showers & cesspools

no, i didn't write last night. yes, i planned to.

i didn't plan to have a baby shower last night either. that was a total surprise.

flyboy and i started going to the people's iraq study group after our honeymoon and stopped only when i couldn't travel in the early stage of my pregnancy (and during my 'if i leave the house, i'll miscarry' panic stage for a few weeks after). so we know every 1 in that group and that was such a surprise and so nice of them to have done that.

in addition, there were members of flyboy's family and my family there as well. also a surprise. my super friend t was there as well with her girlfriend. (t was on vacation this week and they just got back friday so i've dubbed her 'my super friend' due to the amazing time she must have made on friday to get back in time for that - i kid that she has wonder woman's invisible jet.)
it was really wonderful and i thank every 1. i especially thank trina, elaine, mike, t, ruth and my mother-in-law who worked like crazy to plan this ('weeks ago,' t told me). and of course trina, her husband, mike and mike's sister for having the shower at their home. i actually thought something might be up when i saw ruth arriving yesterday. she runs her own iraq study group on friday mornings with friends in her neighborhood. i was teasing her that she was there to scout out some ideas and tactics. and for about 30 seconds, i thought 'something must be going on if ruth's here.' then the idea flew out of my head and i didn't think about it again until elaine got up to speak and that's when the cake came in and all. it was a wonderful surprise.

i told flyboy to be prepared monday because we've got a ton of thank you cards to write and mail.

the shower was so wonderful that the last thing i want to do is dive into the alberto gonzales cesspool but trina's on her computer here (in her kitchen) so i booted up the laptop. i'm not rushing, i'm just really not in the mood for the vile and disgusting alberto gonzales.

let's start things off with robert parry and his observations and connections about thursday's testimony:

Watching the painfully inept testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales brought to mind the memorable comment in 2002 by ex-White House insider John DiIulio, who described how politics dominated everything in George W. Bush's government.
"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," said DiIulio, who had run Bush's office of faith-based initiatives. "What you've got is everything – and I mean everything – being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
The American people are finally waking up to the consequences of what DiIulio observed during his one-year stint on the inside. Everything is about the building and maintenance of power, not via sound policies but through political tactics – ranging from the conduct of the Iraq War to the handling of federal prosecutors. [For more on DiIulio's comments, see Ron Suskind's
Esquire, January 2003, article.]
It would be unthinkable in a traditional administration for a White House political adviser, like Karl Rove, to have a direct role in such diverse topics as blowing the cover of a covert CIA officer and the firing of U.S. Attorneys. Those were two areas that traditionally were walled off from crass partisanship.
For obvious safety reasons, there were strict rules limiting distribution of CIA identities even among officials with proper security clearances. Because of the life-and-death risks involved, those identities were revealed only on a strict need-to-know basis.
Nevertheless, political guru Rove was brought in on the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame in summer 2003 as part of a Bush administration campaign to discredit her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for challenging the President's use of a bogus claim about Iraq obtaining uranium from the African country of Niger.
Rove was a source on Plame's identity for both right-wing columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper. Yet, if you factor out politics, there was no conceivable need-to-know for Rove to have been briefed about Plame.
Almost as astonishing is that Rove would have passed on complaints to Attorney General Gonzales about three U.S. Attorneys for not bringing indictments in cases of alleged "voter fraud" involving Democrats.
Gonzales testified that Rove lodged the complaints last fall, but the Attorney General insisted he was unsure of many other details.

'if you factor our politics' - parry makes the very real point that this was political hay. the plan included denying the right to vote. why? because the g.o.p. just hates people voting? no, because they hate losing and they would (and have) done anything to make sure they didn't lose. no law (my opinion) was going to stand in the way. they'd ignore it, they'd break it. there was no respect for the rule of law in any other area so this reluctance on the part of some to call it out with regards to voting rights has always shocked me. you saw the attacks on r.f.k. jr. and mark crispen miller and others who noted the very real theft of the 2004 vote. noted it and documented it. and yet so many of the supposed big bloggers of the supposed left wanted to ignore that. it probably helps when you're a white male because that's not the class directly targeted. or maybe it's just that the crowd was too busy trying to become insiders in the democratic party that they couldn't call out anything that the party didn't want discussed. good little puppets, lousy citizens.

the washington post reports that bully boy has announced he has 'full confidence' in alberto gonzales. of course he does. e! is reporting that bully boy's back on the sauce and laura's checked into a hotel. but it doesn't take bully boy being active in his disease to issue such a statement. gonzales' isn't a nominee groomed through the lower ranks, spit polished and presented to bully boy as what he's going to do. gonzales knows too much. and unlike scooter libby of the church of dick cheney ('i'll die for you dick'), gonzales is a loose canon that can only be pushed so far. 'he'll always save his own ass,' as 1 texan put it when we were visiting texas in march. 1 who once knew alberto very well. there are increasing calls from congress for alberto to step down. you better believe the white house knows alberto has to be eased out if he's going. he can't be pushed. he's supposedly always been a gosspi (and they don't want an angry loose tongue) and he isn't the boy scout the likes of reuben would like to paint him as. (i hope to look for trash from reuben next week, i'm not in the mood for his ditherings this morning - but after thursday's testimony, it will be interesting to see how reuben defends his boy this time. it's also interesting that reuben's column didn't note a few things but i guess disclosures will be 'forthcoming'?)

here's cnn on some of the calls for alberto to go:

Several administration officials and the House Republican Conference chairman said Friday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should step down, following the harsh response to his Senate testimony on last year's firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Gonzales for hours Thursday about the dismissals.

"He did not distinguish himself in the hearing," said Rep. Adam Putnam, House GOP conference chairman. "There remains a cloud over the department."
"I think that they would be well-served by fresh leadership," said Putnam, who is often a spokesman for House Republicans. He said no one was doing "high fives" after the testimony.
During the hearings Thursday, while Democratic senators criticized Gonzales' leadership, some of the sharpest criticism came from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including one who called for his resignation.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said Gonzales should resign.

in the same article, cnn also notes that jeff sessions (republican senator, on the committee that alberto offered stumbling testimony to thursday) says alberto should step down. and, get this, 1 of the names republicans are whispering as a replacement for alberto is ted olson. ted olson!

if that happens, hillary has no shot at the nomination. if she can't prevent ted olson - if she and bill can't prevent ted olson - from becoming attorney general, she has no power. ted olson is the piece of human filth who was a large part of the witch hunts against the clintons during the 90s.
by the way, the washington post (no link) has a column screaming that hillary should give back monies from producer and sometimes rapper timbaland. i think that's nonsense. when the same crowd starts calling for republicans to give back monies from weapons manufacturers i'll believe they're sincere. as any reader knows, i don't like hillary clinton. i saw that headline and thought, 'oh goody!' and expected to enjoy it. but it's nonsense in my opinion. (doesn't mean she won't end up giving it back.) i'm not a fan of timbaland (or any 1 who works with mommy may i pet with danger justy) but that's just nonsense. there are people who are offering up more than words to contribute to the violence we live in around the world. so when you start going after those people, i'll take you seriously. until then, don't blow smoke up my ass.

this is john dean's take:

Senator Charles Schumer (D.NY) toward the end of the proceeding told Gonzales that his continued evasive answers - there were over 100 questions to which he claim he could not recall the answer - left a clear impression on the Senator: Since no one in the Department of Justice could explain how some of the names got on the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired, he could only conclude that this must have been a White House- orchestrated operation. I think this fact has become clear.
Some of the most important and revealing information during this hearing did not come from Gonzales, but rather from the newest member of the committee, freshman Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D.RI). Senator Whitehouse is the former Attorney General of Rhode Island, and a former U.S. Attorney. He thus understands well how the Justice Department should operate, and how it actually is operating.
In a premise to a question for Gonzales, Senator Whitehouse said he had found correspondence in the files of the Senate Judiciary Committee from the days when Orrin Hatch was chairman relating to an investigation of the relationship between the Clinton White House and the Justice Department (under Attorney General Janet Reno). Hatch was concerned about the independence of the Department of Justice, so he wanted to know who in the White House could speak with whom in the Justice Department. The correspondence showed that four people in the White House (the President, Vice President, chief of staff, and White House counsel) could speak with three people in the Justice Department (the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney and the Associate Attorney General) - period.
Senator Whitehouse discovered - and created a chart to make the point - that in the Bush White House, a shocking 417 people could speak with 30 different people in the Justice Department. It was a jaw-dropper. As Chairman Leahy said, when he asked Senator Whitehouse to continue when his time expired, in his thirty years on the Judiciary Committee, he had never seen anything like the open contacts from the White House to the Justice Department that had occurred in the Bush Administration.
Gonzales really had no response when asked about this subject. But this information shows that, in this Administration, the Department of Justice has become a mere political appendage of the White House. (I have a number of friends who are career professionals at the Department of Justice, and since Gonzales arrived, they have said that morale at the department has tanked, for they all feel the politicization of the place, and they do not like it. Many of these gifted, experienced professionals are leaving, which will hurt the Department, the government, and ultimately all of us.)

no offense to john dean or his friends, but i'm struggling to picture a tanking - gonzales replaced j-ass, who held morning prayer meet ups when not tossing drape cloths over statues. he came off like the fussy client of doris day's in pillow talk - the 1 that's obsessed with a small statue until she discovers it is a cambodian fertility god.

now on the efforts to circumvent the legally required archiving sytem that would keep a record of all white house e-mails, karl rove and others were doing white house business in their g.o.p. accounts. truthout reports that the white house is now insisting that before such e-mails are turned over to congress, the white house be allowed to see them first. they gave up that right when they used g.o.p. accounts. they made the choice to use political party accounts and they can't now come in (or shouldn't be allowed to) and say, 'that may have official white house business!' i'm sure it does. i'm also sure that official white house business is legally supposed to be conducted via the white house e-mail accounts. when they broke the law, they gave up the right to claim 'executive priv.' ap reports that the democratic party is suing the republican party saying that the e-mails must be turned over to congress.

and that's about all the cess pool i can handle in 1 morning. read betty's 'Friedman takes a trip' and here is c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot' for yesterday:

Friday, April 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another service member, "development" passes for an answer in Baghdad ("Time-shares" is next), Helga Aguayo explains the status of her husband (war resister Agustin Aguayo), and Bobby Gates finally gets to act out his long held dream to be Marisa Tomei.

"The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscienious objector,"
Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today. Helga Aguayo sketched out
how her husband came to see the illegal war as immoral while serving in Iraq, how he attempted to receive CO status, the obstacles there and a great deal more including the the convictions of missing movement and desertion. On the latter, she noted that it "is unheard of for people that are gone less than thirty days -- soldiers that are gone less than thirty days." Aguayo was gone from
September 2nd through September 26th. The rule of thumb is that if you are gone less than 30 days, desertion isn't even a possible charge. Not only was Aguayo gone less than 30, he turned himself in. Helga Aguayo explained how the two felony convictions mean trigger an automatic appeal:

Helga Aguayo: And the other thing is that Agustin will not be discharged. I'm getting congratulations -- 'Oh, congratulations, he's coming home' -- we don't know when he's coming home, one. And, two, he actually will not be discharged from the military for twelve to twenty-four months from now, because he got a bad-conduct discharge and it's such a serious offense. He has two felonies. It goes onto an automatic appeal, and because of that, he will remain active-duty, which means he has to abide by the standards that is required of every soldier. He could potentially be charged with anything else during the time that he's on voluntary or involuntary leave or administrative leave. They'll give him of the three, if it's approved. And we won't know if it's approved.

Amy Goodman: Could he sent back to Iraq?

Helga Aguayo: I hope not. I don't think so. I think it would be -- I mean, Agustin's gotten a lot of support. And I, you know, would definitely just go to the press and go to the people. I don't think it would be in their best interest to do that.

Agustin Aguayo's repeated attempts to receive CO status demonstrate the need for the system to be fixed. As does the case of Robert Zabala who had to take the issue to the civilian courts to be awarded his status. The two, and many others, illustrate the problems with and arbitrary nature of the way the US military chooses to recognize (or not) CO status.
This is why the
Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Aguayo is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, 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 news in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Baghdad Thursday to provide war weary Iraqis and US service members with a bus and truck show of My Cousin Vinnie.
David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong (New York Times) report that he visited "to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a momment when Mr. Maliki's ability to deliver appears limited, at best." This allowed Bobby Gates to attack the part of Lisa with vigor as he stomped his feet in the safety of the Green Zone.

Bobby Gates: Well I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get an oil law passed as soon as we installed you. Meanwhile, ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, no oil law, Iran is making us nervous and our bully clock is TICKING and the way this war is going, I ain't never going to see the theft of Iraqi oil.

While Gates was telling/ordering al-Maliki to step it up,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, had dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said."

As most play mum on that revelation,
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes, "Washington today said it would take political reconciliation in Iraq into account when it decides this summer whether to reduce troop numbers." Translation? There will be no real reduction unless the people insist upon it. Just more stalling tactics on the part of the US installed puppet and more bluster from the bullies of the US administration. Meanwhile, the government of Turkey has set a deadline. KUNA reports that Turkey now has: "a 'specific timetable' for trans-borders operations including intrusions into northern Iraqi, Turkish NTV news website reported Friday. . . . The plan, envising the intrusion of thousands of Turkish troops into northern Iraqi areas to hunt rebel Kurds, is about to be a reality, according to the report."

Meanwhile in "New Listings" news, need a getaway? How about some place just east of a river, a gated community with rustic charm?
CBS and AP report that gated communities are coming to Baghdad in the form of "a three mile wall": "When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community or Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said."

Gated communities? And people think the US administration has no ideas in the tank.
While the US administration continues their attempts at stand up,
Tom Clifford (CounterPunch) notes the very real increase in Iraqi deaths including that last month was the deadliest in the last 12 months and that the escalation has claimed at least 7,400 reported deaths. And in some of the reported violence today in Iraq . . .


AFP reports a Nasiriyah bombing that killed 4 "including an 11-year-old girl". Reuters reports an eastern Baghdad mortar attack the killed 1 person and left 4 injured as well as a truck bombing in Falluja that killed 2 people and left 37 wounded. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that gunfire and helicopter fire were used around a mosque as US forces attacked what they hope are 'guilty' people since they killed four -- however, they originally denied the deaths and the attack only to correct that later on..


Reuters notes two police officers shot dead in Baquba and eight wounded, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (2 more injured), and 1 person shot dead in Kufa. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Employees working for the North Oil Company were targeted in Kirkuk by gunmen yesterday evening. The gunmen attacked the employees' while they were coming to Baghdad, the incident took place on Karkuk-Baghdad motorway when the insurgents opened fire injuring 4 employees."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Friday.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a rocket struck Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah Thursday night."

