Friday night

I was wiped out by the heat today, Betty here, filling in for the honeymooning Rebecca, and my sister has the kids tonight, I've got hers tomorrow (and mine). I was going to meet up with a friend but she had to cancel so I thought I'd just stay home (until the call came in that my daughter was hollering for me). Ended up sitting on the couch after I dropped the kids off and too tired to move.

I finally grabbed the remote to the stereo off the coffee table (took more energy than I thought) and prayed something was in there besides kids music. There was. I hadn't listened to music since last week when Kat was here.

We'd gone through CDs, the kids, Kat and me so there were five actual CDs in there (not kids music). After twenty minutes, I finally had the energy to get off the couch, go to the kitchen and get a glass of ice water. Came back in, the sun was almost gone. Just sat on the couch listening to music as the room grew dark.

I thought about this while I was sitting on the couch, listening to music, and how I should write about it after I got back (I believe I mentioned that my daughter will not stay the night with anyone except my mother or me). So the call came and I went to my sister's to get her, brought her back here and we're at the front door when she says there's someone here. I told her it was just the music (it was, in case anyone gets nervous as I ramble towards my point) and we come in and she goes to the living room where it is still dark.

I go in after here and she's on the couch saying for me to sit by her. So we just sat there and listened to music in the dark. After about a half-hour, maybe a little longer she was asleep.

So what's the point?

If you have to ask, you probably either don't have young kids or don't raise them by yourself.

You might be thinking, "Oh that poor woman. Gets some time for fun and her friend cancels on her so she's home alone, listening to music in the dark."

If you're trying to keep up with young kids, you probably realize how wonderful that moment was. It was too. To sit on the couch without having to cock an ear towards or keep an eye on the kids. To just sit there when there were probably a hundred things I could be and should be doing. Those moments don't come very often.

And when I was listening to some of the songs, I thought back to when I was, probably, fourteen or fifteen. Nothing made me happier (except to be going out) on a Friday night then to go to my room, turn off all the lights, and just listen to my favorite music. I'd listen, usually to songs of love, and think about how my life would be when I was all "grown up."

Is this what I thought it would be?


But it's certainly not a bad life and I really do have great kids.

They aren't angels but they are great.

It was just very relaxing. Ideally, it would have happened with me in the bath. That's the only detail I'd add. Soaking in the tub. But I didn't have the strength for that.

So it was a nice evening. Then, when I got back from my sister's, and my daughter and I were sitting there listening, she was just so cute, she'd look at me every now and then when a song was playing and I'd ask, "What?" She'd tell me "sh" she was listening.

She's probably already got her own dreams, set to music, for the future. I'm not sure what they are. I really don't remember much interior-wise from that age. But she's a very quiet child and she's always surprising me with something -- usually days after she's heard some conversation between me and my mother or one of my sisters and she'll just bring up something and it will always surprise me. I have no idea what "Little pitchers have big ears" means.

My grandmother always said that when I was little, about me, and she says it now about her great-granddaughter. I know it means that my daughter is always paying attention, even when you think she's not but I've never know what that saying really means, literally. Is it a remark about handles on pitchers? I have no idea.

So anyway, that was my evening. I wish I could tell you I was doing something that would rate as "productive" or "meaningful." But sometimes, if you have young kids, the best break, is to do nothing. To just relax. That was my night tonight. Even if you don't have young children, if you're someone who's always on the go, it might be a night you can appreciate.

I started to stay on the couch and not blog but then I remembered it was Friday when everyone usually has discussion groups so felt I should blog. I'm going to go lay down on the couch in a bit and finish listening. But I wanted to have something up at Rebecca's site in case no one was blogging tonight.

A lot happened in the world today but I hope we all took a moment to follow the events from Iraq. That war has got to end, we have to end it. Our boys and girls need to come home.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified.
Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news,
prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary.
AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the
Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March"
reports Dennis Shook for WisPolitics.com. Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least
4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be 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."


