I've lost my faith in independent media (Betty)

Betty posting tonight in place of Rebecca. Rebecca is pissed. We were all on the phone (except Jim and C.I.) and thought we'd come to a point of understanding.

I'm putting this in here to avoid having to do links throughout the post. I'm in the links and everyone I'm talking about in the community is as well.

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen
and Ruth of "Ruth's Report"

Rebecca, on her own, stated she would remove the post on FAIR. (She's rewrote it, scroll down to read it.) We were willing to go on to other things. As she had stated originally, it could have just been a coincidence. (She deleted that statement and pretty much everything she wrote on Monday when she rewrote it tonight.) C.I. likes FAIR and none of us want to cause a hassle for C.I. If FAIR didn't crib, then fine. We can all focus on something else.

Then, we hear Darh Jamail on Flashpoints, over the phone lines because the gang's at C.I.'s and KPFA is always playing there, and . . .

I don't know what to say.

I spent an hour, after I got off the phone with everyone, talking to my father, on the phone, and asking him about this because I really don't understand it. I don't understand how those who want attention from this community, who have requested it, are happy to give credit to everyone under the sun while ignoring The Common Ills.

My father's opinion was that those people should not get attention (meaning links) anymore. I agree with that.

I called Rebecca and said I wanted to post tonight if that was okay? She said it would be a huge relief because she was not in the mood.

What I wanted to talk about was what I spoke of with my father tonight.

The Common Ills started up and had comments, as older members will remember. I'm a Black woman and I know my way around the net. "Translation," as C.I. would say, I know that we're all welcome as long as we stick to the Democratic Party line. For the record, I've never voted for anyone who wasn't a Democrat. But as a Black woman, don't you dare tell me that I don't have a right to complain about the way the party has so often treated members of my race.

But, and talk to many Black people and you'll find out this isn't uncommon, you try to do that at a supposed liberal site and they go wild. The comments start piling up on the thread about how you're really a Republican or you're stupid or whatever.

So I was enjoying the website, The Common Ills, and figuring I'd stick around for a few weeks before it would be obvious that "all" didn't include Blacks by some comment on a thread or, worse, by something C.I. wrote because, as everyone knows, women and minorities can be ridiculed by some running supposed left sites and often are. (Or are we all supposed to forget the ridicule feminists got as "women's studies majors" and worse at a blog I used to visit?)

Keesha was in the thick of things on the threads. She was taking on those Blue Dogs like crazy. I didn't know her then, but I did admire her for calling them out. I wasn't aware that she was leading the fight to close off comments.

She really only had to make her case once but then, after she had, C.I. had to figure out how you closed off comments. That took a bit. When Keesha got slammed by a Blue Dog with a racist remark, C.I. stopped everything and figured out how to close comments right then and there.

And if you're an older community member who was there for that, you may have been confused or you may have known that racism is all over the net even at the supposed left sites.

So I stuck around and liked what I saw. Then Rebecca started a site, then The Third Estate Sunday Review started up, then Folding Star did A Winding Road.

I am a single parent with three small children. My time is limited except on the weekends. In fact, having made the decision not to date until my children are older, I have a lot of free time on the weekends.

So I started thinking, "Maybe I could do something online?"

I e-mailed C.I. and got an encouraging e-mail back with the promise that I would be linked and noted if I did start up a site.

I then probably bored C.I. with about 100 questions. Technical ones, time ones, tons of them. The reply was brief. "This is my phone number. If you'd like to call, please do and you can call collect."

At that point, what did any of us know about C.I.? I mean there was a huge curiosity factor so I called right after I saw the e-mail. (I didn't call collect. That was very sweet to offer, but I wouldn't do that to someone.)

So I asked most of my questions and got a direct response. I shared my fears that I would start and then just drop it within a few weeks. I explained what I had experienced online (in terms of race and sexism in threads at other sites) and that I felt like I should do a site of some sort if only because I didn't want to look back in thirty years, see an all White, all male web and realize I complained a lot but never did anything to change it.

C.I. told me that you start it and if it's not right, you stop. It's not the end of the world. Then C.I. asked what else was behind it?

