Pick your own title

Betty here, filling in for the honey mooning Rebecca. Kat's here and I did pick up the photos, much to my kids delight. Kat is also going to be watching them tomorrow because they begged and begged and she said yes. I have to go in for half a day. They were so nice about time off at work. I got it to go to Mexico, I got a half-day today (picked Kat up at the airport) and I'm doing a half-day tomorrow.

I had gotten used to "Kitty Kat" but I'd forgotten my daughter also called her "Meow-Meow." She did that last year and I can't believe I forgot that. She was saying "Meow-Meow" while we were waiting at the airport and I thought she was playing like she was a cat.

And poor Kat, my daughter will not stop playing with her hair. It's had to be pulled out, all down and in a pony tail in the first hour alone.

We get here and she grabs Kat's hand and has to show "my bedrum" (she's having trouble with "roo" but she has no trouble with "moo"). All the kids are excited but my daughter's the most excited.

By the way, I may not blog tomorrow night. I'm going to try to show Kat some of the night life in Atlanta. Only some because I know my sister will call by nine o'clock because my daughter will suddenly decide she doesn't want to stay over and wants me. That's fine but I want to show
Kat some of the city and fun so she doesn't feel like she came straight back from Ireland to be a baby sitter.

I've got one ear listening for the delivery guy and let me copy and paste C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" in now while I have time:

Chaos and violence continue.
And yes, it's "continue "even if
a mass kidnapping of 17 yesterday didn't make it into the New York Times this morning.
Al Jazeera notes "a car bombing and mortar attack" in Baghdad today that's left "[a]t least 101 people" wounded. That's wounded. The death toll has climbed repeatedly and the AP now reports it at least "31" and raises the wounded to "153." How many bombs? AFP notes that "some witnesses spoke of more" than one car bomb. Of the area in Baghdad where the attacks took place, the BBC notes their correspondent Jane Peel's description of the area as "well protected with a heavy presence of Iraqi troops and several checkpoints". Of course, the entire city of Baghdad is under the supposed 'security crackdown' and has been for over six weeks. The AFP describes the area as one where the "bustling shops still attract customers from both the city's rival religious groups" and they also note a witness who feels there was "more than one car bomb." Jenny Booth "and agencies" (Times of London) state the area is "religiously mixed neighborhood which is home to several leading politicians from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's biggest Shia party."
On the issue of witnesses feeling they heard more than one bomb,
Borzou Daraghi (Los Angeles Times) notes: "Police said four of the five blasts were caused by rockets or mortars. But officials have often attributed such explosions to indirect fire, hoping to stave off blame for allowing drivers to maneuver explosives-packed vehicles past checkpoints that dot the city." (The fatality toll is raised to "at least 32" beginning with Daraghi's report.)
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports one man who died, Hassan Kufi, "was hours away from getting married on Thursday. There were no festivities, just his funerals." He also notes "[a] boy of about 10 with a bloodied head" laying "on the floor." Borzou Daragahi (Los Angels Times) notes hardware store owner Zuhair Ali Hussein Zaidi, "who left his shop to investigate one blast only to return and find his shop was completely destroyed" saying: "I saw children completely burnt and many injured. People were evacuating the dead and injured by carrying them out." Daragahi reports that many people are still missing ("including one 11-year-old girl on a shopping errand") and that the dead are still be found in the rubble and debris.
Might Iraq grab some serious press attention? Don't count on it. In other bombings,
Reuters reports two police officers are dead and two more wounded "near Tikrit" from a roadside bomb while one person died and four were wounded in Ishaqee from a roadside bomb. AFP notes a bomb in Baquba which killed "at least five people." That bombing (guessing from the fatality toll) is described by Reuters as one that exploded near "an ambulance headed to Baquba hospital, killing five" and wounding four; in addition, Reuters notes a car bomb (also in Baquba) that left three wounded.
Reuters reports that in Baghdad, an armed clash led to six Georgian troops being wounded (the US military claims five but six is the figure "the office of the Georgian president" is using); in Kirkuk a police patrol and an Iraqi military patrol exchanged gun fire resulting in the death of one soldier and one police officer.
Also in Baghdad,
AFP reports that "three people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen" and Al Jazeera notes that "four security guards outside a Sunni mosque" were killed "in a drive-by shooting."Corpses?Micheal Georgy (Reuters) reports that, in Baghdad today, nineteen corpses were discovered ("bullet holes . . . signs of torture").
In England, William Patey ("outgoing British ambassador in Iraq")
spoke on the BBC Radio program Today and shared this impression: "There is some evidence that some members of the police are actively engaged with death squads and with militias, and taking orders. And clearly they need to be identified, weeded out, prosecuted. Undoubtedly, the Iraqi people have lost confidence in the police." Quite a bit different than the sort of thing Michael Gordon churns out at the New York Times. Also in the reality news department, Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports: "Many of the reconstruction projects that were built in the first years of the Iraq war failed to make a difference in regular Iraqis' lives. Much of the building has focused on large waterpurification plants, sewage-treatment plants or electrical generators. But the U.S. has failed to do enough to make sure its reconstruction projects provided jobs for unskilled Iraqis, and the lack of a steady supply of electricity three years after the U.S.-led invasion rankles here." Kate Zernike should take notes.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco continues.
Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that Professor Philip Mitchell has testified to the inquiry with a similar opinion as that expressed by Professor Alexander McFarlane: it is "highly unlikely Private Kovco would have deliberately shot himself while his room-mates were present, especially as he knew they were about to leave." However, Mitchell also offered the opinion that Jake Kovco might have been attempting to "re-enact" a nightmare of death he'd had a month prior. The continued assumption in the inquiry appears to be that Jake Kovco fired the gun. In April, Judy Kovco (Jake Kovco's mother) stated to Jane Holroyd (The Age): ""He didn't shoot himself. The gun went off. It was near him. It was nearby. (So) what did Jake do? Put his head down near the table so it could shoot him in the head, did he?"
Belinda Tasker (Townsville Bulletin) notes that Mitchell dubbed his theory "highly speculative."In peace news, Bill Metcalfe (The Tyee) reports on the recent Our Way Home Reunion in Canada which brought together war resisters from Vietnam and today and featured a showing of David Zeiger's documentary Sir, No Sir, which chronicles G.I. resistance during the Vietnam era.
As noted yesterday, CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin took truth to Congress. Refusing to stay silent in the face of one lie after another as occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki talked the war talk, Benjamin protested, chanting, "Bring them home now!" On yesterday's The KPFA Evening News, Darby Hicky reported on this and more can be found at CODEPINK. Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) reported: "Veteran San Francisco activist Medea Benjamin, wearing a 'Troops Home Now' T-shirt, chimed in, standing in the House gallery to interrupt Maliki's address with repeated shouts of: 'Iraqis want the troops to leave. Bring them home now.' She was promptly removed and arrested."It is day 24 of the Troops Home Fast and over 4,350 people are participating around the world. Along with Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and Ann Wright, Mike De Souza (CanWest News Service) reports that: "Libby Davies, the NDP House leader and MP for Vancouver East, made the trip to Washington D.C." to show her support. De Souza quotes Medea Benjamin stating, of those participating in the fast, "We're in an emergency crisis, and they're putting their bodies on the line."
The fast is ongoing. Those wanting to participate, for one day or more than one day, can join the fast at any point. It began on July 4th and some have fasted every day. Others have fasted one day and some have chosen one day to fast each week. More information can be found at
Troops Home Fast. The fast will continue in August as Cindy Sheehan and others return to Crawford, TX -- home of last year's Camp Casey demonstrations. Though there has been concern of where the camp would be set up, Jack Douglas Jr. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that land has been purchased by Cindy Sheehan to put an end to the issue and quotes Sheehan stating, "I can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace, and I am sure that Casey approves." Douglas reports the gatherings in Crawford will take place from August 16th to September 2nd.

