ann coulter's homophobia and more

so much to write about. we're at a hotel. we left this morning. we hadn't planned to. but ruth's friend treva was coming through the area already and offered to do a mini-road trip with ruth down to texas. ruth loved the idea and treva was kind enough to invite flyboy and i along. we were going for a roomy car. (sorry, i care about the environment, but we were going to be in a big tank. i'm too worried about car accidents - that's due to being pregnant, i've never worried before.) so since she was offering and since she has an r.v. it seemed like a great idea. we told her we were planning to visit a few friends along the way and she said that was fine, not to worry about it. we're renting a car for the way back. (ruth and elijah may grab a plane or may drive back with us. treva's headed, from texas, off to georgia.)

our only rule was that since treva wouldn't let us pay towards gas, she let us pay for the hotel rooms. that's because she wouldn't need 1 if we weren't along for the ride. the rv's great and we could probably all sleep there but i'm a big whiny baby now that i'm pregnant and just want a huge bed. so we've driven for most of the day and stopped along the way to have a nice lunch, then a nice dinner and now we're all checked in.

i put in a plea to c.i., i'm on dial up (i've plugged the computer into the phone line - i was told i could have broadband if i wanted to use an office behind the check in counter but i really wanted to get comfy) and may be depending upon the hotel for the majority of the trip. so with the laptop and dial up combined, i've got a slower connection meaning anything that could be e-mailed would be great. i don't think i have the time/speed to surf. so c.i. said all i'd need to do was check my inbox. and with c.i. a promise made is a promise kept. (this connection is so slow that i may have more typos than usual the sentence you're reading isn't showing up because the cursor is moving so slow.)

if you click here, you can read media matters about how the conservative political action conference took place today (and aired on c-span). republican presidential hopeful mitt romney
referred to ann coulter as a 'moderate' voice and when it was her turn to speak, the 'moderate' voice called john edwards the f-word that rhymes with saget. (i don't use that word here.) so media matters questions are basically whether the mainstream media will cover what went down, will they call on republican presidential hopefuls to distance themselves from the remark and the laughter that greeted it and will they note that mitt romney sees ann coulter as a 'moderate'?

i asked for 4 things and c.i. sent 4. that was the 1 i really wanted to emphasize. i believe that when whoopi goldberg, a professional comedian, made a joke about bush, the media was all over it with 'oh my god! john kerry is okay with that?!?' so now that ann coulter, whose laughs provided are all unintentional, just called john edwards gay using a slur word, how is the media going to respond?

is it 'funny' because coulter said it? i don't think so. i think it's appalling. i think she's appalling. and why is she speaking anyway? isn't she supposed to be worrying about her illegal voting? did that get decided yet?

another thing c.i. sent me that i wanted to note was 'Thomas Friedman's immoral non-authority' -- betty's latest chapter. read it, it's wonderful and it just went up tonight.

1 thing was a progressive e-mail alert that some 1 passed on to c.i. i'll note this from it:

Here's a new way for you to show your leaders and your community that you support peace in Iraq.
Join Friends for Peace and add your personality to a statement from the country's pro-peace majority.
Create a sign that suits you and then add a photo of you with your sign to our photo petition for peace.
What will your sign say?

that's pretty cool, so check it out.

i won't note articles from the magazine because i've only read 1 and ... ruth conniff really needs to do some work before she writes. she says ahnuld is advocating for universal health care. let's hope she doesn't make that laughable claim on kpfa which had an in depth discussion this week on that topic and, no, ahnuld's not advocating universal health care.

what he, and other republican governors, are advocating is like states that have laws that require you to have liability if you drive a car. this isn't universal health care. this is making it illegal not have health care. some of the very poor will be helped, but as kpfa pointed out, for the upper lower class and middle class, you're talking about a really crappy insurance that the ahnuld's people are working on where you would pay over 100 a month (i think it was something like $300 a month) and still have to meet $5,000 in bills before your deductable would kick in.

and this is from codepink:

March 8, International Women's Day, is a day to acknowledge and honor women around the globe-our collective wisdom and strength. This year, we want to raise our voices in international chorus to stop the next war--a war with Iran--before it has a chance to start.
We ask women across the world to sign this message to the UN Security Council, urging them to oppose any military action against Iran:
We, the women in the international community, are concerned about a possible U.S. military attack on Iran. We have already seen the disastrous consequences of the US invasion of Iraq, especially for the women of that country, and we are determined to stop a similar fate from befalling the women of Iran.
As we celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, we call upon you, as countries with representation on the UN Security Council, to oppose any military action against Iran.
Click here to read the full text and add your name to the letter, and don't forget to let us know if you can join us in New York or DC. You can also print out a copy of the letter here and send it to the UN Security Council (140 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017).
Local CODEPINK groups in
New York and Washington DC will be delivering the letter en masse on March 8. For anyone participating in a March 8 event, please take copies of this letter with you and get women to sign up. Those outside the US can find the list of participating Security Council countries here; follow the link to your home country for contact information. We are thrilled to make this a truly international action.
If you desire a detailed analysis of how the Bush administration is paving the way for war in Iran,
Seymour Hersh's recent article is a must read. Let's use our collective energy and power on International Women's Day to stop this next war in its tracks.
Celebrating you every day,Dana, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Liz, Medea, Nancy, Patricia, Rae, Samantha, and Sonia

Activists around the country occupy Congressional offices to demand: Stop funding the War!In over 25 districts peace activists are making routine visits to their representatives' offices:
After being locked out this past week CODEPINK Chicago activists
demonstrated outside Senator Durbin's office, and four activists were arrested.
Five CODEPINK women got inside
Senator Hillary Clinton's fundraiser in San Francisco, and were arrested after unfurling banners reading "We Need a Peace President! Stop the War Fund!"
Check out a
video clip from Los Angeles CODEPINK 's occupation of Cong. Adam Schiff's office.
See a
video of activists in St. Louis reading the names of soldiers and Iraqis killed in the war during their occupation or Cong. Russ Carnahan's office.
Our message to Congress to stop funding the war is reaching the ears of staffers, the media, and our local communities.

so those are the 4 things c.i. e-mailed me (and i only planned to use 1 - also c.i. e-mails the snapshot out every day so that we can copy and paste it without having to worry about spacing).

when we stopped for lunch, i grabbed u.s.a. today thinking it might have something worth including as well. if it did, i couldn't find it. so i'll note this from the new york times' 'world briefing' in today's paper, page 'A7:'

The United States would refuse any demand to give up 26 Central Intelligence Operatives ordered to stand trial in Italy on charges of kidnapping a radical Egyptian cleric there in 2003. "We've not got an extradition request from Italy," John B. Bellinger III, the legal adviser of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told reporters in Brussels. "If we got an extradition request from Italy, we would not extradite U.S. officials to Italy." The case is contentious in Italy, reportedly part of the American program called "extraordinary rendention," in which terrorism suspects have been seized outside local laws and taken to third countries for interrogation. The cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, was recently released from prison in Egypt. He said that American agents took him to Egypt and that he was tortured there.
Ian Fisher

if i remember correctly, when ian fisher wrote earlier the 26 included some c.i.a. now they are all c.i.a.? i don't doubt it, i just wonder when that got confirmed? another thing to note is that if the c.i.a. kidnaps people and it's (of course) 'outside local laws,' that's called 'criminal.' ian needs to take a breath after controting himself to avoid stating the obvious.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, March 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the non-issue of rape (to follow the US coverage) turns out to be not such a non-issue (surprising only to big media); Walter Reed continues to be a problem for the Bully Bully (similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the incompetence of management); Amnesty International issues a statement about a US war resister; and the targeting of minorities in Iraq continues to be a minor story in the mainstream media (domestic).