I explained that I didn't want to put myself out there. I explained that I loved (and I did love and still do) what C.I. does but I'd been burned just from threads and wasn't looking forward to hate mail based on blogging. (That's the other thing, not only would they slam your race on a thread, they'd usually e-mail you as well.)

I'd mentioned, much earlier, that I like to joke and read and something (in passing) about a thing I'd written in my junior year of high school. (I'm overly proud of that. Largely because enough time has passed and I've grown enough that it's no longer embarrassing to read over.) C.I. brought that up and said I should think about doing something creative.

So it was a go. Sort of. I wasn't sure what my site () would be yet. I wasn't sure what I'd write about or how. I did test posts over and over while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do.

I also was curious about the process itself and C.I. checked with The Third Estate Sunday Review and they were happy to have me. So I was helping out there for several weeks before I went "live."

When I did, C.I., Rebecca, The Third Estate Sunday Review and A Winding Road were all generous with their praise and links. I really wish Folding Star would have kept on blogging because A Winding Road was a really great site. I miss, especially, reading the weekend book discussions.

Later on, when I got my first e-mail that scared the heck out of me (they come in very often), the first person I called was C.I. I have family that lives close by. But I called C.I. and wasn't even thinking about the time. (Even with a two hour time difference, it was still late on C.I.'s end.) C.I. stayed on the phone with me forever. Including at the start of the call when I really couldn't say anything other than "Hi."

It was my first hate mail and I really overreacted to it but it was late at night, my children were in bed and I'm the only adult in the house. It was the most hateful thing I had ever read. Probably the sort of thing I would have heard if I'd been born before the Civil Rights movement but no one has ever talked like that around me or even in a movie I've seen.

C.I. finally figured out that it was an e-mail from what little I did say and said to forward it. I did and C.I. was reading over it and making fun of the person and I ended up laughing too. After I was in a place where I could talk about it, the first thing C.I. said was that I could quit anytime I wanted to. Just hearing that took a huge load off.

I kept C.I. on the phone till the sun was coming up at my place because even though I was laughing now the e-mail still had me spooked. (When someone writes now that they know where I live, I delete it right then and don't read further.)

I'm high maintenance as a writer. C.I. and Kat have to hear my latest before it goes up at my site. I'm afraid it won't have even one funny line, that the larger point I'm going for won't be there and that, most of all, it's not worth reading.

Now keep in mind that C.I. and I hadn't even met face to face at that point.

I know very few people that would do all that (and more than I've noted above) for someone who really was a stranger. But C.I. always did and always has.

If something bothers me, it's not going to be dismissed by C.I. Not at the website or one on one.

Dominick took part in a roundtable recently and I just checked my e-mail and he said I could note what he shared. He noted how we all, whether we have our own sites or don't (he doesn't) expect C.I. to speak for the community. We expect C.I. to take on every issue that matters to us. With the focus being narrowed down to only Iraq at The Common Ills, you might think that pressure would be off. But Dominick was sharing how he pointed out this or that and "begged" C.I. to cover it in e-mails. And C.I. did. So when C.I.'s disrespected, we're all disrespected.

And that really is true so I'm offended that something I'm a part of got disrespected tonight. I have no further use for Flashpoints or Dahr Jamail.

But I'm even more offended for the disrespect towards C.I. because I know how much C.I. pushes and keeps going even when there's nothing left. I have seen C.I. at the end of a day, so tired from speaking, that just standing is a chore. And know that the next morning, no matter what, C.I.'s got to be up and posting two entries. We all say, "Take time off. You've earned it." Maybe if we'd all get together on a date or a series of dates and say, "Take ___ off," C.I. would believe us?

Maybe it really doesn't hurt C.I. when credit is stripped away and given to others? It would hurt me. I'd be mad, I'd be pissed and I'd be really sad. But maybe, just the fact that at the end of the day C.I. is still C.I. and others are still hustling for bucks makes a difference?