If you're like me, you never need a reason to open the gina & krista round-robin on Fridays. I see it in my inbox and I know it's going to have some great stuff. Tomorrow, you'll have photos of Rebecca's wedding and a whole lot more. So be sure to open it and also be sure to check out a column on Ireland by guess who that's just back from Ireland -- she's writing about the court victory for the peace activists.

The pizza should have already been here. So let me just note some things worth reading. C.I.'s
"NYT: How low do you have to be to carry water for a puppet?" is funny and on the money. Also funny is Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BURNS BURNS FIREFIGHERS!" but on a serious note, check out the next three: "Feminist Majority Foundation brings back the 1972 truth campaign"; "Abortion: Why it matters still" and "I had an abortion."

Elaine's "Music, Middle East and More" and Mike's "I'm bringing laughter back . . . with Justy's help" are the blog twins at their best. Mike teams up for one post with Wally on "Justy, we'll be your man!" and I know Rebecca would want Elaine's "Sent By Earth (Alice Walker) and thoughts on the media 'coverage'" noted because a tiny little man is cursing Elaine out for this. A tiny little man with a tiny brain and tiny everything. Mike told Wally and Wally called me. Kat and I had just gotten back here and I couldn't believe it. There's the tiny man and then there's a man who's logged more bar hours than a cocktail waitress. While tiny is a tiny man, the other one is probably too drunk to get whatever he has up. That's it for me. I'm going to have to call and check on the pizza because I think we've been forgotten or the driver is lost.


Travel and other talk

Betty here still filling in for the vacationing Rebecca.

I didn't blog last night. I had two reasons for that. 1) I wasn't sure what I could say. 2) Kat will be back in the United States tomorrow and I wanted to clean the place. C.I.'s been here many times because C.I. visits my area often and, to be honest, C.I. dropped by at one of the worst times. The first visit was when both of my boys were sick and the place was wrecked. After that, there's no need to clean like crazy -- when someone's seen you at your worst. Ava and Jess visited this summer and they didn't give a heads up because they weren't sure if they'd be able to swing by (and also because C.I. told them I would clean if I knew they might be coming). I know Kat's coming. She's going to spend a few days. She opened her home to me and my kids in May, I want to make a good impression and make sure my very good friend feels welcome. (And if Kat were to read this, she'd groan. She'd also say her place wasn't "tidy." But it really is. Her work space isn't -- because she's got photos, clay and everything else. But contrary to what she thinks, she keeps her living space very tidy.) I was talking to Wally about this and we were both thinking, "No one visits us." (We're too far from everyone -- I'm in Georgia, he's in Florida.) (C.I.'s visited Wally as well.) So when one of the gang is coming for a visit, it is a big thing.

There are many times when "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" (the song I sing when it's time for all of us to clean) is greeted with groans but the kids are so excited about Kat visiting that they were all for it. We'd been gone from the house and only got back Tuesday evening. It needed dusting and quite a bit more.

