Cedric's Big Mix Exclusive! (Humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! VOTE G.O.P. OR THE TERRORIST . . . MIGHT DO . . . SOMETHING!" -- it's a joint post by BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX.

Let me do C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" because we really can't afford to lose sight of Iraq:

Chaos and violence continue. Or else just think of the decision of the extended curfew in Baghdad as the capital beginning to note ozone days. The BBC reports that the Friday daytime ban "now covers most of the day" and that it ends "just two hours before the daily night-time curfew begins." 'Liberation' by unofficial house arrest.
If the 'crackdown' is to cut off all attempts at daily life in Baghdad, how's that hearts & minds strategy going?
AFP reports that in Baquba hearts and minds scatter to the wind when six people were killed and 23 wounded. Killed how? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Among the five dead were an infant and two women. The two adult males are being dubbed 'insurgents' by the US military. The women and the infant? AP trumpets one sentence into a condolence card: "The Americans expressed regret for the civilian deaths." Reuters, using sources other than the military's press release, reports that six, not five (as the AP reports -- the AFP was at the hospital and counted six corpses), were killed and that it came from an air raid bombing of three houses. (AP's iffy on what happened, AFP also calls it an air strike). Though the US dubs the two dead males 'insurgents,' reports indicate that the troops were seen as the 'insurgents.' AFP has an eye witness, Mohammed Omar, who states that the men on rooftop were guards (not an uncommon occurence in Iraq) and they fired at approaching troops believing they were 'insurgents'.
What happened? Probably no one involved, American or Iraqi, can tell you in full. For the military, that's what happens when the people you are supposedly 'liberating' are seen as the 'enemy.' The press release (which the New York Times will probably build from tomorrow -- though we can always hope that isn't the case) outlines (at length) a version of events. Those events aren't reflected in reporting by Reuters or AFP which actually spoke to people involved. And just to repeat, it's a lengthy press release. The AP treats the one 'regret' sentence as though it's prominent or lengthy. It's an afternote. The twenty-three wounded? Women and children in that number as well.
Elsewhere in Iraq today?
AFP reports that, in Baghdad, clashes led to the shooting deaths of three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi police officers, as well as the shooting death of "a Christian government official". Reuters notes that "[t]wo Salvadoran[,] . . . four Polish soldiers and an Iraqi transloator were wounded when their convoy was attacked . . . not clear how the convoy was attacked." That was "near Numaniya." In addition, Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters is noting that a police officer and a civilian were shot dead "in separate attacks in Muqdadiya."
AFP notes one in Baghdad, "outside a Sunni mosque" that killed one person. Reuters notes that another person died in a roadside bomb near a Sunni mosque in Khalis (two others were wounded).
Reuters reports that three corpses were found near Falluja ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") and that they were wearing the uniforms of Iraqi soldiers while another corpse (headless) was discovered in Kirkuk. In addition to that corpse, KUNA notes that the corpse of a two-year-old child was also found in Kirkuk. AFP notes four corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("signs of torture"). And Reuters is now reporting the discovery, in Muqdadiya, of the corpses of five kidnapped victims.
US military announced that a US marine died Friday in the Anbar province. This as Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that "Col. Michael Shields, commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team operating primarily in the Mosul area" says that the target of the 'insurgency' is now Iraqi soldiers.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continued as attorneys for Shelley Kovco (widow of Australian soldier Jake Kovco) and Judy & Martin Kovco (parents of Jake) sought to establish that
yesterday's 'key witness' had less than impressive qualifications. Conor Duffy reported on PM (Australia's ABC) that Wayne Hoffman faced questions on the 12-point document he'd prepared with it being noted that his document went beyond his area (ballistics) into a "largely speculative" area. (The reference is into Hoffman's statement that the death was a suicide -- which led Judy Kovco to leave the courtroom yesterday.) Duffy notes a number of things the 'expert' was confronted with such as the fact that, although he'd weighed in with expertise and great authority on the matter, "he was unaware there was another pistol in the room at the time of the shooting, and . . . he hadn't read the statements from Private Kovco's room mates." Dan Box (The Australian) reports that 'expert' Wayne Hoffman testified that he hadn't been able "to find any prints on the gun" -- not Jake Kovco's, not anyone's. Box notes: "NSW detectives will now travel to Baghdad to take DNA samples from those soldiers in Kovco's unit after unidentified DNA was found on the gun, including on its trigger." However, although that's been reported previously, it appears the journey to Baghdad is on hold. Conor Duffy (Australia's ABC) reports that although the expectation was for the testimony of soldiers in Baghdad to be heard Monday (via "videolink" as noted earlier this week), that's not the case: ". . . a spokeswoman for Defence Public Affairs says this has been delayed while a request to conduct DNA on more soldiers in Iraq is considered." So to recap, not only will soldiers not testify Monday via videolink (on hold) but the trip to Baghdad to take DNA samples (which had previously been stated to be a go) is now on hold. As Dan Box notes, the original investigation in Baghdad was made "without any foresensic equipment. In fact, no forensic tests were carried out by the military police." Speaking to Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy noted that Frank Holles [attorney for Judy and Martin Kovco] raised the issue that Hoffman appeared unaware that "Private Kovco was reportedly dancing around to a Cranberries song and communicating with his wife at the time of his death. 