Starting with war resisters,
Agustin Aguayo faces a court martial in Germany Tuesday, March 6th. Amenesty International has released a statement:

Amnesty International is closely monitoring the case of
Agustin Aguayo, a US army medic who is scheduled to face a US court-martial on 6 and 7 March in Wurzburg, Germany, for his refusal to deploy to Iraq.
In February 2004,
Agustin Aguayo applied for conscientious objector status. He says that he began developing doubts about war shortly after enlisting in the army and that he now feels that he cannot participate in any war based on his moral objections to hurting, killing or injuring another person. Whilst his application was being considered, Agustin Aguayo was order to deploy to Iraq where he received formal notification in July 2004 that his application had been turned down. The army's Conscientious Objector Review Board had found that he did not present clear and convincing evidence of his beliefs.
Agustin Aguayo served a year in Iraq where he says he refused to carry a loaded gun. He says that "I witnessed how soldiers dehumanize the Iraqi people with words and actions. I saw countless lives which were shortened due to the war. I still struggle with the senselessness of it all . . ."
Agustin Aguayo's unit was ordered to redeploy to Iraq in September 2006, he did not report to duty and went absent without leave (AWOL). He has been charged with desertion and missing movement and is currently held in pre-trial detention at a US military base in Mannheim, Germany. If convicted on both these charges he could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison.
Lawyers for
Agustin Aguayo filed a write of habeas corpus in US federal court in August 2005, asking for his honourable discharge from the army as a conscientious objector. This request was denied and a subsequent appeal turned down. The judge wrote that "Though Aguayo stated that his Army training caused him anguish and guilt, we find little indication that his beliefs were accompanied by study or contemplation, whether before or after he joined the Army."
Amnesty International is sending a delegate to observe the court-martial proceedings in Germany next week to learn further details about the case and assess whether
Agustin Aguayo would be a prisoner of conscience if convicted and imprisoned.

Speaking with Gillian Russom (Socialist Worker), Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, stated the following on war resisters: "They're important because they're taking a stand that all the Americans who are against the war can't really take. They're making it difficult for the Army to continue their mission. My husband's a paramedic, and medics are needed desperately in Iraq. I think that these soldiers who stand up and say, "I won't do it," are frustrating the plans of these particular units. It's important for the antiwar movement to adopt these soldiers and say that this guy has taken a remarkable step. We need to support him because he's doing what we would do if we were in his position."

Meanwhile, US war resister
Kyle Snyder was arrested last Friday at the request of the US military who have no jurisidiction in Canada. Snyder served in Iraq, then self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada. In October of 2006, he returned to the United States to and on October 31st, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again the same day (no, AP, he did not turn himself in during the month of November -- AP seems to have confused Snyder with Ivan Brobeck who turned himself in November 7, 2006 -- election day). Snyder was arrested the day before his planned wedding ceremony (the wedding has been rescheduled for this month). The British Columbia police, at the US military's request, at the residence he shares with Maleah Friesen (the woman he'll be marrying this month) and US war resister Ryan Johnson and Johnson's wife Jenna. As Sara Newman (Canada's Globe & Mail) reported, the police showed up at the door, asked for Kyle and when he came to the door in his boxer shorts and robe, they grabbed him and refused to let him either change into some clothes or bring any along with him. Snyder told Vancouver News: "I couldn't believe it could happen that way. The only thought that was going through my head was I thought Canada was a completely separate country, thought it was a sovereign nation. I didn't know they took orders from the United States." ForLawyers Against the War's statement click here. Snyder tells Newman: "Basically the next step is to keep doing what I'm doing, go on with my life. I'm planning on getting married to a very wonderful woman, and I am planning on trying to find the best way to move on with my life." Before he decided to return to the US, Kyle enjoyed working with disabled children.

Another US war resister in Canada is Joshua Key (as his wife Brandi and their children) and he's put his story down on paper in
The Deserter's Tale. Reviewing the book, Martin Rubin (Los Angeles Times) quotes Key: "I never thought I would lose my country, and I never dreamed that it would lose me. I was raised as a patriotic American, taught to respect my government and to believe in my president. Just a decade ago, I was playing high school football, living in a trailer with my mom and step dad, working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and hoping to raise a family one day in the only town I knew. . . . Back then, I would have laughed out loud if somebody had predicted that I would become a wanted criminal, live as a fugitive in my own country, and turn my wife and children into refugees as I fled with them across the border." Rubin observes, "One of the book's great pleasures is in seeing the author's personal development, the journey he has taken, turning away from violence and destruction to become more humane. 'One's first obligation, Key says, 'is to the moral truth buried deep inside our own souls.' He understands a soldier's obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg doctrine not to participate in atrocities. He has pad a stiff price for his desertion: exiled in Canada (where he may not be able to remain) and shunned by much of his family. Near the end of his tale, Key insists that he is 'neither a coward or a traitor.' He is believable, as he has been from the outset, and through his words and the actions he describes, he conveys hard-earned honesty and integrity. In this testament of his experience in military service in Iraq he is making a substantial contribution to history."

Aguayo, Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to Iraq,
Brian Murphy (AP) notes that Iraq's health ministry says 1,646 Iraqi civilians died in Iraq in the month of February while the AP count is 1,698 and the UN "and other groups often place the civilian death count far higher." (For good reason including the mainstream rarely notes deaths of Iraqis who do not fall into one of three groups: Shia, Sunni or Kurd.) On this week's CounterSpin, Peter Hart addressed last week's hula-hoop -- bad Americans don't care about the deaths of Iraqis as witnessed by a poll that found most estimated 9,000 Iraqis had died in the illegal war. Hart noted that people get information from their media so the finger pointing might need to point at the media. Equally true is the fact that attempts to count the number of Iraqis who have died are met with the right-wing screaming "Foul!", muddying the waters and the mainstream media playing dumb as though there's no way to sort out the truth. (Most recently, this was seen when The Lancet's study found that over 655,000 Iraqis had died. Instead of noting that the sampling method used was a standard method used by the US to estimate deaths, the media played dumb.) Without any sort of standard number used in the press (and note, AP runs their monthly toll but rarely notes a running total), it bears noting that the US military keeps a running tally.

Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) broke that story last summer. The US military refuses to release that number to the American people. Presumably, they utilize the numbers when evaluating how their 'mission' is performing. Since a democracy is built upon the foundation of the will of the people and since Congress is currently debating whether to do anything, the American people would benefit from knowing that number (an undercount to be sure and the US military only admits to keep a count since June of 2005).

The American people would also benefit from reality in the reporting. While rape has been a topic in foreign press and on the ground in Iraq, the US press (mainstream) has dropped the issue -- or thought they had. It pops back up today.
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that a claim by a group in Iraq that they had "kidnapped 18 interior Ministry employees in Dyiyala province in response to claims that Shiite-led security forces had raped a Sunni Arab woman" was followed by police discovering the corpses of 14 police officers in Baqubah. AFP quotes Uday al-Khadran ("mayor of Khalis, the slain officers' hometown in Diyala province") stating: "They were found in the streets of Baquba. Their throats had been cut and their hands were bound." Al Jazeera quotes their reporter Hoda Abdel Hamid: "Sabrin al-Janabi did come and say that she was raped by three Iraqi security forces. The government at first reacted by saying that it will conduct an investigation. . . . Hours later, the government came back and said the three men were cleared of that accusation, that Sabrin al-Janabi had come out with false accusations, and that the three men would each be given a medal of honour. That has caused a big uproar among the Sunni groups." AFP observes: "The alleged rape of Janabi -- who appeared in a video broadcast on Arab news networks to complain of being raped by interior ministry officers -- has triggered a bitter row at the highest levels of the Iraqi state."

If that sounds at all familiar, you probably heard
Dahr Jamail and Nora Barrows-Friedman discussing that on KPFA's Flashpoints Tuesday. Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) report today on Wassan Talib, Zaineb Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad -- "[t]hree young women accused of joining the Iraqi insurgency movement . . . [who] have been sentence to death, provoking protest from rights organisations fearing that this could be the start of more executions of women in post-Saddam Hussein's Iraq." The fairness of the trials are in question as is the women's guilt.