I'm going to share a C.I. story that is very un-C.I. like. And I'll apologize now for sharing it. This was awhile back and may have been near the end of 2005. C.I. was exhausted. C.I. had gotten caught in the rain. We went into a bookstore to get out of the rain. (C.I. had insisted my kids use C.I.'s umbrella.) It was 8:30 p.m. or maybe later and we go in and my kids are so hyper, they love bookstores and books, and I know how kids can get noisy and loud when you're tired so I took them over to the children's section thinking C.I. would sit down in a chair (C.I. needed to sit down). We came back about a half-hour later because the store was about to close and C.I. was in the nonfiction, seated on the floor, reading a memoir or autobiography. C.I. was fully recharged and for the longest wouldn't explain why. Then, after much prodding, showed me a page of the book being read and C.I. was mentioned on it, very favorably. I always tease that was a Soapdish moment. (That's a film with Sally Field. When she's low, she needs Whoopi Goldberg to rustle up a crowd for her.) But I remember that and the book by someone who didn't know C.I. that well (that's what C.I. said) and how much that meant, what was written. So I have a really hard time believing that the constant theft and constant refusal to credit while asking for (and receiving favors) doesn't take their toll.

I think, my own opinion, the secret with C.I. is that C.I. never expects anything. I think that for reasons I won't share. So anything that does come along that's nice is out of the blue and a wonderful surprise.

I'd never shared that story until tonight. Not even with Elaine, or Rebecca, or Kat, or Ava or Dona, Jim, let me do the whole list, Mike, Wally, Cedric, Ty, Jess or Trina. I shared it for the first time tonight with my father and he agreed that this sort of nonsense may not hurt C.I. (my father thinks C.I.'s the strongest person in the world -- I've cleaned that up a little) but agrees that those who ask for things should have the courtesy to give credit where it's due. (C.I. can say, "I don't know what Betty is talking about!" If so, I won't ever repeat this story. And I'm sorry that I did now but it really does capture C.I. for me. If you'd seen the exhuastion and then the happy surprise, the elation, over that page . . . )

So it really does make me mad. The reality, as my father pointed out, was that while everyone stayed silent, C.I. was calling out the lies on the play "Fallujah" (including Dahr Jamail's nationality) and that "happens over and over and you know that." I do too. So this nonsense of we're not even going to give credit is just disgusting.

I really like what Elaine wrote tonight. All of it, but especially this part: "But when you're discussing something C.I.'s covered from the beginning and you're not giving credit, you really aren't hurting C.I. You're just demonstrating that, like most of the great unwashed indymedia crowd, you were raised in a barn where manners meant you snorted before nudging your way to the trough." My father actually made a similar point on the phone tonight. I'd quote him, but I'd have to clean it up.

When Cindy Sheehan announced she was going away and coming back on her own, I was really shocked for about an hour. Then I thought about it and felt like C.I., "I'm surprised she lasted this long." In the summer of 2006, while everyone was focusing on Lebanon (including Dahr Jamail), Cindy Sheehan was fasting for peace, was campaigning for Cynthia McKinney (a true hero), was doing Camp Casey, was in the hospital, was in Jordan meeting with Iraqis to discuss peace and who knows what else.

And where, ask yourself, was independent media? She gave everything she had and her thanks for that was no thanks at all from independent media.

I agree with everything Elaine wrote. I'm not old enough to have seen this cycle (I wasn't born then) during Vietnam but I'm not surprised at all. Independent media is a very closed circuit that whines about the mainstream media not giving them credit but the reality is that they all just only give shout outs to each other. There is no support outside of their small circle of friends.

Take the whole "war on The Nation" nonsense. For two years, this community gave and gave to The Nation with links and praise and not a word. Then the supposed "war" starts up and all the whiners from the magazine are e-mailing like crazy. No link to one site. No e-mail of thanks (with one exception) but call them out for their cowardly coverage of the illegal war and their silence on war resisters and the e-mails start pouring in at such a rate that you wonder how they have time to put out a magazine.