'Have you ever seen a suicide like that before?' he asked."
Also covering the inquiry,
Belinda Tasker (Perth Now) reports that Hoffman stated that his reasons for believing that Jake Kovco pulled the trigger "was the fact that the pistol was his own." Tasker also notes that his two former roomates reported that he was joking with them and "singing along to pop songs" but they claim they did not see anything when the gun went off. Finally, Tasker reports that Shelley Kovco "excused herself from hearing much of the cross-examination today."
In news from American courts,
Kay Stewart (Courier-Journal) reports that Steven D. Green, the former Army solider charged with raping and murdering 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza and then murdering three members of her family, "won't be indicted until at least mid-October, under a motion granted yesterday in U.S. District Court in Louisville' at the request of federal prosecutors who would like it rescheduled to November 8th. The other five charged in the incident, Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard -- Yribe is only charged with dereliction of duty for failure to report the incident, "are scheduled for a miliary hearing in Iraq beginning Aug. 6" and the federal prosecutors argue that "[t]he same evidence and witnesses are necesaary components in both prosecutions."
In peace news,
Hannah Charry (Hartford Advocate) reports that John Woods passed on his 60th birthday to take part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! Woods is "striking one day a week" (Fridays) for two months and states that: "His anti-war stance is in part something that he attributes to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he developed upon returning from Vietnam where he served with U.S. forces as an interrogator in 1969." Charry notes that Kat West is following Woods example and "will be fasting five days a week."
And in Canada,
Ken Eisner (Vancouver's Straight) reports: "Fact: Jane Fonda's biggest fans in her antiwar tours were American GIs. Fact: returning soldiers were the vanguard of the out-of-Vietnam movement by the end of the 1960s. Fact: far more veterans of the military now serving in Congress are Democrats than are Republicans. Fact: U.S. soldiers are deserting at a rate greater than at any time since Vietnam." Though truth is always welcome, why is Eisner reporting that? Because the documentary Sir! No! Sir! is opening at the Ridge. Eisner speaks with the film's director, David Zeiger, who says of the film: "This story has been so thoroughly buried, I knew it would take a lot of digging to get it out there. I thought it would be emotionally draining too, and that's one of the things that scared me off. But what I found as the process went along is that it became much more celebratory. This gave a lot of people a chance to tell their stories within a context that would inspire others. The conversations certainly did conjure up painful memories, but overwhelmingly it was a positive experience for everyone involved."
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The Jake Kovco case continues to provide new twists. I can't believe the American media is so disinterested in this case. But they really are. Their loss. Whatever the final outcome/verdict, this community will know it and we'll have spent more time following this case than the American media wasted on Michael Jackson's trial. (Maybe I should say "trials"?) This does matter. He was the first (and only thus far) Australian soldier to die on the ground in Iraq. He leaves behind two children and his widow (Shelley), his parents (Judy and Martin) and, judging by his funeral, a lot of friends. This is one of the tragedies of the illegal war and I'm glad we've followed it as a community. Whether you're for the war or against it, you really do have to take a moment to observe the loss of lives (Australian, American, Iraqi, members of the so-called coalition, etc.) and this has been a loss that we could follow. From the start. (I believe Jake Kovco died April 21st and the next day was a Sunday, which is the first time C.I. noted Jake.)
I'm sure Shelley Kovco would like to have her life back. But she has to see this through as do his parents. This isn't easy for them. Today, she walked out of the hearing, yesterday his mother Judy left it. But they are doing what they need to and it's just really shocking to me how this isn't a huge story in this country. After they get whatever answer the inquiry offers, I hope they can find some closure but the truth is that Jake Kovco is dead and they aren't going to forget that. I believe he was 25 years-old. Whether you're for the war or against it (I'm against it), it's a tragedy and I don't think grown ups have a right to look away from. For it or against it, you honor the dead -- my opinion.