Not much tonight from me

Betty here, filling in for the honeymooning Rebecca who is due back shortly. Tonight's not a good night for blogging for me. My youngest two are both knocked out from the heat. He's been sick to his stomach (and guess who has to clean that up) and she's been complaining of a headache that just won't go away. No fever, so I spent most of the evening coaking her to drink water. I think she was just dehydrated. We played "tea party" (with a big thanks to my oldest who was a huge help tonight). I filled up my (stoneware?) tea pot with water and ice and we all had our tea cups. (Blame that on my mother who spoiled her last month by letting her use a real tea cup. Now you can't play tea party without a real cup.) Once she had some water in her, her head stopped hurting so I think she was just dehydrated. This heat is too much for me, it's even worse for children and the elderly. So then she was chipper and just wanted to play in her room with her stuffed animals and I could focus on my middle child.

I wondered about that, too. She is the youngest so he had to wait. I wondered, "Do I do this when they aren't both sick?" I hope not. I'm going to try to watch for that. When he wasn't throwing up, I was focused on my daughter and it was back and forth all evening. He finally felt a little better and wanted to eat something. He surprised me because he just wanted toast, and dry toast at that. It was probably the best thing for him but he's not a toast kid. He ate that, really nibbled at it, drank a little water and then turned in.

Now during all of that, I was where I was needed and, honestly, not really thinking. Only now, when they're both better do I panic. I wonder if many parents do that. I keep typing a sentence and then going into my boys room to check on him or going into my daughter's to check on her.
So don't expect anything much here. My mind is elsewhere tonight.

While they were feeling bad, I was in, "This is what we do" mode. Now, I'm worried (when I shouldn't be) and pretty much worn out. I did call Trina because she's raised eight kids and I knew she'd have some advice. She told me, "You're going to worry until you stop worrying, can't help you with that but they are fine now." They are. We talked about it and she said she always thought of that as all the worries you shove down deep, to get through what you have to, coming to the surface as soon as there is a free moment.

I'll stop because I'm sure this is boring.