Take poor Ehren Watada. Fighting for all of us. And yet so much silence. Then Sarah Olson is threatened with a few months in jail if she doesn't cooperate and suddenly independent media roars to life. They cover that. Ehren? The young man standing up. Not saying, "I can't say what I'll do or not. I can't discuss my legal strategy." Actually standing up. And he gets nothing. But Sarah Olson's threatened with three months in jail and independent media goes into overdrive pumping out coverage, pumping out columns and broadcasts.

As I've seen the war treated as something that can be "tabled" repeatedly, it's become very clear that independent media doesn't really care about it with few exceptions. It doesn't really care about ending it or about saving any war resister. It just cares about itself and having what I understand to be a "circle jerk" (I never knew that term until I started working with The Third Estate Sunday Review) where they fawn over one another and then go silent when one of them does something really appalling.

With few exceptions, it's not independent. It's the mainstream media played out in a smaller pond. And that's reality.

I really liked Flashpoints. I really liked Dahr Jamail. Even when he dropped Iraq for the summer of 2006, I didn't hold it against him and told myself he had to make a living and Lebanon was what was selling. But I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of a supposed independent media that cares about race but will go on to promote racists and their sites, that cares about sexism but will go on to promote sexists and their sites. I'm tired of being someone who has used the links (I know a lot of members don't, they just go by what C.I. excerpts) at The Common Ills, someone who has given of my small amount of money to help independent media only to see that they are not at all interested in covering Iraq, in covering the truth, or even in giving credit.

I'll add that I don't hate Sarah Olson. I know some in the community do and C.I. always gets a flood of e-mails whenever Sarah Olson is linked to or mentioned. Sarah Olson, my opinion, should have said "I'm not going to testify." If she wanted people to stand up for her, she should have told them what she was going to do.

But, to be fair to her, she wasn't writing all those columns and nothing prevented all those men from writing about Ehren either before they wrote about Sarah or after.

Phil Donahue, to name one, didn't even know what Ehren was being court-martialed for (as C.I. pointed out). He wrote that column all about Olson and mentioned Ehren in passing. It's months later. Has Phil Donahue felt the need to write about Ehren? No. That's not Sarah Olson's fault. It's not her fault that this was also the case with John Nichols, Norman Solomon, Sheldon Rampton, John Stauber and a host of others.

But it does demonstrate what I was talking about. At one point, Ehren was facing six years behind bars for saying "no" to the illegal war. And all these voices come rushing out . . . to defend Sarah Olson. They can't do the same for Ehren Watada.

That goes to the problems with independent media and goes to why I have slowly lost faith in it.

I listen to The Morning Show and enjoy Andrea Lewis (thank you to Kat for taping those for me) and I won't be listening when she's gone shortly. I don't need bad news breaks that bungle things and that just cover the same thing that made the front page of my daily paper. (To be fair, Ruth told me yesterday that Alfandary was actually doing a better job on Monday.)

But when I started reading The Common Ills, I discovered this whole new world. Let's not pretend that most of what C.I. notes gets noted or that most of it was getting noted before C.I. started noting it. I didn't know about Pacifica Radio, I didn't know about a lot of outlets. And I learned about them via The Common Ills. And I really thought, "Okay now, this is going to end the war." But for that to happen, they'd have to be serious about the illegal war and they aren't.

Most are serious about electing Democrats. Most are willing to lie about symoblic measures (Norman Solomon, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton didn't, to give credit since I called them out on Olson). There not serious about ending the war.

They keep citing the polls where the country's turned against the illegal war and the thing I notice most was that when I started reading The Common Ills, independent media was spending more time focusing on it. Now, they just don't care.

I'll even speak out of school and note that we've had a piece on Amy Goodman/Democracy Now! for The Third Estate Sunday Review that we've worked and worked on. It almost went up Sunday. It was finally finished. And C.I. pointed out that it wasn't the time. Why not? Because Adam Kokesh, Liam Maddon and Cloy Richards hadn't been on. (Liam was on. Jonathan Hutto was speaking but Liam Madden's name was onscreen. It was from the Januray rally. I know because C.I. tried to get a screen capture of that from the disc forever on Sunday.) Today, Adam Kokesh was on. All this time later.