Another thing in the snapshot is the film Sir! No! Sir! and it's very rare that I can push a film because most of the ones I see are animated children's films. But I saw Sir! No! Sir! when we were all in California and if it comes anywhere near your area, please see it. This is a wonderful film. It will show you a side of Vietnam that you may not be aware of. If you are aware of the resistance, it will strengthen your knowledge. And it will provide you with some laughs and some choked up moments. This isn't a PBS nature film, it's very involving. So, if you can, see
Sir! No! Sir!

Tomorrow on KPFA, from 8:00am -- 12:00 pm. there will be special coverage of the Middle East. That's Pacific time. In my area, it will air from ten a.m. to two p.m. So adjust from Pacific time if you're interested in hearing it. The special coverage will continue on Sunday. And Dennis Bernstein just said that Saturday's coverage will go to at least noon (Pacific time).

That's one of the reasons Kat and C.I. love KPFA, they're willing to put regular programming on hold when a situation arises, whether it's in DC or in the Middle East. I called C.I. tonight, to read the latest chapter at my site before posting it (which I usually do, I also usually call Kat but she's in Ireland, vacationing with her family) and just as I was posting, there was a promo for something, I missed what it was for. But there was a piano playing and I couldn't place it. C.I. was shopping, stocking up for guests, so I hummed the melody which I knew but couldn't place. C.I. said, "Got a call from my sister, Carolyn . . . You know rather than go through a long drawn out thing . . ." It was the opening of Aretha Franklin's "Angel."

I listened to a wide range of music growing up, not just "Black" music, but one of the great things about talking music with C.I. is I never have to explain something like, "Okay, Shannon had a hit with 'Let the Music Play' and . . ." or anything like that. If I'm talking Niecy, C.I. knows I mean Denise Williams. There are so many times when we do a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review and I'll mention some song. It would be lucky if Cedric and Ty knew it, if it's an R&B song, but I've yet to stump C.I. (I'm not trying to.) Those things come up outside the roundtable. The other day, I was trying to remember who did "Wear Out The Groove" because my oldest sister has a milestone birthday coming up ("35") and she loved that song. I thought I'd try to track it down as part of some of the music we're compiling for the party. I called C.I. and said, "You probably won't know this but who sang 'Wear Out the Grooves'?" C.I. told me the answer. Which I wrote down but have forgotten. It's the same guy, C.I. said, who sang "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off (To Have A Good Time)." Jermaine Stewart's the name of the singer, just came to me.

Changing topics, Andrea Lewis, co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show, has a strong column on conditions for women in Iraq and the military called "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women." If you use links, please check out the article. But Elaine just called and said she was going to link it and would call Mike. (Andrea Lewis is my favorite radio person. C.I. phoned, I think Wednesday at work, and held up the phone so I could get a sneak peak of a discussion she did on race -- reparations was being discussed in the part I was able to listen to.)


All over the place

That's "Song of the Bully Boy" by Isaiah and thanks to Mike for talking me through posting. I always forget how. He and Elaine used the illustration Tuesday and I thought, "I want to too!" I always forget how to do that, pull something from The Common Ills and post it here. Usually I call C.I. but I figured I'd call Mike
since I hadn't called him on all week. He didn't sound like Mike his voice was so deep, it was like talking to James Earl Jones -- he said he had been asleep and that his throat was dry. I never think about it being hot up north. Of course it is but I live in the south (Georgia) and always just assume those of us in the south have it tough in the summer and the people in the north have it rough in the winter.

I think it got up to 94 here today. And sorry, Betty here substituting for Rebecca. I keep forgetting to put that in. That's hot. I asked Mike how hot it got for him today and he mumbled something. Then he said that it's been hotter but today he was unloading stuff at work and then when he got back, his mother was trying to find something in the garage so he ended up telling her he'd find it and clean stuff up in there. But the point is that the summer is hot regardless of the temperature. It's based on what it was in the spring and what it is in the summer.

Greg Palast is on KPFA's Flashpoints and he's talking to Dennis Bernstein about the energy problems -- who is raking it in and how (deregulation). Since I'm mentioning him, let me recommend his book ARMED MADHOUSE which is really wonderful -- funny and informative.