That's the cleaning reason. The first reason? I called C.I. and was told to just write about it and that no one would mind but I did want to get Rebecca's permission (which I have).

I had five angry e-mails about what I wrote Monday and how dare I say what I said about the reaction in Mexico. Well, I was in Mexico. I spoke to people and I spoke to a lot of students. Mainly because the boys wanted to tag along with C.I..

Announcement: Rebecca and Fly Boy have remarried. Not are going to, they have done it. Rebecca got married in Mexico. She was still on vacation and heard some things about her wedding plans (she and Fly Boy were planning the wedding during her vacation). It was supposed to be small but people were being added and added. She called her mother-in-law who suggested that they get married out of the country and then no one could be offended. Since Mexico is so close to California, Rebecca decided on that location. (That would have C.I. and The Third Estate Sunday Review gang close by.) Mike, Elaine, Cedric, Wally and I were there. (So were Trina and her husband but they came down with the gang from California because they were staying with C.I.)

Rebecca's mother-in-law actually intended the elopement to happen next month but Rebecca and Fly Boy both felt that if they waited any longer, word would get out on that plan and then there would be more people wanting to attend. Some of his family and friends were present. (For an elopement, it was quite a crowd.) Rebecca's grandmother and parents were there. The only one that Rebecca would have liked to be there who wasn't was Kat. Kat, her sisters and her parents are in Ireland on a vacation. Rebecca wasn't going to try to interrupt that.

The boys (my two sons) didn't care for all the fussing that's a normal part of getting any wedding (big or small) ready. C.I. had bumped into a friend right after, right after, we arrived and was asked to speak to a group of students. C.I. said sure. It became nine groups over two days. So the first day, the boys wanted to hang with C.I. to avoid the hotel and all the excitement. My daughter wanted to be with her brothers but wanted me along so we ended up tagging along. Did I speak to everyone in the country? No, I didn't. And the region I was in just may not have cared. But I did speak with students and I did speak with people at the hotel (guests and workers). There wasn't an overwhelming outcry or feeling of unrest.

In other parts of the country, it may be different. But I did more than most of the people 'covering' it did, because I did speak with actual voters. Over and over. I wanted to respond to that but we were avoiding noting it in detail here (for stalkers and other reasons). (Rebecca's wedding will be discussed in the round-robin and there will be pictures. We're not keen on having it online.)

The other question was why I kept talking about how C.I. should be tired? Sherry knew because Rebecca did do a heads up to regular readers explaining when she'd be back and what was going on. Forget that C.I.'s on day whatever of the fast (has been on the CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast since July 4th). The day of the wedding, C.I. spoke to four groups, attended the wedding, attended the party and still managed to post repeatedly. I was exhausted just following along and I didn't post repeatedly. Or have people dropping by to see me because I was in Mexico. C.I.'s nights ended long after midnight. (I turned in at eleven the night of the wedding and, call me an old woman, that may have been the latest I stayed up.) At one point, C.I. took us to this wonderful place and was playing with the kids. I was watching with a weary smile. Too tired to move. Glad the kids were having fun and SO GLAD it was with someone else because Mommy had her shoes off and wasn't putting them back on.

We all worked our best to keep the posts coming up at our own sites. But we do one post a day (tops for some of us) and we were all talking about how the only time we saw C.I. sit down was to open the laptop and do a post.

How did Rebecca look? She's beautiful period. But she was especially beautiful on her wedding day. (Pictures in Friday's round-robin.) I think I'm allowed to note that the wedding was on the beach and at sunset. It was all very beautiful. This was done on the fly so it's amazing how wonderful it turned out. It was also very romantic.

They were just going to do the vows at sunset and "nothing fancy." But then Rebecca's mother-in-law pointed out that my daughter could be a flower girl and one of my sons a ring bearer and before you knew it, it was a full fledged ceremony. (With guitars instead of an organ.) Rebecca and Fly Boy approved or nixed ideas to make it their ceremony and Rebecca's mother-in-law was the chief driver on the wedding. When there was a problem, she'd summon C.I. (by cell phone usually). I admire the woman's strength (Rebecca laughed when I told her that). She wanted a ceremony and she made one happen.

That was the first time the kids and/or I had been to Mexico. It was a whirlwind trip. And my oldest can't wait until the photos we took are developed (I told him they'd be ready tomorrow -- they're actually ready today but I was too tired to run by and pick them up -- sometimes parents lie). I don't usually post on Wednesdays because I'm in church. But I'm just too tired tonight. That's why, as soon as we got home, I wanted the place clean. If I'd waited (or sat down), I would have never gotten up.

But, to the five who e-mailed objecting, I don't know everything. I did do more than most of the media in that I spoke to actual voters. The ones I spoke to may not be "representative." But the poll in the snapshot only has 500 people. I probably heard the opinions of that many just from the people who shared when C.I. was doing the talks.

The wedding was beautiful, the country was beautiful (in many parts). I was able to spend time with everyone but I avoided Cedric. I had Dona pass him a note a few hours after I arrived. I explained that he's a good looking man and I'm a lonely woman, he doesn't want to be around me alone. I was joking but I was also serious. Weddings and not being involved do not go well together. I had this nightmare that I'd end up in bed with Cedric (who is very good looking) and we'd look at each other after and think, "Well there goes that friendship." I called him last night to make sure I hadn't hurt his feelings. I was glad he was okay with it. If I ended up with someone like Cedric, I would be a very lucky woman. But I'm trying to focus on my children and I really don't need to destroy a wonderful friendship because I went to a wedding and suddenly got all these romantic feelings. (Cedric and Wally aren't attached. Wally's a good looking young man but he's a bit too young for me.)

