friday grab bag

we are at betty's and she's on the phone pulling together her entry so i'm writing mine. when she's done, whatever i've got at that point, goes up. wally and cedric are here (we're at betty's) and we'll all be traveling to texas together. elijah, ruth's grandson, is playing with betty's kids. her daughter loves not being the youngest.

road story. what the hell is wal-greens' problem? i don't think i've ever been to 1 before. we stopped at 1 today to grab some things and i was paying. i wasn't using a credit card, i was using my debit card. the little punk behind the counter, grabbed it from my hand as i was about to swipe my card. i just stood there with my mouth open thinking, 'that didn't just happen.' he then demanded my driver's lic.

now it was a debit card that i need the code to punch in on. so that's (a). (b) is, how the hell dare you grab something from some 1's hand? i asked to see the manager and this little 20-something twit comes over and looks bored the whole time. no, she says, he shouldn't have grabbed the card from me. no, she yawns, i shouldn't have to show my driver's lic. to use a debit card. no, she says looking bored, it's not wal-green's policy.

she never once apologizes not even when i said, 'are you going to apologize?' so we left, i didn't buy their crap. we went to another store.

i've never been to a wal-greens before. is that how they treat customers?

so that's my road story for today.

now, for news. this is from jeffrey st. clair's 'Crude Alliance' (counterpunch) and it's a long article whose point is that both major parties have hopped into bed with big oil:

When it comes to oil policy Bush relied on Griles, while the Democrat often to turn to Ralph Cavanagh, the top energy guru at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the neo-liberal environmental group headed by John Adams. In Clintontime, Adams and his group made a notorious splash when they publicly betrayed their fellow environmentalists by endorsing NAFTA, the trade pact with Mexico hotly opposed by a tender coalition labor and greens. NRDC's endorsement shattered the coalition and secured passage of the bill through congress, a prize that had been denied the first Bush administration. Adams felt no regrets. He later gloated about "breaking the back of the environmental opposition to NAFTA."
Ralph Cavanagh is exceptionally close to John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz. In fact, Heinz's foundation bestowed on Cavanagh its annual eco-genius award and a $250,000 check for his pioneering work in energy policy. But just what did this work entail?
Well, while his boss John Adams pushed free trade, Ralph Cavanagh hawked the deregulation of the energy business in the name of environmental efficiency, an old canard discredited in the progressive era. Cavanagh plays the role of Betty Crocker in bestowing green seals of approval for enviro-conscience and selfless devotion to the public weal by corporations like, well, Enron.
These green seals of approval were part of the neoliberal pitch, that fuddy-duddy regulation should yield to modern, "market-oriented solutions" to environmental problems, which essentially means bribing corporations in the hope they'll stop their polluting malpractices. Indeed, NRDC and EDF were always the prime salesfolk of neoliberal remedies for environmental problems. In fact, NRDC was socked into the Enron lobby machine so deep you couldn't see the soles of its feet. Here's what happened.
In 1997 high-flying Enron found itself in a pitched battle in Oregon, where it planned to acquire Portland General Electric, Oregon's largest public utility. Warning that Enron's motives were of a highly predatory nature, the staff of the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) opposed the merger. They warned that an Enron takeover would mean less ability to protect the environment, increased insecurity for PGE's workers and, in all likelihood, soaring prices. Other critics argued that Enron's actual plan was to cannibalize PGE, in particular its hydropower, which Enron would sell into California's energy market.
But at the very moment when such protests threatened to balk Enron of its prize, into town rode Ralph Cavanagh. Cavanagh lost no time whipping the refractory Oregon greens into line. In concert with Enron, the NRDC man put together a memo of understanding, pledging that the company would lend financial support to some of these groups' pet projects.
But Cavanagh still had some arduous politicking ahead. An OK for the merger had to come from the PUC, whose staff was adamantly opposed. So, on Valentine's Day, 1997, Cavanagh showed up at a hearing in Salem, Oregon, to plead Enron's case.
Addressing the three PUC commissioners, Cavanagh averred that this was "the first time I've ever spoken in support of a utility merger." If so, it was the quickest transition from virginity to seasoned service in the history of intellectual prostitution. Cavanagh flaunted the delights of an Enron embrace: "What we've put before you with this company is, we believe, a robust assortment of public benefits for the citizens of Oregon which would not emerge, Mr. Chairman, without the merger."
With a warble in his throat, Cavanagh moved into rhetorical high gear: "'Can you trust Enron? On stewardship issues and public benefit issues I've dealt with this company for a decade, often in the most contentious circumstances, and the answer is, yes."

david obey, congress rep, made a fool out of himself and mike's 'Anthony Arnove at Cooper Union Saturday & Sunday' takes care of that so please make a point to read it. also please check out kat's 'It's about perspective and humanity' which is really powerful. so let's get to the war hawk of all war hawks, hillary clinton. stephen zunes' 'Hillary Clinton's Hawkish Record' (common dreams) explores her record:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already assumed front-runner status for the Democratic Party nomination for president despite a foreign policy agenda that closely parallels that of the Bush administration.
Since most of the public criticism of the former first lady has been based on false and exaggerated charges from the right wing, often with a fair dose of sexism, many Democrats have become defensive and reluctant to criticize her. Some liberals end up believing conservative charges that she is on the left wing of the Democratic Party when in reality her foreign policy positions are far closer to Ronald Reagan than George McGovern.
For example, she opposes the international treaty to ban land mines. She voted against the Feinstein-Leahy amendment last September restricting U.S. exports of cluster bombs to countries that use them against civilian-populated areas. She opposes restrictions on U.S. arms transfers and police training to governments that engage in gross and systematic human rights abuses, such as Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, Pakistan, Cameroon and Chad, to name only a few. She insists upon continuing unconditional funding for the Iraq war and has called for dramatic increases in Bush's already bloated military budget. She has challenged the credibility of Amnesty International and other human rights groups that criticize policies of the United States and its allies.
Mrs. Clinton has been one of the Senate's most outspoken critics of the United Nations, even serving as the featured speaker at rallies outside U.N. headquarters in July 2004 and last summer to denounce the world body. She voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq despite its being a clear violation of the U.N. Charter and in July 2004 falsely accused the United Nations of not taking a stand against terrorism when it has opposed U.S. policy. She was one of the most prominent critics of the International Court of Justice for its landmark 2004 advisory ruling that the Fourth Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War is legally binding on all signatory nations. She condemned the United Nations’ judicial arm for challenging the legality of Israel's separation barrier in the occupied West Bank and sponsored a Senate resolution "urging no further action by the United Nations to delay or prevent the construction of the security fence."
Mrs. Clinton has shown little regard for the danger from proliferation of nuclear weapons, not only opposing the enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions challenging Pakistan, Israel and India’s nuclear weapons programs but supporting the delivery of nuclear-capable missiles and jet fighters to these countries. This past fall she voted to suspend important restrictions on U.S. nuclear cooperation with countries that violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

well she was a goldwater girl but stephen better watch his back before katha pollitt gets her dander up and decides to go after him the way she did codepink for pointing out the obvious about hillary. want to be a war hawk like hillary clinton? or silent like katha pollitt? then don't pay attention to this from codepink:

Don't Buy Bush's War! Congress will soon be debating and voting on Bush's war budget requests, starting with an emergency supplemental on March 14. In response, we have launched our broad and exciting Don't Buy Bush's War Campaign. We need to flood the offices, halls, sidewalks and streets of Congress with people opposed to the war from now through this Fall. We're asking for your help to get people to Washington DC and to do similar actions locally. CALL CONGRESS: we're also asking you to call and email your member of Congress telling him or her to stop buying Bush's war by voting NO on these supplemental appropriations. Click here to learn more.

david obey really let every 1 know how those of us opposed to the war are seen by the elected reps in congress. so let's stick it back to the assholes and demand that they do their job, the job they supposedly wanted when they were on the campaign trail. let 'em hear from you.

mike ran out of time blogging tonight (friday nights is the iraq study group) and e-mailed me to ask if i could note something for him. i'm asking him tomorrow (when we're all on the phone) if he knew c.i. sent the same thing to me. (again, thank you to c.i. for providing me with multiple highlights each day. i've got my dsl tonight and had it yesterday but in some places i've had to use dial up and with the laptop that can make page loading take longer than i can stomach - oh the burdens of the road!) this is from lance selfa's 'The new face of U.S. politics' (international socialist review):