In case you didn't figure it out, the pink & purple monster did not get me Tuesday night. However, even after we searched the closet, my youngest son would not go to bed. Finally, I asked if he wanted to sleep in my bed. He liked that idea. Last night he slept in his own bed. I always try to figure out what makes him have those nightmares? Did he see something on TV? Did he hear a scary story? Did he eat something that didn't agree with him? Is he having problems or stressed?

In this case, I think he just heard a noise (the fan) while he was sleeping. I've gone over everything else and that's the only thing that's left. And that's how I've spent most of my free time since I wrote last. Trying to see if something was wrong that I didn't know about.

Call it "Mom work" and know that it's never ending. I say that not in the, "Oh I'm so busy" (and certainly not in the "Oh I'm so wonderful") but because Rebecca has a lot of high school and middle school readers and I remember when I was in high school, there were a few girls who thought if they had a baby things would be great. They didn't want a child but they wanted a cute baby. I'd hear them say things like, "I want someone to love." Get a dog, get a cat, get a plant.

Kids are a lot of work. (I love my kids.) If you end up a single parent like me, they're a lot more work. (And I have a family that's more than willing to help out.) But if you're someone who thinks babies are just so cute and just want to spend time with them, my church has a nursery, go volunteer at that or work at a day care. (Work at a day care with the older kids and you'll probably free yourself o the illusions.)

Kids are wonderful but if you're seeing a cute baby who looks so sweet and so wonderful, know that the baby also cries, the baby also wets and poops and it's not cute changing diapers. I have three kids and I'm glad they're older because when they are babies, it's very hard. You have to decipher all the time. "Okay, this cry means . . ." You're always guessing. And with my second child, I'd just seen something on TV about sudden infant death syndrome. For four weeks, I slept on the floor by the crib and kept waking up to make sure he was still breathing. You'd be surprised the things you worry about and that's a direct result of the fact that a baby can't talk so you're always plying decipher.

They are completely dependent upon you and that may seem wonderful until it happens. When someone's completely dependent on you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you realize how much pressure that is.

I'm not trying to make anyone think, "Oh, I don't want kids ever." If you want them, you should have them. (And if you don't want them, you shouldn't have them.) But don't buy into some idea that it all giggles and hugs.