And in news of activism,
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes the national Make Hip Hop, Not War tour which attempts to welcome important segments that have otherwise been overlooked. Ford writes: "The 'Make Hip Hop, Not War' movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war 'movement,' which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founded of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, 'This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?'"


alberto: the crook with the bad memory

to the right is isaiah's 'Alberto Gonzales from the Land of Denial' (the world today just nuts).

on KPFA today, they aired the gonzales testimony in full. if you missed it, i'm sure they have it archived. we were listening. my impression? as a caller said to larry bensky, if you can't remember the basics, if your memory really is that bad, then you shouldn't be attorney general because you just aren't fit.

i loved how alberto tried to act like calling him out on his ineptitude was calling out the attorneys serving across the nation. that was such a bully boy move, hide behind the troops. i was glad that dick durbin didn't take it but i would've loved it more if they hadn't then taken a lunch break. orrin hatchet face is always an idiot. he speaks and it just sounds like disney should hire him to voice the role of lucifer.

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified Thursday before a Senate committee that he could not recall the details of any of the meetings he participated in over the course of two years, in which he and his staff discussed a plan to fire eight US attorneys.
"I have searched my memory," Gonzales said, in response to a question by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) about one meeting Gonzales attended in November 2006 when he discussed the firings. "I have no recollection of the meeting.... I don't remember the contents of this meeting."
Gonzales was visibly defensive as a frustrated group of bipartisan senators pounded the attorney general with some tough questions about his role in firings. Throughout the daylong hearing, Gonzales testified more than 70 times that he could not recall any part of the conversations or details of the backdoor meetings he had with White House officials or members of his staff surrounding the questionable dismissals of the US attorneys. He added that he could not recall whether he had certain conversations over the telephone or in person.
Immediately following Gonzales's testimony, Sen. Chuck Schumer D-New York) said that if Gonzales wanted to restore integrity and credibility to the Department of Justice, he would "look into his heart, he would march over to Pennsylvania Avenue and submit his resignation."

it would have been nice if schumer had said that in the hearing but the only 1 who called for gonzales to step down in the hearing was republican senator tom coburn. well codepink and others in the gallery also called for gonzales to step down.

'i don't recall'? some 1 attending the hearings, larry benksy and others discussed this on air, kept a running tally of the 'i don't recall' statements and alberto said it over 100 times. (ap has a different number. i go with the guy with a sign.) a caller offered that gonzales & company (at karl rove's advice) installed timothy griffin (rove pet) as the dept.'s attorney in arkansas: if hillary gets the nomination he can try to whitewater her campaign, launch all these arkansas investigations to smear the campaign.

now you want to pretend that it's not about voting rights? this is from mclatchy newspapers:

For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and a review of written records.
The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.

need more to grasp that this was about voters' rights? this is from marjorie cohn's 'The New Watergate: U.S. Attorneys and Voting Rights:'

The Bush administration is shocked, shocked, that the firing of a few U.S. attorneys has caused such a stir in Washington. After all, the Oval Office says, the President can choose whomever he wants to prosecute federal cases. But the Supreme Court declared in Berger v. United States that a prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done, not to politicize justice. The mass ouster of the top prosecutors had more to do with keeping a grip on power - by manipulating voting rights - than with doing justice. And like the Watergate scandal, the evidence points to a cover-up.

This cover-up revolves around efforts by the Bush administration to disenfranchise African-American voters in communities where the vote would likely be close. George W. Bush came to power in 2000 by a razor-thin margin awarded him by the Supreme Court. During the 2004 election, there were allegations of attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters, especially in Ohio. Yet no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African-American or Native American voters from 2001 to 2006.

Seventy-one times he fell back on faulty memory, saying he could not recall or remember conversations or events surrounding the firings. During breaks in the hearing, sign-waving protesters rose from the audience calling for him to resign.
Digging in as the day wore on, Gonzales defended his decision last year to oust the U.S. attorneys. Congress is investigating whether the firings were politically motivated, which the Bush administration vehemently denies.
"The notion that there was something that was improper that happened here is simply not supported," Gonzales said, adding that he would make the same decisions again.
Late Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions said in a telephone interview that the Justice Department might be better served with new leadership. "I think it's going to be difficult for him to be an effective leader," said Sessions, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor.
"At this point, I think (Gonzales) should be given a chance to think it through and talk to the president about what his future should be," Sessions said, adding that he was most troubled by Gonzales' inability to recall attending a meeting at which the firings were discussed. Documents provided by the Justice Department show he was present at the Nov. 27, 2006, meeting.
Gonzales has provided differing versions of the events surrounding the dismissals, first saying he had almost no involvement and later acknowledging that his role was larger -- but only after e-mails about meetings he attended were released by the Justice Department to House and Senate committees.
There was no doubt about the stakes involved for a member of President Bush's inner circle, and support from fellow Republicans was critical to his attempt to hold his job.

other impressions from listening to the broadcast? difi came off stronger than she ever has. ruth and i both thought the lunch break was a mistake and the lack of continued pressure as well. his voice kept cracking when he was under pressure. that's what you want on every response so no matter what soundbyte gets broadcast on tv, he comes off squeaky.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq may have even more oil than originally thought, just in time more pressure to privatize Iraq's oil, Ricky Clousing reflects on war resistance, Ms. magazine addresses the realities for Iraqi women, Norman Solomon calls out media coverage, and the war resistance movement adds another name.

Yesterday in Iraq,
AP notes, "233 people killed or found dead across Iraq. At least 183 of those are killed when four large bombs explode in mainly Shiite locations of Baghdad." Kirk Semple (New York Times) bills it as "the deadliest day in the capital since the American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago." It is also the deadliest day in the capital or Iraq this year. AFP observes that the violence "raised questions about the US-backed security plan for the capital." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) opens with, "Yesterday will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving." CNN reports: "It was the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since the 4-year-old war began, topping the February toll of 130 dead in a bombing in the same marketplace."

Salam Faraj (AFP) reports that today: "Devastated Iraqis hunted for dead relatives in the city mortuaries on Thursday" and quotes one man sobbing, "Oh God, why all that!" as he stared at "frozen corpses stacked up in the giant morgue at the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City after a night-time curfew was lifted and daybreak made it safe enough to leave home." Kirk Semple notes Salar Karmal Zari who had been visiting the capital, declaring, "The blast threw me to the ground and shattered a window over my body. . . . I saw a human head in front of the store and many cars burning and smoke everywhere. . . . I will never stay in Baghdad anymore."

Roger Hardy (BBC News) notes of yesterday, "This was supposed to be a day when the Iraqi government could show it was making tangible progress towards the eventual withdrawal of foreign forces." Hardy's referring to the handoff of the Maysan province to Iraqi control. As noted yesterday, the transfer was supposed to be a brilliant photo-op, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had a speech all prepared but ended up being a no-show when the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk splashed and crashed against reality. Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, ended up reading al-Maliki's speech. The empty words are all the more empty because, quoting Patrick Cockburn, "the transfer of political or security control by the US and Britain to Iraqi authorities has always been deceptive. Iraqis believe, with some reason, that real control remains in the hands of the occuyping forces. Earlier in the year, British forces blew up a police headquarters in Basra and US helicopter-borne troops tried to kidnap two senior Iranian officials visiting Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president."