Let me put in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue on the ground in Iraq today, Thursday, August 3rd, Donald Rumsfeld speaks like an excited child, Bully Boy plots a getaway from a vacation getaway, and peace activists and members of Iraq's parliament prepare for their face to face meeting to address reality.
the peace activists that will be taking part in the Friday and Saturday meetings in Jordan are Cindy Sheehan, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and Diane Wilson. Katy Hillenmeyer (Santa Rosa Press Democrat) takes a look at another activist making the journey, 72-year-old, retired nurse Barbara Briggs-Leston. Barbara Briggs-Leston explains the peace summit: "We're trying to call attention to the Iraqi's own plan, as opposed to the United States' plan. Let's let the Iraqis decide what happens to them. We've been deciding, and we've done an appalling job."
CODEPINK and Global Exchange are co-sponsoring the trip which stems from the attention the Troops Home Fast actions garnered "after 28 days of fasting." The fast is continuing: "We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war" and today at least 4,350 people are fasting around the world.
As some advocate for peace, others say more of the same. Such as
Donald Rumsfeld's latest remarks (reported by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen, Reuters):
"If we left Iraq prematurely as the terrorists demand, the enemy would tell us to leave
Afghanistan. And if we left the Middle East, they'd order us and all those who don't share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines.And then we would face not only the evil ideology of these extremists, but an enemy that will have grown accustomed to succeeding in telling free people everywhere what to do." And . . . and . . . and . . . What might be cute in a five-year-old child just makes Rumsfeld appear he needs to call time for a pee break.
He certainly needs to learn how to make a non-circular argument but, at this late date, even the War Hawks find it difficult to call their weak excuses for US troops remaining in Iraq "logic."
His circular statements, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, come a day after he struggled to define what the meaning of "is" is in a Defense Department press conference. After noting that "Sunnis are killing Shia; Shia are killing Sunnis,"
Rumsfeld went on to muse, "Does that constitute a civil war? I guess you can decide for your yourself. And we can all go to the dictionary and decide what you want to call something. But it seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage.
It certainly isn't like our Civil War. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes."
It was all so far from reality, he came off like
Jalal Talabani (Iraq's president) claiming yesterday that by the end of this year (that would be four months from now), Iraq security forces will be in control of all 18 provinces. Rumsfeld's performance yesterday was refuted by the BBC report of William Patey (England's "outgoing ambassador in Baghdad) warning Tony Blair (poodle and prime minister) that civil war, not democracy, awaits Iraq. The BBC's Paul Wood characterized the document as "a devastating official assessment of the prospect for a peaceful Iraq, and stands in stark contrast to public rhetoric."
In the United States, John Abizaid (head of Centcom) testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee. Abizaid offered that "
the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it. And that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war" (CNN). Reuters notes that Abizaid stated that a year ago this time, he never would have predicted the possibility of a civil war.
Looking at the Patey memo,
Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) concludes "whatever happens, the vision set out for Iraq by George Bush before the invasion in 2003 of a beacon of democracy for the Middle East is not going to happen."
And in Iraq? The
BBC's Paul Wood probably best sums up life in Iraq post-invasion:
"An Iraqi man, Ahmed Muktar, told me a typical story of these times. His family fled sectarian violence in the suburb of Dora. But his brother-in-law returned to check on his house. He was kidnapped. The police, the hospitals, the morgues - none had any official record of the missing man. So his family went to the dumping ground for bodies on the edge of Dora. There they found him, amid a pile of 50 corpses, hands tied behind his back, shot in the head. They had to recover him while under constant automatic fire, the police and troops nearby too scared to help."
Reuters reports that a new US target is apparently the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr:"U.S. troops opened fir on a convoy carrying supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr . . . wounding at least 16 people." CNN notes a Wednesday home invasion that led to four dead in Wajihiya. Reuters notes that it was the home of a police officer (apparently not home) and the dead were three women and one man (not the police officer).
The worst known took place in Baghad.
AP reports that "at least 12 people" are dead and 29 wounded from a bomb "hidden in a parked motorcycle." The BBC notes that the explosion "set ablaze" surrounding shops.
Reuters reports two police officers wounded from a roadside bomb in Latifiya; three Iraqi soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb in Balad;
Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Samarra, one in Kut, one in Numaniya, and three in Dujail.
In Latifiya, two passengers of a car were injured and the car and driver "snatched" by assailants in an attack,
Reuters reports, while, in Isahqi, a "food contractor for the Iraqi army" was kidnapped.
In legal news,
AFP reports that the "[f]our US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners refused to give evidence as a military hearing heard that one of the captives' brains were blown out as he lay injured." This is the May 9th incident in which US soldiers allegedly killed three Iraqis who had been detained and handcuffed. The AFP observes: "The troops followed the lead of several of their superior officers Thursday, invoking their right not to incriminate themselves before a legal panel set up at their unit's base camp in the central Iraqi city of Tikrit." The four accused who are refusing to testify are: William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber.
In Australia, the
most recent news from the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco is that Alastar Adams will give testimony from Kuwait, "via a video link," as to how the coffin shipped back to Australia supposedly containing the body of Jake Kovco instead contained the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic.
Some would argue Bully Boy ran from the National Guard -- some might agree he's running from Cindy Sheehan. The
AP reports that Bully Boy, the vacationing leader, will have far less than his usual weeks and weeks of summer vacation, and has instead reduced it to "nine days" based at his ranchette in Crawford. Bully Boy plans to return to DC August 13th. Camp Casey, on land Sheehan now owns in Crawford, will open on August 6th this month. Camp Casey will be open from August 6th through Septemeber 2nd. On the importance of Camp Casey, Sheehan writes: "Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else."

That's a lot and I could probably comment on it if my head was on blogging tonight. Sherry had e-mailed me Monday and asked what I thought of Pablo Paredes' speech he gave at his court martial? I had e-mailed back that I wasn't sure I'd heard it or read it but I might not be remembering it. She put it in an e-mail tonight and I'll copy and paste it in here because it's important, it'll give this entry some weight I can't provide tonight and because Ehren Watada and others are resisting the war right now. So this matters. This was in May of 2005 -- not that long ago. Since it was a statement to the court, I'm assuming it's public record and can be used in full.