What am I talking about tonight? I honestly hadn't planned to write about that. The heat's fried my brain! Let me note C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
At least five bombs went off in Iraq today, according to Reuters. But don't fret for the Operation Happy Talkers, the military is pushing "Operation Baghdad is Beautiful" wherein the "trash, debris and barrier materials" are being removed. While it is true that Lady Bird Johnson had a beautification program it in the United States, she didn't try to implement in Vietnam. This as William Caldwell (US major general) announces that attacks in the "Bahgdad area" have incresed 40% this month. Is that 'beautiful' as well? Maybe they can slap some blue bonnets on it? Meanwhile the BBC notes: "But the US military admitted on Thursday the massive security clampdown that followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had achieved only a 'slight downtick' in violence." Or, as Adnan Dulaimi told Borzou Daragahi (LA Times), "What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy."
The Associated Press notes that ten are dead as a result of a car bombing near a gas station in Beiji and one dead (and seven wounded) from a car bomb in Kirkuk. Reuters reports five were wounded near Karbala from a roadside bomb; a bomb that exploded near a police patrol in Baghdad killed two (wounded 11 including 5 police officers); while another bomb in Baghdad (the third for the day) killed three; ten people were wounded from a roadside bomb near Najaf; and one person was wounded from a bomb near Diwaniya.
Reuters notes the shooting death of a cab driver in Diwaniya; three oil engineers in Baiji; police officers in Tikrit and Falluja (one in each city); and one in Baghdad.
Corpses? CBS and the AP report that four corpses were found in Baghdad. The AFP notes that Iraqi police are saying the number is 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours." Reuters reports that Baghdad morgues' figures for July, thus far, are "about 1,000 corpses." Reuters notes a cab driver whose corpse was found in his taxi in Numaniya; two corpses discovered near Balad; and the corpse of a translator who had been kidnapped Tuesday was discovered near Tikrit.
Centcom announced "A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today."
Reporting on Iraq yesterday Aaron Glantz (The KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News) explored the security situation speaking with a number of people including one Iraq male, Ali, in charge of investigating the Tuesday bombing in KUFA who declared, "The police doesn't have any information about anything. They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints, they just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything. Until recently you didn't any kind of diploma to get into the police. Now they have changed it so that you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer." Glantz also spoke with an Iraqi professor, Shakir Mustafa of Boston University, in the US who is attempting to get his family out of Iraq. The professor explained how neighboring countries are growing less welcoming to those who flee from Iraq with Glants noting the UN predictions of how things would grow increaingly worse for Iraqi refugees (child labor, sex traficcing, malnutrition and poverty).
Meanwhile, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports on a refugee camp in Baghdad which Um Abdullah says was attacked with gunfire and that this and other events have caused all but five of thirty-four families to leave the camp. Reuters estimates that over 30,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugess in the last three weeks.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April death of Jake Kovco continues. Australia's ABC reports that Judy Kovco walked out on the inquiry when Wayne Hoffman gave testimony that the wounds that killed her son were self-inflicted. Hoffman's testimony included a twelve-point presentation and flies in the face of the testimony given by Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes which found DNA other than Jake Kovco's on the gun believed to be the weapon. Hayes wants "up to thirty" of Kovco's fellow troops in Iraq to submit to DNA tests and homocide detectives have left for Baghdad to begin testing. Belinda Tasker (Courier-Mail) reports that attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco, Lt Col Frank Holles, and for the solider's widow Shelley Kovco, Lt Col Tom Berkley, objected to Hoffman's arguments noting "There are a number of assertions in there ... which aren't conclusive of the findings they purport to reach," and "at the end of the day you can't say whether the firing of the firearm was intentional or unintentional, it's all predicated on the fact that it was Jake."
Yesterday in Iraq, an attack in Basra indicated the level of hostility some Iraqis feel towards the occupation. As Daveed Mandel noted on The KPFA Evening News: "Today, assailants slit the throats of a mother and her three children in southern Iraq where the family had fled to escape threats stemming from accusations that they cooperated with Americans. The mother's sister was also slain in the southern city of Basara. Five other family members were rescued but they almost bled to death."
And yesterday in the United States, the AP reports, an Article 28 hearing was held to determine whether or there is evidence to warrant a trial of Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz Jr. for alleged actions in Ramadi where they are accused of killing an Iraqi man on February 15 of this year and then planting a gun by him to make him look like an "insurgent." The AP notes: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said."
Finally, the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza will not be exhumed reports Reuters. The family is refusing the request and Reuters quotes Muayyad Fadhil as saying, "It is disgraceful to remove a body after burial." Abeer Qassim Hamza and three members of her family were murdered in March. Six US soldiers have been charged in the incident (one with failure to report the incident) and five with rape and murder. Of the five, four are currently serving in the military. Steven D. Green is the only one charged (with rape and with murder) who has left the military. Reuters notes: "U.S. court documents in the case of Green indicate that other defendants say he killed three family members then raped Abeer al-Janabi and killed her too. They accuse one other soldier of raping the girl and a further two of being in the house during the killings." The five others charged are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard (Yribe is the one charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident).

So I'm reading Wally's hilarious "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY DISCOVERS RACISM! NEXT UP: GRAVITY!" which had me laughing so hard. Then I look at his recommended links and see two things: "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" and "The Mamas and the Papas (C.I. guesting for Kat)." I didn't know that C.I. was going to guest blog at Kat's site. (Mike said that's what he was hinting about.) Those are really wonderful entries. In the first one, C.I. talks about some of the the things happening while fasting. So check those out if you missed them.

Isn't it great that Bully Boy's discovered racism? That was sarcasm. You wouldn't know it when the adminstratin was trying (first term) to dismantle affirmative action. That was so ridiculouse even house slaves Colin Powell and Condi Rice had to make rumbles. I don't think you can be a Black Republican. Not nationally. I'm sure there are places where you can vote for the GOP and have some local reps who aren't racists but to vote Republican on the national level and be Black, you really have to hate yourself. That party is offensive and always attempting to turn back the strides made. If I'm reading something (like Ebony, US, one of the celeb mags) and come across a person saying they're Republican, I'm usually just like, "Oh too bad." But if it's a Black person, I have a very violent reaction inside -- like a swarm of bees stinging me inside.

That's not "All hail the Democrats." But that is saying when you use racism to campaign, when your policies target African-Americans in a harmful way, when all you can offer are "Yes master" tokens, your party is really sad. 50 Cent was someone I was neutral on, I wasn't a fan by any means, but when I found out he was a Bully Boy supporter, I thought, "Yeah, you really are a thug and you'll support other thugs." Or maybe it's just that trash sticks together?