I think Amy Goodman cares more than anyone else in independent media about ending the war and is willing to back that up with action. But even there, Adam Kokesh had a hearing last Monday. The story had to wait until there was time for it and, if you ask me, there was time for it a lot sooner than after the hearing.

After Andrea Lewis leaves, I'll probably just continue to catch Democracy Now! in my car and that will be it for me an independent media other than Black Agenda Report (which, let's note, C.I. was able to shame a few into linking to -- finally linking to -- a few weeks back). I really have lost my faith in independent media. I've gone from a full on buzz to constant disappointment. I don't feel I'm alone on that.

Take Flashpoints tonight. Dahr says the New York Times is the paper of . . . Judith Miller. Were you expecting him to take on Dexter Filkins? For someone who's covered Falluja, that would make sense. But he didn't. He went to Judith Miller. She's an easy target. She's safe. But Dexter Filkins is the one who reported on Falluja and won an award for it.

C.I. repeatedly calls Filkins out. Who else does? Danny Schechter. That's really it. It's C.I. and Danny. And now Danny's site may go under and that depresses the heck out of me. My oldest had a growing spurt and buying new clothes for him was required. Buying new clothes for him and not the other two was not something they'd understand. So I tapped out before that plea went up and I whined so much my uncle donated. He said, "It's from both of us." But there are something like 18 days left and MediaChannel's not even at the half-way mark. (It's linked to in the snapshot and on the side on Rebecca's links. I'm too tired to do links tonight. I'm going up to the top and stealing the credits from The Third Estate Sunday Review and adding Trina and Ruth to it. That's all I'm doing tonight. My arms ache and it was a long day before Flashpoints decided to show its ass tonight.) Wait, I'll copy from the snapshot:

In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of Mediachannel.org which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"

I don't read Rory so I don't know about him. That's not an insult to him. I'm not usually online that much. (I've been on for about an hour and a half writing this.) I know Danny from the links to him at The Common Ills and he really registered when the New York Times trashed his film WMD (Rebecca has the logo on her links) and C.I. took that review apart. (It was full of errors. Did the guy even see the film?) So I got to know his site and recommended it to friends and to everyone in my family. (And we've all watched WMD repeatedly. Great documentary.)

Danny's probably a Democrat. That would be my guess. But he's not afraid to call them out. He's going by the truth first and foremost. That's why he's an important voice and MediaChannel going under would be a loss. But where is independent media?

I meant to call Ruth today and Rebecca will probably show this to her tomorrow. So let me explain, I got the e-mail but with what happened tonight (the conference call, etc.), I didn't have time and Ruth's an hour ahead of my time. But a certain DC reporter will be mentioned in Ruth's upcoming report and let's note that Danny Schechter would never carry water for a convicted felon or speak of how "harsh" a sentence was. But a DC reporter, for independent media, would. For so-called independent media. Ruth titled her e-mail, "Can you believe this?"
Sometimes she sends funny photos, and since I got the new computer, funny videos. So I opened it expecting a laugh. Instead, I heard about a supposed reporter -- for the left -- fretting over the plight of poor Scooter Libby.

If that doesn't tell you how bad things are in independent media, I don't think anything will convince you. Ruth's report will go up Saturday at The Common Ills. The man obstructed a federal investigation and leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press thereby ensuring she would be outed as CIA. And an "independent" reporter wants to tell us how "harsh" Scooter's being treated? I think someone's spent too much time in the beltway and fancies herself a 'player' as opposed to a reporter.

Danny's a trained journalist and that comes across when I read him. I never lose sight of that, of his refusal to go along. He never forgets that a reporter's supposed to skeptical.

I'll shut up. I've gone on long enough and then some for one night.