Your Honor, and to all present, I'd like to state first and foremost that it has never been my intent or motivation to create a mockery of the Navy or its judicial system. I do not consider military members adversaries. I consider myself in solidarity with all service members. It is this feeling of solidarity that was at the root of my actions. I don't pretend to be in a position to lecture anyone on what I perceive as facts concerning our current political state of affairs. I accept that it is very possible that my political perspective on this war could be wrong. I don't think that rational people can even engage in debate if neither is willing to accept the possibility that their assertions, no matter how researched, can be tainted with inaccuracy and falsehoods. I do believe that accepting this in no way takes away from one's confidence in their own convictions.
I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal. I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality. I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having duty to my Chain of Command and my President, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the supreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the current aggression that has been unleashed on Iraq. In the past few months I have been continually asked if I regret my decision to refuse to board my ship and to do so publicly. I have spent hour upon hour reflecting on my decision, and I can tell you with every fiber of certitude that I possess that I feel in my heart I did the right thing.
This does not mean I have no regrets. I regret dearly exposing the families of marines and sailors to my protest. While I do not feel my message was wrong, I know that those families were facing a difficult moment. This moment was made in some ways more difficult by my actions, and this pains me. That day on the pier, I restrained myself from answering the calls of coward and even some harsher variations of the same term. I did so because I knew this wasn't the time to engage these families in debate. I thought that I became in many ways a forum in which to vent their fears and sadness. And I didn't want to turn that into a combative situation in which the families were distracted more by our debate than simply empowered by their ability to chastise my actions. All that being said I still feel my actions made some people very unhappy and made others feel that I was taking away from their child's or their husband's goodbye, and I regret this.
I also regret the pain and stress I have caused those near and dear to me. I know that my lawyers feel that it is ill advised of me to say these things, and I am aware of that. My lawyers have had a very difficult time with me. They also thought that it was ill advised me for me to plead not guilty. It is this I truly want to explain, both to them and to the court. I realize I did not board the Bonhomme Richard on December 6 and that I left after the ship personnel and Pier Master-at-Arms refused to arrest me. Given these confessions one may find it hard to understand why would anyone admit to the action but not plead guilty to the crime. It is this question that has also been the topic of much reflection for me.
I never deny my actions nor do I run from their consequences. But pleading guilty is more than admission of action. It is also acceptance that that action was wrong and illegal. These are two things I do not and cannot accept. I feel, even with all the regrets and difficulties that have come as a result of my actions, that they were in fact my duty as a human being and as a service member. I feel in my mind and heart that this war is illegal and immoral. The moral argument is one that courts have little room for and has been articulated in my C.O. application. It is an argument that encompasses all wars as intolerable in my system of morals. The legal argument is quite relevant, although motions filed and approved have discriminated against it to the point it was not allowed into this trial.
I have long now been an ardent reader of independent media, and, in my opinion, less corrupted forms of media, such as TruthOut.org, Democracy Now!, books from folks like Steven Zunes, and Chalmers Johnson, articles from people like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. These folks are very educated in matters of politics and are not on the payroll of any major corporate news programming, such as CNN or FOX News network. They all do what they do for reasons other than money, as they could earn much more if they joined the corporate-controlled ranks. I have come to trust their research and value their convictions in assisting me to form my own. They have all unanimously condemned this war as illegal, as well as made resources available for me to draw my own conclusions, resources like Kofi Annan's statements on how under the U.N. Charter the Iraq War is illegal, resources like Marjorie Cohn's countless articles providing numerous sources and reasons why the war is illegal under international, as well as domestic law. I could speak on countless sources and their arguments as to the legality of the war on Iraq quite extensively. But again, I don't presume to be in a position to lecture anyone here on law. I mean only to provide insight on my actions on December 6.
I understood before that date very well what the precedent was for service members participating in illegal wars. I read extensively on the arguments and results of Nazi German soldiers, as well as imperial Japanese soldiers, in the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials, respectively. In all I read I came to an overwhelming conclusion supported by countless examples that any soldier who knowingly participates in an illegal war can find no haven in the fact that they were following orders, in the eyes of international law.
Nazi aggression and imperialist Japan are very charged moments of history and simply mentioning them evokes many emotions and reminds of many atrocities. So I want to be very clear that I am in no way comparing our current government to any of the historical counterparts. I am not comparing the leaders or their acts, not their militaries nor their acts. I am only citing the trials because they are the best example of judicial precedent for what a soldier/sailor is expected to do when faced with the decision to participate or refuse to participate in what he perceives is an illegal war.
I think we would all agree that a service member must not participate in random unprovoked illegitimate violence simply because he is ordered to. What I submit to you and the court is that I am convinced that the current war is exactly that. So, if there's anything I could be guilty of, it is my beliefs. I am guilty of believing this war is illegal. I'm guilty of believing war in all forms is immoral and useless, and I am guilty of believing that as a service member I have a duty to refuse to participate in this war because it is illegal.
I do not expect the court to rule on the legality of this war, nor do I expect the court to agree with me. I only wish to express my reasons and convictions surrounding my actions. I acted on my conscience. Whether right or wrong in my convictions I will be at peace knowing I followed my conscience.