I'll stop here before I go into a long thing about the rats who sell out their own race.


Not even cooking with grease (shorter post than planned)

Elaine called. She did make a recipe last night but just wanted to blog and post tonight. I told her that was fine (I'm Betty, filling in for Rebecca) and I'd go ahead and note it for both of us.
Yesterday, Elaine and I each made the recipe in Trina's "Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the Kitchen." I'd love to say, "Oh, I stirred it every 15 minutes while it was baking, just like the recipe said." Not a chance. I've got kids. "Mommy!"

Yesterday was a very active one for them and they weren't in the mood to relax or get along so I kept dashing out of the kitchen to referee and when I'd be back, I'd be five minutes late stirring and, one time, ten minutes late. But I did stir three times. And I got the dish out of the oven on time.

This is my favorite of everything I've made that Trina's had a recipe for. I didn't think it would be. I thought it would be 'okay' at best. But even with active (I'm being kind) kids, it turned out really good. And it wasn't just me that thought so. You should have heard the griping when the last serving was gone. I quieted them by promising to make it again Friday. It turned out very tasty. If there had been some left, I probably would've eaten more last night after I got the kids to bed.

So I'm covering this for Elaine and I both. She did stir every 15 minutes on the dot. (I knew she would. She's very good about being organized.) After she'd cut up the potatoes and added the rosemary and pepper and popped the dish in the oven, she sat at the table with a novel she's reading and everytime the timer went off, she opened the oven and stirred the contents of the dish. What stood out for her was how good it looked when it was done cooking. Truthfully, I don't remember that. I just wanted to get everyone sitting at the table and eating. But I take her word for it. She said she was also surprised by how well it turned out.

So that's two people telling you that you need try "Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the Kitchen."
And my youngest son just came wandering in.

Alright, I'm back but not on for long. He had a bad dream so he's in my lap right now and as soon as I finish this, we're going into the room he and his brother share and I have to check for monsters. He knows he heard them. I think he probably heard the fan pop (it's one that moves around) while he was asleep and it woke him up. (I don't think there are monsters in his room.)
But he told me it's a big monster, hiding in his closet and that it's pink and purple. (I don't blog on Wednesdays, but if you don't see something Thursday, worry that pink & purple monster got me!)

I had a list of things to talk about tonight. Just stuff that I heard on the radio or read in the paper (and one thing I saw online) but, if you're a mother of a young child, you know the drill. Plans go out the window. Nothing is ever etched in stone.

That's not complaining, just the way it is. And to be honest, my oldest is in a "I don't need Mom" phase (maybe it's not a phase, maybe it's his new attitude) lately so I know when these moments are gone, it's a shock and it's a little sad. (My oldest would not sit in my lap. He won't even hold my hand anymore. He'll hold his younger sister or brother's hand and they can hold mine, but he's 'too big' -- he says -- to hold my hand when we have to cross a street.)

So let me wind down (and I'm so glad I copied and pasted the snapshot before I typed a word). Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and note the figure on how many Iraqis have died in May and June, that's nearly 6,000 -- and Bully Boy says they're "liberated":