THE CONGRESSIONAL election in November 2006 was a vote of “no-confidence” in the Bush administration, especially its handling of the crisis in Iraq. Eager to deny that obvious conclusion, many pundits and Bush supporters proposed that Democrats only won the election because they adopted conservative positions on social issues and tread lightly on the question of the war. But if the Democrats wanted to tread lightly, the electorate didn’t. And the new Democratic leaders in Congress have been forced to respond.
If anything, the period since the November election has only served to heighten the increasing loss of confidence in the Bush administration, on the part not only of the population, but also of large sections of the establishment itself. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found Bush’s popularity dropping to truly Nixonian levels (below 30 percent). Near two-to-one majorities in most national surveys tell pollsters they would like to see the Democrats or Congress take the lead on Iraq and domestic policies. Perhaps most damning of all was a recent Newsweek poll that found 58 percent of Americans surveyed wished the Bush administration were over. Many more indications of popular discontent with the Bush administration could be cited.
This new reality has also made the Democrats more assertive than appeared to be the case even a few months ago. While Democrats are certainly not putting forward genuine antiwar positions, they have become bolder in criticizing Bush and the war. They are exercising their new congressional subpoena powers to hold hearings that have, and will continue, to expose the shameless cronyism, corruption, and ineptitude of the Bush administration and its many disasters, from Iraq to its manipulation of scientific research.
The Democrats’ current strategy is to unite against the troop “surge” in Iraq by offering non-binding resolutions condemning it as an escalation. Meanwhile, they continue to vote to support the war at its current level while proposing various scenarios for troop redeployment in the future. At this point, only a few liberals have tabled bills asserting Congress’s right to cut off funds for the Iraq adventure. While these fund cut offs will give many rank-and-file liberals hope that their “vote to end the war” will succeed, Democratic leaders, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to foot-in-mouth Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden (D-Del.) have been far more cautious—and in Biden’s case, dismissive—of these proposals. All of this positioning shows that the Democrats want to take advantage of the public mood of opposition to the war, while not taking the fall for defeat in Iraq. For this reason, most leading Democrats have embraced the recommendations of the establishment-dominated Iraq Study Group as their road map out of the Iraq debacle.On the other side of the aisle, the Republicans and conservatives have yet to recover from the defeat in November. Developments since the November election have accelerated disintegration in GOP ranks. This is symbolized most prominently by the willingness of leading GOP conservatives, like Senator John Warner (R-Va.), to offer their own resolutions condemning Bush’s troop “surge” in Iraq. The Democratic “100 hours” program attracted substantial GOP support. And the presidential candidate seeking to be seen as a successor to President Bush, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), has seen his support decline. McCain even polls behind Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008 presidential polls, something that would have been considered unthinkable just a year ago.
But even outside the machinations in Washington, other pieces of the conservative conventional wisdom of the last generation are under challenge. Due to court decisions challenging lethal injection as a method of execution, there is now a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in some of the largest death rows in the country (California and Florida, for example). The newly elected governor of Maryland has said he would sign a bill abolishing the death penalty if it reaches his desk. Overwhelming support for minimum wage referenda and the fact that most Americans continue to view the economy warily despite “objective” indicators of a strong economy (Wall Street records, strong GNP growth, low unemployment) show that even the dominance of neoliberal ideology has eroded since its heyday in the “there is no alternative” 1990s.

that's the opening and this is a really strong article that you can really sink your teeth into so check it out. now i don't know if the next thing is strong or not, i just know i loved reading it. this is from ron fournier's 'Analysis
: Patriot Woes Weigh on Gonzales' (ap):

Another day, another scandal. The Justice Department's improper and illegal use of the USA Patriot Act puts Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the hot seat, an all-too-familiar place for President Bush's inner circle.
The last thing a troubled president needs is another friend in trouble.
"This strikes me as another blow for the administration," said Republican consultant Joe Gaylord.
He was not the only Republican fretting about the Bush White House after a Justice Department audit criticizing the FBI's use of post-9/11 powers to secretly obtain personal information.
"This is, regrettably, part of an ongoing process where the federal authorities are not really sensitive to privacy and go far beyond what we have authorized," said Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers were already seething at the Justice Department for the firing of eight federal prosecutors and Gonzales' dismissive response to critics.
"One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later," Specter said Thursday.
It is too soon to tell whether Gonzales will be forced to leave, but his ouster would do little to change a perception that the Bush administration is unraveling amid declining public support and trust. Some heads have already rolled.

yeah, john asscroft was a nightmare but gonzales was in there too, in the mix, as 'the white house counselor' and he's defended all the crap j-ass pushed through. i'd love to see him stripped of his office. i'd love to see them all, they're a bunch of crooks who should be behind bars. do i think that's likely? with the dems in congress? don't make me laugh!

nancy e-mailed me. she gave birth in november and is just getting back into her groove. she told me some tales of how her body changed during her pregnancy and wondered if i had any similar stories? of course! alterpunk hates the personal so we should share the personal.

my breasts and belly have increased, yes. and, since i already had large breasts, back pains are pretty much a daily given. but in terms of weird, the weirdest thing happened tuesday night. flyboy was being very sweet and giving me a neck massage when he asked, 'do you want me to pull this?' pull what? 'a stray hair.' where is it? it was about an inch from where my hairline stops in the back. yes, pull it, i insisted. he did so and then i demanded to see it. it was about 6 inches long. it's been growing all this time and i've never noticed it. (hopefully, no 1 else had. though i doubt that and will bring it up to t when we get back. 'you cut my hair and you never told me!') (i'm teasing, t, if you're reading this.) the other big thing is just smells. some things i can't stand the smell of. i love snickers, always have. but if i smell 1 now, it just makes me sick to my stomach. what smells good, really good, are the sour things. pickles can just have me smiling for as long as i can smell them. lemons are another big thing. limes less so but they really aren't as sour as lemons. i can't stand the taste of iceberg lettuce for some reason. i've always enjoyed iceberg lettuce but, these days, when i have a salad, i want spinach 1st and will settle for romaine. but iceberg lettuce just turns my stomach. i tried eating some a week ago thinking i could ignore the smell but i ended up spitting it out because it just didn't taste right to me. treva jokes that it's an old wives' tale that if you like sour things, if you crave them, you are having a boy.

we don't know the sex. we're trying to be surprised. that's really more of a flyboy thing. i'm trying to go along with that but i hate secrets! so we agreed to wait a bit. that's how we do it. before each visit to the doctor, he'll say 'can you wait a little longer?' i'm surprised i've been able to wait this long.

boy or girl, i don't care. i'm just so happy to be about to have a baby. i always assumed, growing up, that i would have kids. and getting pregnant has never been the problem for me. miscarrying has always been my problem. that's why i went overboard (yes, i admit it). the doctor kept saying, 'you're out of the critical period now, you don't have to limit your movement.' but i just didn't want to take a chance. i was already further along than i'd ever made it before but, even though i kept saying 'don't worry, i'm fine' here, i was worried. i've probably made so many 'deals' with god over this pregnancy that i'll never be able to keep them all! (but, as i remember, joan collins promised to give up cigarettes if her daughter katie would pull through and then she went back to smoking.) (no, i didn't promise that i wouldn't smoke.)

okay, betty's done. here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, March 9, 2007. Chaos and violence (though little reported) continues, protests continue, the country of Georgia provides mirth in the illegal war (if not genuine support for the Bully Boy), a US marine is announced dead, footage of another US service member's death is supposedly set to be released, Dems plan receives muted response, and the veterans health care crisis moves from Walter Reed to VA hospitals.

Starting with war resistance.
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced Tuesday. Circles Robinson (Ahora) notes: "Doing the right thing can be costly, but in the end one can at least sleep at night. Ask Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 35, a U.S. citizen born in Guadalajara, Mexico, who was just sentenced by a US military court in Wurzburg, Germany. His crime was a gut feeling shared by a growing number of ordinary citizens and soldiers alike: President Bush's war in Iraq isn't their war." He was sentenced to eight months but given credit for the days he had already served since turning himself in at the end of September. Rosalio Munoz (People's Weekly World) sees a victory in the outcome: "The March 6 military court conviction of pacifist soldier Agustin Aguayo was reversed in the court of public opinon as Amnesty International officially recognized him as a 'prisoner of conscience,' and a battery of progressive attorneys began efforts to get a federal court to reverse the Army's denial of conscientious objector status to Aguayo." Stefan Steinberg (World Socialist Web) sees the line of continuity from one war resister to another, "Aguayo has become the latest in a growing list of US soldiers who are facing trials and courts-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq. Recently, Lt. Ehren Watada, 29, became the first US officer to be tried for refusing to obey a command to return to Iraq. In his defence, Watada argued he was merely following his constitutional rights to oppose fighting in a war he regarded as illegal. The Japanese American described the US invasion and occupation of Iraq as 'an illegal and unjust war ... for profit and imperialistic domination.' Watada's attorney Eric Seitz, had sought to defend his client on the basis of the Nuremburg Principles -- i.e., that soldiers have the duty to disobey unlawful orders in the case of an illegal and unjust war."

Steinberg is correct,
Agustin Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, 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, Michael Blake 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.

It is vital that we build a strong counter-recruitment movement to expose lies used by the military to send working-class and poor children to war. We must also lend our full support to the soldiers and reservists who are refusing to fight in Iraq.
[. . .]
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government learned how quickly the discipline of an army fighting an unjust war can break down. Today soldiers in the field can see the contradictions between the claims of their officers and especially the politicians who sent them to war and the reality of the conflict on the ground. They now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat. And as the Iraqi resistance to occupation grows, more soldiers have come to see that they are fighting not to liberate Iraqis but to 'pacify' them. To end this war, more will need to follow their conscience, like [Camilo] Mejia and the other soldiers who have refused to die -- or kill -- for a lie.

The excerpt above is from Anthony Arnove's
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. Arnove has an event on Saturday the 10th and on Sunday the 11th (Ty and Sunny -- for Elaine -- passed on the following):

Saturday, March 10
8 pm
Readings from
Voices of a People's History of the United States
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
as part of the
Left Forum 2007
Free for conference participants and the general public.
With performances by Staceyann Chin, Deepa Fernandes, Brian Jones, Erin Cherry,
Najla Said, Mario A. Murrillo, and other special guests.
Narration and introduction by Amy Goodman, host of
Democracy Now! and
Anthony Arnove (who, with Howard Zinn, authored
Voices of a People's History of the United States)

Sunday, March 11
10 am
Iraq: What's at Stake?"
Cooper Union
Left Forum 2007
Anthony Arnove, Christian Parenti, AK Gupta, Nir Rosen, and Gilbert Achcar.