The above isn't to imply that they would be impressed with me. They probably wouldn't be. Which would have been even worse. Me all moon-eyed flirting with Cedric who was thinking, "Oh my God, she's hitting on me!" As it was, I was looking around way too much, especially at men in swim wear, and thinking, "That's a fine looking man."

A single mother at a wedding? This single mother would have been very vulenerable.

I explained what was in the note to Dona who told me I was being silly but kept my confidence. She did, however, torment me at one point by noting what each guy was "packing." I told her I'd get her back for that.

If anyone's wondering, I've discussed before how I need to focus on my children and how I worry that a relationship would prevent that. I could be a love junkie "back in the day." So I made the decision to wait on any relationships until the kids were a bit older. I don't instruct any other woman to do that. But I do know myself. I know what I can handle right now. (And this was my opinion before the job promotion.) I'm like Martha Stewart, "I just want to focus on my salad."

I've embarrassed myself enough for one night. Let me include C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue and the Puppet finds how hard the strings can be yanked.
Reuters reports that Hoshiyar Zebari (Iraq's foreign minister) stated that Iraq will condemn Hizbollah just in time to allow Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki to address the US Congress. Reuters also provides the Puppet's Lament -- noteworthy only due to the laugh factor: "Let us not allow what happened in 1991 to repeat itself, because if it does history will not be merciful to any of us."
"Us"? Pretty strong words for someone who bailed on his own country and wasn't, in fact, in Iraq in 1991. If a struggle wasn't finished in Iraq in 1991 (George H. W. Bush did not march to Baghdad, etc.) maybe the last person to be criticizing should be an Iraqi who was hiding outside of the country? Maybe if it meant so much to him, he should have gone to his country and not expected another country to do the work he was too scared/chicken to do?
If that seems especially harsh, it needs to be noted these thoughts aren't uncommon in Iraq. As the illegal occupation picks one exile after another to be puppet, Iraqis are offended (rightly). If al-Maliki thinks things were left unfinished in 1991, why's he blaming George H. W. Bush -- where was al-Maliki in 1991? Not in Iraq -- he only returned after the US invaded in 2003. He's a funny kind of 'brave,' a funny kind of 'leader,' shouting: "Stand with me! After others clear the way for me!"
There's a reason that various people have loyal followings in Iraq -- they were there before the invasion. They are a part of the country's history. These exiles returning and being appointed to positions of authority do not represent the average Iraqi and that's yet another factor in the hostility towards the puppet government.
al-Maliki was missing his cod-piece but, in front of the US Congress, he demonstrated he could strut and bluster as well as the Bully Boy. How bad was it? So bad Tony Snow has had to declare that "the president is not a puppeteer in this case." Only in this case?
While that nonsense went on, in the real world, the chaos and the violence continued.
The Associated Press notes the death of police officers (also brothers) in Baghdad from a roadside bomb. The AFP identifies one as "Lieutenant Colonerl Khadum Bressam" and notes the death of "one civilian" from a roadside bomb in Baghdad as well as a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left four wounded.
Reuters reports that three police officers were killed in Nahrwan and four others wounded; a wedding was the location for an attack where "Gunmen on a motorcycle sprayed three men with bullets"; and, in Baquba, an attack on a police patrol left with civilian dead, one police officer dead and one police officer wounded. AFP covers the patrol attack in Baquba and also notes that a family that had "gathered their possisions and prepared to flee" were attacked by "gunmen" leaving one family member dead and two others wounded.
AFP reports five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("tortured and shot").
Also in Baghdad, Reuters is reporting that seventeen people were kidnapped from an apartment complex in Baghdad ("10 men, five women and two children from different families"). The mass kidnapping comes on a day when "police brigadier Abdulla Hmood, the director of the residency office in Baghdad" was also kidnapped.
Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues to speak with actual Iraqis. Is it a civil war? The conclusion of the people Cockburn speaks with is that it a civil war with one telling him, "When our so-called leaders go to Washington they always produce a rosy picture of what is happening in Iraq for the Americans, though they know it is a lie."
In England, the BBC reports that the families of four soldiers who died in Iraq have won their right to a judicial review. The AFP reports that Britain's Court of Appeal means the defendants "have won a key legal battle in their bid to force a full public inquiry into the legality of Britain's decision to go to war." The BBC notes the families' attorney, Phil Shiner, explaining: "The government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade [Iraq] was lawful." 114 UK troops have died in Iraq. Also today in England, the AFP reports, Tony Blair was delivering a health care speech when he was interupted by a war protestor who wrote across his chest and back: "Impeach Tony Blair."
In the United States, a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll reports that, among Democrats, 31 percent i.d. the war "as the top problem for the country while 14 percent listed the economy". For all respondents, regardless of party i.d., the AP reports: "The problem mentioned most often by all adults polled was the war -- in Iraq and conflicts in general -- 22 percent." (500 participants, plus/minus 4.5 error of margin.) Breakdown of the data here.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues. Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Professor Alexander McFarlane, head of psychiatry at Adelaide University" that "[t]he probability that Private Kovco intentionally committed suicide is very low." Speaking with Eleanor Hall on The World Today (Australia's ABC), Conor Duffy reported: "Eleanor, this psychiatrist, his name is Professor Sandy McFarlane, and he specialises in trauma and the state of mind of troops in war zones. One of the first things he said was to rule out suicide as a possibility. He said that Private Kovco was actively planning for the future in his diary, and there were also two occasions in his diary when he'd mused about suicide. The first one was about a month before his death, when he had a dream where he'd shot himself, and he said he ruled out suicide after that and he didn't like the idea of suicide at all. The other time was after a suicide bomber had attacked some building in the green zone, and he was trying to empathise with the suicide bomber and trying to imagine how he could have done this, and he said that he couldn't at all. And I quote directly from what he said, from what Private Kovco wrote, he said: 'They have a f .. ked up state of mind, the sooner they are exterminated the better'. And he couldn't understand those suicidal actions at all."
Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that McFarlane stated: "In his diary his sense of vigilance had changed when he returned to picket duties at the Australian embassy. He perceived that this was an environment with a significantly lower level of threat. Private Kovco was in a somewhat playful state of mind."
Doherty reports that Jake Kovco's former roommates ("Soldiers 17 and 19") are returning to Australia "to give evidence in the inquiry next week" and that "another of Private Kovco's comrades, known as Soldier 14, who was on duty with Private Kovco on the day he died" to testify to the inquiry in person in Australia. On that development, Conor Duffy reports that the former roomates "will arrive in Sydney on Friday . . . [where] [t]hey're expected to undergo tests to determine if they are the source of the mystery DNA on Private Kovco's pistol."
In peace news, Cynthia Oi (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) addresses the topic of war resister Ehren Watada, noting: "Lt. Watada became the object of our discontent, the body mass on which to dump the toxic products of unease generated by the relentlessly horrible war." Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
It is day 23 of the Troops Home Fast with at least 4,350 people taking part from around the world. The strike is ongoing and people can grab a one-day fast or grab a multiple-day fast while. More information can be found at CODEPINK.