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


Various thoughts

Betty here, opening with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

The US tries to firm up a commerce deal in Iraq, Jake Kovco's family learns more details and despite all the happy talk, chaos and violence continue with one single event that is being called the "bloodiest" by many.
A US soldier was "fatally wounded" in Baghdad today, the AP notes pointing out that since Saturday four US soldiers have died "in the Baghdad area." Baghdad, location of the month-plus security 'crackdown.' Sunday, in Basra, a British soldier died and the BBC reports that he was John Johnston Cosby. Also on Sunday, Reuters reports that Laith al-Rawi ("local leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party") was killed in Haditha.
Today, the AFP notes that six died in Baquba. The biggest attack (AFP calls it the "deadliest since the July 9 bloodbath") took place in southern Iraq. Reuters notes that, in Mahmudiya, "[g]unmen stormed a crowded market" and at least 56 are dead with at least 67 wounded according to "a local hospital" (Ministry of Defence says 42 dead). James Hider (Times of London) reports that along with attempting to downgrade the number of those killed "a Defence Ministry spokesman tried to convince reporters that the deaths had been the result of two car bombs, insisting that no gunmen had been involved. That statement was flatly contradicted by the testimony of survivors."
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explores the events and notes Muayyad Fadhil, mayor of Mahmudiya, stating: "There was a mortar attack. Then gunmen came from . . . the eastern side of town. They came into the market and opened fire at raondom on the people shopping." The AFP notes the attack was "a coordinated assualt of car bombs, mortar attacks and rampaging masked gunmen". One victim, Muzzaffar Jassem, tells AFP: "About six cars with at least 20 masked gunmen blocked the market road from two sides, got out of the car and opened fire randomly on women, children and elderly people in the market".
As the violence heats up, the so-called coalition gets smaller. Reuters reports that Japan has pulled "[t]he last contingent" of their troops out of Iraq today.
In Australia, some feel answers are arriving as to the death of Jake Kovco; however, his family wants more answers. As Bruce Scates (Sydney Morning Herald) notes: "It has been almost three months since Private Jake Kovco's body was finally returned to Australia." Australia's ABC reports that Dr. Johan Duflou, who performed the autoposy on Kovco, told an inquiry board that "his opinion was the death was the result of an accidental discharge of a weapon." Kovco's parents are requesting that "several soldiers" in Iraq give testimony to the board about the events of April 21st when Kovco became "the first Australian soldier" to die in the current Iraq war. Members will remember the Judy and Martin Kovco as well as the parents of Jake Kovco's widow Shelley (David and Lorraine Small) were bothered, not only by the fact that Kovco's body was lost when it should have been returning to Australia, but also angered by what they saw as an attempt to smear Kovco with baseless rumors.
(Kovco died on April 21st but, due to mix ups on the part of the military, wasn't buried until May 2nd.)
Yesterday on KPFA's Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky, Bensky and Aaron Glantz discussed Iraq and Glantz noted, "The Iraqi paliament is on the verge of putting together a referendum demanding a timetable for the US withdrawal from Iraq and when they put forward that proposal, I think it will become a little bit more difficult for the Bush adminstration to say that we are there to help the Iraqi people when the Iraqi people say very clearly that they want the US military out within a specific amount of time."
Despite Dexy Filkins' 'reporting' for the New York Times, the issue Glantz outlined was one of "the Bush administration [. . .] rounding up these supporters of this idea including some people who are very high ranking in many of the political parties and this is the latest thing that we've been covering, the political crackdown by the US military of the people who want a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "
[Saturday, we linked to a recent Glantz article on this topic.]
In other parliament news, as noted by Brian Edwards-Tiekert on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Shi'ites stormed out today in protest over the Mahmudiya killings.
In commerce news, Australia and Iraq have reached an agreement over the June 21st death of Abdul Falah al-Sudany's bodyguard by Australian soldiers. Reuters reports that compensation will be paid to al-Sudany (trade minister) and that al-Sudany has stated: "We don't have any vetoes on importing Australian wheat and we hope to go back to a normal relationship with Australia."
Also in commerce news from Iraq, CBS and AP report that: "U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Guiterrez arrived in the Iraqi capital for meetings aimed at jump-starting the economy." Though the US press is seeing this as some sort of 'big win,' the AFP reports Abdel Falah-al Sudany (the same trade minister noted in the pervious item) is much more cautious and declared that privatization would not happen "for at least five to 10 years."
Possibly the excitement stems not from a lack of caution but a desire to turn the topic away from William Lash III -- the topic Gutierrez was addressing this weekend: "Bill was a passionate, committed and hard working individual . . ." following the news that former assistant commerce secretary Lash had apparently killed himself after killing his 12-year-old autistic son.
In peace news, Eric Seitz, attorney for Ehren Watada, states that there is a date scheduled "tentatively" for "Watada's Article 32 hearing . . . Aug. 17 or 18." Seits tells Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that this hearing would "determine whether sufficient grounds exist to warrant a court-martial" and that the maximum punishment for Watada's refusal to serve in the illegal war could be 7 and one-half years in prison.
Finally, Tommy Witherspoon (Waco Tribune-Herald) reports that the county of McLennan (where Bully Boy's ranch-ette is) is attempting to move Cindy Sheehan's lawsuit against the county into the federal court. The issue is whether or not Camp Casey can return to the activities and protests that first took place last summer or whether the county can now "ban parking and camping along roads leading to" Bully Boy's ranch-ette.
ADDED: The Legal Defense Network reports that Rhonda Davis participation in a June 3rd rally in support of sam-sex marriage has resulted in the US Navy bringing "discharge proceedings against a 10-year veteran." Davis states: "I am a proud, patriotic American who happens to be gay. My sexual orientation has never stood in the way of getting my job done, and I was looking forward to continuing my Navy career. Unfortunately, federal law places discrimination ahead of national security and gay service members are caught in the crossfire. It is past time for our leaders in Washington to repeal this senseless law and allow gay Americans who want to serve, like me, the opportunity to do just that."