Fairness is nowhere to be found in the puppet government. Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" drives that home. While the mainstream continues to speak in terms of Shia and Sunni with the occasional Kurd tossed in, minority groups in Iraq are regularly targeted for violence, death, and theft. As the report notes: "The Armenian Church of Iraq said it was working with government officials to obtain the return of property that the former regime had forced it to sale. Although the church was paid fair market values for six properties in Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Dohuk, it was coerced. Church officials said discussions with the transitional government yielded no results in 2005." Let's hope they don't take a check for payment or they may find themselves in the same situation as the Mandaens in Baghdad whose property was taken by the post-invasion installed government and was given a check for 160 million dinar ($100,000 in US dollars) but, when they attempted to deposit the check, they "were told that the signature was not legitmate, and payment was refused." Let's also hope the Armenian Church also has some form of documents -- also not easy in the post-invasion. From the report: "According to Zaynab Murad of the Cultural Association of Faili Kurds, during the Anfal campaign Faili merchants and traders were summoned to an emergency meeting and told to bring all their documents. When they complied, they were arrested. Their documents were confiscated and they were sent to the Iraq/Iran border without their families. To reclaim property today, those documents must be presented. 'The question is -- who owns [sic] the documents that prove that they are true owners of the property?' he said."

Brian Murphy (AP) notes that "4 million Iraqis are displaced within the country or are refugees abroad, mostly Sunnis who fled to neighboring Syria or Jordan, international agencies estimate." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that, in Baghdad, "Maliki has taken a tough line, labeling as terrorists everyone living in homes that were taken by force and informing parliament they would be arrested." That, of course, doesn't apply to the minority groups whom al-Maliki has been more than fine with seeing stripped of property.

Reuters reports that Philippe Douste-Blazy (France's Foreign Minister) is sounding the alarm that Iraq could be partitioned at any point as the chaose continues and that he stated: "We think that the only solution, we have already said so, is to have a withdrawal by 2008 of the international forces which are in Iraq today and at the same time the restoration of the rule of law."

As Iraq crumbles further, the US Congress dithers and dallies.
AP reports: "House Democratic leaders have coalesced around legislation that would require troops to come home from Iraq within six months if that country's leaders failed to meet promises to help reduce violence there, party officials siad Thursday. The plan would retain a Democratic proposal prohibiting the deployment to Iraq of troops with insufficient rest or training or who already have served there for more than a year. Under the plan, such troops could only be sent to Iraq if President Bush waives those standards and reports to Congress each time. . . . The Senate, meanwhile could begin floor debate on Iraq as early as next week." Ned Parker (Times of London) notes that prior to "the US November midterm elections four out of five voters siad that if the Democrats won Congress US troop levels in Iraq would fall." Those four out of five aren't idiots, that's how it was sold by a number of outlets. It's just not what's happening currently.

Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessing spoke with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints and noted: "There is no military solution, there is no good outcome from the US military occupation continuing, it's only going to make more deaths. So we're at that moment where we're at that moment again where, I think, the majority of people at all levels of this country understand that there is no military solution and yet we have Congress not doing what it needs to do -- which is to cut the funds for continuing the war and bring the troops home. So we as military families and together with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War will continue to be building the movement. And I've said it before on this program and I'll say it again, we do understand that it's never been a politician that's ended a war it's always been a social movement and so our goal is to build our movement as strong as it needs to be to get Congress to do what it needs to do."

They have released an open letter to Congress (PDF format)

We are asking that, as leaders in Congress, you exercise leadership. Your voice is needed now more than ever. Tell the American people the truth about President Bush's funding request. President Bush is not asking for more funds for the troops. He is asking for more funds to continue a war that should never have happened, a war that is killing so many U.S. service members and leaving even more physically and psychologically damaged on a daily basis. This is a war that has killed untold numbers of Iraqis, is draining our national treasure and cultivating a growing hatred against our nation. Hope, a rare commodity for us these days, is even harder to find within the current morass of non-binding resolutions and rhetorical statements in Congress about preventing "surges" and changing strategies. Hope is hard to find when we see so many in Congress adopting the morally indefensible stand of opposing escalation of this war, while poised to support its continuation.It is not too late for you to do the right thing. We ask you to exercise your leadership, stand up and call for the de-funding of the Iraq War. Stand strong when you explain that de-funding the war is not de-funding or abandoning our troops. Let the American people know what we as military families and Veterans know -- that de-funding the war will not leave our trooops without equipment or supplies. Stand strong when you explain that there are sufficient funds available to bring our troop shome quickly and safely, and that if more funds are ever needed, Congress has the ability to re-program monies from the Department of Defense budget to use for this purpose. Stand strong and fight to bring our troops home.Stop telling us that you don't have the votes and work to secure them. That is what leaders do.Right now, it seems that you cannot see the political upside of doing what we and the majority of people in this country are calling on you to do. It is important that you understand the political downside of allowing this war to continue. If you provide further funding for the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush's war. You will be co-owners. You will share responsibility for the continued chaos and loss of life in Iraq. You will have lost the opportunity to provide leadership when it is sorely needed. You will have given license to more years of a failed policy and countless deaths.

John Walsh (CounterPunch) places blame both on elected Democrats and on "the 'mainstream' peace movement" which he argues should be demanding actions such as filibusters but instead plays 'nice': "Whenever a UFPJ group goes to 'lobby' the Congressmen or Senators, the unwritten rule (violated by the present writer on many occasions) is to 'make nice'. Do not risk weakening the 'relationships' with legislators and staff is the mantra. It is all carrot and no stick. And what are the results? No filibuster. Continued war. And from first hand experience, when one threatens the legislator with supporting another candidate in the coming election, a pained look comes over the UFPJ 'facilitator,' and one can rely on being tut-tutted into silence."

In Iraq today . . .


CNN notes 10 dead and 17 wounded from a car bombing "at a popular used-car lot in Baghdad's Sadr City" and a car bomb "near an Iraqi National Police patrol in the Saydiya neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad" that killed one police officer and left two more wounded. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that it was three police officers wounded in that bombing (with one dead). Robert H. Reid (AP) reports a roadside bomb "southeast of Baghdad" killed one Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a mortar attack in Iskandariya that either killed 4 and left 20 wounded (US military) or killed eight people (Iraqi police) that is provided "the reports were referring to the same incident."


BBC reports: "Two players from the Ramadi football club are shot dead by gunmen as they take part in a training session". Reuters notes that the two men were Mohammed Hamid (27-years-old) and Mahommed Mishaan (23-years-old).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad
Reuters reports 6 corpses were discovered in Balad.

CounterSpin today, Peter Hart interviewed Mark Benjamin about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal. Why now is it getting attention? (As opposed to 2004 when Diane Sawyer reported on the medical scandals in April 2004 -- not mentioned on the program.) Benjamin felt there was more interest/acceptance in something other than happy talk on both the part of the public and the press. Another reason it's getting more attention now is because Dana Priest and Anne Hull didn't file a one day story that they picked up on weeks later. It was a series of articles and Bob Woodruff's return to ABC News (Tuesday) with a hard hitting look at what he (he was injured while reporting in Iraq) went through and what service members go through helped focus attention. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Major General George Wieghtman was fired as the head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center yesterday. Today, Steve Holland (Reuters) reports Bully Boy is "[s]crambling to answer an outcry over shoddy health care for U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq" and has made the announcement that "a bipartisan commission" will be created "to review health care for military veterans." And Holland and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report that "U.S. Army Secretary Francis Harvey has resigned after reports that troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were being poorly treated at the Army's top hospital". CBS and AP note that Harvey has been in charge "since November 2004."

iraqagustin aguayo
kyle snyder
nora barrows friedmanflashpointsdahr jamail
dennis bernstein
nancy lessing


flashpoints, iraq, h.v.p.

i'm starting with KPFA's Flashpoints which was packed with so much tonight. nora barrows-friedman interviewed a woman in the occupied territories. about 1/3 of the way in, bombs started falling. and that's really life when you're occupied, there's never any safety. having watched (and aided) the israeli government all these years, it shows how stupid we are as a country (the united states) that we refused to see what iraq would turn into and how non 'winnable' it was. dennis bernstein also addressed iran with a man whose name i forget. but he's been to iran and there are green berets there already (yes, u.s. green berets). the belief is that before bully boy's out of office, the u.s. will be at war with iran. robert knight examined the oil law which may be falling apart before congress votes on it. (that would be a blessing.) oh, i didn't take notes and i just remembered this, nancy lessing from Military Families Speak Out was on discussing how the democrats refuse to lead on iraq and seem perfectly willing to ignore the mandate americans gave them when they put them back in control of congress.
so that was it tonight.