If you use the links or read any of the coverage, you may note something missing -- what tends to always go missing: Iraqi women's voices. Though many reports mention that women (and children) were among the victims, Iraqi women's voices are abesent from the reporting. Did you know that on one day in November, a Baghdad morgue housed 150 female corpses? (They had gathered over a ten day period with no one claiming them.) Ms. readers will know that. In
the spring 2007 issue of Ms. (in stores on April 24th), Bay Fang contributes "The Talibanization of Iraq" (pages 46 through 51) which takes a look at women's lives in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, noting the destruction of basic rights and much more. Yanar Mohammed (Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq) tells Fang of being able to "meet with groups of 200 or 300 women at factories or the railway station" in the early years of the illegal war; "But this year is completely different. A woman can't even walk two to three blocks safely, much less [come to] a meeting." Bay Fang addresses the MADRE report (which may make Ms. one of the first national periodicals to do so -- on MADRE's report click here to read in full in PDF format or in HTML), addresses the issue of "OH THERE ARE WOMEN IN THE PARLIAMENT!" by noting "During the January 2005 elections for the National Assembly, political parties were required to field electoral slates on which every third candidate was a woman, and as a result women captured 31 percent of the seats. But nearly half of the elected women parliamentarians ran on the list of the Shiite alliance, and they have had to toe the conservative line of their party. Some of the women parliamentarians could be forces for moderation and progress -- such as Mayson al-Damluji, a former undersecretary of culture who has urged the prime minister to honor his pledge to improve women's rights -- but the dangerous political environment of targeted assassinations has prevented them from being very outspoken." Again, the latest issue of Ms. magazine (Spring 2007) goes on sale April 24th. And though Fang's article isn't available currently online, Martha Mendoza's "Between a Woman and her Doctor" went up yesterday.

Now if the news above is news to you, that's because the media (big and small) have been in a feeding frenzy over twin (dueling?) soap operas and reality has fallen even more out of favor. Addressing this with a hard hitting column,
Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) observes: "Several days after the mass killings at Virginia Tech, grisly stories about the tragedy still dominate front pages and cable television. News of carnage on a vastly larger scale -- the war in Iraq -- ebbs and flows. The overall coverage of lethal violence, at home and far away, reflects the chronic evasions of the American media establishments." Solomon goes on to explore the reasons for the different approaches in coverage.

Turning to the issue of war resisters, yesterday in Germany Agustin Aguayo was released.from the military prison he was sent to after his March court-martial.
David Rising (AP) notes that Aguayo, credited for the time he was held following his turning himself in September, served "less than six weeks behind bars" on an eight month sentence. Mark St. Clair (Stars and Stripes) reports that Aguayo received "a bad conduct discharge, which he has since appealed" and that the appeal means, according to Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, that he is "on active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit." Aguayo attempted (repeatedly) to receive CO status and the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Sarah Olson (Truthout) reports on Marc Train who self-checked out the US Army last month, following the March 16th DC demonstration. Olson reports that Train signed up "under the delayed-entry program". That's a nice little trick that the US military likes to play whereby someone under the age of consent when it comes to signing a legal contract is allowed to do so. (Note: If you sign up under the delayed-entry program, you can say "NO." You do not have to go in. There are a number of legal reasons for that including contract law. But anyone who has signed up to enter after high school graduation or after they turn 18 is not required to follow through. Don't go to a base, don't go down to speak to anyone. You can send a letter saying that you have changed your mind.) Garrett Reppenhagen (Iraq Veterans Against the War) tells Olson, "Everyone's situation is different, and you have to weigh your obligations to your country and your oath against your moral compass and your higher conscience. There is never a right or wrong answer when matching such powerful forces."

Yesterday on
Flashpoints, Olson interviewed US war resister Ricky Clousing who spoke of how learning of Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman "and others" were examples. Clousing self-checked out and, after turning himself in, was court-martialed October 12th and served three months.

Ricky Clousing: I definitely don't regret my decision, I really feel like I responded the way that I needed to. You know, there's this quote that says, you know, if you bow to the universe the universe bows back.

Sarah Olson: So today, though, war is increasingly unpopular, more American soldiers are denouncing it, the Iraqi resistance is growing, people on both sides continue to die. Where do you, from your pespective as someone who's served in Iraq, where do you believe we need to be headed?

Ricky Clousing: A lot of people want to ask me, a lot of people want to know, 'Well who should we vote for,' you know, or 'What do you think's going to happen in the next election' and this, and this, and this. And I think people are, they're living in a fantasy land if they think that by electing a Democrat in 2008 is going to fix all our problems, you know. And like, "Oh there's this amazing spokesperson, they're speaking out against the war." Sure, it's great that it's becoming more popular and more mainstream that people are questioning stuff but this is a radical movement. It doesn't stop with the Iraq war, at that, you know. It's much larger and demanding that our government not only be accountable but provide the type of government that we're supposed to be living in which isn't happening, you know? I mean, we're not, we're not a people, the government is not by the people and for the people cause the people have a completely different priority list and a completely different agenda than the people that are in power and are benefitting you know from corporate America that's tied into war and conflict and so many other aspects of society that are getting neglected because of it. I mean the war machine in general is not just just about Iraq, it's not just about Afghanistan, you know, all the weapons that are being made and sent across the world and the role that we play economically across the world. There are so many huge issues, you know. So I think that it's so big and I don't mean to sound like a downer about stuff, I'm just saying I think that . . . I don't know the answer to like where things should be I just know that change doesn't happen without awareness, you know. To start there, all of us need to be becoming more self informed and also spreading that awareness in whatever avenue we have.

Train, Clousing and Aguayo are part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, 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.

Information on oil?
Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reported yesterday that a new "comprehensive independent study" of Iraq's oil resrouces has determined that "Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought" which "would raise Iraqi from the world's third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran." How lucky (for corporations) that the steal-Iraqi-bill continues to be pressed. CBS and AP report that the law, approved by al-Maliki's cabinet, is headed "to parliament next week" and note: "Passage of the law, thought to have been written with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks the Bush administration has set for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's struggling government."

Since Iraq has so much oil, possibly US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates can pump some, refine it and then use that to save the US tax payers the expense of his little stop in Baghdad today?
CBS and AP report that he arrived there today "to tell Iraqi leaders that the U.S. commitment for a military buildup in the country is not open-ended." Believe that message (laughable though it is) has been made repeatedly already.

Government? Remember Clousing's remarks to Olson? In the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other members of Congress went to the White House yesterday to meet with the Bully Boy.
Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that the result was no "progress toward ending an impasse over an emergency spending bill." Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that "Congressional Democratic leaders are moving to make their proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq 'advisory' as they seek to reconcile two versions of war spending legislation into a single bill that they plan to pass next week, according to several House members." So the toothless, non-binding measures that would have never brought all the troops home (despite the hype) are now targeted for removal? As Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) points out: "The supplemental passed by both Houses had been opposed by the vast majority of peace groups, now it looks like the supplemental developed by the conference committee will become even weaker. Whether this weakening will be enough to avoid a veto remains to be seen. But it sounds like the Democrats are making the already unacceptable more unacceptable to Americans who believe it is time to end the war. And this rapid compromise before a veto is not a good sign for how much the Democrats will bend to the president if he follows through on his threat to veto the bill."


AFP reports: "A suicide car bomber killed 12 people in Baghdad on Thursday . . . in the central Jadriyah district -- a majority Shiite inhabited area . . . wounding 28 and also setting ablaze a nearby truck loaded with gas cylinders, a security official said." Reuters reports a Diwaniya mortar attack that left three people wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 and left three wounded,


CBS and AP report a woman and a police officer were gunned down in Baquba (five additional police officers were injured) while seven people were injured in a Kirkuk drive-by. Reuters reports a woman was shot by a sniper in Baghdad.