I want to say that I'm always really glad when Jake Kovco gets covered. That's the story you never heard covered most places. C.I. was covering this when Kovco died. I thought, when they sent the wrong body to Australia, it would get some coverage. There's his family waiting for him to arrive and the coffin finally does and . . . it's the wrong guy.

I don't know what happened to him but I know his whole family has been screwed over. Not just with the 'lost' body. If you're new to the story, their guy who's the equivalent of Donald Rumsfeld starts going on TV and saying things that there is no proof of. Then others start spitting out rumors about how he was depressed. His wife's name is Shelley and I belive they have two kids. I could not believe that his parents would have to go through all the nonsense but when I'd think about Shelley Kovco or her two kids, I'd just get really angry.

I think the family has every right to demand that people who were around when Jake Kovco died give testimony to the inquiry. I think any family has that right but especially considering how many screw ups and insults the Australian government is responsible for after Jake died.

It's a real shame that the media wasn't interested in this story because, if they had been, internationally (Australian media was interested) the family might have support and there might be pressure on the government to make sure that the inquiry covered everything.

I was going to talk about Wally's post today but I can't get his site to display which worries me because that may mean I'll lose what I've written (if Blogger's having problems tonight).

So let me just say you should read C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." and add something from Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (pages 115-116):

One of the consequences of American exceptionalism is that the U.S. government considers itself exempt from legal and moral standards accepted by other nations in the world. There is a long list of such instances: the refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol regulating the pollution of the environment, the refusal to strengthen the convention on biological weapons. The United States has failed to join the hundred or more nations that have agreed to ban land mines, in spite of the appalling statistics on amputations performed on children mutilated by those mines. It refuses to ban the use of napalm and cluster bombs. It insists that it must not be subject, as are other countries, to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
What is the answer to the insistence on American exceptionalism? Those of us in the United States and in the world who don't accept it must declare very forcibly that the ethical norms concerning peace and human rights should be observed. The children of the world should all be seen as part of one family. It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China, of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to life as children in the United States.

When I read C.I.'s entry where the talk was about how people aren't our governments. We really aren't. As a Black woman, there's no one serving in the administration that represents me. (You know Condi doesn't represent me.) Exceptionalism allowed Bully Boy to invade Iraq and it allows Israel's government to go to war on civilians while people hold their tongues (and children die).

I thought that entry took bravery. C.I. has no shortage of bravery. This isn't even C.I.' primary issue, it's Rebecca's. But with her on vacation, C.I.'s tried to hit on it at The Common Ills and has really insisted on it at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Another thing it made me think of was Princess Diana (who was in the news for the wrong reasons as people published photos last week of her dying moments). She worked the land mine issue. She really gave her all to it and because of who she was and how liked she was, politicians had to at least listen.

Then I started wondering if Laura Bush had anything she cared about? She's been in the White House for six years and what has she done? Even her mother-in-law (with only four years as First Lady) had a reading program. (Though I understand she really wasn't big on reading.)
So what does Laura Bush do all day? Smoke cigarettes and booze it up?

Maybe she's one of those people who doesn't like to work? If so, she married the right man. But it's a real shame that Diana dies and no one can take the issue of land mines.

My thoughts for tonight. Oh, I was reminded to tell the story. Sharkey's Machine, which I've never seen, was a film that starred Burt Reynolds. A friend that's a few years older thinks her parents decided to 'tell' her about sex by taking her to that movie. They never talked about sex with her, before or after the movie, and she was six-years-old when they took her to the R-rated film with some . . . sex. It really screwed her up. How she saw sex and how she saw herself. That's the sort of thing that I worry about with my kids. When they get older, they're going to want to go to films that are rated higher than G. I always remember her stories about the effect that movie had on her.

And I say "some . . . sex" because this wasn't vanilla sex. I don't want to call it "bed" or "weird" because to each their own. But it was too much for a six-year-old who knew nothing about sex and was never given any guidance from her family on the issue.

(I will talk to my kids about sex. My parents did me. It's part of being a parent. If you're not able to do it yourself, you find an adult you respect who can.)