on iraq, ned lamont (who won the conn. primary to get the democratic slot in the general race for u.s. senator which he lost to lieberman) has weighed in with 'The Real Choice on Iraq' (common dreams):

Dear Senator Lieberman,
Fifteen months ago, in an
op-ed in the Wall Street Journal praising the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, you asked the rhetorical question, "does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq?"
"Yes," we did, you answered.
Since the day you wrote those words, over
1,000 more American troops have lost their lives in Iraq and that country is more dangerous than ever.
Senator, you had it exactly wrong then, and this week, in another Wall Street Journal
op-ed entitled "The Choice on Iraq," you have managed to get it exactly wrong yet again.
"As the battle for Baghdad just gets underway," you write in this week's piece, congressional opponents of the escalation "have already made up their minds about America's cause in Iraq."
On the contrary, Senator, it was you and President Bush who had already made up your minds before the war started, using cherry-picked intelligence to sell the war to the American people. And if the battle for Baghdad is "just getting underway," how do we explain the escalating violence over the last four years?
You claim that "a precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake."
Actually, Senator, it was the precipitous invasion that you supported, along with its disastrous aftermath, which left the security vacuum that exists today - a vacuum which the terrorists, insurgents, and militias have all rushed to fill.

in the new york times today, page a21, former u.s. senator lincoln d. chafee (he lost his seat in the november 2006 elections) has a column called 'the senate's forgotten iraq choice' where he points out that those in the senate in 2002 who are now running for president didn't just have 2 choices. it wasn't just you will vote for or against the 'authorization,' you could vote for carl levin's proposal 'multilateral use of force authorization act of 2002' which stated the bully boy would get approval from the united nations 'before force could be authorized.' chafee concludes:

the senate had the opportunity to support a more deliberate, multilateral approach, one that still would have empowered the united states to respond to any imminent threat posed by saddam hussein. we must not sidestep the fact that a sensible alternative did exist, but it was rejected. candidates - democrat and republican - should be called to account for their vote on the levin amendment.

that should probably be 'democratic and republican' but chafee's a republican so what do you expect?

this is about h.v.p. and it's from feminist wire daily news, 'One-Third of American Women Infected with HPV:'

The Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that over one-third of American women are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) by the age of 24. The latest research finds that HPV affects about 7.5 million women nationwide. This is about two-thirds higher than previous estimates. The American Council on Science and Health estimates that "nearly 50 percent of American women can expect to be infected at some point in their lives," according to Salon. While the majority of HPV strains are benign, some strains can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. About 2.2 percent of infected women have a strain that is high-risk for cervical cancer, the recent research finds.

do you know what h.v.p. is? i honestly didn't. this is from the health science report:

A hvp disease can be characterized by a genital wart, dysplasitc cells on the cervix or just be asymptomatic. In other cases, they eventually may develop a fleshy, small raised growth that looks like cauliflower and can cause much discomfort. Genital warts can disappear without any special treatment. Genital warts are extremely contagious and are spread during oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected partner. A hvp disease can be characterized by a genital wart, dysplasitc cells on the cervix or just be asymptomatic.

and this is from the cdc:

Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.
Some of these viruses are called "high-risk" types, and may cause abnormal Pap tests. They may also lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Others are called "low-risk" types, and they may cause mild Pap test abnormalities or genital warts. Genital warts are single or multiple growths or bumps that appear in the genital area, and sometimes are cauliflower shaped.
Approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV infection. About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.

so that's your p.s.a. for today. hopefully, you were already aware of what h.p.v. was but i honestly wasn't. now let's turn to stupidity. i'm no fan of john mccain's. i don't like the man. i really, in fact, detest him. he apologized today for a word choice he used on tv. this is from the irish times:

On Wednesday night, Mr McCain said on CBS's Late Show With David Letterman: "Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."
Mr McCain, a staunch backer of the war but a critic of how Mr Bush has waged it, made the "wasted" remark after confirming to Letterman that he's in the running for the 2008 Republican nomination.
"I am announcing that I will be a candidate for president of the United States," he said -- and added that he would officially enter the race with a formal speech to that effect in April, after a visit to Iraq.
Hours after the taped appearance aired, the Democratic National Committee called on Mr McCain to take back the "wasted" lives remark.
"Senator McCain should apologise immediately for his callous comments," said Karen Finney, a DNC spokesperson. "How is it that John McCain now believes American lives are being wasted, yet he so stubbornly supports the president's plan to escalate the war in Iraq and put more American lives in harms way?"

mccain shouldn't have apologized. and this is the sort of thing that pisses people off at parties - the democrats were more interested in 'scoring points' than in having a conversation about the war.

reality is those lives are wasted. they had promise, they had dreams. then they died in iraq for bully boy's illegal war. the united states should never have started this war. the lives were wasted in iraq.

john mccain shouldn't have apologized. but there were the democrats braying and wanting to make political hay instead of wanting to address the realities of the war.
again, i don't care for john mccain. i think he should have made the point stronger (and i know he and i do not agree on the war nor would he agree with my interp) but we won't get an honest discussion on the war when each side screams: 'you used the wrong word! you better apologize!' obama - who i am also no fan of - shouldn't have apologized either. he backed down, like a wuss, and now the d.n.c. seems to think the thing to do is start screaming at every 1 who uses the term 'wasted.'

too bad because the bully boy wasted the lives of every american sent to iraq. the war is illegal. those who died could be here now, living their lives. being with their families and friends, and they're not and that is a waste and that's also very sad. it's a waste that parents will never see their children, that children will never again see their parents, that friends, brothers, sisters, cousing will never see their loved 1 who died in iraq because the bully boy lied a nation into war.

here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

March 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, Sara Rich continues fighting for her daughter, the US military is obsessed with Kyle Snyder, and Walter Reed Medical Center was such a disaster that Joyce Rumsfeld was raising flags (wife of Donald Rumsfeld).

NPR's Morning Edition today, it was noted that month of February started as ended -- with bombings of Iraqi markets. AFP notes the (undercount) by the Iraqi ministries of February deaths -- 1,646 -- and notes that the hard-sell is "down eight percent" from January but the reality is "[t]he figure is still vastly higher, however, than the 548 people killed in February 2006". The month was also marked by rapes. Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examine the reaction (or Nouri al-Maliki's non-reaction) to the gang rape of Sabrine al-Janabi, the 20 year-old woman who came forward last week, as well as the 50-year-old woman that followed her -- both women were gang-raped by Iraqi security forces and Ahmed Mukhtar tells IPS, "The Iraqi police are following the examples of those who trained them. American soldiers did it more than a thousand times and got away with it. They sentenced that soldier who killed Abeer after rpaing her with a hundred years imprisonment, but we Iraqis are not fools, and we know he will be on parole sooner than he hopes." Dahr spoke with Nora Barrows-Friedman about this topic on KPFA's Flashpoints Tuesday and noted that the rapes are receiving more media attention in the Arab world than in the US media. If the goal is to uninform the American public, corporate media take your bow.

Turning to the topic of war resisters,
Jessica Hegdahl (UCD Advocate) references MLK ("War is a poor chisel for carving out a peaceful future.") and sees the continuation of peace in Ehren Watada: "There's a radical solution to the problem of Iraq. It lies in the simple observation that 'to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.' These words were spoken by Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to resist deployment to Iraq, facing up to four years in jail. Every soldier, commissioned or enlisted, who opposes the war in Iraq must eventually decide between his conscience and his orders. When your country is ordering you to complete an illegal and immoral act, are you not obliged to refuse? It would be far better for the members of our military to refuse to deploy, face imprisonment or other punishment, than to obey their contracts with the United States military, which allow for the killing of innocent Iraqis."

Ehren Watada, in June of last year, became the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. A three-day court-martial took place at the start of this month but Judge Toilet called a mistrial over the objections of the defense and, last Friday, the military refiled charges against him. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the pretrial motions are currently set for May 20th with the court-martial scheduled "for July 16-20." Justin Ward (Austin Chronicle) weighs in on war resister Mark Wilkerson who was court-martialed and sentenced last Thursday (to seven months in prison) and notes that Ann Wright ("a former Army colonel and State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq war") spoke to a gathering of Wilkerson supporters the Wednesday before his court-martial: "They are the ones that are willing to put their bodies on the line -- not on the line for murdering or criminal activity but on the line for conscience and morality and to hold accountable an administration that is putting our nation at risk."