Wednesday, March 14
7:00 pm
"Friendly Fire: An Independent Journalist's Story on Being Abducted in Iraq,
Rescued, and Shot by U.S. Forces"
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South
featuring: Giulian Sgrena the Il Manifesto journalist and author of
Friendly Fire who was abudcted in Iraq, rescued by Italian security forces only to be shot at (Nicola Calipari would die from the gun fire) by US forces while en route to the Baghdad Airport; Amy Goodman and the Center for Constitutional Rights' executive director Vince Warren.
Sgrena is calling for the Pentagon to take responsibility for the shooting.

Yesterday, in the United States, Democrats in the US House and Senate unveiled their plans for Iraq.
Michael Rowland (AM, Australia's ABC) explains the House legislation: "Democrats have been talking about setting a troop withdrawal deadline ever since opposition to the war swept them to power in last year's congressional elections. Today they bit the bullet, unveiling legislation that sets down actual dates. . . . The legislation sets out a set of benchmarks that must be met in Iraq in the coming year. They're mainly to do with quelling the sectarian violence on the streets of Baghdad, the very objective of the president's plan to send an extra 22,000 US troops to Iraq. The House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says the strategy will be given time to work. But she warns the troop withdrawal will be fast-tracked if the re-enforcements fail to make any difference." John Nichols (The Nation), picking up at the benchmarks: "If those benchmarks remain unmet, a slow process of extracting troops would begin under the plan favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Wisconsin's David Obey and Pennsylvania's John Murtha, the chair and defense subcommittee chair respectively of the appropriations committee; and Missouri's Ike Skelton, who chairs the armed services committee. The fact that Democratic leaders are talking about attempting to impose a timeline for withdrawal is good. It puts the opposition party in a position of actually opposing an unpopular president's exceptionally unpopular policies. Unfortunately, because the president wants to maintain the occupation on his terms, Bush can be counted on to veto legislation establishing benchmarks and a timeline. So the Democrats find themselves in a difficult position. They plan to expend immense time and energy -- and perhaps even a small measure of political capital -- to promote a withdrawal strategy. Yet, the strategy they are promoting is unlikely to excite Americans who want this war to end. In other words, while Pelosi and her compatriots propose to fight for a timeline, it is not the right timeline."

John A. Murphy (CounterPunch) observes, "The Democratic House has drafted legislation which has no chance of surviving a presidential veto and at the same time does not meet the hopes and aspirations and demands of the overwhelming majority of the American voting public. They have however drafted legislation that makes them feel good. Somehow or other the so-called 'liberal Democrats' are going to be happy about supporting a bill which would kill 60,000 Iraqis and 1,800 Americans because the bill will not alienate the 'more moderate Democrats'." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) points out: "Anti-war Democrats have also come out against the plan. New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, a member of the Out of Iraq caucus, said: 'All this bill will do is fund another year of the war, and I can't vote for that'."

NYU professor Stephen F. Cohen (writing at The Nation) notes: "Unless the United States withdraws its military forces from Iraq in the near future, a war that began as an unnecssary invasion based on deception and predictably grew into a disastrous occupation will go down in history as a terrible crime, if it hasn't already. For Americans of conscience, Iraq has therefore become the paramount moral issue of our time."

On that note, we'll return to
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted and, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" which further documents how the US equipped, trained and facilitated the ongoing femicide in Iraq.

The femicide has its roots in "The Salvador Option," so, as the report notes, it is not surprising to find the same actors involved. Just as James Steel and John Negroponte were involved in the death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s, they teamed up in Iraq with Negroponte acting as US ambassador to the country and James Steele commanding the US troops who trained the Badr and Mahdi militias. While the Bully Boy made noises to domestic audiences about 'freedom' and 'liberation,' "on the ground in Iraq, the Islamist militas were wholly tolerated." Backing, training and arming them "offered an enticing advantage over government troops. For a time, their quasi-official status allowed the US to out-source the violence of its count-insurgency operations without having to answer for the militias' gross human rights violations, including their campaign of terror against the women of Iraq." When not training these militias themselves, the US out-sourced the training to DynCorp which

Working women have been especially targeted because "they commit a double offense -- by advocating a secular society and by being accomplished, working women." But the press has refused to cover this campaign of violence against women as one of the stories coming from Iraq and treated acts of violence against women as incidental to the larger story (it is the story). "To cite just one example, in October 2005, journalist Robert Dreyfuss, known for his authorative and critical analysis of Iraqi politics, reported that in addition to targeting Sunnis, the Shiite Badr Brigade was 'terrorizing Iraq's secular, urban Shiite population.' Although gender-based violence was a central tactic of this terror campaign, Dreyfuss does not mention it. Nor does he explore why a supposedly sectarian militia was terrorizing members of its own sect. Like most media accounts, Dreyfuss' report fails to consider the Badr milita from the perspective of Shiite women. From women's vantage point, the militia is typical of theocratic fundamentalists everywhere. For such groups, asserting control over members of their own religion -- especially women, who are seen as the carriers of group identity -- is a prerequisite to extending control over society at large, including, ultimately, the institutions of the state."

The report notes that the press is not the only grouping that has failed to draw attention to the ongoing femicide and notes the anti-war movement has also ignored the gender violence that is taking place. The clampdown, by the US, on the Iraqi Health Ministry has prevented already faulty data on the attacks from being released. The report uses Maha as an example of how the militias and the police work together in Iraq -- Maha "was abducted from her home in Najaf and trafficked from brothel to brothel in Baghdad for nearly two years. She managed to escape twice and flee to the police station in Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood. Both times the police forcibly returned her to the brothel."

Noting the report,
Laura Flanders (writing at The Notion -- Nation's blog) pointed out that 100 female corpses were left unclaimed in a Basra hospital "mutilated . . . families are too scared to pick them up." Flanders is the host of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs each Saturday and Sunday, 7:00 to 10:00 pm EST, on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Saturday's guest will include one or both of her uncles as guests -- Andrew Cockburn and/or Patrick Cockburn. The program's website says Andrew, the blog post says Patrick. Either (or both) will be worth hearing.


AFP reports at least one person died from a roadside bombing in Kirkuk. CBS and AP report that Donald Neil, civilian contractor, was killed while trying to dismantle a bomb. (Location given is "Iraq.")


AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead. Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports that one police officer was shot dead and three more wounded when a police station in Hibhib was attacked -- ten police officers are missing and assumed/feared kidnapped. Australia's The Daily Telegraph reports that the attack included "setting fire to vehicles and destroying the building".


Reuters reports that ten corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Voices of Iraq reports seven corpses were discovered today in the Diala province.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed March 9 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." In addition, CBS and AP report: "On Friday, the Islamic State of Iraq announced it would soon be releasing a video on the death of a U.S. Air Force pilot whose F-16 jet crashed Nov. 27 north of Baghdad, according to the IntelCenter, which monitors insurgent Web sites. The pilot, Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, was listed officially as 'whereabouts unknown' but then reported by the U.S. military as dead following DNA tests from remains at the scene."

Meanwhile, in military news,
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that David Petraeus' much noted Thursday press converence "did not offer . . . a strategy for dealing with such attacks, underscoring a major dilemma facing U.S. and Iraqi forces as they carry out what has been described as a last-ditch effort to curb the deadly civil war." Ernesto Londono and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post), on the same press conference, noted the fact that not only has Petraues upped the escalation numbers but he's dropped Casey's talk of "the summer, late summer" when the supposed, alleged accomplishments of the latest crackdown version will be visible. And the escalation continues to add numbers. Yesterday, it was an additional 2,000. Today, Andrew Gray (Reuters) reports that Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon is requesting more troops for the Diyala province.

BBC notes that Georgia (the country) "will more than double the number of troops it has in Iraq" from 850 to 2,000. 2,000 isn't a large number and some wonder what the US government offered to get the small figure doubled? (Georgia's population is estimated to 4.6 million.)

Things not worth noting in depth. Puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki toured Baghdad -- with a heavily armed squad of bodyguards numbering at least six who shadowed him at all times as he shook hands with Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints. US forces announced another al Qaeda (alleged) leader captured. Don't they get tired of selling that nonsense?

Turning to the issue of health care for veterans,
Ian Urbina and Ron Nixon (New York Times) report on the Veterans Affairs where the government is slow to respond and refuses to anticipate or calculate need resulting in various horror stories such as prolonged waiting for claims to kick in (James Webb returned from Iraq injured from a bombing and had to wait 11 months for the promised and obligated payments to kick in while Allen Curry fell "behind on his morgage while waiting nearly two years for his disability check"). Hope Yen (AP) reports that, testifying before US House Veterans Affairs committee yesterday, Paul Sullivan (one time VA project manager) stated he repeatedly "warned officials" at the VA that "there would be a surge in claims as veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan," and that he began sounding the alarm in August 2005. Joel Connelly (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) notes that US Senator Patty Murray, who severs on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has drawn comparisons to today's health crisis for veterans with the illegal war itself: "They have lowballed the cost of this war, and the cost of caring for our soliders. . . . It goes to the top, to the highest level. The Bush administration wants the country to feel there is no cost to war." Rick Maze (The Navy Times) covers an idea by US Senator Larry Craig which would require "issuing veterans an authorization card that would allow them to seek care anywhere could address two longstanding complaints: long waits to see a VA doctor, and long trips for veterans who live far from a VA hospitals." Based on Urbina and Nixon's reporting, 'portability' might be besides the point when "the current war has nearly overwhelmed an agency already struggling to meet the health care, disability payment and pension needs of more than three million veterans." Zooming in on one VA center, Mike Drummond Peter Smolowitz and Michael Gordon (The Charlotte Observer) discover that a 2005 inspection of North Carolina's Hefner VA Medical Center found a substandard facility: "Using the clinically blunt language of the medical bureaucracy, the team describes a facility with poorly trained doctors and nurses who, among other things, cut corners on treatment, manipulated records and did't talk enough with paitents and families." In one tragic example, they note 41-year-old Robert Edward Lashmit who died: "Lashmit's condition and vital signs were not updated during his 19-day stay. Instead, investigators found, his doctor 'copied and pasted the same daily progress note for the entire hospitalization.' That meant information vital to Lashmit's treatment remained the same even as his condition deteriorated. He died of live failure. Later, when investigators asked Lashmit's doctor about pasting outdated records, they said he told them: 'no one told him he could not do it'."

