turkey & iraq

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Friday that Turkey wants the United States to stop talking and start taking action to help end cross-border attacks by Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq.
"We need to work on actually making things happen," Babacan said at a news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ankara. "This is where the words end and action needs to start."

c.i. told me to start with the above from karen deyoung's 'Trukey Urges U.S. To Take Action On Kurdish Violence' (washington post) when i said 'help!'

i'd read the snapshot and thought 'c.i. thinks it just talk-talk.' i hadn't questioned that. i assumed it was talk-talk. and judging by the above, that's how the turkish government sees it as well.

condi rice flew to ankara, turkey and the photo-op was apparently supposed to reassure any americans following the story that the administration was on the job. they still aren't. she offered a photo op. the only thing that changed is maybe her hair length. it's the same talk-talk. stall-stall.

now i'm not taking a postion on who is right and who is wrong. no 1 in the community is. we're not anti-p.k.k. or pro-p.k.k. we're not anti-turkey or pro-turkey.

our point with this is that this isn't a new development. the tensions existed. the u.s. has been promising since at least 2004 that they would address it. there have been big meet ups in d.c. and big announcements for years.

and nothing has been done.

whether you support the p.k.k.'s desire for an independent region for kurds or whether you support the way they go about it isn't the issue. whether you love turkey or hate turkey or like turkey or don't know turkey isn't the issue.

the issue is the white house has repeatedly given lip-service on this since the illegal war started. they have never dealt with it. despite the fact that the u.s. government has long labeled the p.k.k. a terrorist organization. (i'm not taking a position on that label, no 1 is.) the europen union also labels the p.k.k. a terrorist organization.

they have support from within the kurdish region of iraq (the northern section of iraq). they are tolerated and it's actually more than that due to the kurdish leadership in that area - some of which has had ties with the p.k.k.

the u.s. installed that leadership. the u.s. supported that leadership.

and the p.k.k. holds at least 8 turkish soldiers currently and it has repeatedly engaged in violence with turkey.

but the u.s. has just promised year after year that they would do something, that they were doing something and now we have an explosive situation.

if the p.k.k. was targeting a region of the u.s., bully boy would be bombing them. but in this instance, he plays dumb and they offer lip-service.

i'm not advocating the bombing of the p.k.k. or of areas they are are in.

but the point here is that bully boy has willfully looked the other way and that has to do with the fact that kurdistan is an oil rich region and has long been pampered by the u.s.

that's just a basic summary, by the way. there are several other issues in play.

but bully boy's talk about terrorism and about the rights of nations to defend themselves from it is talk that doesn't apply to turkey. that's the point being made.

karen deyoung's report went up about an hour ago and will appear in tomorrow's paper.

my hope is that americans paying attention to this story (probably a small number) will grasp (a) that the situation directly results from the u.s. not addressing it and ingoring it and that (b) the bully boy's terror talk is empty and he's more than happy to ignore acts of violence when it suits his purposes.

believe it or not, there are people who still believe the lie that he wants a 'war' on terror. meanwhile, in afghanistan, another village fell to the taliban and of course the puppet government, installed by the u.s., is in talks with the taliban to bring them into the government.

3 things quickly. first, i'm not sure i said thank you to Jim here for his filling in on wednesday. if i didn't, thank you & sorry for the delay. 2nd, c.i.'s 'And the war drags on . . .' from last night was amazing. kind words to me that i appreciated, but it was amazing. c.i. was so exhausted and i really didn't think there was a 12th or 30th wind to kick in. 3rd, i was asked about the pass on last night? c.i. was too tired to go into the topic and also doubted that any critique of now would be included (the organization, not the tv show) so it was passed on to me when we were talking after the roundtable. i wasn't sure what i'd write about and c.i. mentioned that lynda had sent a highlight and it was a natural for me. which it was in terms of the scope here. i've covered that topic from the start of the site. it wasn't 'here's an assignment.' and it wasn't 'do me a favor.' it was something that fell under my natural scope. it was also true that c.i. didn't think last night's entry would amount to anything. c.i. just wanted to go to sleep. i can't believe that got put together, that entry, because i know how tired c.i. was.

a 4th thing. i almost forgot. remember when i shared the story of a big name blogger? if not google 'a big name blooger' and my site for that entry. the short version is he wrote with a compliment and a question and i was flattered (because i did and do respect his work). i write back and then find out he forwarded my e-mail to some 1 with an organization.

well that organization (and we've noted this at third) keeps e-mailing me trying to get highlighted here. it's not getting highlighted anywhere. i've tried to write the man and ask why my e-mail was passed on and if this was planned?

but i always save to draft.

and it's become a real problem because it may very well have been 'let's have a laugh at her expense.' so when those announcements he wants highlighted show up (regularly) it just screws with my whole day.

i whined about that to c.i. in a brief call yesterday. jim told me c.i. gave up a brief lunch to write an e-mail to the man. i don't know when it got sent out but it did go out yesterday. i called dona who read it to me today. i appreciate c.i. sticking up for me.

c.i. just explained my e-mail was forwarded. no 1 knew why but no 1 was noting any announcement unless/until i got some sort of answer even if was only 'i didn't know anything about it.' dona asked me after she read it, 'did you hear anything?' (c.i. had said i was the 1 who needed to be written and provided my e-mail address) i said 'no.' and dona said, 'you know what, let's just stop expecting an answer. we're not noting that organization and if the man hadn't known about it, he found out from c.i. yesterday. screw him.' i think that's going to be my attitude now.

if he hadn't been involved, he's involved now. and i don't need anymore announcements from him. if he was any kind of a genuine person, he would have written me after he got c.i.'s e-mail. he didn't. i'll probably be noting him by name shortly because i'm really moving beyond my 'what if' and just getting pissed off.