Kat just called as I was about to copy the snapshot. I told her I'm stealing credits from The Third Estate Sunday Review to avoid links. She said good idea and also said Dona says to stress, "If you have an opinion, write any of us except C.I." The e-mails are already piled up in the members accounts, according to Ava and Jess, and C.I.'s on the road with Jim speaking on campuses. (And will be here tomorrow! So, write me -- thomasfriedmanisagreat@yahoo.com and I can pass it on directly tomorrow.) I asked Kat about Wally and Cedric? I know Wally gets really bummed sometimes. He's not a depressed person and not prone to moods but when he feels something is really wrong, he gets very quiet and just shuts down. If he or Cedric read this tonight, call me, I will pick up the phone. I'll also help out with your joint post if you need it.

Here's C.I.'s soon to be ripped off "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new Gabor sprouts in the Green Zone, Iraqi children seek employment, and more.

Starting with Iraq Veterans Against the War Adam Kokesh who was interviewed by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today and explained some issues that the press has misreported:

That is a very good question because a lot of the coverage has grossly simplified the issue and said that I wore my uniform to a protest, which isn't really accurate at all. What we were doing was conducting something called Operation First Casualty. And it's called that because it has long been said that the first casualty of war is the truth. So what we did was conduct a mock combat patrol through the streets of Washington, DC, in order to bring a small part of the truth of the occupation home to the American people and give them a small sense of what it's like to have squads of men in uniform, with rifles, although we were simulating them of course, running around the streets of their city. And we also had civilians playing affected peoples. They weren't playing Iraqis or pretending to speak Arabic or anything like that, but we treated them as we would treat Iraqi civilians on a daily basis. So it was more street theater than general protest, and I do not need to show up to a protest in a uniform to represent myself as a veteran. But for this particular demonstration we were simulating a combat patrol, and so that is what we did, that's why it was appropriate in that setting. Now, normally, as I did -- or as I am doing today, I should say, I wear this Marine Corps boonie cover, and that is how I choose to represent myself as a veteran.

Kokesh, along with Liam Madden and Cloy Richards, is being targeted by the US military for speaking out. Last week, a (kangaroo) hearing was held regarding his discharge from the Interactive Ready Reserves. Kokesh addressed the status there noting "you may recieve multiple discharges throughout your military career. But it's your last one that is revelant in terms of your benefits" which is why the US military is now attempting to override the honorable discharge he received from the marine corps in November with an other-than-honorable discharge. He also addressed how this issue effects more than just himself, Richards and Madden and the reception he's receiving:

Adam Kokesh: Well, actually it's been quite surprising to see a lot of people from my old unit contacting me and supporting me in my efforts in trying to get, to ensure that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is not applied beyond it's jurisdiction into the inactive reserve. They appreciate that, and I think a lot of people in the military appreciate what I am doing and why am trying to fight this case so hard. Even though the board recommended me for a general discharge last week, which wouldn't affect my benefits if it's approved, it does not do anything to establish a precedent and the next guy facing the same charges might receive an OTH or something worse potentially. And everyone in active duty is going to be in the IRR at some point, if they're not past their eight-year contract when they get out of the military, most are on four-year contracts, and they spend -- they stand to spend about four years in the inactive reserve. And, if it's not safe for these combat vets coming home to speak their minds, then it's not safe for anyone.

Evan Knappenberger also appeared on today's Democracy Now! and discussed his actions last Thursday in Washington state, "I decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed to do something to affect a positive change in all these kind of negative things going on. I figured the best way to do that would be to draw some attention to these policies that the military is using to fight this war without actually -- you know, a war without conscription, basically. So in the middle of the night I had this great idea, just as a symbol of something kind of similar to what Operation First Casualty is, you know, to bring the war to the American people, because there is a big disconnect between the civilian population and those of us who were in Iraq. We can see -- as veterans of Iraq -- we understand kind of the way that these policies get perpetrated, and the American people need to be made aware of that. So I had this great idea to bring that home and ended up on a tower for eight days."

Amy Goodman: Ended up what?

Evan Knappenberger: I ended up sitting up on this tower for eight days, wearing my uniform, kind of like I did in Iraq, when I was guarding these fields in Iraq.

Knappenberger also spoke of the study he did while serving in Iraq which "concluded that there were close to 3/4 of a million civilian deaths over the course of the Iraq war. Now I would guess it is probably upwards of a million."