Iraq (it's not 'calm') and thoughts on independent media

Betty here, filling in for the vacationing Rebecca. I want to note C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and then just talk about Iraq a bit:

Chaos and violence continue.
But will you hear about it? (How bad is the coverage -- in terms of quanity? So bad that Mark Silva's Chicago Tribune article is titled "
Remember Iraq?") And, if you do, will you hear of the 'relative calm' or any other dubious phrase?
Following Sunday's bombings that
claimed the lives of at least 66 and left over 200 wounded, today's events may not 'impress' enough to get the coverage they deserve.
It's after 10:00 pm in Baghdad, here are some of the events reported from Iraq.
Reuters reports two roadside bombs in Baghdad (one killing an Iraqi solider and wounding three more ; the other killing a civilian and wounding three police officers); a car bomb in Mosul killed five Iraqi soliders and wounded four; a roadside bomb killed one person in Mosul; and mortar bombs in Baghdad wounded at least eight people. CBS and the AP report a car bomb in Samarra that killed two Iraqi police officers and wounded 17. That would be six bombings with ten killed (plus the driver of the car bomb in Mosul for eleven -- Evening Echo News notes that the "car driver accelarted toward the house before detonating the explosives" -- the police were using the house as a command station). Of the car bomb in Mosul that killed the Iraqi soldiers (not the police officers), RTE News notes: "The Iraqi vehicle was driving behind a US patrol at the time of the explosion, although no US personnel were reported injured in the blast."
Reuters reports "an agricultural engineer" was shot dead near Kerbala; gunfire near Hilla left two dead and 17 wounded; and four died from shootings in Mosul. AFP reports the shooting death of "a bodyguard of a Sunni politician" in Baghdad. That would be eight dead.
AFP reports 23 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi prime minister (in name if not deed) Nouri al-Maliki splits from Iraq and goes to London.
James Hider and Jenny Percival (Times of London) note the departure this way: "As he flew out of his embattled capital yesterday at least 63 people were killed in bomb attacks and a dozen were shot dead in relentless drive-by shootings or kidnapped and murdered." Or, as Paul Schemm (AFP) worded it: "Nevertheless, while Maliki began a trip to Britain and the United States, the violence raged on at home."
BBC reports that on their radio program Today, Nouri al-Maliki has declared that Iraq "his country would not slide into a civil war." Reuters quotes him saying, "Civil war will not happen." CBS and the AP report him declaring, "There is a sectarian issue, but the political leaders have succeeded and they are working on putting an end to the sectarian issue. There is continuing efforts in that direction, the civil war will not happen to Iraq." The Puppet meets the Bully Boy in DC on Tuesday while he preps new 'believeable' lines -- possibly that no one takes a cut off the house's take in Vegas?
This as
Patrick Cockburn (London's Independent via Belfast Telegram) reports on a conversation with Hoshyar Zebari (Iraqi Foreign Minister) who spoke of how "in theory the government should be able to solve the crisis because Shia, Kurd and Sunni were elected members of it. But he painted a picture of a deeply divided administration in which senior Sunni members praised anti-government insurgents as 'the heroic resistance'."
Mark Silva (Chicago Tribune) quotes an unidentified White House flack saying: "In terms of the civil war question, I would simply say there has been a rise in sectarian violence.. . That in itself does not constitute a civil war,’’ the official said." In terms of the news value of that quote, I would simply say there is none. That in itself, a flack lips flapping, does not constitute news.
AP reports that Muqtada al-Sadr's followers have released a statement on the impending meet up between Bully and Puppet: "We want him to cut his visit and not to sign any paper leading to occupation forces remaining in Iraq." And Robert H. Reid (AP) quotes one al-Sadr 'follower,' Jalil al-Nouri, stating: "We are the only group that rejects the occupation because we are nationalists. We are the only political group that rejects their presence in the country and we demand that they leave. We are to the point, and we are clear."
But with al-Maliki due in DC tomorrow, don't be surprised to see the days events described as 'calm' or 'relative calm' (on a day with at least 19 reported dead and 23 corpses discovered) and the rah-rah-'liberation' noises to start up all over again. Don't expect to read many pieces like Michael Gregory's "