but thank you to c.i. that was a very nice e-mail period. and i didn't ask for it or hint for it. i don't know how c.i. knew his e-mail address. (what a stupid thing to say about c.i. of all people. if some 1 has e-mail, phone number, et al, c.i. can get it.) so thank you to my very good friend since college who stuck up for me then (as did elaine) and is still sticking up for me all these years later (as is elaine). hope every 1 has a great weekend. let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, November 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Barack Obama sits down with the New York Times and flashes his War Hawk, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War resister Joshua Key told his story in
The Deserter's Tale and now Key's book is among those optioned to tell the story of the illegal war on the big screen. Eric Jordan has optioned Key's story. Jordan and partner Paul Stephens began their producing careers with documentaries made for television at The Film Works, their Toronto based production company. Their latest release is Beowulf and Grendel in 2005 featuring Sarah Polley and many others. Josh Getlin (Los Angeles Times) quotes Jordan, "I didn't set out to make a pro-Iraq war movie or an anti-Iraq war movie. I wanted to make a movie about people under pressure, real people, and the fact that this is complex world. Just imagine what this kid went through, never dreaming he'd desert the U.S. Army. That's a great book -- and a great movie." And a story that needs to be told. Time and again, war resisters who go public cite the internet overwhelming. Helga and Agustin Aguayo have also cited David Zeiger's documentary of resistance within the military during Vietnam, Sir! No Sir! If Jordan is able to bring Key's story to the screen, it will have an impact.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Turning to US politics.
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) summarizes the state of Senator Barack Obama's Democratic presidential primary campaign, "For months Obama was the political flavor of the month, wooed by fawning celebrities, and promoted by the corporate media. The stamp of approval from the right people had him sitting firmly atop an enormous pile of campaign cash. Now his deep pocketed contributors are showing signs of buyers' remorse, miffed because he is only neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and trailing behind her in New Hampshire. Obama has been hoisted on his own petard. He assured Democrats that he was 'safe.' He openly scorned movement politics, and made the appeal of color blindness his calling card. He chose neo-con Bush suck-up Joe Lieberman as his Senate mentor. His criticisms of the evil occupation of Iraq focused not on murder and theft committed by Uncle Sam, but by the traumatized Iraqs' efforts to deal with an American-created hellish existence. Leaving 'all options on the table' is part of the Obama stump speech on Iran." On the subject of Iran, Barack Obama appears on the front page of this morning's New York Times. War pornographer Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny who lied in print (click here, here and here -- the paper finally retracted Zeleny's falsehood that should have never appeared) present a view of Barack Obama that's hardly pleasing. Among the many problems with the article is that Obama as portrayed in the article -- and his campaign has issued no statement clarifying. The Times has the transcript online and from it, Barack Obama does mildly push the unproven claim that the Iranian government is supporting resistance in Iraq. Gordo's pushed that unproven claim repeatedly for over a year now. But Obama's remarks appear more of a reply and partial points in lengthy sentences -- not the sort of thing a functioning hard news reporter would lead with in an opening paragraph, touch on again in the third paragraph, in the fourth paragraph, in . . . But though this isn't the main emphasis of Obama's statements (at any time -- to be clear, when it pops up, it is a fleeting statement in an overly long, multi-sentenced paragraphs), it does go to the fact that Obama is once again reinforcing unproven claims of the right wing. In the transcript, he comes off as obsessed with Hillary Clinton. After her, he attempts to get a few jabs in at John Edwards and one in at Bill Richardson. Here is what real reporters should have made the lede of the front page: "Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean." That is what the transcript reveals. Gordo really needs to let go of his blood lust for war with Iran.

Writing up a report, Gordo and Zeleny are useless but, surprisingly, they do a strong job with some of their questions. The paper should have printed up the transcript. If they had, people might be wondering about the 'anti-war' candidate. He maintains Bill Richardson is incorrect on how quickly US troops could be withdrawan from Iraq. Obama states that it would take at least 16 months which makes one wonder how long, if elected, it would take him to move into the White House? If you can grab a strainer or wade through Obama's Chicken Sop For The Soul, you grasp quickly why he refused to pledge (in September's MSNBC 'debate') that, if elected president, he would have all US troops out of Iraq by 2013: He's not talking all troops home. He tries to fudge it, he tries to hide it but it's there in the transcript. He doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq -- he appears to want them outside of Iraq -- such as Kuwait. But he doesn't see the US embassy in Iraq -- the largest US embassy in the world as a base. However, he does feel that even after the illegal war was ended, US troops would need to remain behind in order guard the embassy and the staff. In addition, it becomes clear that he will keep US troops in Iraq to train the Iraqi police. Because?

The reporters don't think to ask. Here's a slice of reality, the US military is not trained to train police officers. Here's another to drop on the plate, Jordan was training them. Jordan got pushed aside around the half-way mark of 2006. If Obama wanted to pull US troops out of Iraq, the most obvious solution is to turn over the duty of training police officers to a non-military force. Along with needing those for trainers, he needs some to protect the trainers. Gordo gets to the point asking, "So how will you protect the trainers without forces in Iraq?" His answer is an embarrassment, he'd could keep the trainers out of potentially difficult situations. And in Iraq, that would be where? In addition, he would keep troops in Iraq for counter-terrorism (but not, he insists, counter-insurgency). If this doesn't all sound familiar, you slept through this spring and summer when Congressional Dems tried repeatedly to convince the American people that "all troops out of Iraq" could also mean that US troops stay to train, as military police, to fight terrorism, etc. While he's off talking al Qaeda in Iraq (a small number and one most observers state will be forced out by Iraqis when US troops leave) and working in more attacks on Senator Clinton, it's noted that he has "a more expansive approach to Iraq than she does in that you identify in your plan the possiblity of going back into Iraq to protect the populartion if there's an all-out civil war. . . . And providing monitors to help the population relocate and go after war criminals. Those are three elements -- those are new missions for Americans after Iraq that she doesn't postulate." What follows is a comical exchange:

Obama: But they aren't necessarily military missions.

NYT: But how do you go back into Iraq without military forces?

Obama: No, no, no, no, no. You conflated three things. The latter two that you are talked about are not military missions. Let's just be clear about that.

NYT: An armed escort is not a military mission?

Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over.

So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions. Margaret Kimberley (cited at the opening of this section on politics) called it correctly. Meanwhile
Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) weighs in on the alleged Democratic 'debate' this week, dubbing it "pile-on-Hillary night," and wondering what the point of it really was: "But hanging over all this is the specter of the $90 million Hillary had raised by the middle of October. That huge amount of cash so outstrips the other candidates, it seems like a silly game of make-believe to pretend that a clever quip during a debate, or even the extremely important and legistimate points the candidates made last night, could change the dynamic of the race. It doesn't matter how trenchant your comments are if you are drowned out by the amplified voice of a frontrunner who can buy all the airtime that's left in this extremely short primary season." Also noting the heavy donations from big business is Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report), "For Democratic and Republican wings of America's permanent ruling party, the all-important selection which precedes the election isn't about poll numbers, votes or the citizens that cast them. It's about winning the favor of military contractors, the banking and financial sectors and Big Oil. It's about reassuring insurance and pharmaceutical companies, cozying up to agribusiness, the cable and telecom monopolies, allaying the fears of chambers of commerce, and wooing Hollywood." Dixon goes on to note the industries pouring big money in Obama and Clinton's campaigns, notes PEJ's tracking of the first six months of mainstream press coverage of the candidates this year -- Obama received more positive coverage from the mainstream than any other candidate for president -- almost 20% more than Hillary Clinton and approximately 19% more than Rudy Giuliani -- and concludes that the Dem presidential ticket will be Clinton-Obama (Clinton for president).

Meanwhile US House Rep and Democratic presidential nominee contender
Dennis Kucinich announced that he is calling for House vote next week. On? Impeachment of Cheney. Kucinich: "The momentum is building for impeachment. Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President's abuse of power. Despite this groundswell of opposition to the unconstitutional conduct of office, Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting the power of the executive branch is supreme. Congress must hold the Vice President accountable. The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences." His office notes, "The privileged resolution has priority status for consideration on the House floor. Once introduced, the resolution has to be brought to the floor within two legislative days, although the House could act on it immediately. Kucinich is expected to bring it to the House floor on Tuesday, November 6."

Kucinich was among those participating in a bi-partisan forum for candidates (Republican John McCain participated by phone, all others were Democrats).
Holly Ramer (AP) reports that the forum, geared to address concerns of the disabled community, resulted in participation from Dem presidential candidates Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel. John Edwards sent a flack to address the group.