Turning to the scandal of Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Brooke Hart (NBC News) reports on the scramble as the army attempts to address the disgrace -- the army willl institute a "30-day study of problems at major military facilities" and will establish a complaint hotline for veterans that will be allow for complaints to be registered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In another quick fix measures, Alana Semuels (Los Angeles Times) reports that Michael Tucker ( a brig. general) will move from Fort Knox to become the "deputy commanding general of the Walter Reed Army Medical Ceneter." Interviewed by Jake Stump (Charleston Daily Mail), US Senator Jay Rockefeller declares that "[t]he real question is not necessarily what happens at Walter Reed," but the refusal of the US Defense Department to meet the needs of veterans. US Rep Kirsten Gillibrand tells Albany's Time Union that she hopes the Walter Reed scandal starts a new debate on topics such as funding of the VA and veteran's' benefits. Walter Reed Army Medical Center, FYI, is funded by the Defense Department, not the VA. Interestingly, one Congressional rep wanted answers but he appeared to have had them some time sgo. Adam Schreck (Balitmore Sun) reports that US House Rep C.W. Bill Young made frequent visits to Walter Reed with his wife where they "found wounded sholdiers who didn't have adequate clothes, even one doing his rehabilitation in the bloody boots he had on when he was injured. One soldier, ashamed that his mattress was soaked with urine, tried to turn Young's wife away, the Florida Republican recalled yesterday. Another with a serious brain injury fell out of bed and his head three times before someone was assigned to make sure it didn't happen again." For those who've forgotten, Dana Priest, Anne Hulle (Washington Post for the first two) and Bob Woodruff (ABC News) shined the light on the issues in the last few weeks. What did US House Rep Young do since, by his own accounting, he was familiar with many issues that needed addressing? As Florida's Star-Banner notes in an editorial: "The St. Petersburg Times and other media reported on Thursday that U.S. Rep Bill Young, a Republican from Indian Shores and formerly one of the most powerful members of Congress, acknowledged that he knew of the squalid conditions at Walter Reed but failed to disclose them. In one instance, Young recalled one soldier who was sitting his his bed in a pool of urine when Young's wife discovered him. Hospital staff, Young noted, did nothing and when questioned told him, 'This is war. We have a lot of casualties. We don't have enough sheets and blankets to go around.' Young, according to the Times, kept quiet because he wanted to respect family privacy and 'did not want to undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and give the Army a black eye while fighting a war'." What a load of hogwash. By staying silent he allowed the problem to continue and worsen. Staying silent helped no one and, were it not for the press doing their job and his, he'd probably still be silent today.

In protest news,
Frederic J. Frommer (AP) reports that the Occupation Project (ongoing visits, sit-ins, and of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to put the pressure on elected officials to stop funding the war) continues and focuses on actions in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Wisconsin, US House Rep David Obey has not met with them but did have four arrested on Monday including Joy First. In Minnesota, US Senator Herb Kohl did meet with them but is quite happy to continue funding the illegal war and play stupid (all his life). Frommer notes that every Tuesday, two nuns, Kate and Rita McDonald, are occupying the office of US Senator Norm Coleman who is a Republican but also "a former anti-war protester himself from the Vietnam era". Despite knowing better, Coleman remains firmly behind funding the illegal war. Also in protest news, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wally Cuddeford about the protests going on in Tacoma which resulted in four arrests Sunday night. Cuddeford explains the purpose behind the protests: "Our goal is to stop military shipments from Fort Lewis going to Iraq. We were successful stopping the shipments through the Port of Olympia and now we're helping our friends in Tacoma stop the shipments there. The shipments are Stryker vehicles, they are speedy combat trasnprots, armed transports. They are the back bone of the occupation.
Half of all the Stryker vehicles to Iraq. If we are able to cut off Stryker vehicles to Iraq we could easily end this occupation."
Clear Channel reports that Ann Wright (retired Army colonel and retired State Department) spoke to the Jefferson Community College about the war ("For us to have gone into Iraq, invaded and occupied it, and not even with the agreement of the UN Security Council, unfortunately it falls into the category of a war of aggression and in my opinion is a war crime.") in an event sponsored by Veterans for Peace and Different Drummer Cafe. She will be speaking at Different Drummer Cafe today at 6:00 pm at 12 Paddock Arcade, 1 Public Square, Watertown, NY.

Danny Schechter and MediaChannel.org have started a new campaign:

It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!

Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel's "TELL THE TRUTH" campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.
Click here to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!


make the u.s. media accountable

okay, starting with this from mediachannel.org:

It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!
Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel's "
TELL THE TRUTH" campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.
Click here to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!

c.i. noted that it would probably start 'and the war drags on' tonight and i want to start my post here as well. it's important and it's a real shame that danny schechter is the only 1 who can call for it. he called for it last year (and prior to that, but last year included calls for protests at media outlets) so what are you going to do? sit on your ass? say, 'please corporate media, lie to me, whitewash the news, whittle reality out of it'? or are you going to do something? i hope you'll do something. the plan is to (again) write about danny schechter's WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception this weekend at the third estate sunday review - 'plan.' note we lose an hour this weekend due to daylight savings time.

next up is "March 8 is International Women's Day!" (feminist wire daily news):

Today is International Women's Day, a global day of celebration for women and girls everywhere. Celebrate today by taking action, giving the gift of Ms. magazine, donating Ms. magazine to women in need, or supporting the Feminist Majority Foundation. LEARN MORE Visit the International Women's Day website to learn about actions and events happening around the world

so did it make a difference? or does it just mean that tomorrow women will disappear from coverage as every 1 who gave a tiny bit of time to women rushes to interview and cover men?

you know i love my lainie, but be sure you read her 'Aguayo, Madre, more' from yesterday.

i'd like to believe that today made a difference but what i really think (cynical me) is that now every 1 feels they've 'done the woman thing' and can get back to business. if they bothered to mention madre's report today, will they follow it up?

hopefully, i'm wrong. but look at your media tomorrow that you followed today and see what happens. are women being addressed or not? i support international women's day but i do think 1 of the results from it is that we're all supposed to think, 'thank you!' and then the media can move on.

by the way, kat's 'It's about perspective and humanity' is a must read.

we've got a dsl connection for a change (thank god!) and we've got KPFA on in the background (actually one of their sisters stations, i think - but it's kpfa programming). we were hoping to hear some of the special women's programming but it's news time. ruth is the 'we' with me. although treva and flyboy are listening as well. elijah? oh my god. can a kid have withdrawals?

he rarely hears the evening news because he's usually with his parents or asleep long before it airs (we live on the east coast). but the theme came up and he got so excited and had to dance like crazy. he does that when the theme to the morning show comes on too. he's missing his broadcasts - seriously. he was so happy and dancing around and then just went and curled up in ruth's arms and fell right asleep.

so what are the democrats doing in congress? you have one proposal announced in the house, another in the senate. why did harry reid announce today? nancy pelosi was scheduled to announce today and, my opinion, since the senate proposal is not the same, he should have waited until tomorrow to announce. this is from maxine waters'
'Bring All Troops Home Now' (u.s.a. today via common dreams):

While the president is determined to continue this war and has adopted the "cut and run" sound bite to intimidate those of us who disagree with him, the American people are demanding leadership, not safe political nuances by politicians who believe they can have it both ways. Democrats can no longer afford to create the perception that we are against this war without taking meaningful action. The vote on the president's supplemental appropriation is an opportunity for this Congress to prove that members have heard the voices of the American people who want a fully funded safe, secure and timely withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.

so what was today like? the e-mails said 'more road stories.' today was just a pretty normal day. we're excited about tomorrow because we're eager to see betty. oh, we ended up a subway today. i'm not a fan, i'm not an enemy. i've been once or twice before. but why do they have things on the menu if they don't have them? i thought i'd get a spinach salad. it's right there on the menu. but they don't have it. why? they don't carry spinach since the e-coli thing forever ago. okay. well the chicken parmesean, i'll have a 6 inch sandwich of that. we don't have it. not even an explanation on why not.

i'm not trying to rag on subway, you can eat worse. (although i don't believe it's as healthy as it proclaims. watch them slather the dressing on the sandwiches.) ruth got a bacon sandwich. i'm joking! ruth's jewish and she doesn't eat pork. and she and i were having the worst time deciding. she was suggesting to me and i was suggesting to her and she said, 'becky, i can't eat pork.' i laughed at how stupid i was. that had flown right over my head. flyboy got the meatball sandwich. (foot long.) treva got chicken onion something, i believe. i was going to go with tuna and ruth reminded me of the mercury issues. so i ended up having a turkey sandwich. (with all the vegetables. and no cheese.) ruth got the same and, for elijah, a cheese and bell peppers sandwich. (he loves bell peppers.) (he also loves cheese.) then we go to the fountain to fill our cups and excuse me, no tea? is that at all the stores? seems like even burger king has iced tea as an option at their soda fountain. so i wasn't very impressed. but we did want to avoid most fast food and we were all hungry, had been for some time and we finally came across a mcdonalds or a subway. ruth didn't want elijah to get some greasy food (i don't blame her) or all that sodium.

oh, they're playing nina simone! time to enjoy. here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, March 8, 2007, International Women's Day. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress takes some action, David Petraeus says war is not the answer to Iraq, over 2,000 more US service members will be heading to Iraq, and Maxine Waters cuts through the nonsense.