Amy Goodman: Well that actually coincides with the two studies done most recent, a million, and before that The Lancet, the British medical journal published that study from Johns Hopkins University, saying around 655,000 soldiers -- rather, civilians, had died in Iraq.

Evan Knappenberger also spoke of suicide and noted he questions the official US military figure of 122 suicides by service members while serving in Iraq noting that his unit "had 45 combat casualties and 15 suicides" and explaining that these are suicides taking place in Iraq and that suicides of vets taking place in the US "are not counted . . . The army does not want to admit to taking any more losses than they possibly can." Yesterday, CNN reported on a study for the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health led by Dr. Mark S. Kaplan which found "The risk of suicide among male U.S. veterans is double that of the general population." This study did not include any veterans who have served in Afghanistan or the current illegal war in Iraq and, presumably, no women. Meanwhile, the Kavkaz Center noted a recent US army survey which "showed that 20% of soldiers and 15% of marines suffered from acute depression, anxiety or stress."

Meanwhile, Joel Bleifuss (In These Times) writes about the topic of war resistance, noting the brothers Kamunen -- Leo, Leif and Luke -- who self-checked out January 2nd of this year. Bliefuss is the editor of In These Times. For those needing a scorecard, two of the big three independent print magazines are weighing in -- The Progressive and now In These Times -- which leaves Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher of The Nation) as the only 'voice' of a magazine that elects to be silent on the issue of war resistance. Katrina vanden Heuvel, now more than ever, The Peace Resister. (And before anyone writes in on those Ehren Watada articles -- the 2006 ones were all "online exclusives" and Editor's Cut, her blog, can't be bothered with war resistance -- though there was time for American Idol.) Speaking of Ehren Watada, he remains the first US officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February he faced a kangaroo court in which Judge Toilet (John Head) declared a mistrial over the objections of the defense. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports that Charles H. Jacoby Jr. (Lt. Gen.) is now in charge of Fort Lewis and this means, "He inherits the court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused last year to go to Iraq with a Stryker Brigade, saying the war is illegal. Earlier this year, Watada's first trial ended in a mistrial. The start of the second trial July 23 was stayed by the Army Court of Appeals; pretrial motions are to be heard July 6."

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to Iraq. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspaper) noted of Monday's bombing over the Tigris River (Diyala province) that this was "at least the seventh attack on Iraqi bridges in the past two months," beginning "with the destruction of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad," that the May 11th bombing in Taji involved three car bombings focused on two bridges, that the June 2nd bombings "severely damaged a bridge that links a highway from Baghdad with the northern city of Kirkuk, forcing traffic headed to Baghdad to pass through Diyala province." To repeat, Diyala province is where yesterday's bombing took place. First, traffic is forced through Diyala and then the bridge in Diyala is attacked -- but the US military wants to pretend there's no pattern or planning going on here. CBS and AP note that, as a result of that bombing, "vehicles were being forced to detour to a road running through al Qaeda-controlled territory to reach important nearby cities." Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) observed, "The bridge linked towns on the eastern side of the bridge, which are Shiite, with those on the western side of to the bridge, which are Sunni Arab. . . . Bridges are crucial in central Iraq, where the broad Tigris and Euphrates rivers and their tributaries wind through the countryside. Each attack has hampered commerce and made daily life more difficult for Iraqis." But Lt. Col. Chris Garver declares, "Willie, my love, a new Gabor sister is in town."
Garver tells Rubin that "knocking down the bridge may or may not have significance, because we have other resources" blah blah blah. Translation, Zza Zza just joined big sister Ava to make for two Gabor sisters living it up in the Green Zone.

In the real world, CBS and AP report today: "Suspected Sunni insurgents bombed and badly damaged a span over the main north-south highway leading from Baghdad on Tuesday -- the third bridge attack in as many days in an apparent campaign against key transportation arteries. . . . About 60 percent of the bridge was damaged, and cars could still pass over it via one lane, police said."