Turning to the Green Party.
Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) has posted Cynthia McKinney's declaration of candidacy. The form shows McKinney's signature with a date of October 16th next to it and the FEC (US Federal Elections Commission) lists October 22nd as the filing date. The Green Party of the United States notes, "Always a lightning rod for those who believe a woman's place is in the kitchen, Congressomwan Cynthia McKinney was the first Black woman elected to Georgia's state legislature. With rules that required she wear a dress ont he state house floor, she chose instead to wear a smart pants suit, letting them know that the days of the 'Good Ole Boy' system were a thing of the past. Now, she may be carrying that same message about the two-party system. Controversial not only for her choice of clothing, McKinney has spoken out against the war on Iraq from the beginning, and anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan calls her 'My friend who's running for President.' McKinney is being actively pursued by the Green Party as their nominee in 2008. Local Green Party chair Gregg Jocoy has already endorsed her possible run, saying, 'We had Ralph Nader on our ballot line in 2000, and that brought us recruits and supporters who are with us to this day. I know Cynthia McKinney will bring an entirely new and energized group of people to our side. Then it's our job to show them that we mean business." At All Things Cynthia McKinney, McKinney has posted an audio clip where she explains why she has declared herself a member of the Green Party "and when I vote Green I will vote my values." McKinney was elected to Congress six times as a member of the Democratic Party (1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004). Is McKinney running for president? She concludes her audio message with, "I promise to announce my decision in November." Along with being a leading voice against the war in Congress, the Green Party also notes, "McKinney, who served a dozen years in Congress, filed impeachment papers on President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Sec. of State Rice as her last official act."

As noted Wednesday, Ralph Nader also intends to announce his decision of whether to run for president or not by the end of the year. On Wednesday, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with attorney Carl Mayer about the lawsuit being filed regarding attempts in 2004 to deny Nader ballot access. Over the summer, Ian Wilder filmed Nader discussing the ballot access issue and Ian and Kimberly Wilder have posted the video at their site On the Wilder Side. They have also made it available at YouTube.

Turning to some of today's reported violence in Iraq . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bridge bombing Thursday night in the Diyala. Reuters notes three injured in a Ramadi bombing and a Diwaniya roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Polish soldiers with three more wounded. Counting today's death -- Andrzej Filipek, Poland has lost 23 troops in the illegal war. BBC reports, "The three injured soldiers are being treated in a hospital near the scene of the blast. The incident follows the attempted assassination in October of the Polish Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Pietrzyk."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Gunmen opened fire on two pupils on Thursday afternoon near Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk) during their return from school in (Beer Ahmed) village killing one and injuring the other."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Also today, the
US military announced: "Three Airmen were killed Nov. 1 while performing combat operations in the vicinity of Balad Air Base, Iraq. All three were assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Balad AB."

Staying with violence:

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words: "Anything you say can't and won't be used against you in a court of law."
ABC News obtained copies of sworn statements given by Blackwater guards in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, all of which begin, "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding." Constitutional law expert
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the offering of so-called "use immunity" agreements by the State Department is "very irregular," adding he could not recall a precedent for it. In normal circumstances, Ratner said, such immunity is only granted after a Grand Jury or Congressional committee has been conveyed and the party has invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It would then be authorized by either a judge or the committee.

Jeremy Scahill (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) on this week's big development with regards to the mercneary company -- the US State Department's own investigators offered Blackwater 'guards' immunity (limited-immunity, they insist) for their 'cooperation' in the investigation into the slaughter. On Wednesday Aram Roston (NBC News) reported, "Federal agents are investigating allegations that the Blackwater USA security firm illegally exported dozens of firearms sound suppressors -- commonly known as silencers -- to
Iraq and other countries for use by company operatives, sources close to the investigation tell NBC News. . . . The sources said the investigation is part of a broader examination of potential firearms and export violations." Meanwhile, the only US governmental entity to hold Blackwater accountable is the IRS. To avoid paying taxes, FICA, et al, Blackwater was categorizing its employees as contract labor. The IRS overruled that. Yesterday,
US Senator John Kerry notified Steven C. Preston, head of the U.S. Small Business Adminstration by letter that he needs answers regarding a Blackwater affilate, Presidential Airways, Inc, and requesting "A thorough analysis of the size determination made regarding Blackwater; The information that was relied on in making the size determination; The number of employees and independent contractors Blackwater and each of its affiliates or related companies listed in Size Determination Memorandum File Number 3-2007-3-4-5 were ddetermined to have through the SBA's analysis; The number (and location) of site visits that were done to confirm any information Blackwater or its affiliates provided; How the SBA used the Twenty Factor Common Law Test in making the size determination; Any additional materials related to other size determinations involving Blackwater USA or any of its affiliates." And on oversight . . . Jeremy Scahill addressed Blackwater on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal October 19th. He also answered questions the following week. One viewer asked about North Carolina's oversight responsibilities. Scahill replied, "I think this would be an important development. One of the interesting -- some might say distrubing -- aspects of Blackwater's presence in the US national security apparatus is its facilites. The main Blackwater headquarters in Moyock, North Carolina is a sprawling 7,000 acre private military base -- the largest of its kind in the world. The company has also been building a parallel network to the structure of the offical government apparatus. The Prince empire now includes an aviation division, a maritime division, an intelligence company and Blackwater manufactures both surveillance blimps and armored vehicles. It recently opened a new Blackwater facility in Illinois called 'Blackwater North' and is fighting back fierce local opposition to a planned 800+ acre facility in Poterero, California, just miles from the US-Mexico border. The Congressman who represents that district, Democrat Bob Filner, recently inroduced legislation seeking to block the creation of what he terms 'mercenary training centers' anywhere in the U.S. outside of military bases. While that is obviously at the federal level, it would be interesting to get basic questions answered about the legal framework for such facilities in the states in which they operate."

Turning to the continued tensions and conflict between Turkey and northern Iraq. Today
Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Air Force Gen. retired Joseph Ralston (whom Bully Boy appointed as his envoy to address the PKK) declaring, "The U.S. government should make good on the commitments they have made to the Turks." US Secretary State and Anger Condi Rice went to Turkey for a diplomatic meeting today. CBS and AP report that Rice declared, following the meeting, the US government's "committed to redoubling its efforts" in assisting Turkey in combating the PKK -- a group the US has labeled a "terrorist" organization. Rice's words ring as hollow as Hoshyar Zebari's, noted by Glen Carey (Bloomberg News), Iraq's Foreign Minister and Kurd -- that, yet again, Iraq's central government is serious about doing something. Rice says more talks will come tomorrow in Istanbul and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan , meets with Bully Boy in DC on Monday. Translation, nothing has been accomplished.