Starting with news of war resistance.
War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky writes to the (Canadian) Embassy news weekly regarding the issue of passports: "The fact that the United States requires everyone entering the U.S. to show a passport does not cause problems for AWOL soldiers seeking to enter Canada. Canada does not now have any such requirement. . . . . [I]t seems unlikely that Canada would itself impose a passport requirement on American visitors. For one thing, it would seriously damage tourism to Canada, a major industry that is already in difficulty because of American security concerns. Absent a Canadian passport requirement, Canada will continue to admit Americans on the basis of other forms of ID, as is done now. That means that U.S. soldiers will continue to be able to come to Canada, as do thousands of other Americans, without much difficulty, regardless of whether they are AWOL or not."

War Resisters Support Campaign is an organization in Canada that assists US service members who self-check out the military. This evening, they are holding a benefit feauturing US war resister Joshua Key, Ann-Marie Macdonald and Lawrence Hill. With Hill, Joshua Key wrote The Deserter's Tale and Canada's Macleans offers an excert of it here covering the first house raid Key went on. No quote because there will be a lengthy excerpt from the book shortly.

Joshua Key is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, 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, Michael Blake 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.

Today is
International Women's Day and we'll focus on women for the next sections. Iraqi women, US women serving in Iraq and young girls whose deaths go unnoted.

Starting with
MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Yesterday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted and and today, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." This section notes how the violence arrived with the start of the illegal war and, originally, it was hoped that the targeting of women was due to the initial upheavel with normalcy to return shortly. Those hopes vanished quickly: "It is estimated that more than 400 Iraqi women were abducted and raped within the first four months of U.S. occupation."

The violence as a means to control is explored and, along with planting flags (a serious issue in the Kurd areas currently), one visual that says "I control this area" is veiled women. Yanar Mohammed explains, "When a political party gains control of an area, it puts its flag everywhere. The flag is a message to your opponents that this is your area and they should not dare to step into it. The veil on women is lifke a flag now."

There was a two-pronged attack here by Iraqis on Iarqi women. The first involved the militias (which the US allowed to flourish): "By summer 2003, Islamist 'misery gangs' were patrolling the streets in many areas, beating and harassing women who were not 'properly' dressed or behaved. The gangs swept through areas and imposed veils, banned women from wearing makeup or pants, and imposed their reign of terror that prevented women from taking part in daily life. When this happened, the hope is, "This will pass." The hope is the American military will do something or the Iraqi government or someone. No one does a damn thing to stop the situation.

But the Iraqi government did all they could to turn this terrorism into legal behaviors: "The US-backed Iraqi government has largely reinforced the Islamist call to restrict women's rights and bar women from the public sphere." This happened repeatedly (maybe Paul Bremer was napping?). Among the examples given is the decision/order given by the Secretary General of the Iraqi Ministers' Council (Khdeir Abbas) issued an order that all female employees would "wear headscarves or be fired." This was followed a year later with an order (from the Interior Ministry) that women should "not leave their homes alone and echoing the directives of religious leaders who urge men to prevent women family members from holding jobs." So the women who hoped the restoration of even a puppet government might bring some "safety" to Iraq quickly learned that the militias and the puppet government were all in it together to terrorize and demonize women. Returning to the women's street protests against Resolution 137 mentioned in section one (which would have stripped women of rights immediately), the report notes that such a protest would not even possible today due to the dangers that were imposed by the militias and then, later, condoned by the US installed government: "Iraqis' US-allied political and religious leaders clearly benefit from the reign of terror imposed by their followers, for as long as women are preoocupied with merely surviving, they are unable to demand accountability from the government for the broad range of economic, social, and political rights that they are denied."

Noting that this pattern/model can be found in Iran and Algeria as well as Afghanistan (which the US more recently swore would provide would provide 'democracy' and 'liberation,' and the US government's long history of backing brutal regimes in order to have access to the area's natural resources, this section concludes: "This economic interest has trumped ideological concerns about 'freedom' or 'democracy' (though US actions are always presented in these lofty terms at home). On the ground, the US cultivated Islamists as an alternative to the rule of socialists or Arab nationalists (like Saddam Hussein), who were less amenable to US control over their countries' reserves of oil and natural gas. Despite the myth of a 'clash of civilizations' between Islam and 'the West,' the US has been very comfortable with reactionary, theocratic leaders in the Middle East."

Mithre J. Sandrasagra (IPS) covers the findings of the report and the presentation of it on Tuesday: "Unfortunately, neither the mainstream press, the alternative media, nor the anti-war movement has identified the connections between the attack on Iraqi women and the spiraling violence that has culminated in civil war, according to MADRE. But, violence against women is not incidental to Iraq's mountin civilian death toll and civil war -- it is key to understanding the wider crisis. Indeed the twin crises plauging Iraqi civilians -- gender based violence and civil war -- are deeply intertwined, the report said."

That describes much of the coverage but seems especially important with regards to
Allison Stevens (Women's eNews) who writes: "Preoccupied with the Sunni-led insurgency, the U.S. military has not been able to stem the rising tide of gender-based violence, according to the report." According to the report? Try reading the report. There's no basis for that bit of nonsense. The report clearly conveys warnings were made before the illegal war started, the US government elected to ignore the warning. On the ground in Iraq, the US military and US provisional government chose to look the other way. Where Stevens is getting that the U.S. military would be doing something about this continued targeting and terrorizing of women were it not for a Sunni-led insurgency is a mystery, but it's not to be found in the report. (In fact, section three, which we'll go over tomorrow, refutes that claim but the claim has been refuted in every section.) The results in Iraq today are not accidental and they are not incidental -- they are the result of a clear, historical policy. That point is made in the conclusion, it is made throughout the report. Reporting yesterday for Free Speech Radio News, Rebecca Myles conveyed that point -- how the theocracy has come into being not in spite of the US but via financing, arms and training from the US.

Yifat Susskind, the author of the report,
writing at Common Dreams, does write "But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women" which is followed immediately by "In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hopes that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency."

That is how life became deadly for Iraqis and, specifically, Iraqi women. But what about when their attackers are not Iraqi but American? The case of
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi demonstrates that, in the US domestic media, outrage and sympathy are in short supply. The New York Times could and did write of her while repeatedly referring to her as a "14-year-old girl," apparently a nameless girl. Carolyn Marshall and Robert Worth were more than willing to leave Abeer faceless and nameless because it's all the easier to sell an illegal war if you render the victims invisible. They could, and somehow did, make the defense's case for them (in supposed reporting -- not opinion writing) despite the fact that the defense hadn't presented their case and despite the fact that it wasn't a known defense. But psychic reporters that they were, they couldn't name Abeer. Nor was the Times interested in telling their readers when James P. Barker confessed to his role in the gang-rape of Abeer. Nor was the Times interested in telling readers when Paul Cortez confessed to his role in the gang-rape. Both men confessed to raping and to holding her down while the other took their turn. Though Steven D. Green denies any involvement, Barker and Cortez have both testified that he shot Abeer's parents and five-year-old sister (while Barker and Cortez were raping Abeer) and that Green then joined them for the gang rape and that Green then shot Abeer dead. Green's involvement will be determined in a civilian court shortly (he had been discharged before the war crimes were common knowledge so he will face a civilian court) but Barker and Cortez confessed to gang raping Abeer. As Captain Alex Pickands noted in the Article 32 hearing: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
The world heard about this act of violence (despite the New York Times). There are many more that are never heard of. In his book,
The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key recounts the murder of a young Iraqi girl (pp. 118-124):