None left untouched by daily violence in Baghdad" (Reuters) which notes: "President George W. Bush will hear the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in Washington on Tuesday tell him of plans for stemming bloodshed in Baghdad and repeat assurances he gave on Monday that Iraq is not at war with itself. But talk to people at random in the capital and a picture quickly emerges of a city where virtually everyone has a friend, relative or neighbour who has fallen victim to the sectarian shootings and death threats that Washington accepts are now an even bigger threat than the 3-year-old Sunni insurgency."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Iraq continues. Last week, it was decided (or "decided" since the board of inquiry appears to change its mind regularly -- Olive writes that Judy Kovco should call it the "Keystone Court" as she called the police the "Keystone cops" last week) that the former roommates of Kovco, in the room when he died, would testify from Iraq via videolink.
James Madden (Daily Telegraph) reports that has changed and now the board has decided to summon the two roommates to testify in person. Madden also notes that Dectective Sergeant Phillip Elliott testified to the inquiry that "Pte Kovco's body was washed and his two roommates were allowed to shower after the shooting. The bed linen and the soldiers' clothes were washed, and blood spatter was thought to have been removed from the ceiling and furniture." Australia's ABC notes that Kovco's "clothes were destroyed" prior to Elliott's arrival for the investigation. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports: "In answer to Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, for Private Kovco's parents, Sergeant Elliott said Private Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, differed as to where Soldier 17 was sitting at the time of the shot. Soldier 17 had said he was sitting at the foot of the bed and Soldier 19 said Soldier 17 was sitting at the middle. [. . . .] Sergeant Elliott agreed the two also differed in their accounts of where Private Kovco lay after he fell. Bloodstains on the floor were consistent with him having been turned over after he fell." Austraila's ABC notes, of the decision to have the former roommates testify, "The inquiry has agreed to the application, but it is not yet known when the soldiers will return to Australia."
Meanwhile, the
Herald Sun reports that a witness known only as "Soldier Two" will testify with regards to how Bosnian Juso Sinanovic's body ended up being shipped to Australia instead of the body of Jake Kovoco.
In peace news,
it's day 21 of The Troops Home Fast (21 days since it started, 21 days for those who have been fasting since the Fourth of July -- but you can join the fast at any time). Robert C. Koehler (Tribune Media Services) writes of his decision to fast for one day and join the efforts organized by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace: "We have a war machine that's fed by hate and fear - indeed, by the need for enemies without the least humanity, because that absolves us of the need to have any ourselves. It's the age-old formula for war, but we have entered a time when it is globally life-threatening. When the world's only superpower swaggers through the Middle East with that kind of delusional anger and a military budget of half a trillion dollars that requires annual justification, watch out. It is time for new priorities."
Christopher J. Stephens writes, in The National Ledger, of the cases of Ehren Watada and Suzanne Swift noting: "Veterans for Common Sense [VFC] wrote an open letter to President Bush in March 2005 that noted some ominous possible results of the war in Iraq: 1.26 million Iraqi children under the age of five will die, 500,000 will need immediate medical attention, and 2 million will become homeless. Signatories to this letter included two Navy Vice Admirals, a Brigadier General, 14 Colonels, and 4 Captains."

First off, the continued news about Jake Kovco begs the question of why is the US media so indifferent on this story? They had plenty of time to chase down Michael Jackson's trial. Why are they so disinterested in this story?

But what stands out is the comment C.I.'s making about "calm." Earlier today, in "Other Items," C.I wrote the following:

I also have to question the "relative calm" which has been popping up in many press outlets. They can't, by any means, call it peace. But should they be calling it "relative calm"? Should the baseline be whether or not over fifty people die in bombings one day or are kidnapped and killed at bus stops? Is that really how reporters should be judging the situations in Iraq?
"Oh, only seven or twelve people died today -- that we know about from official sources -- so it's only seven or twelve. Let's call it 'relative calm.'"
There's something about that usage that really bothers me. Cave's not the only one to use it. It goes beyond him (and beyond the Times). Already today, there have been two bombings in Baghdad and two in Mosul. Will the fatality rate not be "enough" to qualify as less than 'relative calm'? It's something to think about.

Is it 'calm' that there are 'only' ten or twenty reported deaths (covered?) in a day? Three years after the US illegally invaded Iraq with the stated detent of destroying the WMD (that never existed) and bringing 'democracy' and 'liberation' to the people of Iraq, is it fitting or appropriate to describe the continued chaos as 'calm'?

Are we so immunized by the coverage that a lower number now equates with peace?