Watada and Wilkerson are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo (who will be court-martialed in Germany, Tuesday, March 6th), Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

GlobalResearch.ca reports that "U.S. war resister Kyle Snyder was arrested in British Columbia for unspecified immigration violations. Police in Nelson, BC barged into Snyder's home, handcuffed him, and hauled him off to jail. The police had no warrant. Snyder, who was wearing only a robe and boxer shorts at the time, was not allowed to put on clothes or shoes. He was not read his rights or allowed to call his lawyer. Nelson police told him he would be deported to the U.S., where he is wanted for unahtorized absence from the U.S. Army." Snyder is sharing a house with US war resister Ryan Johnson and his wife Jenna who immediately began making calls. The article notes: "Joci Peri, an Immigration official in Vancouver, later told Snyder he had been arrested at the request of the U.S. Army. Being AWOL from another country's military is not an extraditable offense in Canada, nor does it have any bearing on immigration to Canada, according to Vancouver lawyer Daniel McLeod, who is representing Snyder. 'And the U.S. Army is not the boss of the Canadian police,' says Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven."

Now let's be really clear, the US military has thought from day one they could screw with Snyder. They thought that when returned to the US in October of last year and turned himself in only to find the military throw out the agreement the second his previous lawyer left the base. When Snyder was still in the US and traveling around speaking out against the war, the military began alerting the police to his appearances in the hopes that they would arrest him. (Which really isn't the way it works in the US. When a service member self-checks out, he or she is more likely to be arrested while being stopped on a traffic violation than via some 'manhunt.') Kyle finished his speaking tour and he returned to Candada. Now the US military is targeting him still. As shameful as it is that the police of British Columbia were willing to break the law and follow orders from another nation's military, it's just as shameful that the US military appeared to think they could illegally extract someone from a country.

Turning to activism in the US, today Kris Welch, on
KPFA's Living Room, noted the Democrats inaction on the illegal war still and asked, "You are the bloody party in power now, what are you going to do?" Welch's guests included Robin Schirmer of CODEPINK's Chicago branch and they discussed US Senator Dick Durbin's way of avoiding constituents
who are against the war -- he's set up a new policy where you can only visit his offices if you have an appointment and, snarkier yet, the office then severely limits the number of appointments each day. Durbin is among the Senators with the "honor" of being able to brag that his offices have arrested constituents this month -- Senators Barack Obama and John McCain can also grab "bragging rights" to that.

Kathy Kelly also spoke with Welch about the
Occupation Project which was launched on February 5th to get elected members of Congress to pledge not to vote for futher funding for the illegal war. Kelly noted that there was no need for an ammendment to the supplemental Bully Boy wants, just don't vote for the supplemental. She also suggested people begin asking their Congress members, "How many constituents are calling you asking you to prolong the war?" Exactly. And it comes as CBS and AP report: "Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives are developing an anti-war proposal that would not cut off money for U.S. troops in Iraq but would require President George Bush to acknowledge problems with an overburdened military. The plan could draw bipartisan support but is expected to be a tough sell to members who say they do not think it goes far enough to assuage voters angered by the four-year conflict." Or, for that matter, do a damn thing.

In Iraq today.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angels Times) reports on the helicopter crash (following the military's lead, everyone's calling it a "hard landing") and notes: "At least eight other helicopters have crashed or been forced down by ground fire this year, raising concern that insurgents are targeting U.S. aircraft in a new front to undermine stepped-up security efforts. The U.S. military has increasingly relied on helicopters to ferry troops and supplies to avoid the deadly roadside bombs that have been the major killer of its troops."


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bomb in Baghdad injured two police officers, another bomb in Baghdad killed "[o]ne employee of Baghdad's provincial council was killed and 4 others were injured," while, in Diyala, a child was injured in a mortar attack.
Reuters reports a car bombing in Falljua that killed five people (en route to a wedding) and left 10 more wounded, a roadside bomb in Mahaweel that wounded 9 people and killed 1 person, a roadside bomb in Mosul killed a security guard. AFP notes a bombing "in a cemetery in Iskandariyah" that killed three people.


Dalia Hassan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes, for yesterday, that 10 corpses were found in Baghdad and 6 in Mosul.

Today, the
US military announces: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killedFeb. 28 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Aaron Glantz noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today that this brought the AP count to 79 US service members killed while serving in Iraq in the month of February and 3,163 US service members killed while serving in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. BuzzFlash recently noted the death toll on US service members include women as well as people older than usually pictured when thinking of a "soldier," parents who leave behind children: "Such figures are not officially tracked, but we were able to identify that nearly 900 children had lost a parent in Iraq by December 2004 and 1,508 by March 2005. Extrapolated to the current casualty total, the figure today is probably somewhere around 2,200 children. That's already more than a tenth of the 20,000 who lost their fathers in Vietnam, and the number of children left behind per death is more than twice as high."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "the Washington Post reports today top officials at Walter Reed have heard patient complaints about poor treatment for more than three years. The officials include Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the former head of Walter Reed and the current army surgeon general. The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to hold hearings on the conditions at Walter Reed next week." Dana Priest and Anne Hull (Washington Post) note Steve Robinson ("director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America) who reveals that he complained to Kiley that only were patients not getting treatment, in some case, "the hospital didn't even know they were there" in the hospital. The reporters also note that Kiley, who has maintained shock and surprise at the revelations about Building 18, "lives across the street from Building 18." The reporters also reveal that a friend brought Joyce Rumsfeld to Walter Reed last fall and her response was to wonder if her husband, Donald Rumsfeld, was being matched with soldiers who wer "handpicked to paint a rosy picture of their time there" and Walter Reed's response to Joyce Rumsfeld's visit was to ban the friend -- a long term volunteer at Walter Reed -- from the hospital.

Dropping back to
yesterday's snapshot:

As noted by Aaron Glants today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) is reporting that Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit patients are being "told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media" in what is widely seen as a punishment for the recent Washington Post expose on the deplorable conditions at what is supposed to be the United States top facility for military medical care.

There are three things listed by Kennedy above. "Not speak to the media" is one aspect of the retaliation but will outlets address the fact that wounded service members are being made to report for daily inspections? As
Elaine pointed out, the big story isn't the media -- the story is that wounded service members, hospitalized to receive care, are having to report for daily inspection -- sometimes the media gets so obsessed with their own role and responsibilities that they lose sight of other factors and, to be clear, the daily inspections are effecting wounded service members right now. (Priest and Hull note it this way: "This week, in a move that some soldiers viewed as reprisal for speaking to the media, the wounded troops were told that early-morning room inspections would be held and that further contact with reporters is prohibited." Most are completely ignoring the inspections aspects and focusing only on the press ban.) Reuters notes that Major General George Weightman ("head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center") has been "removed from his post" as of today.

Military Families Speak Out's Stacy Bannerman writes (at The Progressive) about her husband's return from Iraq: "Finally, the phone rang with the news that my husband was coming home, after nearly a year in Iraq. They didn't tell me he'd bring the war with him. He'd been back for almost two months, but he was still checking to see where his weapon was every time he got in a vehicle. He drove aggressively, talked aggressively, and sometimes I could swear that he was breathing aggressively. This was not the man I married, this hard-eyed, hyper-vigilant stranger who spent nights watching the dozens of DVDs that he got from soldiers he served with in Iraq. He couldn't sleep, and missed the adrenaline surge of constant, imminent danger. The amateur videos of combat eased the ache of withdrawal from war, but did nothing to heal my soldier's heart. At a conference on post-deployment care and services for soldiers and their families, a Marine Corps chaplain asked, 'How do you know if you're an SOB? Your wife will tell you!' Har-de-har-har-har. The remark got the predictable round of applause from the capacity crowd, which, with one exception, wasn't living with anyone who had recently returned from Iraq. I was that exception, and it infuriated me that this was a joke. The Pentagon's solution for the constant stress endured by those of us who felt bewildered and betrayed was: 'Learn how to laugh.' With help from the Pentagon's chief laugh instructor, families of National Guard members were learning to walk like a penguin, laugh like a lion, and blurt 'ha, ha, hee, hee, and ho, ho'." And eight months after his return from Iraq, her husband is told he has PTSD based on . . . a medical exam from eight months prior (when he returned to the US) and that the military's medical arm did nothing to follow up on or provide medical care for.