"Hey Now Young Mothers"

Hey now
Young Mothers
How shall we raise our sons?
To live their lives in peace

And not take up the guns?

Hey now
Young Mothers
What shall we teach them of?
To look for beauty in the world
And use the power of love

I believe
I believe
That love will see us through
I believe
Oooh, I still believe
That love will see us through

That's the first third of Diana Ross' "Young Mothers" and it was written by Tom Baird and K. Lawrence Dunham.

Betty here, filling in for the honeymooning Rebecca. Kat, Elaine and I are including a lyric in tonight's posts we're doing. I'm not sure if I picked right. I don't think we're supposed to work it into a theme.

Well, if I got it wrong, I got it wrong. I know that song from the vinyl, double disc, Anthology. My brother had that on vinyl. I got it on tape right when CD was exploding. Anthology is really the "Diana has left the building" collection. I really don't remember ever not knowing of Diana Ross. Music always played in my home and my parents had her records, she was on the radio growing up (soul stations played her even when pop didn't).

I never had that "Diana left Motown!" moment because she was already gone. She was at RCA by the time I knew enough to know labels. I actually love those albums. I know people trash them in reviews. I think they all have moments and that each RCA album got stronger (which puts me in a minority -- something I'm quite used to!).

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? had "Mirror, Mirror" which I love. I can remember thinking it was like Snow White when I first heard it. I would get my little hand held mirror and my comb and make my father put on the song. I hated combing my hair but I would do it for that song. It also had the title track and otherwise it's okay. Then came Silk Electric which had "Muscles" (I was obsessed with that song from the moment I heard it -- as I approached my teens and continued to be obsessed with it, my father asked me what I thought the song was about -- but I've already written about that). It also had "So Close" which is a wonderful doo-wop song and "Make Me Your Woman" where Diana's voice is just beautiful. I love "Fool For Your Love" but think they placed it wrong on the album. It starts and stops, the album. Third is Ross and that's a strong one. "Pieces of Ice," "That's How You Start Over," "Love or Loneliness" (Ray Parker Jr., where are you?), "Upfront" and "Let's Go Up" -- all favorites. I didn't care for "Girls" but that's the only complaint. Then came Swept Away with the title track mixing vocals and spoken word ("You and I are on an island/ Where I thought the storm would never end . . ."), "All of You" with Julio, "Missing You" (written by Lionel), Dylan's "Forever Young," her remake of "Rescue Me," "It's Your Move," "Telephone," just one song after another that I can listen to over and over. Then came "Eaten Alive" and Michael what happened? "Muscles" was a great song he wrote for Diana. Here he and she team up with the Bee Gees (or Barry Gibb) and it's not so great. It's a fun track. Then it goes off and you have an amazing album. It's one of my favorites. Her final album for RCA is Red Hot Rhythm and Blues. I remember the TV special (I was like four or five, I think) and I remember the video for "Dirty Looks" (and how all my aunts would point out, "You know she's pregnant but you can't tell it"). I loved "Dirty Looks." (And I remember this album in Stevie Wonders' video for "Skeletons.") I loved the special but when my brother played me the record, I didn't care for it. This one took awhile to grow on me. Now I love it. (Now I also have two digits to my age.) It's really a wonderful album with "Summertime" and "Tell Me Again" -- gorgeous ballads. As well as her cover of "There Goes My Baby" and a new song, "Shockwaves," that sounds like one of Martha's hits from the sixties.