The choas and the violence continue day after day. These days it has to compete with what's going on in Lebanaon and Gaza. Those are worthy stories to cover. But what about Iraq? And since the US is responsible for the conditions in Iraq, can the coverage, even for one day, ever take a vacation? I don't think so and I don't think we can describe X number of deaths as 'calm.' I think that's a lie.

I think people using it aren't trying to lie. I think they're trying to put the day into perspective of the most violent day. But I don't think that cuts it.

Every day of violence needs to be put into perspective of the administration's claims and stated intent. Is it 'calm' when 'only' twenty die? No. Not three years after we went over there to supposedly 'liberate.' I think it's a lie to use words like 'calm' with what's going on, day after day, every day in Iraq.

The perspective used to declare 'calm' is too small. It needs to be enlarged. Not to cover last week or the week before but to cover the war because that's what those reporters are: war correspondents. I think when 'calm' is used, it presents a false sense of reality.

I think it prolongs the war and lulls some people into the belief that we're accomplishing something.

The perspective should be placed in terms of the day's events and in terms of the stated goals at the start of the illegal war. That's the perspective that's needed.

Not the latest line from DC or Nouri al-Maliki. The illegal occupation continues. Starting the clock at yesterday or last week doesn't give you a sense of the 'score.' (I played baksetball and ran track. I know sports illustrations bother some.) It's not telling you what's happened in the 'game.' It's not even telling you about the play. Because to appreciate that I made a basket, to really appreciate it, you need to know what else has been going on in the game. (Unless you're my grandfather who never cared whether my team won or not, just how many baskets I made. One game, I made four and we lost. He couldn't stop bragging about my four. It was like -- "What game were you at, Grandpa? We lost!")

If the notion is that by comparing it to the recent past they're showing progress or the lack of it, that's simply not true. After three years of the illegal occupation, you can't look at even just one week and claim that's perspective. Is the violence continuing? Yes. Then don't call it calm. Relative or otherwise, don't call it calm.

That's not perspective.

Perspective is noting how much the US has spent on the illegal war, how many have died, the stated aims of the war and the reality on the ground that day. Don't tell me there's 'calm' or 'relative calm' when the violence continues day after day, though it may dip or rise. That's the perspective.

I know C.I. was tired (tired from the edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review, tired from problems with posting at The Common Ills, tired from personal stuff, and tired from fasting) Sunday night. But I think "And the war drags on . . ." was one of the best things yet. That's perspective.

I worry that, with all the attacks in Lebanon and Gaza, we catch a headline or hear one line of a report of Iraq and if it's "relative calm" or "calm," we end up thinking, "Okay, things are going better there, I can focus on other areas." Things are not going better there. Things are worse each day. If you're only focus is the body count, then, yes, there are "better" days from time to time. But what's going on, what the Iraqis are living under is not "better" now and it is not "calmer" now.

While I think there are stories that deserve attention, I think some on the left's obsession with Mexico's election (and it was an obsession -- it wasn't reality -- and it continues for some) needs to be remembered. Iraq didn't drop in coverage from the left due to Israel's actions. Before they got serious about that (and most weren't serious until Lebanon became part of the story), they were off on "STOLEN ELECTION!" They wasted our time for a number of reasons.

One, there still hasn't been the massive uprising that was predicted (not reported, and predicited from the moment some on the left hopped on board this story that they just knew was the most important one in the world). Two, that "proof" that Oba-bore kept telling the press he had? When he finally was forced to provide it, it really didn't amount to much.

Was the election stolen? I don't know anyone that thinks it was a fair election. I don't know anyone who's obsessing over it either. There are wars going on and people dying. For every Greg Palast that did actual work on the issue of the elections (Palast does real work) there were 100 being offered who wanted to whine. They didn't know anything other than what they felt. They didn't offer much beyond trying to turn the Zapatistas into the new Ralph Nader ("spoiler"). Now if one guy who wrote at least two articles about it and went on two programs to whine had used that time instead to actually research and investigate, maybe he would have had something to offer? He had nothing to offer. Palast is the only one who's had anything of value of those saying the election was stolen and insisting that we make this our primary focus.

Again, that didn't happen while things were quiet in Iraq. Or while nothing was happening with the peace movement. Ehren Watada (which NYT finally wrote about Sunday in "Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deply to Iraq") had many developments in his case (including charges being brought). One program elected to ignore the protests. (Hasn't done much to cover the Troops Home Fast actions either.) But they had plenty of time to tell you about Mexico. So much time that, when they had Watada's attorney, they had to say something like, "We have ten seconds."

They had ten seconds because they wasted an hour program not focusing at all on Iraq until the end of the broadcast. That's not anyone else's fault, that's their own.

I have no idea why the program felt I needed repeated coverage of an election between a rightists and a left-leaner. I have no idea why 'coverage' was nothing but (with the exception of Palast) opinion. I have no idea why lip service from a candidate (Oba-bore) was promoted as truth. But it was. We were told, on that program, that Oba-bore had big proof. BIG proof. Then, after he showed his very weak proof (are six votes supposed to have swung the election?), they bury it. They toss into headlines and say something like, "Oba-bore provided what he stated was proof today . . . including video of . . ." Including? He had two bits of "proof."

Maybe all those people who thought this was the most pressing issue of the day (and many covered it as if it were) should have been helping Oba-bore get some proof because what he offered was embarrassing and laughable.

Again, I don't doubt that the election was fixed. I do have serious doubts about those who attempted to turn this story into BIG NEWS when it wasn't.