Staying on the topic of PTSD, on
KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Emily Howard asked Sara Rich about her daughter Suzanne Swift's PTSD. Rich: "Well she isn't recovery and she won't be in recovery until she's free from the military because they're the ones that allowed this abuse to happen her. Suzanne has post-traumatic stress in many different ways and areas of her life and it's very different in the way it manifests in every individual that I know has PTSD. The mood swings, high, low, screaming at cars one minute and laughing hysterically the next. Lots of different things are different in Suzanne from when she went to Iraq. . . . I know she is not going to be able to relax and heal any of this until she is out of the military."

Suzanne Swift. was sexually assaulted while serving in Iraq. She attempted to go through channels, she attempted to handle it the way the military wants things handled. This didn't stop it, this didn't end it. So, like any sane person who's being assaulted, she got the hell out of that situation by self-checking out in January 2006. When the military arrested her last year, there were big (empty) promises about a full investigation which was a whopping two days of investigating. They did have time to court-martial her, send her to prison for 30 days and refuse to discharge her (just as they refused to conduct a real investigation).

Howard: What is it like for her to be on a military base, away from her family. and having to deal with this?

Rich: Oh, it's horrible. It's horrible. I know that taking her away from her whole support system has been, has been just horrible for us and horrible for her. She's cried a couple of times when she's come home. We, of course, miss her terribly. And so . . I always, you know what I always say? 'Thank God she's not back in Iraq.' You know we've handled Iraq, we've handled prison, we can handle this.

Rich, Ann Wright and
Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for Congressional hearings on military sexual violence. Rich: "The sad thing is Suzanne is a very strong person and I really thought these guys were going to take care of her and I thought she'd be okay and able to fend off this stuff when I heard these statistics. You know 5 out of 6 women in the military are sexually harassed or abused and I thought, 'No, my kid'll be okay.' " [Rebecca addressed Howard's interview with Rich here and click here for the day prior when I noted Rebecca had covered Darh's report but failed to include the link.]


sara rich, suzanne swift, jane fonda

okay, this is from fair's responded to readers who were critical of the Times' coverage of claims that Iran was shipping explosives to Iraqi insurgents. FAIR encouraged activists to write to Calame in a February 16 action alert. The following letter is FAIR's reply.
Dear Byron Calame,
I was surprised to read your February 25 defense of the Times' reporting on the allegations that Iran has been supplying explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents. While your column praises the paper for "healthy levels of skepticism and editing vigilance," the most important piece under examination--Michael Gordon's February 10 article--displayed neither.
As FAIR noted in our action alert (2/16/07), Gordon's article relied almost exclusively on unnamed officials to charge the Iranian government with coordinating these weapons shipments. You found this acceptable because Gordon "described an admirable search for those likely to have differing views," apparently a reference to Gordon's claim that he interviewed "civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies." Diverse sourcing should mean more than merely talking to several different government agencies. You also wrote on the issue of sourcing, "I do wish, however, that the article had found a way to comply with the paper's policy of explaining why sources are allowed to remain unnamed." As FAIR argued, Gordon seemed to have clearly fallen short of the Times' policy to explain the motivation behind sources who remain anonymous, as well as the policy that prevents a source from using anonymity "to convey tainted information or special pleading. If the impetus for anonymity has originated with the source, further reporting is essential to satisfy the reporter and the reader that the paper has sought the whole story."
If Gordon's article had explored why his sources sought anonymity, he could have noted that anonymous sources can safely make assertions that might damage their credibility if made with their names attached. This would seem to be a factor in this instance; as FAIR pointed out, articles that followed Gordon's piece (in the Times and elsewhere) reported that the allegations of official Iranian involvement were not backed up by solid evidence. But you tried to argue that the paper showed sound judgment throughout, writing that Gordon's piece "contained a clear-cut qualification," which amounted to one line stating that U.S. officials making the anonymous charges against Iran "acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete."

i wanted to start with that before i did anything else. KPFA's Flashpoints tonight seemed like it should have been a great show. i don't know. i can tell you emily howard had a great interview (and robert knight was his usual wonderful self) but i had the worst time with streaming tonight.
sara rich was on speaking about her daughter Suzanne Swift. this was the best coverage of suzanne's case i've heard. i had to call c.i. because i didn't know emily howard's name (my bad). c.i. pointed out that emily howard also did the great interview with norman solomon and the reporter. (i'm not mentioning her name. per c.i. we saw a thing a week or 2 back that really spoke to the problems with the reporter. c.i. asked if we would all consider just backing off. so we are doing that. but i'm not going to name the reporter if i'm not going to criticize her.)

sara rich is really doing something amazing. she's going around and speaking to groups (and you can visit Suzanne Swift's site to request that she speak to your group). i don't really know what to say here that hasn't been said already (and usually by c.i.) but suzanne needs to be honorably discharged. sara made the point that her daughter has p.t.s.d. and is being put into the same environment where she was sexually assaulted. that is flat out wrong and shame on any woman who won't speak out against the abuse (that's what it is) the military is now putting suzanne through.

the military didn't protect her. and sara made the brilliant point about these were the people who were supposed to protect, her superiors, and instead they sexually assaulted her. there is no excuse for suzanne to be kept in the military. she needs to be released, with an honorable discharge and full benefits.

she talked about how she knew some of the statistics of the sexual abuse of women before her daughter joined but she didn't worry because suzanne was so strong. the point here that sara was making is it doesn't matter. strong or weak, you can be put in this position.

suzanne was and the only 1 who helped suzanne was suzanne. (her mother heard about the abuse over the phone and i'm sure that did help suzanne but i'm talking about in terms of stopping the abuse.) the military betrayed her and instead of making good on the horrible failure (their criminal failure), they throw her in jail for 30 days (for her self-check out of the military) and then force her back into the service.

suzanne checked herself out. and as c.i. has pointed out, what woman in that situation wouldn't? you've tried to go through channels, you tried to get help, no 1 is helping you, so you are going to help yourself. her check out, or a.w.o.l., was perfectly understandable, an honest response.

i mean, just put yourself in her position, you're being assaulted and abused and no 1 is helping you, are you going to grab a chance to get the hell out? of course you are.

suzanne needs to be discharged and not a few months from now. the military failed her and congress failed her.

c.i.'s always pointed out that it was a mistake to present suzanne as a war resister because that's such a charged issue (look at how the majority of our independent magazines avoid covering war resisters). the issue was the sexual assualts and abuse and when it's presented that way, sara and emily presented it that way, it really drives the point home.

i think even some right wingers would relate if they heard the interview. or at least feel some sympathy for a woman who tried everything she was supposed to, went through the channels she was supposed to, and she was betrayed and she was ignored. that's not how it's supposed to work.

it's hard to write about this because i've heard c.i.'s points and agreed with them and now i feel like i'm just repeating them. but it is so true, she is a victim of sexual assault and the military has placed her back in a situation where it could happen again. whether it does or not, she is suffering from p.t.s.d. and there's no way that this isn't traumatic for her.

women should be outraged by this. congress should be demanding action. but it's not happening. i don't know why. maybe because of the war resister angle.

sara said that 1 of the few things to come out of this, good, is the speaking because women always come up to her after and thank her and say 'it happened to me too.' so it is raising awareness. i wonder what it would take to raise enough awareness to get suzanne the honorable discharged she deserves and is owed?

if you're not able to listen online, i would suggest you visit Suzanne Swift and that you read "Women and the military" (third estate sunday review) (credit to ava and c.i. who did all the research on that and had much more than we could use when we wrote it).

after emily and sara, the stream kept going in and out and i gave up on it. but mike called and he had downloaded the jane fonda interview c.i. mentions in the snapshot today ["In addition, (audio link) DJ Dave Rabbitt interviews Jane Fonda here."] and wanted to know if i wanted him to leave his cell phone next to the speakers so i could hear it. did i?