Reuters reports 4 burned corpses discovered in Shirqat.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries." And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device north of Baghdad April 18. The unit was returning from a combat patrol in the area when the attack occurred."
they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a combat security patrol was attacked with small armss fire in southwestern section of Baghdad April 18."

Meanwhile, the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers in south-east Iraq at approximately 1120 hours local time on Thursday 19 April 2007. Both were killed by an improvised explosive device in Maysaan Province." That, for those dozing, would be the Maysan Province -- yesterday's photo-op turn over because things were so much calmer there.

Reuters reports 144 is the total number of British soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 144 is also ICCC's count. 3315 US service members have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war by ICCC's count and 3315 by Reuters.

Finally, in news of activism,
Erica Pelzek (The Daily Cardinal) reports on a student protest: "Afer walking out of their classes at 1 p.m. Wendesday in protest of the war in iraq and rallying students down State Street, more than 40 members of US-Madisons's Campus Anti-War Network staged an all-night sit-in at U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's, D-Wis., Madison office. The protesters insisted the senator return to Wisconsin to meet with the group and hear its demands regarding the war in Iraq." Offering support to the students via phone were Howard Zinn and Dave Zirin.


grab bag

how stupid is the kpfa news tonight? they brought on fat ass to say 'there's a tendency i think' blah blah blah, where's the candy, blah blah blah, where's the big mac. exactly how is fat ass an expert on berkeley? i thought fat ass was in harold ford jr.'s state? i remember fat ass loving him some junior on election night. fat ass, a supposed anti-racist, loved him some junior. this would be the same junior of whom margaret kimberley wrote:

There is nothing good to say about Harold Ford. He never passed up a chance to proclaim hot man love for George W. Bush. He voted in favor of the occupation of Iraq and the awful bankruptcy bill. In an idiotic effort to get the support of redneck Tennesseans he claimed that his black grandmother was white. He made numerous pilgrimages to the Little Rebel Club to have photo ops with said rednecks worshipping the Stars and Bars. Ford is an enemy of progressive ideas and definitely an enemy to black America.

stars and bars? little rebel club? he campaigned there and our fat ass (and sudden berkeley expert) was there on election night, ready to applaud junior but junior lost so he had to kiss that ford family ass because they are a dynasty in tenessee. they have a lot of charges facing them, but you don't have to be honest to be a dynasty.

and you don't have to be a racist - as fat ass demonstrated - to refuse to call out racism. you just have to really need the ford family on your side because you go where the money is. that's why you stab your former group in the back when the mainstream media turns on them. fat ass has to sell out, it takes a lot of money to buy all the food to feed his fat ass.

read kat about how kpfa screwed up tonight.

let's do gonzales' crime spree. ap is reporting that i'll-take-the-5th monica goodling may be offered immunity by congress if she will testify. there was supposed to be a vote on it today but instead they postponed it a week.

tomorrow gonazles is scheduled to testify.

what, you ask?

where's the rest. i see a lot of the same. i saw something new from buzzflash but considering that they are popularizing a liar (read kat's post), i'm not interested in sending any traffic to them. they and the rest of the media ought to be ashamed. before you repeat a supposed historical claim, maybe you should check it out?

so the supreme court put women on notice that they are 2nd class citizens (or maybe even lower) today. they've been put on notice that it is not 'our bodies, ourselves' anymore. and we can fight back and stop this or we can embrace the american taliban. that's what's happening here and you better be damn sure the democrats are more than willing to sell out women if they think they can pick up a few votes. there's no time for silence today. it's time to get vocal and start demanding. women are the majority of voters. democrats need to know are support is not a given.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a war resister is due to be released, former US president Bill Clinton talks Iraq, The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild and Andrea Lewis discuss Iraq, the two day United Nations conference on Iraq draws to a close and the US military announces another death.

Starting with what CNN Headlines News brushed off, in all their "newsie-ness," as the "goings on" in Iraq (30 seconds sandwiched between Monday's shootings and the soap opera of a murder trial), bombs have rocked Baghdad (and possibly if they had an 'expert' to talk to Headline News might give a damn?). Today, caught off guard, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone had already tossed off the daily soundbyte before realizing what was happening in the capital.
Al Jazeera quotes Willie Caldwell stating: "We've seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges." Little Willie wasn't the only one caught with his pants down today, Der Spiegel notes that, earlier in the day, puppet of the illegal occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, had been bragging things were just swell and that the security of Iraq would be turned over to Iraq "by the end of the year" due to these highly effective (non)strategies. And Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reports on the master of double-speak (with a minor in understatement), US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who, in Cairo: "A political solution could come quickly, Gates said, pointing out that there are not 'thousands in the street' in Iraq trying to kill each other. The violence is mostly confined to death squads, al-Qaeda terrorists and former members of Iraq's ruling class, the Baath party."

AFP reports: "A fire incinerated human flesh, cars and vehicles after a deafening blast that sent a dense cloud of putrid black smoke spewing in the afternoon sky as rescue workers screeched through the streets to scenes of horror. Fire engines doused nearby cars and buses as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried the wounded to hospital and civilian volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city's overflowing morgues." Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) quote eye witness Ahmed Hameed who declares, "The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood." So bad were the bombings that, AP notes, Secertary of Defense Gates called them "horrifying" (before quickly trying to make political hay by screaming, "It's al Qaeda! It's al Qaeda! I just know it is!"). Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that of the various bombs that had gone off today in Baghdad, it was the "car bomb at a market in the mainly Shiite Muslim deistrict of al-Sadriyah killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 100 others".

On February 3, 2007, a truck bombing in a market in central Baghdad market resulted in mass fatalities. In that bombing, BBC reported the fatalities at 130 ("At least 130 people"). That bombing took place in the same district (Sadriya) as today's worst bombing. Before that, in September of 2005, a bombing in Baghdad killed 114 on a day when the total fatalities from violence in Baghdad was 152. Dean Yates and Paul Tait (Reuters) list the fatalities for today at 170 people, note that 122 is the number of fatalities from the Sadriya district bombing and put the total number of bombings in Baghdad today at four. The death toll may climb (as it has done all the morning) as some wounded do not make it and some corpses are discovered. Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) reports that there were five bombs and writes: "Victims of today's late afternoon attack included construction workers repairing damage from last month's bombing, and rush-hour commuters at a bus depot, waiting for rides home." The Australian reports that it was six bombs and notes: "The market is situated on a side-street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is about 500m from a Sunni shrine, while the area also has a large number of Kurdish resisdents."

Yates and Tait (Reuters) note that people in Baghdad are blaming the puppet for the latest violence, that children were victims of the market attack and note one man in the street yelling, "Where's Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here." It was supposed to an easy day for the puppet who had, early in the day, declared that Iraqis would be in control of all their country by years end as part of his part in a photo op later in the day. The US military had issued their statement (credited to General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and Ambassador Asquith) early in the morning, self-stroking over the fact that the Maysan Province was being turned over to Iraqi control. As the Associated Press notes, the puppet was a no show at the photo op ceremony despite having been an announced guest. As US Senator Crazy, John McCain, could have told the puppet, "Watch out for When Photo-Ops Go Bad!" Still, as Yates and Tait report, al-Maliki's prepared speech was read, even though he himself was unable to travel the 200 miltes from Baghdad to Maysan.

The count as this completed is 170 dead in Baghdad from car bombs (Reuters) with "more than 200 wounded".