One such distraction that I learned to anticipate and enjoy came in the form of daily visits from a young Iraqi girl who lived with her family in a house across the street from the hospital.
I wish I knew the girl's name, but she spoke almost no English and I knew no Arabic. She was about seven years old. She had dark eyes, shoulder-length brown hair, and -- even for a young child -- seemed impossibly skinny. She usually wore her school uniform -- a white shirt with a blue skirt and a pair of sandals. Every time I was stationed outside the hospital, the girl would run up to the fence that ran between us and call out the only English words, she knew: "Mister, food." Over and over she would say that, and I can still recall her high-pitched, breathless enthusiasm. She seemed fearless, full of energy, and not the least bit frightened by my M-249. She acted as if she didn't even know that she lived in a war zone, and she ran to the fence the same way my own children might have approached a sandbox, piping out, "Mister, food."
[. . . .]
The first time she ran up to me I tried to ignore her. We were under orders not to speak to Iraqi civilians at all, unless authorized to do so by one of our officers. I knew that it would be better for me to have nothing to do with her, and it didn't seem like a good thing for a seven-year-old child to be anywhere near American soldiers standing with assault rifles locked and ready at all times.
"Mister! Food!"
"Go away," I said.
"Mister, food."
I waved my hand to tell her to go away because she cleary wasnt' getting my words.
She kept at me, and I started mumbling at her, "Come on, little sister, you've really got to get out of here."
She stood motionless, kept smiling, and would not leave. Finally, I reached over the four-foot-high, chain-link fence and handed her my MRE.
[. . .]
The girl always ran home with them. She never walked. It seemed like running was the only speed she knew. It didn't matter if it was 125 degrees in the afternoon sun. When the girl moved, she ran. It made me happy to see her flying across the street on those light brown legs.
I wondered what sort of life she would have when the war ended. Would she continue in school? Would she end up becoming a doctor or a teacher?
Her visits were the best part of my days at the hospital, and she was the only person in Iraq -- officer, civilian, or fellow soldier -- whose smile I enjoyed. From my earliest childhood, I have distrusted the smiles of adults because I always wonder they know that I don't. The smile of this child in Ramadi brought me to thoughts of my own wife and children. I wished that Brandi could see this girl and discover what I was coming to know: it was not true that all Muslims were terrorists, children included. The truth was that this little girl was the same as any child growing up in Oklahoma, Colorado, or any other part of the world: all she needed was a little food, a little schoolings, a clean supply of water, and some loving adults to take care of her. She was no terrorist. She was nothing but a child, and everything about her -- waving arms, uncombed hair, and torn sandals -- reminded me that she and her family had the same needs as I did. All they wanted was food, water, shelter, safety, school, and work -- who didn't?
[. . .]
The next week, I was back at my post in front of the hospital. I saw the girl run out of her house, across the street, and toward the fence that stood between us. I reached for an MRE, looked up to see her about ten feet away, heard the sound of semiautomatic gunfire, and saw her head blow up like a mushroom.
Her death was so abrupt and such a shock that I couldn't believe what I had seen. I looked around immediately after she was killed. There were no armed Iraqis within sight, and I had not heard any of the steady drilling sound made by the Iraqi AK-47s. The only thing I had heard was the distinctive sound of an M-16, which doesn't give off a loud, sustained burst of gunfire. It sounds much weaker than the AK-47 and shoots just a few bullets at a time. Pop pop pop. Break. Pop pop pop. Break.
I looked in every direction. The only armed people in the area were my squad mates, posted at various points around and on top of the hospital. My own people were the only ones with guns in the area, and it was the sound of my own people's guns that I had heard blazing before the little sister was stopped in her tracks.
I saw her mother fly out the door and run across the street. She and someone else in the family bent over the body. I could feel them all staring at me, and I could say nothing to them and do nothing other than hang my head in shame while the family took the child away.
Even today I can't help thinking that it was one of my own guys who did it. And I can't help feeling that I was responsible for her death. If I hadn't been feeding her, and allowing her to believe that it was safe to come by daily to say "Mister, food" and to scoop up the MREs that I'd give her, little sister might be alive today. She would be about ten years old now, around the same age as my eldest son, Zackary.

Turning now to the issue of the treatment of US female service members serving in Iraq.
Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with Eli Painted Crow (22 years in the Army, served in Iraq in 2004), Mickiela Montoya (deployed to Iraq in 2005) and Helen Benedict (Columbia University professor). Eli Painted Crow discussed how when another woman reported a rape, it wasn't kept confidential, it was base gossip and everyone knew. Benedict raised the issue of the bathroom buddies. This is the nonsense that's supposed to pass as a response by the military to the assualts on women by the males serving with them [see "Women and the military," The Third Estate Sunday Review). Benedict notes the long shifts served in Iraq (daily shifts) and notes that you can be forced to wake someone to go to the latrine with you. Montoya addressed how some women would use water bottles to urinate in at night in order to avoid going to the latrines and how she carried a knife for protection from males serving with her, not from Iraqis, "That's why I would carry the knife. I remember it was really late and, over there, they don't have electricity. So we run off generators. And, if you scream or if you were to yell for help or anything like that, nobody could hear you" over the generators. Eli Painted Crow noted, "And we're in a hostile environment. So, to imagine, that when you teach a soldier to hate and to be violent, that you can control that on any level is very difficult. You have to remember that we're going over there to kill. We lose a lot of value -- when you're out there -- and so you become this predator, this aggressor, this whole thing that just don't work out, what you consider the enemy. It just become who you are."

Helen Benedict has written (at Salon) on this topic this week: "At the moment, the most shocking case of military sexual assualt is that of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, 21, who served in Iraq in 2004. Swift was coerced into sex by one commanding officer, which is legally defined as rape by the military, and harassed by two others before she finally broke rank and told. As a result, the other soldiers treated her like a traitor for months. Unable to face returning to the assailant, she went AWOL during a leave at home, and was arrested and put in jail for desertion. At first the Army offered her a deal: It would reduce her punishment if Swift would sign a statement saying that she had never been raped. She refused, saying she wouldn't let the Army force her to lie. The Army court-martialed Swift, and stripped her of her rank. She spent December in prison and was then sent to Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, far away from her family. She must stay in the Army for two more years, and may face redeployment. The men who assualted her received nothing but reprimanding letters." As noted before, justice would be an immediate, honorable discharge for Suzanne Swift. But 'military justice' is a dirty joke which is why someone who attempted to rape a woman serving under him in Iraq, Daniel Edwards Franklin, was "punished" last month by losing his rank -- not one day of jail time. That is 'military justice.'

And in Iraq?


AFP reports five Iraqi soldiers dead from a roadside bombing in Tuz Khurmatu and two police officers from a car bombing in Mosul. Reuters notes that seven people were wounded in the Mosul bombing (in addition to the two deaths).


Reuters notes two police officers were shot dead in Shirqat, two Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Balad (three more wounded) and two Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Hawija.

And? Nobody's working, nobody's doing anything on Iraq. Not a damn thing. They're all drooling over Petraeus.
Dan Murphy and Gordon Lubold (The Christian Science Monitor) get giddy over his obvious statement that "there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq." How do you solve a mystery named Maria? Not by filing press releases but Demetri Sevastopulo and Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) don't want to be left out so they treat it like news, news, news!

Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes the cracked-up 'crackdown' hasn't prevented the Pentagon from deciding to throw 2,200 more US service members into Iraq. Trans, who filed earlier than most, gets credit for noting that Petraues also spoke of 'encouraging sings' (that was Bully Boy's talking point -- word for word -- earlier this week for those who've forgotten -- and for those wondering why the talking point now comes out of Petraues' mouth in Iraq, buy a clue) but reality on the ground didn't bear that out. The latter point is skipped by the fluffers.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the US House of Representatives have agreed on what to propose with regards to Iraq.
CNN reports that the proposal includes a withdrawal date of August 2008 and that there are "benchmarks." Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports that US Senator Harry Reid elected to unveil the Senate's plan "begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq within four months and pull all combat troops out by March 31, 2008." Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) writes: "House Democrats said they will seek to force the withdrawal next year of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, a proposal that President George W. Bush's aides immediately said he would veto. The Democrat's withdrawal requirement will be attached to a war-spending measure and is intended to refocus military attention on the U.S. fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Democrats said."

But the details?
William S. Lind (CounterPunch), writing before the plans were officially announced, noted: "That's not pushing a plan, it is pushing on a rope, and the House Democratic leadership knows it. You can almost hear their giggles as they offer the anti-war voters who gave them their majority one of Washington's oldest dodges, 'requirement' the Executive Branch can waive if it wants to." CNN quotes US House Rep Maxine Waters on the proposed House legislation: "This plan would require us to believe whatever the president would tell us about progress that was being made. This is the same president that led us into a war with false information, no weapons of mass destruction, said we would be [welcomed] with open arms, said that the mission had been accomplished. Now we expect him to give us a progress report in their plan by July?"


on the road still

1st off, women's international day is tomorrow. i was wrong last night. it's tomorrow.

i'm going to open with a road story. tonight, we're at a residence inn and good lord ...

there is this prissy man that has gotten on my last nerve. we're in non-smoking and i assume every 1 is. but he was at the desk when we were checking in and complaining that some 1 somewhere had smoked around his suite. we got stuck next to prissy.

i quit smoking due to being pregnant. but what a sour priss. he was outside spraying the hall with his own lysol. i couldn't smell anything except lysol - which was so strong it made me sick. does lysol get rid of smells or is it 1 of those sprays that just deadens your nerves so you don't smell? i can't remember.

but he was doing this fake, little cough.

then, and note, i'm obviously pregnant these days, he walks over and asks us 'are you smokers?'
i said i was pregnant and said it rudely. he said if any of us were smokers we shouldn't be moving in next to him. he is highly allergic to smoke so if we smoke, even if we do it 'off property,' it will make him sick.

i said, 'you're fucking making me sick, get the fuck out of my way, you freak.'

i hate the prissies.

for the record, ruth doesn't smoke, flyboy doesn't smoke, treva doesn't smoke and i haven't smoked in months.

but just that attitude that mr. priss had.

outside in the hall spraying his lysol. what a tony randall.

and then to come up to some 1 with no 'hello' or introduction and just start freaking over 'do you smoke?'

get a life, you freak.

i'll assume he's not allergic to booze because at happy hour he was throwing back 1 drink after another.

in fact, when we went back, we could smell the booze hound in the hall. maybe i should've knocked and asked to borrow his spray?

oh, there were people smoking outside by the pool. he was coughing the whole time. his little fake cough and he complained to the staff about the smokers by the pool.

now he, like most of us at happy hour, wasn't at the pool. he was inside. with glass and brick between him and the pool but he couldn't shut up about how that smoke was bothering him.

get a life.

i really hate the prissy non-smokers.

i hate their fake coughs and their little freak outs when they encounter a smoker. but this freak was worse than any i had ever encountered.

he pissed me off so much i was thinking, 'if i wasn't pregnant, i'd light up, go over there and blow smoke right in his prissy face.'

moving on. betty e-mailed something for me to highlight (which i will gladly). this is from ian williams' 'A Barack-star no more' (guardian of london):