From do-nothing to actual action,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explored the latest with CODEPINK today:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the bigger issue of CODEPINK. Actually, yesterday President Bush invoked CODEPINK's name. Let's hear what he had to say.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Congress needs to put the needs of those who put on the uniform ahead of their desire to spend more money. When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and CODEPINK protesters.
AMY GOODMAN: That's President Bush speaking yesterday. Medea Benjamin, your response?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, we think it's great that Bush mentioned us. We only wish he would have listened to us back in 2002, when we formed CODEPINK and said that invading Iraq would be a disaster. And, of course, we wish that he and Congress would listen to us now, when we say bring the troops home and don't invade Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the strategy that you've employed and what it means to be banned from the Capitol. In fact, it wasn't just Desiree who was banned when she approached Condoleezza Rice; you, too, were banned that day, weren't you?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes. There were five of us that were pulled out of the hearing room. I was pulled out for going like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Meaning holding up a peace sign.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Holding up my hands in a peace sign, that's right. And I face a jury trial for that unlawful conduct. And they are cracking down harder on us. We have about a dozen CODEPINK men and women right now who are banned from the Capitol, which is something we would like to get some lawyers to contest the legality of that. In the meantime, we really need more people to come forward and join us in the CODEPINK house in D.C., because we're absolutely determined that we have people in every one of these hearings where they're talking about the war. And right now, there's going to be another big moment when Bush is asking for more money for the war, and Congress is going to have to decide whether they're going to give it to him. We need to be there in their faces every single day. So our appeal to all the listeners of Democracy Now! is: come to D.C. Stay at the
CODEPINK house. It's a fabulous experience. But we need you to be there when we can't.

Ruth notes, PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, tonight in most markets Moyers examines how FCC chair Kevin Martin's push to deregulate the communications industry will threaten minority ownership and that Moyers will also provide a commentary regarding press coverage of peace rallies. PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (also Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver offer an excerpt of their new book And Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes airs Bob Simon's report on 'Curveball' -- the Iraqi exile who invented stories the administration swallowed (despite warnings) because it fit with the other lies they were using to launch an illegal war.


stacy bannerman & the facts of life

a kitty?

yes, a kitty.

do you know how hard it is to find a halloween costume for an infant?

i found a pumpkin that fit and a doggie costume that almost fit. i didn't think either looked good on the baby. if you ever put your child in 1, i'm sure you found a better 1 than i did.

so i went with a kitty cat. the pumpkin costume turned the baby into a door stop and the doggie costume just wasn't a flattering color.

i have a photo that will run in the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow and some more in my column sunday for maria, francisco and miguel's newsletter.

halloween has me thinking of christmas because, obviously, the baby is too young to really know what's going on. and i'm trying to remind myself that this isn't the christmas to get all excited over. so i'll probably go with a dressy outfit and nothing cutesy. (i had thought of a costume for a elf or something christmasy.) (i'm talking about for the baby, not me.)

c.i. passed this on to me (lynda noted it to c.i.). it's stacy bannerman's 'War IS a Women’s Issue, Senator Clinton' (common dreams):

I spoke with Senator Clinton back in 2006, when I spent almost three months spearheading Operation House Call, a daily vigil in the summer sauna of Capitol Hill, with a growing number of combat boots representing what Congress’s decision to “stay the course” in Iraq was costing our troops. The Senator is smaller and softer in person than she is on TV, but I guess that’s the benefit of living in the political and financial Green Zone that affords the luxury of denial; that insulates and isolates an elected official from having to face the human and domestic costs of war.
In an effort to cement herself as the candidate of choice for working- and middle-class women, Senator Hillary Clinton is reaching out to those constituencies by touting issues like child care, Social Security and health care. Speaking to audiences of women political activists, she focuses almost exclusively on domestic policy, framing her presentations in terms of family, health and home, rarely, if ever, addressing foreign policy. Perhaps Hillary thinks women shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about things like war; that women should just leave that up to the men folk. Or perhaps it’s because the Senator has no real grasp on precisely how the seemingly-interminable occupation of Iraq and the repeat, extended deployments are destroying the American home front.
As the (separated) wife of an Iraq war veteran, and a card-carrying member of
Military Families Speak Out, I have no buffer. I live daily with the fall-out from this war, I hear regularly from the women who are suffering in silence, rambling e-mails dripping with the psychic blood that is being shed all over this nation, long phone calls from weeping wives, worried about their children, their husbands and their families, but rarely, if ever, themselves. We are America’s uncounted, unrecognized collateral damage, left to fend for ourselves in a system that denies our experience and dismisses our existence.

you know what? i agree with stacy.


yeah, there's a but in there. not about her.

i agree with what she's saying.

but it the problem hillary clinton?

laura flanders has pointed out that women aren't being invited on to the chat & chews to talk about iraq.

that's true.


yeah, there's a but.

which women are using their voices to cover iraq?

katha pollitt, in the print edition of the nation, seems to forget there's an illegal war going on except for once a year. ruth conniff does a better job but she's not really writing about iraq.

rosa brooks sometimes covers it.

ellen goodman sometimes covers it.

maria cooco sometimes covers it.

katrina vanden heuvel does every thing she can to avoid it.

so i'm not sure that we can pin the problem on hillary. i'd love to. i don't like hillary. i'm hoping i won't have to vote for her for president.

today, common dreams posted 12 columns. only 3 are about iraq and only 1 is by a woman (stacy).

15 columns yesterday. 4 about iraq. 2 by women - cindy sheehan and antonia zerbisias. 4 other women write about other topics.

14 on tuesday. 2 on iraq. 1 by a woman - ann wright. 2 other women write on other topics.

11 columns on monday. 3 are about iraq. only 1 is by a woman, ann wright again. 3 other women write about other topics.

8 columns on sunday. 5 are by women. 3 choose to write about other topics. 2 women (cindy sheehan & sarah churchwell) write about iraq, as does 1 man.

if you're not noticing it, women are less represented and the women that are represented are far less likely to write about iraq.

at what point do we have to note the obvious? women with public voices aren't using them.

cindy sheehan and ann wright are. they weren't professional writers until the illegal war. these other women, many of whom appear in newspapers, find a million & 1 topics to write about and avoid iraq repeatedly.

maureen dowd (who's being burned at the stake again by the democratic center posing as the left) has covered iraq seriously. she is 1 of the few.

molly ivins covered it and, in fact, planned to cover it every column until the illegal war ended. then? she passed away.

no woman (or man) has taken up the torch.

so my point here is hillary is talking a lot of nonsense. go to common dreams. a lot of women are writing a bunch of nonsense.

go online. a lot of women have no idea that there is an illegal war on.

i believe the mud flap gals wrote about iraq once last week. they were ga-ga-goo-goo that the p.k.k. had women in it. they linked to the times of the london and added a 'you go, girl!' sentiment. because all good feminists should be applauding women's rights to join groups designated 'terrorists' by the u.s. and the euopean union?

or take now - national org women. once upon a time kim gandy seemed fired up about the illegal war. then, shortly before now's pac endorses hillary clinton, iraq not only falls off the radar but the now website pulls their dove with the slogan that 'peace is a feminist issue.'

i mean, i'd love to blame all of the above on hillary. but the reality is she's catering to what she thinks women want. she may be basing that on what women choose to write about.

and women have been awol on iraq.

it's really embarrassing.

stacy writes about iraq. missy comley-beattie does.

but, take ellen goodman. or katha pollitt. sometimes they're so convinced they're cute and sparkling that they don't have time to cover iraq. (i like ellen goodman.)

at what point are we going to notice that if you remove activists, the women you're left with make a point to avoid the topic of iraq every chance they get?

i mean, when the dems were stabbing america in the back on iraq, what was katrina vanden heuvel writing about? american idol and her need to take 'days' off to prepare for her daughter's sweet 16.