My point here is that independent media needs to grow the hell up. They're big (especially some) on pointing to the corporate media and speaking of how they chase down the "hot" story. Coporate media does do that. They offer up O.J. and a variety of 'junk news.' But indepedent media questions it's own usefulness when it's chasing after an election story, non-domestic, when there are other elections that also took place that are thought to be crooked (I believe Moldavia was the one C.I. pointed out in the round-robin) so don't pretend like you're worried about a crooked election. You aren't. And don't pretend like it's because you had proof because July is ending and there's still no proof despite independent media glomming on this story the first week of July.

What was done with Mexico wasn't reporting. To report, you need facts. They had little to no facts. (They still have little to no facts with the exception of Palast.) Was one of the people involved a supporter of the people like Hugo Chavez? No. Which was the Zapatistas started their Other Campaign months before the election.

I think it's a real shame that when the US is actively involved in wars, the independent media wants to glom on Mexico (at the expense of Iraq because Iraq took a nosedive due to the Mexico coverage) by providing 'journalists' who don't offer anything but rants. By treating rants like their facts. By refusing to cover the voters' reactions (as C.I. pointed out, we're talking about Mexico, it's not the Green Zone, you can find voters in Mexico to speak with -- and should if you're supposedly concerned with the election that will, in the end, effect them far more directly than it will some titty-baby journalist who's screeching like his lover has been denied office as opposed to conducting himself like a reporter).

The thing is, this will happen again. With all the nonsense/coverage of Mexico's election, we saw the weakest, limpoest, most ineffective side of independent media. It was a shock to me. It was shocking to watch or read that nonsense and realize that there was an effort to force me to care about an election that I didn't see a lot of anguish and turmoil over from the actual voters, while real news was pushed aside.

Mike noted that during this nonsense, war was treated as an after thought. He titled a column for Polly's Brew that. In another he listed all of our independent media that had been contacted about Nancy A. Youssef's should-have-been-ground-breaking report that the US was keeping a body count on Iraqis despite their repeated denials, that they had been for over a year, that they wouldn't release that count to reporters (or citizens). That was a devastating moment for independent media, if you ask me. It showed that real news didn't matter, despite all the claims and shout outs. It demonstrated that actual news that matters, the government being found in another lie, didn't matter as much as stirring up anger and outrage over an election that no US citizen voted in, that Mexico hasn't fallen apart over.

They wated our time and they discredited themselves. (People who read Mike's column know which ones I mean.) There were a lot of people I respected that I lost all respect for over this.

I do care about the world around me. I do care about what's happening in Sudan. (I don't believe the answer is to send in US forces and give the Bully Boy another illegal occupation.) I do care what's happening in India and elsewhere. In Mexico, I'm very concerned with the continued disappearance of women. I'm not interested in an election that a right winger may have stolen from a centrist with coverage that's a lot of hot air and not any proof.

That people thought this was news when the so-called 'crackdown' in Baghdad was obviously not producing 'results' of safety bothers me to this day. There are some voices I trusted that I will never be interested in again.

For some outlets on the left, Mexico became THE story, for over a week. And we never got proof (to this day) and we never got to hear from voters. I thought that was what independent media was about, the people? Suddenly it turned into all the things that were wrong with Meet the Press and countless other programs. It became a group of pundits speculating without any ties to facts. We're thinking, for The Third Estate Sunday Review, about what will be the biggest stories of 2006? I stated Saturday that for me it will be the revelation that independent media can be as bad as the mainstream. Not due to budget. Not due to getting something wrong. But due to a desire to attempt to force a response from you -- an attempt to tell you what to do and what to think without any proof or evidence. That's my biggest media disappointment of the year.

Where was the news value in that 'story,' in that 'report'? It wasn't in the facts because, other than Palast, no one seems to have any. It wasn't in the opinions of the people effected because they weren't given an platform to speak. It seemed to be about a bunch of little writers with small minds taking to the airwaves and print to scream and whine that Oba-bore lost and should have won. That's a story that we need to drop coverage of Iraq for? That's a story that's fit to compete with everything else going on in the world and triumph over everything else?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that this was a one-time thing. But I don't think so. I think there will be massive protests in this country that will be ignored (or put into a tiny clip, as one program did, with a right-wing led protest on Sudan and call that 'coverage'). I think Iraq will continually slip out of the coverage (despite the fact that there's no excuse for any US outlet not to cover it). I think that we'll see slaughter and death all over the world take a backseat to someone's pet cause and, instead of it being presented as opinion, it will be presented as truth with the intention of outraging us and getting us to focus on this non-issue.

The corporate media drops the ball all the time. They chase after some 'sexy' non-story all the time. Indepedent media can't point a finger if they're doing the exact same thing. Iraq matters, it's past time that independent media treated it like it did. (And, my opinion, the most recnet protests nationally, got no attention. I'm speaking of the ones against the war. The ones that went on on a Friday and, if mentioned at all, had to share coverage on a Monday with the dopey "Bring the troops home and send them to Darfur" crap.)

I think, finally, that before people next trumpet their own bravery, they ought to re-examine their own recent actions. There are a lot of independent media news outlets that lost me this month.


Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts: "Bully Boy Tapes a Dating Service Video." Thank you to Rebecca who I just got off the phone with and told me to try posting at her site. (This is C.I. and the comic won't post at The Common Ills.) Posted by Picasa