Last week Barack Obama performed an inadvertent public service by taking two of my favorite hobbyhorses for a ride round the electoral ring. One was the corrupting power of money in presidential primaries, and the second was demonstrating that the Israel lobby was every bit as powerful as it has traditionally claimed on its website, even as it denounces anyone else who says so.
Hitherto Barack Obama has been a superficially attractive Presidential candidate, compared with the rest of the pack. The inane accusation that he was educated in a Wahabi madrasa led to a reflexive sympathy, as did his unequivocal opposition to the war in Iraq.
But as
Ali Abunima, demonstrated yesterday, he has fallen at the first hurdle.
Just like Hillary Clinton, who was stalked for years by conservative pro-Israeli groups for expressing some mild sympathy but is now probably on the hawkish end of Israeli politics, Obama has been to burn incense on the altar of
"No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States," he declared. Not Shamir, not Sharon, no matter who is invaded - the aid cheques and cluster bombs must get through? Sorry, Barack, this gives pandering a bad name.
It is embarrassing to see the contortions that Obama is reduced to.
His position for AIPAC on the Iraq war is now within a cheque's thickness of Clinton's. He advocates that a phased redeployment of US troops out of Iraq begin no later than May 1, with the goal of removing all combat forces from Iraq by March 2008. However, he says, "My plan also allows for a limited number of US troops to remain and prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for international terrorism and reduce the risk of all-out chaos. In addition, we will redeploy our troops to other locations in the region, reassuring our allies that we will stay engaged in the Middle East".

betty wondered if the nation would offer anything like that? (williams frequently writes for the nation.) i doubt it.

now this is something that c.i. forwarded. this is from yifat susskind's 'Iraq's Other War: Violence against Women Under US Occupation' (common dreams):

Since the US invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults, and public hangings. Much of this violence is systematic-directed by both Sunni and Shiite Islamist militias that mushroomed across Iraq after the US toppled the mostly secular Ba'ath regime. We've heard about the brutality of the Sunni-based groups, but much less about the Shiite militias that are the armed wings of the political parties that the US boosted into power. Their aim is to establish an Islamist theocracy and their social vision requires the subjugation of women and the elimination of anyone with a competing vision for Iraq's future.
The "misery gangs" of these Shiite militias now patrol the streets of Iraq's major cities, attacking women who don't dress or behave to their liking. In many places, they kill women who wear pants or appear in public without a headscarf. In much of Iraq, women are virtually confined to their homes because of the likelihood of being beaten, raped, or abducted in the streets. As the occupying power, the US was obligated by the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from violence against women. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women. In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hope that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency.
Today, we are told that the Shiite militias are a threat, that they have used Iraq's police and security forces to wage a sectarian civil war against Sunnis, and that new formations of radical Shiite groups are attacking US soldiers. Bush's new Baghdad security plan is aimed in part at reigning in the Mahdi Army in particular, though the group has been systematically torturing and killing women for more than three years.

c.i. asked if i wanted announcements or just articles? i said announcements would be cool. this is from world can't wait and if you heard debra sweet interviewed by janet coleman monday night, you already know about it:

March 17:
March on the Pentagon
On March 17, to mark the 4th anniversary of this immoral and unjust war and occupation of Iraq, JOIN FORCES and march on The Pentagon. Tell the Bush Regime to End the War NOW! No attack on Iran!
March 20: Student Walk-Outs

c.i. also sent me robert parry. before we get to that. we're all stuck with npr for radio - unless we want to listen to right-wing talk radio. and oh what a tragedy that is. the sameness in the voices, the sameness in the topics ... i'm also sick of the libby story.

it's over, we can be honest, right? patrick fitzgerald played it like a coward. all he proved was that libby lied. did libby break the law by outing a c.i.a. agent? did karl rove? for those who've forgotten, that was what he supposed to be examing. yeah, libby broke the law by lying during an investigation. unless i'm crazy, that's what clinton got nailed on in the 90s.

i'm not comparing libby's actions to bill clintons. i am saying that libby's actions were so criminal that to get him on lying is just worthless to me. valerie plame was outed. that was a crime. that's why a special prosecutor was assigned the case.

i think patrick fitzgerald is an idiot. i don't car for him. when he announced libby's indictment and never followed it up with rove or any 1 else, it was obvious he was too scared to get to the real issues.

libby lied. bully boy will pardon him. the excuse will be 'he just lied.' if fitzgerald had done his job, if he'd convicted on the outing, a pardon would be harder because the public would really grasp what happened.

now it's left for congress (if they have the spine) to do what fitzgerald was too chicken shit to do - investigate the outing.

so i will highlight robert parry on the topic because i like him but that's probably it for me and the whole scooter story unless something of interest comes up in the actual story. at this point, it just bores me and angers me. and forgive me if i'm not convinced that dems will follow up on this. okay, from robert parry's 'WPost's Editorial Fantasyland' (consortium news):

Fred Hiatt's Washington Post editorial page and George W. Bush's presidency have a lot in common -- most notably an arrogance of power so extreme that they believe their very words can alter reality.
With Bush, that record has been well established, from asserting that
Saddam Hussein never let the U.N. inspectors in to hyping progress in the Iraq War. But editorial page editor Hiatt -- in league with Post publisher Donald Graham -- is not far behind.
After the conviction of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying about and covering up the Bush administration's outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, the Post's lead editorial continues to manufacture a false history of the case, again slamming Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The real reality of the case is that in 2003, a hubristic administration sought to damage a critic, Wilson, who had offended Vice President Dick Cheney by accusing the White House of having "twisted" Iraq War intelligence. The anti-Wilson operation ended up exposing Wilson's CIA wife. Then, recognizing the potential criminality -- not to mention the political dangers -- the White House launched a cover-up.
But that is not what the Post's editorial page wants you to understand. It pins much of the blame for the scandal on Joe Wilson, whom the Post says "will be remembered as a blowhard." The Post also distorts Wilson's statements in a way that parrots long-discredited White House talking points.

tired so i'll stop with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Wednesday, March 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, pilgrims continue to be targeted; a US war resister was sentenced to 8 months yesterday; in Santa Barbara, JROTC out and The Peace Academy; 3 US service members die; and MADRE charts the violence against Iraqi women.

Starting with news of war resistance. Yesterday, in Germany,
Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed and sentenced. Agustin Aguayo served in Iraq as a medic and attempted to be granted c.o. status. As the military repeatedly refused to do so. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) notes "Aguayo, a US citizen born in Mexico who enlisted in 2002, had twice failed to obtain an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector and refused to load his weapon while on his first tour to Iraq." That count fails to factor in the civilian court attempts. As his case was winding through the civilian courts and as the military threatened to drag him to Iraq in chains and handcuffs, Agustin Aguayo self-checked out --September 2nd through September 26th. Reuters notes: "A deserter is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as a member of the armed forces who is absent from their unit or post without authorization, quits their unit to avoid duty or enlists improperly in another service. It can also apply to people who are absent without leave for 30 straight days or more." Obviously, Aguayo was not absent without leave for 30 or more days. The 30 days is a rule of thumb and not etched in stone. However, the military elected to toss that standard out the window.

With his parents present, his wife Helga and his two eleven-year-old daughters Rebecca and Raquel, Aguayo stood trial. In addition,
Charles Hawley (der Spiegel) notes, "thrown in among the couple dozen journalists on hand for the trial were those for whom Aguayo symbolizes a much broader message. They were representatives of the anti-Iraq War movement in the US and in Europe. For them, Aguayo is something of a hero." George Frey (AP) reports that Aguayo (with "a shaky voice") declared: "I respect everyone's views and your decision, I understand that people don't understand me. I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons and I could never point weapons at someone. The words of Martin Luther come to mind, 'Here I stand, I can do no more'." Aguayo acknowledged missing movement and pleaded guilty to AWOL, but the judge (Colonel Peter Masterton) found Aguayo guilty of desertion.

On Tuesday,
Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) reported Courage to Resist's Jeff Paterson expects "Aguayo will get up to a year in jail followed by a less than honorable or bad conduct discharge." Paterson guessed well. The judge sentenced Aguayo to eight months, reduced him in rank (down to private) and he will receive a bad conduct discharge upon completition of his jail time. Bertrand Benoit (Financial Times of London) reports: "Anti-war activists, who had followed the case closely, said the mild sentence was a positive signal to the rapidly increasing number of Germany-based US military personnel who are seeking to avoid serving in Iraq."

The issue of how much time Aguayo will serve appears to be settled.
Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports, "Aguayo was credited with 161 days of pre-trial confinement and will serve 79 more days, according to Hilda Patton of the V Corps public affairs office." Or, as Courage to Resist observes, "he should be free within a few weeks!" Present for the court-martial was Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) quotes Dougherty: "While Agustin is first and foremost a man who is sincerely and morally opposed to war in all forms, he is also a proud example to other soldiers who are also questioning the war in Iraq and who feel like they might want to refuse or they might want to apply for conscientious objector or in some way object and resist this war in Iraq." Iraq Veterans Against the War reminds: "A critical part of the GI movement to end the war in Iraq is service members' refusal to participate in it. Agustin's stance against the war, and his moral decision to refuse re-deployment, sends a message to others in the military that they can refuse to go to Iraq. Agustin is a brave leader, IVAW commends and fully stands behind him."