now look, i opened talking about my child.

i'm a new mother, a first time mother, my child isn't even 1 year old and i've wanted children my entire life. i'm also not a professional writer. but i do write about iraq more than our supposed writing class. and katrina vanden heuvel is the editor AND publisher of a political magazine. what's she doing going ga-ga over american idol?

i mean it's embarrassing enough that she is. but to choose to write about it?

margaret kimberley regularly covers iraq. she has a once a week column at Black Agenda Report. if you took all of katrina's writings (blog posts) on iraq and combined it with all of katha pollitt's and all of patricia j. williams' in one year, margaret kimberley, 1 woman, would have written more about iraq in a year.

i understand what stacy's saying. and i agree hillary's avoiding the illegal war. (c.i. also predicted last year that once she was in the lead, hillary would move to domestic issues where she is strongest with voters.) but where i have my 'but' is on the fact that women writers - professional 1s, not activists who emerged in this illegal war - refuse to write about the war.

that is reality. look at the dopey gail collins and all her bad copy she's churning out now that she's not the editor of the op-ed pages of the new york times.

i don't like hillary at all. i'd love to pick up the cotton bowl (used) and toss it at her. but the reality is the issue goes beyond hillary and a lot of women are failing us.

it is a failure.

as now used to grasp, peace is a feminist issue.

iraqi women have seen their lives destroyed by war. war destroys many women's lives. it's destroying the lives of many in the u.s. as stacy points out.

but where are the women writing about it?

we've got a nation of mud flap gals. phoney gals posing as feminist and using that as their excuse to dissect a justin timberlake video instead of addressing an ongoing illegal war.

when you grasp that is happening, you see why i have a 'but' even with laura flanders.

women are being shut out on the chat & chews on iraq. but the reality is that the professional writers have already shut themselves out on that topic so why would any of them be invited on to talk about it to begin with?

here's another thought. 'super' as an adjective? women who do that in a supposed serious book review? they embarrass not just themselves, they embarrass all of us. 'the book is super wonderful.' or whatever that dumb review said about katha pollitt's dumb book. there's a reason she's become den mother to the mud flap gals. they are her blair, tootie, jo and natalie and she is their mrs. garrett.

and, sadly, those are the facts of life.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, November 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, resistance brews, the US military does their usual stunt of announcing deaths after the press reports the totals for the month and more.

Starting with war resistance. "I am standing here today on behalf of the men, women and children of the Middle East, who have fallen victim to this Administration and it's complete lack of compassion and total disregard for both U.S. and International laws of war. I stand with them so that the entire world can take notice, and so that they will know that they are not forgotten," announced war resister James Circello in New Orleands over the weekend at a rally to end the illegal war, restore the Constitution and rebuild the Gulf Coast.
Audio-visual can be found here and IVAW has the text of his speech posted as well. From the speech:

A little about myself:
I enlisted directly after the attacks of September 11th, I thought I was going to be a part of something noble and would be defending my country and family. Defending this, that and every other thing soldiers are told they defend.
All I ended up defending were corporate interests.
I served in Iraq during the initial invasion as an Airborne Infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade from March 2003 to March 2004.
And while there, something incredible happened, something so revolutionary no one would ever believe me. . .
But while I was in Iraq I actually made friends with the people of that country. Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turks -- all of them.
It was unbelievable, all this time I was told that Arabs wanting to kill me for my freedom and because I was American.
I quickly became disillusioned about our mission there. We were being told that we were giving these people Democracy, unfortunately what I saw would best be described as martial law, or what we called "The Old West." Soldiers joked that "anything goes", which was true and still is, for the most part, today.
Time went by and I moved on to other places in my career, but I never forgot what I did while in Iraq and what I saw happening: Other kids turning into animals.
Some as young as 17, brutalizing, bullying and humiliating individuals sometimes old enough to be their grandparents, and sometimes young enough to be their children.
And it wasn't just the men and women on the receiving end, suffering through illegal and tiresome searches of their homes and vehicles, simply for being brown skinned, but the same methods were applied to women and children as well.
No one was innocent.
No one was innocent. No one.
I was against the invasion before I was deployed but shortly after I came home from Iraq, I decided I was completely against the Occupations and would refuse to participate in them any longer -- though it would take me over 2 and a half years to finally do something about it.
But then I did.
I left the Army on Easterm morning of this year, in protest of this Administration's War-Crimes and on that day I decided I would never again wear the Uniform of War.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

NLG president Marjorie Cohn spoke with by
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today:

AMY GOODMAN: You're celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the National Lawyers Guild. Can you talk about why it formed?

MARJORIE COHN: In 1937, seventy years ago, the American Bar Association would not admit people of color. So the National Lawyers Guild started as an alternative to the American Bar Association. And during the last seventy years, National Lawyers Guild legal people -- lawyers, law students, legal workers -- have been involved in the cutting edge struggles to support the rights of people. And our preamble says it all, and we're dedicated to the proposition that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

AMY GOODMAN: You have written a great deal about the Bush administration. What do you think is President Bush's greatest offense at this point?

MARJORIE COHN: The war in Iraq is clearly his greatest offense, and the torture is part and parcel of that. And in his co-called war on terror, he has really made us less safe. He has put many of our lives in danger. And more than 3,800 people have lost their lives in this country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Untold numbers of people have been wounded on both sides. And, in fact, he is rattling -- he and Cheney are rattling the sabers against Iran and promise to do even more horrible damage.

AMY GOODMAN: Have the Democrats coming to power in Congress made a difference?

MARJORIE COHN: They are holding hearings. So far, that's the only difference. They gave him the so-called Protect America Act, which legalizes his illegal spying program, which is not used just to spy on the terrorists, but also used to spy on dissidents, people who dissent against the administration policy. And I've seen a lot of timidity on the part of the Democrats. This vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee that's going to happen next week on the Mukasey nomination is going to be very telling, to see if the Democrats put their money where their mouth is. And it's not just waterboarding. If you look at his testimony, it supports the Bush administration in lockstep right down the line.

Returning to actions over the weekend,
Adam Kokesh writes about the action he took part in. From "The Rally in Philly:" "The crowd was a bit disappointing, but still solid given the weather. I got to meet up with some friends from Veterans For Peace and some student organizers I've worked with just before Kelley Dougherty, the IVAW Executive Director, got on stage to speak. Despite having a very sweet demeanor and voice for an Iraq vet, she has a way of always getting people riled up and passionate about direct action, which she did. I did a couple TV interviews when the caravan stopped in Baltimore to pick some people up at a church, and said that this day of protests was one for the movement, one for the people. We're deliberately not doing something in DC because we are sick of asking for them to end this war. We the people have to stand up and stop this war for ourselves." On Friday, Kokesh spoke at his university (Georgetown). Hadas Gold (The GW Hatchet) reports, "About 30 people, most community members and some students, listened to Kokesh speak about Iraq, the military and the inherent racism in both. 'There really is some shame associated with having been a part of (racism in the military),' said Kokesh, who served in the Marines. Kokesh spoke of how the military dehumanizes Iraqis by using racial slurs and other names . . . to make the killings easier on the mind. . . . 'You cannot love what you do not understand,' Kokesh said. 'We would be na've to think America has been an exception to this historic trend.' Kokesh said everyone has the capacity for racism and that it is too often recognized as acceptable in our culture." Kokesh is co-chair of IVAW.