CBS and AP note another of the Baghdad bombings, where a car containing a bomb was "crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslime neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtade al-Sadr. The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45". CNN notes two other Baghdad bombings -- in the Karrada district where 11 died from a car bombing and a roadside bombing that killed 2 people. BBC updates the attack on the checkpoint to 35 dead and notes the observation of their correspondent Jim Muir: "The bombers are proving that they can slip through thte tightened security net and defy the clapdown".

Other bombings?

Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that killed two people. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "2 farmers from Al Bo Asi Al Abagiyah village died today after [being] injured in American strike [a] few days ago."


Al Jazeera reports "two brothers were killed and a policeman was hurt in a gun battle in Baquba. The dead were believed to be civilians caught in the crossfire". AP reports four police officers were shot dead in a Baghdad attack that also left six civilians dead. Reuters reports that a police officer and Iraqi soldier were wounded in Tal Afar, a father, mother and child were wounded in Kirkuk (father is an unidentified judge) and three people ("son of Iraq's deputy interior minister and his two bodyguards") were killed in Baiji.


Reuters reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Ramadi (and that 17 were found in Ramadi yesterday) and 8 in Mosul. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Along with the photo op of the turnover, other plans also went up in flames as chaos and violence reigned in the capitol. Lebananon's
The Daily Star reports that the puppet had talks with "some insurgent groups," that al-Maliki confirmed that on Tuesday, and stated, "We are having meetings with groups that are not part of the political process . . . They asked us not to reveal their name. The talks are still going and they are part of the national reconciliations."

In news of another talk,
Daphne Barak (Asharq Alawsat) interviewed former president Bill Clinton and, in the discussion on Iraq, Clinton responded, "I don't have an answer for it . . . . There will always be consequences to whatever decision we take. There is no guarantee. . . . I don't know any paniless altermatives. . . If we stay in Iraq - there are bad consequences, if we leave in a hurry there are consequences too! Really there are no good alternatives. . . . I think Hillary has it right that we have to make " Barak later asks, "Back to Iraq, are there any other dangers which we are not aware of?" Clinton responds, "We have to reposition some troops in Kurdistan or outside nearby. We have to protect the Kurds, and prevent Turkey to go into Kurdistan. That's the biggest danger in the area right now. We have to watch out if Sunni Iraqis will become a beachhead. Although Turkey is our long time ally -- and Turkey and Israel have a good relationship -- we can't allow Turkey to enter Iraq! What Hillary is fighting for is, that no one should go into a preemptive war again."

Also noting Iraq is US House Representative and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich who writes, "Remember four years ago, the Administration told the American people, 'We have no choice but to attack Iraq, because they had weapons of mass destruction.' Well, they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. But what they did have is $6 trillion worth of oil. And so now we're being told that we absolutely have to get ready to go to war against Iran; and, in fact, the Administration is preparing for such a war. We're being told they have the capacity to strike at American or other nations with nuclear weapons some day. Uh . . . well, not really. But they do have have $6 trillion worth of oil. It's really time that we ended this corrupt politics that we have in this country, where all these politicians are saying, 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran,' meaning even a nuclear attack. And yet, apparently, diplomacy is not one of those options that's on the table. Why is it that Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator Edwards would all mimic the same speech that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have given: 'All options are on the table with respect to Iran'."?

Addressing Iraq and Congress today was
Matthew Rothschild who spoke with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today.

Andrea Lewis: Certainly the Democrats have made a lot of gestures and talk about getting the troops out sooner and cutting off the funding. It seems to me to be kind of stalled -- the whole plan. What do you think about what's going on on that front?

Matthew Rothschild: Well, first of all, news today in Iraq, terrible day, in Baghdad, 127 people killed in a series of blasts in Baghdad so this idea that Baghdad is becoming a nice, safe, quiet place to visit according to John McCain, clearly not the case. I do think that the Democrats are not doing enough to demand withdrawal within 6 months or, max, a year and not having loopholes where even if that thing passed and even if Bush were to sign it, Bush would still be able to stay in Iraq for years and years because even the Democrats' legislation allows the president to keep training Iraqi security, keep going after al Qaeda and, you know, helping out patrolling Iraq in defense of US personnel which could be Haliburton. It could be US contractors over there. So with those loopholes even in the best of bills this war could go on under Bush -- or under Bush's sucessor if it be Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama. None of the Democrats are demanding withdrawal without conditions and that's what's going to have to happen at some point because otherwise, you know Bush is going to keep this going and I think the Democrats are going to capitulate. I think Harry Reid, not only has he capitulated on gun control, but he's going to capitulate on this, he's going to take even the kind of fake deadline the Democrats have in that legislation and he's going to take those away. And so Bush will get his funding and this war will go on and it's going to go on until the 11th hour on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office and then the Democratic president, if it be a Democratic president, or the Republican successor is going to continue to wage that war unless we really raise the stakes that people of this county, not just Democrats, but the people across party lines are way ahead of the politicians on this. They want the troops to come out within a year. And, at some point, we've got to raise our voices a little bit louder.

[Note -- I've smoothed over Rothschild's response by removing "uh" and "you know"s. I have no problem with them and think it's better to include to reflect speaking styles; however, I was in the middle of something else and had to lose the flavor to keep the context.]

In war resistance news,
Agustín Aguayo was to be released today from the brig in Germany he had been sentenced to since his March 6th court-martial for refusing to deploy to an illegal war. AP reports that he was released: "With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said US European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner." Aguayo was repeatedly denied Conscientious Objector status. First by the military and then by the civilian court system (he will be appealing). The Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress for COs: "Our voices together are magnified when we gather and organize to lobby congress for the sake of rights for the conscientious objector. It is important to support servicements who become conscientious objectors, to lobby for a place for conscience in an inherently violent organization suffering from a dire lack of it. A law to protect the rights of conscientious objectors (CO) in the military is needed. With no end in sight to the brutal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the globe, the number of COs in the military is increasing. The GI Rights Hotline has experienced a sharp increase in the number of calls from those seeking a CO discharge. The current military policy for COs is not working: they face harassment, they are forced to violate their beliefs and they are denied CO status for arbitrary reasons. A law passed by Congress is needed to fix the broken system and to put specific procedures in place for the CO discharge process. May 16th will be a day for voters to make their voices heard for the proposed bill, the Military CO Act." Links:

Come and lobby in Washington, DC or lobby your member of Congress at their local office near your home.
Click here to sign up for lobby day.
Click here for information on the Military CO Act
Information on subway access, directions and parking.
Map of the Area Driving Directions Metro Access Parking -->

On May 15th, International CO Day, CCW is participating in 2 events:
Congressional Briefing: 9:00 am - 12:00 pmAn Aspect of Religious Freedom: Conscience in the Military,sponsored by FCNL, Peace Tax Fund, and John Lewis
Advisory Council, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm @ Church of the Brethren (tentatively)
Church of the Brethren337 North Carolina Ave. SE Washington, DC 20003

Today, in Geneva, the two day, United Nations organized, "International Conference on Addressing the Humanitarian Needs of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons inside Iraq and in Neighbouring Countries" concluded. The
UN notes that 60 nations participated in the conference on "the nearly 4 million Iraqis who have fled their homes" and that UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, hopes that Iraqis will return to Iraq and that he "voiced hope that international gratitude for the burden assumed by receiving countries -- with Syria hosting 1.2 million Iraqis and Jordan another 750,000 -- would soon translate into financial support. He also sought an increased amount of resettlement to third countries, considered necessary for the most vulnerable refugees." BBC reports that the puppet government of Iraq is willing to give $25 million to Syria and Jordan for housing some of the displaced. By contrast, the US offered $18 million. If you don't grasp the difference, Iraq is a client state of the US at present, a client state that still guarantee basic services (let alone security) to Iraqis. But it has promised $25 million while no-big-spender Bully Boy has okayed $18 million -- to pay for the crisis he created. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has declared that:

1) The Iraqi Government, in [consultation] with the countries hosting large numbers of displaced Iraqis, will establish offices to address the issue. These offices will work closely with the host countries, the UNHCR and non-governmental organisations.