It is a critical part and it is a movement. Aguayo is part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, 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, Michael Blake 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,
MADRE has released a report entitled "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq." The report can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML. The report is divided into seven sections. We'll focus on the first section today ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq"). The sections covers the destruction of women's rights and the gender-based attacks that have largely gone unnoticed and unremarked upon. The family law of 1959 (which predated Saddam Hussein's rule) resulted from mass protests by women and allowed women to have their full voices heard in a court of law as opposed to in a religous hearing. This law gave women equal voices, allowed them to divorce, to retain custody, the right to inherent property, etc. Even in the lead up to the illegal war, women still retained rights in Iraq. That would quickly change. First, the appointed (by the US) Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Paul Bremer, made it clear that women would be sacrificed to public relations spin. Bremer "hand-picked" the members of the Iraqi Governing Council and was happy to side with them (such as when they did away with "Iraq's observance of International Women's Day") -- most obviously with regards to the proposed Resoultion 137 which would have been constitutional law and would replace the 1959 family law and was stopped not due to any concern for women but as a result of Iraqi women taking to the streets and calls from women's organizations and members of the US Congress.

Though Resolution 137 was stopped, it was more important to get a puppet government in place quickly to pass the laws the US wanted passed and "liberation" and "democracy" were not the concerns of the US. That was made obvious by Bremer's refusal to answer the cries for help as violence against women grew more common, by his refusal to "appoint women to the drafting committee of Iraq's interim constitution" or "guarantee that 40 percent of US appointees to Iraq's new government women were women" or "pass laws codifying women's rights and criminalizing domestic violence" or "uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates that women be included at all levels of decision-making in situations of peacemeaking and post-war reconstruction."

Women were targeted for violence and Bremer refused to address it (thereby encouraging the violence by sending the message that attacks on women would not be punished) and he refused to allow them a seat at the decision-making table. This wasn't "liberation" and it wasn't "democracy." As the report underscores, "rather than support progressive and democratically minded Iraqis, including members of the women's movement, the US threw its weight behind Iraq's Shiite Islamists, calculating that these forces, long suppressed by Saddam Hussein, would cooperate with the occupation and deliver the stability needed for the US to implement its policies in Iraq."

In 2005, the US's puppet government began work on Iraq's constitution. "Throughout the summer 2005, the Bush Administration exerted tremendous pressure on Iraqi politicians to complete a draft of the constitution within three months (though the same process took more than 10 years in the United States). At the time, the Bush Administration was in desperate need of a public relations victory in Iraq: it needed a display for US audiences of the 'democratic progress' that had replaced the 'threat of weapons of mass destruction' as the rasion d' etre for attacking Iraq. The Administration was also afraid that failure to meet the timetable for drafting a constitution would trigger new elections in Iraq, which would have likely produced a less compliant government."

Enter Zalmay Khalilzad who sold women out in Afghanistan and apparently was sent to Iraq for the same results. "As in Afghanistan, Khalilzad supported the Islamist factions of the Iraqi constitutional drafting committee. The result was a new constitution that declared Islam to be the official religion of the state and a fudnamental source of legislation." And women were sold out as the US government -- while talking liberation and democracy -- yet again through their lots in with radical zealots who would destroy women's rights.

Page 6 lists examples of how the US allowed the legalization of "Violence against Women" which includes establishing Islam as the Iraq's national religion, barring free speech if it might hamper "public order and morality," allowing the federal court to not be made up solely of judges but by "judges and experts in Sharia" (the report notes that these are "presumably clerics"). Artilce 39 refutes the 1959 family law by turning all matters of "marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, and other presonal status issues" over to religious courts where "a woman's legal testimony is worth half that of a man's."

The report documents the reality of life for women in Iraq -- a reality that has been dismissed as "personal problems" by the likes of Bremer and others but the abuses and the violence are rooted in the non-democratic laws that the US government has applauded or looked the other way on and the abuses and violences are rooted in the US government tossing their lot in with religious zealots that they thought would be compliant to their larger goals (which never included liberation or democracy).

How much attention will the report receive? Last week the Minority Rights Group International's
(PDF format) report "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003" which did include a discussion of the realities now facing women (click here for a summary of that section). The report was largely ignored. Patrick Cockburn did write of it (one of the very few) but he made no mention of the realities facing women in Iraq.

Publications such as the New York Times spent the bulk of 2003 and 2004 ignoring women. Women weren't just targeted for attacks, didn't just see the loss of rights from a US selected government, they also saw themselves rendered invisible by the so-called watchdog. It was as though they no longer existed and it's very likely this report will get no more than one day's attention because Iraqi women have been on their own in terms of the mainstream press throughout this illegal war. It's why the New York Times would say "14-year-old girl" in their laughable articles that were supposed to be covering the Article 32 hearing into the rape and murder of
Abeer and the murder of her five-year-old sister and her parents. It's always a "personal problem" with them, it never results from actions backed by the US, from actions encouraged and endorsed by looking the other way when women are raped, murdered, attacked . . .

What did the US government care about, what did the mainstream press gush over? If you've paid attention at all in the last month and a half, it's the Iraqi oil law that now awaits approval from the Iraqi parliament. Last week,
Antonia Juhasz (writing at The Huffington Post), addressed the proposed law: "If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts. As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years. The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions." Echoing that is the Green Party (US) which warns that a "new 'hydrocarbon law' up for approval in Iraq would lead to a prolonged, possibly permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, with U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties for years to come" and quotes Liz Arnone ("co-chair of the Green Party of the United States") stating: "The Iraqi hydrocarbon law, if approved by Iraqi lawmakers, will provide lucrative profits for U.S. energy corporations by placing up to 2/3 of Iraqi oil resources under foreign control. The U.S. government, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, will be committed to protecting American energy company operations and investments in Iraq by keeping U.S. troops there."

The warning comes as as The No Bases Network is created.
Kintto Lucas (IPS) reports that, in Ecuador, an international conference has created The No Bases Network (some countries, such as Ecuador, already had a national movement) out of concerns, citing Lina Cahuasqui, "that most of the 1,000 foreign military bases on the planet belong to the United States, which has 737 in different countries. Others belong to Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Italy." Among those attending the ongoing conference is Cindy Sheehan.

Sheehan was recently in Vermont drawing attention to the issue of impeachement and
she wrote about that (at Common Dreams) noting: "We made 13 stops across Vermont (which is bigger than it looks) and found ourselves settling into a routine. First the Iraq Vets would speak. Adrienne was an Arabic linguist for 10 years and knew the intelligence that our country was gleaning from such sources as Ahmed Chalabi was false because she, using her brain, figured out that he had much to gain from the invasion of Iraq. When she brought this up to her commander he accused her of not supporting their unit or the mission. Adrienne now works in a VA hospital in Vermont and hears tragic tales of why our vets have PTSD. Stories of soldiers who were driving down the road in a sandy country that they had no business being in one minute and who awaken to find themselves covered in blood with a body parts in their laps, not knowing if it was their own or one of their buddies." Shay Totten and Christian Avard (Vermont Guardian) report that the results have been 36 towns voting in favor of impeachment hearings for the Bully Boy: Bristol, Burke, Calais, Craftsbury, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Grafton, Hartland, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marlboro, Middlebury, Montgomery, Morristown, Newbury, Newfane, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Rochester, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Springfield, Stannard, Sunderland, Townshend, Tunbridge, Vershire, Warren, Westminster, Wilmington, and Woodbury

Turning to Iraq, where the violence continues. Commenting on yesterday's violence targeting pilgrims,
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, issued a statement condeming "these heinous acts which appear to be aimed at provoking sectarian strife." As Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes the count of Shi'ite pilgrims killed on Tuesday is now at "more than 150". As AFP notes, "The killings continued on Wednesday as -- undaunted -- thousands of pilgrims continued their march of devotion, carrying banners and copies of the Koran and marching hundreds of kilometres to Karbala's revered shrines."

Reuters reports six pilgrims were killed in Iskandariya (13 wounded) in a mortar attack, seven dead and 27 wounded in Baghdad from a roadside bomb, seven shot dead in Baghdad with 3 wounded. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes that four pilgrims were shot dead in Dora (8 were injured).


Lauren Frayer (AP) reports on a bombing in Balad Ruz where a man walked into a cafe, set off a bomb, killing himself and at least 30 other people. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack in Baghdad that wounded a police officer, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed one person, a car bomb that killed 10 people ("including 6 policemen") and left 42 wounded.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that two police officers were wounded in an attack "in Al Abara town," while a person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, a person was shot dead in Jurf Al Milah and a person was shot dead in Khaniqeen. Lauren Frayer (AP) notes a butcher was shot dead in his shop in Ramadi.


Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad,

Today, the
US military announced: "On March 7, an MND-B unit was conducting a route clearance patrol in order to secure a commonly traveled route of improvised explosive devices northwest of the Iraqi capital when they were struck by a roadside bomb, killing three Soldiers and wounding another."

In peace news,
Mary Johnston-de Leon (Veterans for Peace) reports Santa Barbara High School has a new development -- The Peace Academy. After mobilization led to lack of interest in the Junior ROTC program at the high school, it was shut down and Veterans for Peace's Lane Anderson and Babatunde Folayemi have helped the school start The Peace Acadmy which "will provide classes in mediation and conflict resolution, boxing, aikido, martial arts, sailing, fishing, outdoor activities including indigenous rites of passage ceremonies," etc.

Finally, the United Nations will be closing its weapons inspection commission in Iraq.
Evelyn Leopold (Reuters) reports: " The staff of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Agency, known as UNMOVIC, had not been allowed to return to Iraq by the United States since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003." they have not been back since, in the midst of their inspections, Bully Boy gave his 'get out in 48 hours' bullying speech. No weapons were ever found, by the UN or the US, because WMD ever existed.