So, for me, I really don't buy the RCA years being bad years in terms of art. I wonder if and when they do a real Best of for that period, if people will grasp that?

There are two collections (I have them both). One is called something like The RCA Years. Okay, it's Greatest Hits: The RCA Years. How do you do "Greatest Hits" and not include "All of You" (hit single on pop, ac and soul), "Telephone" (hit on soul), "Pieces of Ice" (top 100 pop), etc? You can't. 18 tracks. Not all of the hits are here. The other RCA years collection is called Endless Love and it only has eight tracks. It works better for me because the songs seem to fit together (second track begins the jams and last until the end).

There's a song that was just on the flip side of the "Swept Away" single that I always loved. My brother would put on "Fight For It" and I'd dance around the room as a little girl and even older. ("What we have is so strong and true/ It keeps me coming back to you . . .")

So I think RCA was a good period artistically.

When she returned to Motown, it was a big deal in my family. I didn't care for it. There's the live jazz album and there was her last studio album which I liked. The Force Behind The Power is really the only one I think makes it as an album. But each release (and my brother was getting tapes around the time of Swept Away) was always a big deal. He'd bring them home and we'd all listen together (once he switched to cassettes, he'd usually heard some of it on the way home).

So the point is, I'm a big Diana fan. I always will be. My daughter has the doll they did of her a few years back. She actually has two of them. My brother got her the first one and she wouldn't take it out of the box. That may be because she got used to seeing it, from the crib, in the box. So I had to track down another one a year ago and this one comes out of the box and she plays with it.

She loves to go through my brother's albums with him or by herself, looking at the pictures. She wants a story for each one (my brother spoiled her) and after you tell her the story, she'll smile and say, "That's nice." She says it like the sweetest, elderly woman. It always makes me smile and I've heard her do it probably a million times now.

All of her dolls are "Dianas" or Kitty Kitty's -- it's the only names she has for them. And until recently, they were all Dianas. I wish now that I'd named her Diana. She loves that name. And, like me when I was a little girl, she loves it when Diana's on the stereo. We were in the store last week with Kat and she was in the buggy. She got very upset because Kat was helping my sons with something and I was pulling cereal off the shelf. She did this big dramatic sigh and rolled her eyes back in her head. When she knew she had our attention, she looked at us shaking our heads and pointed to the ceiling (where a speaker was), "That is Di-an-a."

It was too. It was "Endless Love" (the duet version with Lionel).

If you ask her to "Sing Diana" she'll bounce her head up and down as she sings "Baby, baby" from "Where Did Our Love Go?".

So the point is, I was raised by Diana lovers, I'm a Diana lover and I've got at least one Diana lover. (They all love "If We Hold On" but they call it "Land Before Time" -- the name of the movie the song was in.)

So a few years ago, ten?, I got Anthology on CD (two discs). It is not the cassette line up. There are differences. I didn't even think to look at the track listing. But, as I was listening, I told myself, "If it has 'Young Mothers' on it, I'm fine." It did.

I've always loved that song. When I was a little girl, I don't know what I thought of it. I just know I sang along with it. But around the age of ten, I started really getting into the lyrics and wonder what I was going to tell my children and how I would raise them?