fly boy and i put it on speaker and we love the interview. it's a wide ranging interview on so many topics. if you're a fan of jane's activism, it's covered. if you're a fan of her movie, it's covered. if you're interested in any area of her life, it seems like it was covered. this was a really incredible interview.

at the beginning, she talked about how she became active during the vietnam era. jane:
'i was living in france for 8 years . . . along about 67 68 a number of service members were resisting the war found their way to paris.' she talked about dick perrin and how he and his friends were back from vietnam and discussing the realities. she praised a book by jonathan schell (of the nation now) a battle in the iron triangle. of course, these days jonathan schell doesn't write about iraq. but the book then 'rocked' fonda to her core. it's a real shame, if you want my 10 cents, that schell has been a.w.o.l. on the issue of the iraq war and war resisters. (while supposedly being the peace columnist/correspondent for the nation.)

now after that, i put down the pen and paper and just enjoyed the interview. mike said it was 43 minutes (30 minutes for the interview, opening and ending add up to the other 43) but it zipped along so quickly that it felt like i was over in 10.

okay, here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot' for today and is there a reason that no 1 is noting the study that c.i.'s now covered for the second day? think about that as you read:

Wednesday, February 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; wounded US service members get targeted by the US administartion; Dems in Congress play "hot potato" with the war (and don't seem to grasp that they'll end up holding it); and US war resister Joshua Key declares, "Iraq is a country and it's going to have to make its own path in history and its own way in life. No other country can do that and you definitely can't do that by means of a gun or a tank. But they have to make their own course and do whatever's necessary for themselves. I think that no outsiders are going to help it or solve the problem."

Starting with news of petty retaliation which, after all, is the Bully Boy's M.O. as demonstrated for the last seven years (if not sooner.) As noted by Aaron Glants today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) is reporting that Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit patients are being "told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media" in what is widely seen as a punishment for the recent Washington Post expose on the deplorable conditions at what is supposed to be the United States top facility for military medical care. In addition, Kennedy reports, the soldiers receiving medical care were informed that will move from Building 18 into Building 14 and, just happenstance -- surely, unlike Building 18, Building 14 requires that "reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel."

In a
series of articles that concluded last week, Dana Priest and Anne Hull (Washington Post) examined the realities behind the image of the 'premier medical center' -- focusing largely on Building 18, and revealed problems such as cockroach infestation, lack of heat, lack of water, mice and black mold, clerks that were overworked or didn't care. The answer for the US administration when confronted with reality is apparently the same answer they always reach for "DESTROY." Joe Wilson goes public about Niger, out Valerie Plame (his deep cover CIA wife). Soldiers talk to the press about the deplorable conditions that the administration is fine with them living in? Punish the soldiers.

The Bully Boy who loves strut around in uniforms (with or without codpieces) is far less willing to do anything to actually help the soldiers wounded in his illegal war and the administration's answer to the Walter Reed scandal is to punish the troops with daily inspections and other idiotic chores WHILE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RECEIVING MEDICAL CARE FOR THEIR WOUNDS.

Turning to news of war resisters,
Tina Chau (Hawaii's KMGB9) reports that Ehren Watada's court-martil has been set for July 16-20 and that the "pre-trial motions are to be heard on May 20 and 21." In June, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August of last year, the military held an Article 32 hearing at Fort Lewis to determine whether or not to go forward with a court-martial. At the start of this month, the court-martial of Watada began and ran for three days -- on the third day, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) ruled a mistrial over the objections of the defense (and initially without even the prosecution in support of a mistrial). Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, has maintained that the double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution now applies and that he will appeal any attempts to court-martial on that basis.

Lehia Apana (The Maui News) reports that Ehren Watada's father Bob and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi were at the Maui Community College Library on Monday where Bob spoke to "an energetic crowd" of at least 75 people about his son and how "he believes the judge realized his son had a chance of being acquitted of the charges and therefore forced the prosecution to request a mistrial."

Last Friday the military re-filed charges against Watada, the day prior, as
Conor Reed and Steve Leigh (Socialist Worker) observe was Mark Wilkerson's court-martial and that he issued a statement, "My Conscience is Clear," at his website:

I am now a twenty three year old man. When I made the decision to join the Army, I was a boy. When I made the decision to go AWOL I was still in many ways a boy.I realize in retrospect that going AWOL may not have been the right decision for me to make, but given the circumstances I found myself in at that time, I felt it was the only logical decision for me. I felt as though I wasn't being taken seriously by my chain-of-command. I was crushed when my conscientious objector application was denied. I had failed somehow in conveying in words just what I felt in my head and heart, and that was that I could not, in good conscience, serve as a soldier in the United States Army. I could not deploy to a foreign land with a weapon in my hand, representing my government. I am not willing to kill, or be killed for my government. When I enlisted in the Army, I thought I would be able to, but after Iraq, my beliefs became such that I could no longer participate.This was what I told my chain-of-command. I felt they didn't care what I said or believed. So I fled. I quit my job. No other occupation in the United States punishes you as badly as what the military does for quitting your job. But that's ok. I'm willing to face whatever punishment the government deems appropriate.In my Battalion's Retention Office, there is a quote by Retired Army General Bernard Rogers, and it states "This is a volunteer force. Soldiers volunteer to meet our standards. If they don't meet them, we should thank them for trying and send them home." Well, I enlisted into the Army with the best intentions. I had other options. But I wanted to serve my country. And when I felt my country was doing the very thing we pretend to condone, I took a stand. And to me that is the core of democracy. If the Army feels as though I didn't meet the standards, they should thank me for trying and send me home. There's no lesson prison can teach me. Prison is established for criminals who committed crimes that the majority of our society can say in morally wrong. And with this crime, I don't know if that can be said. Even though I committed a crime, I'm no criminal. And even if I do go to prison, I'm no longer a prisoner. My conscience is clear. I'm no menace to society. I have stayed true to myself and my moral code throughout my life, and that will never change. Just let me live my life, and I know I will live it well.

Susan Van Haitsma (CounterPunch) shares some of her encounters with Wilkerson and observations before concluding: "Mark wanted to help his country, but his country betrayed him. His country capitalized on his honorable intentions, gave him false promises, fed him misinformation, used him to carry out inhumane missions, caused him psychological injury and then punished him by making him an object lesson for his fellow GI's. In fact, Mark is an example of the best kind, for all of us. In the same courtroom where soldiers were sentenced for harming Abu Ghraib prisoners, Mark was sentenced for refusing to harm."

Wilkerson is scheduled to be released in September; however, the judge could release him earlier. Going before a judge Tuesday, March 6th in Germany is war resister
Agustin Aguayo. Workers World notes that he is "charged with desertion and missing movement because of his refusal to go to Iraq." Though not etched in stone, the military has generally attempted to use desertion charges for those who were absent without leave for a month or more. In Aguayo's case, they've elected to toss that (Aguayo was gone from September 2nd through September 26th). Gillian Russom (Socialist Worker) spoke with Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, about his case, his feelings about the war, her own and much more. Agustin was a medica and he joined the military to support his family and to help people (he and his wife have two young daughters). Helga explained to Russom that, for her, it was seeing the experiences of military families that made her start questioning the war -- the creation of "geographical single mothers" -- and that for her husband, a book on Iraq's history took him from conscientious objector to the belief "that the war in Iraq has essentially been created of the personal gain of a few people." Helga also notes that her husband saw Sir! No Sir! and "it just revved him up for what he knew he might have to face." He's facing? Agustin Aguayo could be sentenced to as many as seven years in prison if convicted during his court-martial because the military is going for desertion. Why go for desertion?

Aguayo and
Kyle Snyder both were screwed over by the military in different ways and they were among the last ones going public. (Snyder is back in Canada.) Tossing aside the rule of thumb re: desertion to charge Aguayo with that is considered as part of an effort by the military to clamp down on the growing movement.