2) The Iraqi Government has allocated 25 million US dollars to fund the work of these offices.

3) The large numbers of displaced Iraqi people are straining the infrastructures of hosting countries. The Iraqi Government will extend financial assistance to host governments, and its relevant ministries, to support their infrastructure.

Dahr Jamail (IPS) reports that Baquba's displaced who have sought refuge in Damascus refer to Baquba with the term "dead city" and notes that "armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns" and quotes Aziz Abudlla (who was a professor in Baquba) stating, "I think well over half of our city has left, and those who remain never leave their homes. Those who are left sit in their homes and wait for their death. They may take their fate from a terrorist entering their house, or a car bomb, or a shooting."

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) interviews Caitlin Esworthy (Port Militarization Resistance of Olympia) about actions to end the illegal war and the attacks peaceful activists suffered from the Tacoma police. Zeese asks about the "police reaction" and Esworthy responds: "In sum: force, intimidation and erasure of numerous constitutionally protected rights. Over the course of the two weeks (from March 2nd to the 17th) the police chose to daily escalate their tactics in response to the large groups of people voicing their opposition to the occupation of Iraq and in favor of keeping the 4th Brigade home. There were pedestrians and drivers that resulted in disorientation and intimidation, use of "less-than-lethal" (read: sometimes lethal) weapons on non-violent protestors, RAMPANT violation of citizens' right to not be videotaped by public officials without probable cause, officers refusing to identify themselves, restriction of the right to wear backpacks on a public street and the repeated restriction of citizens' rights to assemble within reasonable proximity to that which they are protesting so that the nature of their protest is not fundamentally altered (both of which are supported by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions), vehicles being searched without cause or warrant, the list goes on." A video clips are provided.


not much

this won't be much of a post tonight. i did e-mail every regular reader who'd asked to know what the gender was. i'm excited but, honestly, a little nervous. finding out made it all the more real and only gave me more to worry & fret over.

so i've looked around online for about 2 hours and found little on gonzales. (i will highlight a thing kat e-mailed me.)

i found a lot of iraq commentary which was good. i suppose. nothing worth sharing unless you want to read what c.i. covered last week or the week before.

hilary abramson's 'Ask Alberto Gonzales: What About Petrona Tomas?' (the berkeley daily

Somebody should ask Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (or whoever takes his job) about Petrona Tomas.
At age 11, the little girl was sold by her father to a man in their native Guatemala. Fearing for her life, three years later she was smuggled out to live with her brother in Lake Worth, Florida, where she was sold out by law enforcement authorities.
Speaking English and Spanish--both incomprehensible to Petrona Tomas--officers allowed her father to waive her Miranda rights. She was charged as an adult with the first-degree murder of the 2.8-pound premature infant she delivered on the bathroom floor. And they imprisoned her for one-and-a-half years in a jail for adults while she awaited trial.
The only facts that were clear from the start in 2002, until the case was well underway, was that Petrona Tomas received neither medical nor legal communication in a language she spoke or understood. And that federal law defines this as discrimination and that the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to oversee and enforce that law--Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The teenager, who was illiterate and understood little more than a Mayan dialect, was headed for possible life in prison. A month after Petrona's arrest, a group of women from her remote mountain village wrote a letter to the U.S. government pleading for justice for the child. They had it translated into English and delivered to an American lawyer vacationing in the area. Once home, the tourist passed it to Isabel Framer, a recognized consultant on court interpreting. The following month, Framer filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice against the Lake Worth police and sheriff’s departments and the Palm Beach [County] Circuit Court.
Ask the attorney general of the United States why it took three years to forge an agreement with Lake Worth police to develop a language plan that should have already been in place. A small city in Palm Beach County, Lake Worth has a large Latino population and enough Mayan languages to be considered a Mayan village. Guaranteeing accurate communication for a population of significant size in a community is the heart of Title VI.

what else? i loved mike's 'No moment of silence here.' what little coverage i've heard or seen of the humanity reminds me of ani difranco's poem 'self-evident' where she has a tv anchor saying something like 'oh the humanity' or whatever. i thought mike's points were strong and thank him for saying what i'm sure a lot of us are feeling as various news people - indy as well as big - use the shooting to show how wonderful they are (in their minds). give amy goodman credit for not covering it. (though as i type, i'm sure that will be a segment tomorrow.)

you know sometimes when people don't know what they're talking about (read kat on how kpfa used other's anonymice) maybe the best thing to do is to shut the fuck up.

it is a feeding frenzy and the news cycle needs to shut the fuck up until they have information. this is everything that is wrong with the news. every 1 gloms on to 1 story and they wall to wall it. this is no different.

give the families some peace. really, what vultures, rushing in to grab any scrap and run with it, whether they can validate it or not.

our need to know is not so pressing. the assumed/presumed killer is dead and not on the loose. there is more than enough time for the media to back the hell off and stop turning people's very real tragedies into today's soap opera.

the whole thing plays out like the movie heathers. with students rushing forward to to scream 'i have a copy of a screenplay the killer wrote!' or 'i have this from him!' it's just a really disgusting moment in journalism and it shouldn't be. there's no pressing need for it. there's no manhunt for the killer. the media has more than enough time to research and do a careful report. but it's so much easier to rush in - like the idiot katrina vanden heuvel - because a very real tragedy has been turned into a water cooler topic.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi refugee crisis receives some attention in Geneva, claims are bandied all around regarding events of violence in Iraq, Robert Gates got a goody bag and wants to share and Americans not only think the illegal war was not worth it, the also think it is "lost."

Starting with war resister news,
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, shared Saturday of how his son's struggle has inspired him. Ehren Watada, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In February 2006, his court-martial ended a mistrial and his next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th. Brian Charlton (AP) reports that Bob Watada spoke Saturday at a Honolulu meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists where he explained, "It was because of him that I've gone out and educated myself." Charlton notes the stroke Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) suffered. That was in January at the rally in DC, shortly after Bob Watada spoke. Ann Wright managed to catch Sakanishi as she was falling.There are many lessons to be learned from Watada and other war resisters. Ehren Watada is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, 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.

Al Jazeera reports on Abu Fares who left Iraq with his family but returned after the start of the illegal war in 2003 which he felt was cause for hope and return (the disposing of Saddam Hussein) only to discover that "Everything was chaos. We spent days with no water or electricity. I had to write my will every time I wanted to leave the house." The family has now returned to Iran with no plans to return to Iraq. The issue of refugees is one that Dahr Jamail and Ali al Fadhilly have reported on at length for IPS and Dahr has also reported on it frequently for Flashpoints. Last Tuesday, on Flashpoints, Dahr spoke with Emily Howard about the refugee problem and the refusal to address it by it the US. He noted that those fortunate enough to afford to leave (buying their way out of arrests frequently) become internal refugees (wandering or living in refugee tents) or else the become external refugees who leave the country. Friday on KPFA's The Morning Show, Dahr spoke with Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz about the Iraqi refugees who had gone to Syria and noted, "I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer. And according to UNHCR, there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone. The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here, hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well. I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well. But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people. So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing. So the crisis is certainly going to grow exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now. What are they going to do when their savings run out? Syria right now has approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate. Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low. And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen. And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month." [Those unable to listen to the broadcast can click here for that and other remarks by Dahr.]