As the infrastructure continues to crumble, the violence continues. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports on a typical April day in Baghdad when "a bomb ripped a jagged hole in the road near Abu Mohammed's small grocery store. Gunfire crackled along the street as U.S. soldiers responded to the attack. Someone pounded frantically on the grocer's locked door, pleading for help. Mohammed recognized the frightened voice as that of a local teenager and let him inside. The 17-year-old had been struck by a bullet in the chaos that followed the explosion and was bleeding heavily. Within two hours, the boy was dead. Witnesses charge he was killed by U.S. troops firing randomly." Yesterday, Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) noted that "the Iraqis killed by Americans don't become much of an issue in the realms of U.S. media and politics. News coverage provides the latest tallies of Iraqis who die from 'sectarian violence' and 'terrorist attacks,' but the reportage rarely discusses how the U.S. occupation has been an ascending catalyst for that carnage." (Solomon's writing of the uncovered/undercovered air war going on in Iraq and also suggesting that those attempting to end the war focus on all the fatalities because, historically, as elections approach, US presidents sometimes try for some sort of drop in on the ground figures in an effort to make it seem the war may ending when the air war is actually being increased. More on the topic of this technique used in the past, Vietnam, can be found in War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning us to Death -- a documentary adaptation of Solomon's book of the same title, narrated by Sean Penn, which will be shown in DC on the 20th of this month and which you can already order on DVD.)

In other news, IRIN reports that "thousands" of Iraqi children now live in the streets and 11% under the age of 14 are working due to the extreme poverty. IRIN takes a look at twelve-year-old Abdel-Salim who is the only male in his family after the illegal war counted his father as 'collatoral damage'. So the twelve-year-old boy works each day (12 hour days) "in the streets selling chocolates and pencils. I eat just one meal a day to save money, and when I return I just want to sleep." For the record, Baghdad's high today was 109 degrees fahrenheit with all week expected to be over 100 degrees.

IRIN's report comes as Colum Lynch and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) note a new United Nations report issued yesterday which found that "the recent U.S. military buildup in Baghdad" has not ended the violence and, quoting from the UN report, "civilian casualties continue to mount".

In news of some of today's civilian casualties.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing in the Al Waleed neighborhood that wounded 3 people, a Baghdad explosion in the downtown square that claimed the lives of 2 (2 more injured), a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 Iraqi (2 more injured), a Baghdad explosion that killed 1 Iraqi soldier (2 more wounded), a bombing outside of Baghdad that wounded two en route to the capital, a Baghdad bombing ("in Bab Al Muathim neighborhood downtown") that claimed 2 lives (6 more injured), two corpses in Baghdad exploded as police attempted to move them and 5 police officers injured in a Kirkuk bombing. Reuters notes a bombing near Ramadi that claimed the lives of 3 police officers (15 more wounded). CBS and AP report "gunmen stormed the house of the Sunni mayor of Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, forcing the family members outside, then blowing up the house, the police officials said."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi police officer wounded in a Baghdad shooting, "Gunmen exploded two houses of displaced families in Al Khalis town early morning today," a Khalis attack on a minu bus that left 2 Iraqis dead (2 more wounded), a Khalis shooting that left 2 Iraqis dead, a Bob Al Muathim attack where 3 police officers were shot dead and a Kirkuk attack in which a police officer was shot dead -- dropping back to yesterday, Laith Hammoudi also notes that an Iraqi civilian was killed by "British forces [who] opened fire targeting a taxi" in Baghdad. Reuters notes that today a police officer was shot dead in Hawija.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 26 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that a corpse was discovered in Tikrit.

In the US, Peter Speigel (Los Angeles Times) reports, the US army missed their target for recruitment last month "marking the first time in almost two years the service has fallen short and renewing questions about whether the war in Iraq is having a long-term effect on the well being of the Army." This announcement comes as the US Department of Defense "expressed hope today [Monday] that a provision in the stalled immigration bill that would have allowed some undocumented aliens to join the military won't fall off the radar screen."

In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of
Mediachannel.org which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at http://www.ybca.org/. In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilgersf@gmail.com." From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail info@socialismconference.org For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org. For more information, email info@socialismconference.org." The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.

norman solomon
matthew rothschild