While Adam Kokesh works to get the word out,
Nancy Youssef files another bad report for McClatchy Newspapers. She writes, "Of October's [US military] deaths, 27 were caused by enemy action, Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count reported on its web site." She tells you there were 36 for the month of October. Now McClatchy knows damn well the US military announces deaths late. The number is 39 because 3 October deaths were announced today. McClatchy -- of all people -- shouldn't be caught with their pants down. But what of the nine who died from something other than a non-combat classification? Did McClatchy determine the cause of death. Or did they just accept the military's "under investigation"? As we noted in Tuesday's snapshot, Christopher Monroe (whose parents have filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company responsible for their son's death) died October 25, 2006. The US military announced a death that sounded like a fender bender ("5-ton truck was involved in an automobile accident with a civilian vehicle") when the reality was that Monroe got run down by mercenaries in an armored Suburban (the mercenaries worked for Erinys -- Monroe's parents are suing them over the death of 19-year-old Christopher). Here's the reality for McClatchy -- which has done this dopey report for at least three months now -- if you don't know about the other deaths, you really can't write about the ones classified as "combat." That glaring error is not erased by erasing mentions -- even in passing -- of the others who died. Furthermore, in what reads like a report of 'progress,' Youssef notes, "A report by the Government Accountability Office in Washington warned Tuesday that the U.S. and Iraqi governments haven't taken advantage of the drop in violence." And? That's it. Youssef is done with it; however, yesterday James Glanz (New York Times) reported, ". . . Joseph A. Christoff, the director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, said some measure of what some see as progress in Iraq were not as clear-cut as they might seem. For example, Pentagon statistic indicated that a drop in violence in Iraq over the past several months 'was primarily due to a decrease in attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff said in written remarks to a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. 'Attacks against Iraqi security forces and civilians have declined less than attacks against coalition forces,' Mr. Christoff wrote." None of that is in Youssef's article. When the New York Times is doing a better job on Iraq than McClatchy, there is a problem. Or, as a correspondent for another paper e-mailed the public account to assert, "You're going to pass Nancy again." Ruth called it out the start of last month. Youssef is one of the strongest print reporters on Iraq at any paper but this new monthly series is garbage. There were other things to call out before but only McClatchy appears to have not grasped that the figures you run with for that first-of-the-month-report-on-the-first-of-the-month change. The US military knows those reports are in the works -- it's why they now regularly feed the key talking points two weeks before the end of the month in press conference after press conference -- so they regularly have a few 'holdover' announcements on deaths. Already today, the US military has announced 3 October deaths. Anywhere in the report (which appears as confused as John McCain on the campaign trail -- though McCain is pretending confusion re: Iraq, in August 2006, he outlined all that has happened) about the key element of October? Nope. ". . . Bush's military strategy has employed its own indiscriminate firepower -- from loose 'rules of engagement' for U.S. troops, to helicopter gun ships firing on crowds, to jet air strikes, to missiles launched from Predator drones. For instance the U.S. military acknowledged on Oct. 23 that an American helicopter killed 11 people, including women and children . . ." Who wrote that? Not Youssef. Robert Parry (Consortium News) pointed that out this week. It's sad that a monthly-round-up piece by Youssef on violence in Iraq can't even note the most obvious trend for the month of October. As we noted Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review: "If September's big story was Blackwater, the key story of October was US military air strikes that killed civilians -- with the US admitting to a few while using 'under investigation' to cover others. That too is falling out of the early accounts so we're not hopeful to see it explored in the end of the month (published first day of the month) stories." If fell right off the charts, onto the floor and slid under the rug before McClatchy could apparently notice because in a report on violence for the month of October, Youssef writes as if she's unaware of the vast number of reports on Iraqis killed by US 'air power'. She's happy to type up, "Police blame the violence on al Qaida in Iraq . . ." but apparently noting the killings that were the key development of the month (the key was them being reported on, the development itself is not all that new) was too much to ask for. The report is useless. It was useless before 3 more deaths being announced made the figures wrong. If you're wondering, for the second month in a row McClatchy Newspapers plays vauge on the Iraqi death statistics. Youssef zooms in on Baghdad but fails to note the figures throughout Iraq. AFP reports, "The number of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks" note that leaves out the Iraqi civilians killed in US air strikes "rose in October, in a blow to a nine-month-old US troop surge policy. At least 887 Iraqis were killed last month, compared to 840 in September, according to the data compiled by the Iraqi government." AFP keeps their own figures -- these are not them. These are figures released by the Iraqi government, the ministries of interior, defence and health. Meanwhile the site that is known for undercounting the dead, IBC, has a total of 1,1817 Iraqi civilians killed for the month of October. Neither goes with a Happy Talk "Troops coming home anyday now!" theme. AFP also notes, "The United Nations, one of the reliable sources of information, also stopped providing the data since early this year." Of course you could always pull a Ned Parker and compare this month's toll with January's (as he does in the Los Angeles Times) and trumpet "DECREASE!" Apparently, the saying is never be a nosy parker nor a Ned Parker. Call it a sign of the sorry state of journalism or a sign of hope but college student Emily Watson (UT's The Daily Texan) clearly grasps what so many refuse to:

The Associated Press reported this week that the projected death toll for October - 36 - is the lowest in 19 months, almost half of last month's casualties. But who are we, as citizens and journalists, to say that the casualties of the Iraq war, at only 36, are the lowest they have been in 19 months? Only one casualty in a month is not a feat - it still means that one life has been lost. Let's stop speaking in numbers and death tolls and start looking at what really happens when a nation is at war. The federal government prohibits the publishing of any photographs of dead soldiers' coffins. Perhaps that's how they want to keep it: We can see the numbers of coffins, but not the coffins themselves. If death isn't real to the American public, then the war is just something that whispers its way into the nightly news or that creeps quietly into the RSS feeds of our blogs. We turn a blind eye to the soldiers walking the halls of America's Veterans Affairs hospitals. College-aged women and men return from war less their legs, arms, eyes or ears, hoping to one day be normal again.

Today the
US military announced, "Two Task Force Iron Soldiers were killed by an explosion near their vehicle while conduting operations in Nineveh province Oct. 31." And they announced: "A Task Force Iron Soldier was killed by an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din province Oct. 31." Also today, AP reports that research by the Veterans Affairs Department has found "that at least 283 combat veterans" have taken their own lives after leaving military service between October 7, 2001 "and the end of 2005". Those figures leave out nearly two years worth of data.

In reported violence today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad explosion that claimed 3 lives and left four wounded, a Diyala car bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and 3 Iraqi civilians (eighteen more soldiers were wounded) and, in the latest attack on officials, a Diyala roadside bombing "targeted the convoy of Baladrouz police chief in Baladrouz, killing six of the bodyguards and injuring two others." Meanwhile Kim Gamel (AP) reports, "U.S. helicopters opened fire after a ground patrol came under attack southest of Baghdad on Wednesday, and Iraqi police said three officers were killed and one wounded in the strike." So, yesterday, another US air strike -- 'precision,' to be sure -- resulted in the deaths of 3 Iraqi police officers.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man shot dead in Baghdad, while three civilians and police officer were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, and Saleh Al Jizani ("brother of a prominent member of Mahdi army militia and Sadr trend in Basra") while yesterday "a member of Mahdi army military" was shot dead in Basra.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes Professor Sabri Abdul-Jabar's corpse was discovered outside of Kirkuk today.