Today the United Nations held a conference in Geneva on the subject of the refugee crisis.
BBC reports that Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, "urged Iraq's neighbours not to close their borders to refugees, and states further afield to do more to help tackle the humanitarian crisis." Sephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that the appeal includes a request "for international aid for nearly 4 million Iraqis". The United Nations states: "Hundres of concerned participants from governments, aid organization and United Nations bodies gathered in Geneva today" and quotes UNHCR head Antonio Guterres citing a "moral imperative" which requires the actions of "[a]ll of us -- representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society". Meanwhile Nicholas Keung (Toronto Star) reports: "The UN has raised only half of its $60 million goal for 2007, a figure that includes $2.5 million pledged by Canada." Deutsche Welle notes, "Germany's Department of Foreign Affairs had announced on Monday that it would make 2.2 million euros in aid available to Iraqi refugees and displaced persons." IRIN notes that the conference continues tomorrow

From refugees to the puppet government that created (or assisted the US government in creating) the problem. On the heels of Moqtada al-Sadr's block exiting their six minister position in the coalition Nouri al-Maliki cobbled together and filled well after the Consitutionally mandated deadline, the US government launches a global push to shore up support for their puppet.
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be "using potential U.S. arms sales and other military assistance" to shore up support in the Middle East for al-Maliki. David S. Cloud (New York Times) notes that Gates' trip will include encouraging "leaders to back Iraq's government and to put aside their doubts about Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's ability to curtail sectarian violence". Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) informs that "Defense Department officials acknowledge that the support for Maliki in Sunni-dominated nations is not as firm as they would like." Or at all. Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman via WatchingAmerica) predicts that, when the US does withdraw from Iraq, "the current government -- if it still exists at the time, God forbid -- it would certain encounter its political death, both nationally and internationally, especially if it's notion of using extreme repression to further the national reconciliation process remains unchanged. The problem is not in any of these options, but al-Maliki himself and his delusional promises of building a military force capable of action as an alternative to the Americans, without purging the existing force of sectarian elements."

The attempts to shore up support for the puppet government outside the US comes as
Gary Langer (ABC News) reports on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll which finds: "A bare majority of the Americans for the first time believe the United States will lose the war in Iraq, and a new high -- two-thirds -- say the war was not worth fighting." Possibly Robert Gates will next take his goody bag house to house throughout the US?

Turning to US Congressional news . . . Cloy Richards served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD. His mother is Tina Richards.
Eric Leaver (Foreign Policy in Focus) sums up the event that introduced many people to Tina Richards: "Instead, the biggest brawl the public saw was between House Appropriations committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and the mother of a Marine and an anti-war activist, Tina Richards. Responding from Richard's plea to stop the war Obey screamed, "We don't have the votes." But it was never clear that Obey and others were in fact seeking the votes to end the war. Instead they were seeking the votes for what ended up being in a weak compromise." As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Tina Richards was arrested on Monday outside the office of Nancy Pelosi while calling on the House Speaker to stop funding the war." After the press attention following Obey's public meltdown, Nancy Pelosi stated she wanted to meet with Tina Richards but has yet to make time for such a meeting. Stacy Bannerman (Military Families Speak Out) notes that Congress owns the war having gone with "stay the course" and notes what it look liked up close to see even those Congress members opposed to the war cave: "When members were 'released' to vote for the supplemental funding bill, the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus became the 'Stay in Iraq' caucus. New branding materials are in the works. When the people that got elected on a strong anti-war platform voted to continue the war, they broke a sacred trust with their constituents. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Jim McGovern (D-MA) et. al, clean out your desks and return the keys to your office. Immediately. When Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), a long-time, outspoken opponent of the war, cannot look me in the face as he passes by on his way to vote, I know that he knows that what he's doing is wrong. The rationalizations for continuing to fund the war under the patently false guise of 'supporting the troops' are just a different page from the same book that was used to build the case for war."

In claims news today, a Sunday raid in Baghdad's al-Amil neighborhood conducted by US forces is straying from the approved US military narrative.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports today that eye witnesses say that the US military randomly opened fire, killining indiscriminately and quoted one Iraqi stating: "People were sleeping when the U.S. forces raided the area. Shooting started and people came out to see what happened. Two were killed in the shooting. A mother and her son came out to see what happened and they were also killed during the shooting. So we have four killed and two others wounded." At some point the US military may launch an investigation into the event. Like the investigations into the helicopter crashes, they will, no doubt, drag on and on. However, remember this is the claims department section, the US military has completed an investigation in less than 24 hours and, they announce, they have cleared themselves as they maintain that those killed in Ramadi yesterday "were not Iraqi policemen as originally reported." In other claims, CNN reports a group has posted online the assertion that they killed 20 Iraqi security forces they kidnapped on Saturday in Baghdad. And, finally, AP reports that a group thought to be (or claimed to be) linked to al Qaeda has "claimed in audiotape posted on the Internet Tuesday that the group had begun manufacturing its own rockets."

Turning to actual reported events in Iraq today . . .


Reuters reports a car bombing in Hawija that left 3 dead and 4 wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded 3, and a truck bombing -- near Mosul -- which killed 1 person and left 4 Iraqi soldiers wounded.


CNN reports a professor, on his way to work at Baghdad University, was shot dead.


Reuters reports 9 corpses discovered in Mosul, 11 in Baghdad, and 4 in Diwaniya.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died April 16 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Sunday, the total number of US service members killed in Iraq during the illegal war which began March 2003 passed the 3,300 mark. Noting that maker being passed today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed: "The conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. troops. More soldiers have died since October than in any other six-month period of the war."

In Italy, a murder trial began today and . . . kind of ended. While escorting the just released journalist Giulian Sgrena to Baghdad International (March 4, 2005) the car carrying Sgrena and Italian intelligence came under fire from US troops. As
Tracy Wilkinson (Los Angeles Times) notes that US service member Mario Lonzano was being tried in absentia in Rome today. Germany's Der Spiegel sums it up this way: "While everyone agrees that Mario Lozano, an American soldier, fired the fatal shots that killed Italian agent Nicola Calipari in Iraq to years ago, that is where the agreement ends. For the United States government, the case is closed but Rome sees things somewhat differently. Italy is putting Lozano on trial for murder even though he is refusing to attend." BBC reports this statement by the attorney, Fraco Coppi, for Caliparia's widow, on Lonzano not being present, "His absence is his own choice. It does not represent an obstacle to ascertaining the truth. We are absolutely serene. The evidence gathered is indisputable." Democracy Now! quotes Giuliana Sgrena on the trial itself: "It is a mixture of anguish and of hope. Of course, as I wanted this trial, I am very happy that now it will start. But of course, for me it means to go back to two years ago and what happened two years ago. And so it is very painful for me to think of these things and the details, because at the trial we need to go into details, so it is very painful for me. But we have to face the trial because it is a very important step." A step taken but not completed. CBS News' Sabina Castelfranco reports that the trial "has been postponed until May 14th". Alessandra Rizzo (AP) notes an immediate adjournment by the judge "for technical reasons."

In other legal news,
Marty Graham (Reuters) reports that US service member Sanick Dela Cruz is no longer charged in the November 19, 2005 massacre/slaughter in Iraq and quotes the statement issued by the US Marine Corps: "Charges agains him were dismissed on April 2 after the government balanced his low level of culpability in the alleged crime against the potential value of his testimony."