What were my responsibilities to them and would I live up to those responsibilities?

I think I've made many mistakes but on this -- I think I lived up to it.

The boys have no war toys. When someone breaks the rule, that was in place before Iraq and Afghanistan, I say "no, take it back." For many Black people, the military is the only way to advance (or dangles that hope anyway -- I know too many disabled struggling with the Veterans' Hospital) and I saw that in high school long before graduation loomed. I knew some people who went in, more females than males actually, and I knew they were hoping it would pay for college or provide them with training. I hope it did.

But I knew I didn't want any child I ever had to grow up thinking war was a game. There's enough pressure on you without thinking of it as a game. My boys will tell you the war is wrong and my oldest will tell you exactly why.

So on that I suceeded. (That's true even if all three enlist one day. They'll go in with their eyes open.) So when we were talking about a song, this one came to mind immediately. It's one that I grew up singing along with and not grasping one word for several years. Then the message of it seeped in: the responsibilty we have.

Today, it would have to be "What shall we tell our sons and daughters" but I think the message is still a strong one today. On that note, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"

Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least 63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities. CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
The BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." [C.I. said that if the link to Peel doesn't work, use the link to the report on the page "BBC notes" goes to.] Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.
David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above, Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
The Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
The AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news, Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard (Countercurrents.org) writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.


Kat's visit

Betty here and Rebecca will be back from her honeymoon shortly. She checked in Mexico and again when we were on the phone Saturday if I was holding up okay? I am. Happy to fill in.

Kat left this morning and it was great having her as a houseguest. My kids miss her. My daughter avoided me most of the evening. Finally, she said she wanted "Kitty Kitty." I told her
Kat had to go home and she said she wanted to go visit. Not a problem, we'll be visiting shortly but she said she didn't want me going along. I think she blames for Kat going home. Kat is wonderful and has wonderful hair which she will let my daughter play with and she will fix it anyway my daughter asks. Over and over again. Do you remember those big heads? They were just heads. Like a doll but just the head? You'd play with the hair fixing it different ways and, if you were lucky, you could also put make up on them.

I never had one of those but I think I need to hunt one down (if they still make them) for my daughter. That's how she treated Kat the entire visit. She'd grab hair clips and ribbons and want Kat to change her hair about every 15 minutes. Kat is very good with kids, I wouldn't have that kind of patience. She also taught my oldest three chords. My brother -- I talked about him when I posted here once before but I don't think I've talked about him this go round. My brother moves a lot. Whenever he's off on an adventure, he stores his music collection with me. That also includes his guitar. When he left this time, my oldest asked if he could play it? He was given permission but he didn't know how to play. Kat spent a couple of hours teaching him three chords. How to strum and all of that. With those three chords, he's got about four songs Kat showed him.

We're going to have to do lessons now. I didn't think he was serious about it. We've done swim lessons and a few other things. With swimming, it didn't matter that he lost interest, you can always use that knowledge. But on karate, when he dropped after the third lesson (and I'd had to pay for six weeks up front -- not refundable -- plus a deposit -- also not refundable), I told him that next time he wanted lessons, he was going to have to demonstrate to me that he was serious about it. (He's in summer baseball again this year. That does hold his interest.)

But I'm really amazed at how much he's applying himself. He's getting really good at the three chords. So I told him that tomorrow, I'd ask around at work and see if anyone knew someone they'd recommend? My brother's teacher was an old man when my brother was taking lessons. I can't imagine he's still teaching. But my mother's checking on that for me.

The guitar drawfs him -- it's so big compared to him -- but he's dedicated.

My middle child, my younger son, told me he missed Kat and he had a letter for her. It's a page from a coloring book that he's colored for her and written her name on. We put it in an envelope and stamped it.

Point of all that, she's a wonderful friend but she's also very popular and loved by kids.

A friend at work found something online today that she thought went wonderfully with C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . .," Joel Connelly's "Can TV news make Iraq any more invisible?" If you've missed one or both, please read it/them.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (MediaTransparency.org), by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitor) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."