Turning to documentaries,
Meeting Resistance is the new documentary by journalists Molly Bingham and Steve Connors. The film examines the Iraqi resistance to the illegal war and occupation. Mike Ferner (CounterPunch) reports on how the documentary came in to being and quotes Steve Connors delcaring, "This film is seen as somehow really radical. I've covered 10 conflicts and this is the first time I've heard it's radical to cover the other side. As a German friend of mine asked, 'Americans consider this news?'"; and Bingham explaining, "We didn't know what to expect at all, but what we found was that the vast majority of people we spoke with didn't wait to see how the administration of Baghdad was going to go. They just saw they were being occupied and that occupation required a response. Most of the people we inteviewed were organizing within a week (of the fall of the Saddam Hussein government in early April, 2003), finding people to work with." Reminder, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed them about the documentary on October 18th, it's listen, watch or read online.

Turning to the continued tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports on the meet up US Secretary of State Condi Rice and others will have in Turkey noting the tensions as Rice attempts "not to antagonize either" Turkey or Iraq. Evren Mesci and Hidir Goktas (Reuters) report, "Turkey said on Thursday planned economic sanctions would only target outlawed Kurdish militants and groups providing them with support in northern Iraq."

Returning to resistance. Some in the service are resisting going to Iraq. Yes, we are talking about the State Department.
Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports:

Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs. At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone. One woman said she returned from a tour in Basra with post-traumatic stress disorder only to find that the State Department would not authorize medical treatment. Yesterday's internal dissension came amid rising public doubts about diplomatic progress in Iraq and congressional inquiries into the department's spending on the embassy and its management of private security contractors. Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard."

AP dubs the meeting "contentious" and maintains that diplomats "peppered officials with often hostile comments". Phillippe Naughton (Times of London) calls it "an unprecendented rebellion by foreign service officers over a threat to force diplomats to accept postings in Iraq". Matthew Lee (AP) reports Rice's response -- sending out a cable insisting "that foreign service officers have an obligation to uphold the oaths they took to carry out their policies of the government and be available to serve anywhere in the world".

CBS' 60 Minutes offers a look at "Curveball" -- one of the phonies backing up Bully Boy's lies of war -- who is identified in Bob Simon's report as Rafid Ahmed Alwan. While PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver (they are married) will offer an excerpt of their new book which, unless I'm thinking of another book, includes a third author -- Barbara's adult daughter Camille Kingsolver. If that's the book in question, it's entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.


Jim filling in for Rebecca with a light post

Jim guest posting for Rebecca tonight. It's the first Halloween for Rebecca & Flyboy's baby. She said I could note the costume was "a kitty cat." She plans to blog some about that tomorrow night. Ava, C.I. and I are on the road so we've got a bit more free time than if we were at home. Since most people are taking part in the holiday, we offered to fill in for anyone who needed it.

Rebecca loved the idea and asked me to explain I'm not mad at her.

I am.

Joking. Rebecca and I are a lot alike. We both say what we think. Yesterday, she wrote about how I was asking everyone to hold off on a topic (true) and how she's not sure she agrees with it (which she'd already told me). I wasn't mad in the least but that was one of the two big topics in the e-mails she read today: "Is Jim mad at you?" Or "Are you mad at Jim?" Or "Will Jim be mad at you?"


She's probably right and I surely see her point.

Any other week, because I'm on the fence, I'd say, "Fine. Go for it." But the last two writing sessions for The Third Estate Sunday Review have been hell. I promised Dona I'd try to think of ways to ensure it goes more smoothly this weekend because there's no way we can continue like this. Last Sunday, it was a little after 5:00 pm Sunday when we got done. We had to let most people go much earlier (which was cool) because we were stuck on a story.

We really can't keep doing that and the week before was almost as bad.

Don't get me wrong, we have a blast. But it's just too much to ask everyone to do. And, like Mike pointed out, C.I. had been up since 5:00 a.m. Saturday (or before) on the East Coast, then C.I., Ava and Kat fly back home (with Ava and C.I. writing their pieces for Francisco, Maria and Miguel's newsletter) and that's really too much to ask.

Rebecca doesn't take orders from me. She'll do what she want (and that's true of everyone) but I did ask that everybody try holding off on commenting on one topic because I figured it was a natural for our site. As she pointed out, C.I. tackled it on Monday and it could look like (which I hadn't thought about) that the rest of us were just letting C.I. dangle in the wind. That's a good point. And she's made many more on the phone with me.

My concern is just trying to get us finished with an edition quickly. Ava and C.I. were pitching an idea to Ty yesterday. I've asked everyone to try to do that this week. It's a problem because when we go in with a lot of things before Thursday, most of them fall away because other things pop up by Sunday. But this week, I really don't care. I just want everyone to get some sleep. (Dona wants that too.) So they're tossing an idea around for a very brief feature and I know Jess and Dona are tossing ideas with Kat. Rebecca and I are on the phone all the time and we're tossing ideas as well. The only ones who don't need to are Wally and Cedric because they've had an idea we've needed to do for about three weeks now.

Is it fun? Ask Rebecca. When she was pregnant, I was especially concerned that she not put herself out and she made it clear that she wanted to continue working on the weekends and, if it became a problem, she'd just excuse herself. Now that she's given birth, there are times when she'll excuse herself to go breast feed or something like that.

The site is done by Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, C.I. and myself. Everyone else is just being kind with their time and we always try to make clear that they can take a break, they can skip a weekend, they can do whatever. We love their input and it makes everything we have a lot better but we try to make sure that they know they don't have to help out every weekend. As it turns out, only two people have worked on every edition, Ava and C.I. The rest of us have all taken time off when we needed it.

And everyone's comfortable saying "no" these days. Ava and C.I. have already told me they won't know until Saturday what TV show they'll be reviewing. Ava (with Elaine's help) has gotten very clear about telling me, "I'm tired, back off."

Rebecca and I have never had that problem because we have the same style. So never wonder, "Are they mad at each other?" If we were, you wouldn't have to wonder. You'd say, "Ooops, they are mad."

Okay, she said keep it short and keep it light so I'll wrap up on that.