Aguayo, Watada, Wilkerson and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Joshua Key, war resister and author of the new book
The Deserter's Tale, speaks with Christina Leadlay (Canada's Embassy Book Review) and notes that the passport requirement for travel back and forth between the US and Canada "would deter a lot of people [who] don't have passports, and if you're on the run and a deserter from the military, you're not going to be able to gain that passport." Joshua, his wife Brandi and their children went to Canada after Key returned from Iraq. There, he has sought refugee status and is currently appealing the denial of asylum. Key describes his decision to join the military as part of "the military's poverty draft" telling Leadlay: "You're stuck. You have no money. There is no other choice. If you want health care, if you want steady pay, and if you're even considering going to college, the [military] billboards pretty well offer it to you. When I joined there was not a wealthy person in the entire operation. I'd never seen a rich person in the military. I'd never seen a politican's son; I'd never seen anybody with any stature. We were all the same . . . coming from places that most people wouldn't even hear of, small towns, farms boys, and you're just looking for a way out."

Key's statements jibe with the study
Kimberly Hefling (AP) reported on last week -- the communities in America that are most directly effected by the US military death toll in Iraq -- almost half of the dead are "from towns . . . where fewer than 25,000 people live" and that "nearly three quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average."

Sir! No Sir!, noted above, is a study of resistance within the military during the Vietnam era. The amazing documentary, directed by David Zeiger, was recently re-released in a special director's cut version with additional bonus features. In addition, (audio link) DJ Dave Rabbitt interviews Jane Fonda here. DJ Dave Rabbitt, along with Pete Sadler and Nguyen, operated an underground radio station (Radio First Termer) while serving in Vietnam. (He also acts as the dee jay for the soundtrack to Sir! No Sir!)

Returning to Minority Rights Group International
(PDF format) report Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003," we'll note that it examines the abuses minorities in Iraq are suffering. Yesterday, we focused on women. Today, we'll note that the religious and ethnic minoirites (who "make up about 10 percent of the Iraqi population") include Armenians, Baha'is, Chald-Assyrians, Fali Kurds, Jews, Mandaens, Palestinians, Shabaks, Turkomans and Yazidis.

A table on page 12 of the report charts the diminishing Mandaean population in Iraq by looking at the figures for April 2003 and the figures for April 2006. In 2003, 1600 families lived in Baghdad and three years later the figure had dropped to 150. Though that was the largest drop, the Mandaen population diminished in all areas -- Baquba (from 200 families to 40), Diwaniya (from 400 to 62), Kirkuk (from 250 to 75), Kut (from 400 to 65), Missan (from 900 to 300), Nasriya (from 950 to 320) and Ramadi (from 275 to 75). The report notes that "Mandaen or Sabian religion is one of the oldest surviving Gnostic religions in the world and dates back to the Mesopotamian civilisation. John the Baptist is its central prophet and water and access to naturally flowing water remain essential for the practice of the faith. Scholars believes the religion pre-dates the time of John the Baptist, however, and is has a similar creation myth to the Judeao-Christian Adam and Eve story." The report also notes that the Mandaen language has been "listed in the 2006 UNESCO Atlast of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing" and that their faith does not allow them to carry weapons and "forbids the use of violence". The report traces a similar disappearance of Jewish people noting that in 2003 there were "a few hundred" Jews in Baghdad, by 2005, the number had dropped to only 20 and that by 2006 there were only 15 Jews living in Baghdad (most assumed to be "older than 70" years-old).

And in Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes a mortar attack in southwestern Baghdad that left nine wounded, a car bobm in southern Baghdad ("near a vegetable market") that killed 10 people and left 21 wounded, a bomb attack on a Baghdad police station that killed 2 police officers and left two more wounded, a roadside bombing in Riyadh that wounded four Iraqi troops, a mortar attack in Iskandariya that killed a woman and a man, and a mortar attack in Mahmudiya that killed one person and left four members "from the same family" wounded.


CNN reports: "Two brothers of a prominent Sunni politician were shot and killed Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party said in a statement. Salim al-Joubori's brothers were killed in Muqdadiya, north of Baghdad. Al-Joubori is a member of parliament and spokesman for the Iraqi Accord Front, Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab political bloc." Reuters notes a man shot dead ("inside his car") in Tikrit, and the shooting death of Abdul-Haid Mahmoud in Mosul. CBS and AP report that, in Taji, "Eight people died when American helicopters and fighter planes fired on a palm grove".


Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Himreen, and the corpse "of a police colonel who had been kidnapped two months ago" discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
British Ministry of Defence announced "the death of a British soldiers in Iraq as a result of an incindent on the morning of 27 February 2007."

Dahr Jamail spoke with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints on a number of topics (click here for Rebecca's summary) and on the violence and the oil law, he stated, "I absolutely find no evidence on the ground to support that statement that this oil law is going to unite Iraq or anything like that. I think it's just blatant propaganda that would go along with the signing of this legislation that is really, the approval of the draff of the oil law essentially which has basically paved the way for western oil companies to finally get their hands on Iraq's oil which is what this has been about or one of the primary reasons the invasion was launched to begin with and so the corporate media, outlets like National Public Radio -- you know the joke on the ground with me and many of my colleagues from the United States who were operating in Baghdad was we would call it 'National Petroleum Radio' or 'National Pentagon Radio' because their reporters always love to embed I saw them ebedded in places like Falluja or in Baghdad, on more than one occassion -- and so that they're now issuing this propaganda that I'm sure would make the Pentagon very happy and of course the US State Department and the Bush administration and the corporations that support them saying that this is a very good thing, a positive thing. It's another way to put a spin on the occupation just like the transfer of soveriegnty on June 28, 2004 was a 'positive' thing, just like the Jan. 30, 2005 'elections' were a positive thing. And we all know, those of us with pulses, where those events have taken us today."

As all the above goes down,
Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that, in the US House of Representatives, "Democratic leaders are developing an anti-war proposal that wouldn't cut off money for U.S. troops in Iraq but would require President Bush to acknowledge problems with an overburdended military. The plan could draw bipartisan support but is expected to be a tough sell to members who say they don't think it goes far enough to assuage voters angered by the four-year conflict." Dana Bash (CNN) reports that efforts continue "to bridge differences within the [Democratic] party after backwing away from legislation that would set condictions on war funding." That would be US House Rep John Murtha's proposal. Bash quotes Yawn Emmanuel making his usual self-serving statements and notes that the Senate's 'bravely' (my mock, not Bash's) decided to postpone debating anything "for at least two weeks." (Insert joke about Bully Boy being "The Decider" here.) Yesterday, US Senator Russ Feingold issued the following statement:

I am working to fix the new proposal drafted by several Senate Democrats, which at this point basically reads like a new authorization. I will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq. Deauthorizing the President's failed Iraq policy may be an appropriate next step if done right, but the ultimate goal needs to be using our Constitutionally-granted power of the purse to bring this catastrophe to an end.

With few exceptions, including Feingold, the Democrats holding Congressional office appear more than willing to take Bully Boy's war and make it their own which is what they do as they rush to grab cover and refuse to call out an illegal war. Meanwhile,
Larry Kaplow (Cox News Service) reports that a "public affairs guidance" note was "sent to units in Iraq from the Baghdad command" which includes generic talking points created by the Pentagon which may also be controlling the Democratic Party judging by their own generic talking points. Meanwhile Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that there is no backing away from the Murtha plan but don't pin your hopes on it, Yawn Emanuel shows up to offer more talking points. Jill Zuckman and Aamer Madhani (Chicago Tribune) may call it best: "Democrats in the House and Senate are struggling to find the best way to express congressional disapproval of the war and President Bush's troop buildup. They are wary both of going too far and not going far enough" -- "wary being the key word.

Finally, in policy news,
Jake Tapper (ABC News) reports that when US House Rep Marty Meehan "introduces legislation to overturn the ban on openly gay and lesbian troops serving in the military," he will be joined by Eric Alva (a Staff Sgt. "first U.S. Marine seriously wounded in Iraq" -- March 21, 2003) who is now openly gay.

Alva tells Jose Antonio Vargas (Washington Post): "The truth is, something's wrong with this ban. I have to say something. I mean you're asking men and women to lie about their orientation, to keep their personal lives private [. . .] That's one fact. The other factor is, we're losing probably thousands of men and women that are skilled at certain types of jobs, from air traffic controllers to linguists, because of this broken policy."