Wait. Ava and C.I. just hollered. We're going to include something on our guest posts tonight. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, has Bell's Palsy which for most is a temporary affliction (and Goodman appears to be near the end of it). This is from her "For Whom the Bell’s Palsy Tolls:"

Bell's palsy. It hit suddenly a month ago. I had just stepped off a plane in New York, and my friend noticed the telltale sagging lip. It felt like Novocain. I raced to the emergency room. The doctors prescribed a weeklong course of steroids and antivirals. The following day it got worse. I had to make a decision: Do I host "Democracy Now!," our daily news broadcast, on Monday? I could speak perfectly well, and I'm tired of seeing women (and men) on TV who look like they just stepped off the set of "Dynasty." Maybe if they see a person they trust to deliver the news, still there, but just looking a little lopsided, it might change their view of friends and family-or strangers, for that matter-who are struggling with some health issue.
Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia anyone can edit, stated that I had suffered a stroke. So on Tuesday I decided to tell viewers and listeners that I was suffering from a temporary bout of Bell's palsy, that it wasn't painful and that "the doctors tell me I will be back to my usual self in the next few weeks. In the meantime, it just makes it a little harder to smile. But so does the world."
Bell's palsy affects 50,000 people in the U.S. every year. It is an inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve that connects to the eye, nose and ear. The inflammation causes temporary paralysis of the nerve. For some, the eye can't close, so they have to tape it shut at night, and some can't speak. George Clooney had it. Ralph Nader came down with it in the midst of a speaking tour. He was in Boston debating someone when his eye started to water and his mouth sagged. It didn’t stop him. He continued his tour, just beginning each talk by saying, "At least you can’t accuse me of speaking out of both sides of my mouth."
I was just in Santa Fe, N.M., interviewing Tim Flannery, voted 2007 Australian of the Year for his remarkable work as an explorer, paleontologist, zoologist and climate-change scientist. Before we went on the stage, I apologized for my crooked smile. He said he knew the feeling, having had shingles, a more painful viral condition that affects one side of the face. I was beginning to feel less and less alone.
The next day we broadcast from the New Mexico state Legislature. The cameraman told me that Ambassador Joe Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame, had just been in. He had been doing an interview with his wife from a remote studio with Larry King. The cameraman told Wilson that I had Bell's palsy. He said that he, too, had suffered a bout of it. I caught up with Wilson after our morning broadcast. He described what happened to him. It was 10 years ago. He had just gotten off Air Force One in Africa with President Clinton. He splashed some water on his face, looked in the mirror and saw the telltale face sag, unblinking eye and mouth droop; he thought he had had a stroke. Walter Reed Army Medical Center was called, and Wilson was diagnosed with Bell's palsy within a few minutes. Clinton sat him down and said that he had known a number of people who had had Bell's, and that he should just carry on. It would go away. Wilson flew off to Luanda and gave a speech on the tarmac. Later that day, he passed a television set and hardly recognized himself, with his mouth askew. He thought he looked like the actor Edward G. Robinson, a tough-talking gangster speaking out of the side of his mouth.

We wrote about that at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Elaine, Ava and C.I. were the ones who convinced us we had to. (See "Truest statement of the week" and "Goodman's announcement"). There was concern that by writing it we might be talking about something that didn't need to be talked about. I believe it was Ava who pointed out the scene in Coming Home where Jane Fonda's character is confronting the military wives on the base about the base newsletter ignoring the wounded returning to the US. But all three were making points about how Goodman had noted it and it would be a rejection to ignore it. It took guts to go public and keep on working and there are many people -- with off camera lives -- who do. Ignoring something like this would be ignoring anyone's condition that strayed from the very narrow labeled range of "normal." Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the price of oil hits a new record high, Tim Russert gets his ya-yas at the public's expense, Blackwater continues to raise eyebrows and more.

Starting with war resisters. Over the weekend,
Paul St. Armand's Parallels won the Canadian Reflections Award at the enRoute Student Film Festival in Toronto. Among those serving as judges for the festival were film producer Denise Robert, actor-writer-director Patrick Huard, director-animator Torill Kove, director Atom Egoyan, producer Robert Lantos, actor-producer Donald Sutherland and film critic (Toronto Star) Geoff Pevere. Halifax' The Daily News explains, "Parallels is a double portrait of U.S. amry deserters from the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The film won Best Documentary at the 2007 BC Student Film Festival, was a Golden Sheaf nominee at the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, and is a current nominee at Kevin Spacey's Triggerstreet Online Film Festival." The documentary short explores the lives of James D. Jones and Joshua Key. Originally, Paul St. Armand thought he was making a documentary that would look at Vietnam war resisters in Canada three decades later. James D. Jones was one of the war resisters from that era he spoke with. Then the War Resisters Support Campaign hooked him up with Iraq War resister Joshua Key and St. Armand noted similarities in the two resisters stories. Key's story is also among those told in Michaelle Mason's documentary Breaking Ranks (where he states, "As we got down the Euphrates River and we took a shartp right turn, all we seen was heads and bodies. And American troops in the middle of them saying 'we lost it'.") and in the book he wrote with Lawrence Hill, The Deserter's Tale. From Key's book, page 176:

By our sins of willful neglect, we were about to have a child's blood on our hands. I knew it was wrong then, and now I know exactly what the Geneva Conventions say about the protection of women and children in war.
"Women shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected in particular against rape, forced prostitution, and any other form of indecent assault."
I knew how things were going to begin for that thirteen-year-old Iraqi girl, that day, but there was no telling how they would end. We had every means at our disposal to protect that girl. I say this because, in Iraq, sergeants and officers in my company generally behaved however they wanted in the presence of Iraqi civilians, employees, police officers, and border officials. In my opinion, it wouldn't have mattered in the slightest to my superiors what Iraqis throught of our actions. If one of our officers or sergeants had chosen to intervene and protect the girl, no Iraqi working at the border would have been in a position to stop him. We were the ones with the ultimate authority at the border. Indeed, one of our roles at al-Qa'im was to teach the Iraqi border officials and police officers how to inspect a car, and to tell them what we would allow Iraqis to take out of their country and what we prohibited as export items. We were the occupiers and we controlled the border, but when it came to the fate of the thirteen-year-old girl who was about to be raped, we did nothing.

Steve Woodhead (The Brock Press) reports on war resister Michael Espinal recent speaking event at Brock University at St. Catharines, Ontario. Espinal explains of one thing explains about his time in Iraq, "We were told to walk right past injured civilians, even children who were lying bleeding on the ground. I've seen soldiers take up to $20,000 U.S. from homes during house raids . . . Soldiers would go around in civilian cars we picked up at border checkpoints." Like many war resisters, Espinal had to go online to find information about war resistance.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Turning to the topic of the mercenary company Blackwater, an
editorial from the Los Angeles Times notes today: "Congress should also begin investigating growing evidence of an overly cozy relationship between the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Blackwater. It appears that the bureau hired the contractors, supervised their activities, allowed them to use deadly force, began to investigate the long-simmering allegations of excessive use of force only after the outcry over the September shootings, and then promised some contractors immunity without asking permission from the Justice Department. This behavior is more disturbing given reports that Blackwater has hired former State Department officials at high salaries, raising questions about whether the 'revolving door' presented a conflict of interest for investigators. Certainly Blackwater seems to have unwarranted influence in Washington, as evidenced by the letter it procured from the State Department ordering it not to disclose information to Waxman's committee. Who's in charge here, the U.S. government or Blackwater?" As questions continue to rise, John M. Broder and David Johnston (New York Times) inform that the Defense Department and not the State Department will now be in charge of oversight and quote US House Rep Jan Schakowsky stating, "It feels like they're [the State Department] protecting Blackwater." However, Noah Schatman (Wired) reports that the Department of Defense will not provide oversight because "The US Regional Cooperation Offices -- also called 'Reconstruction Operations Centers' -- are themselves outsourced, through a recently renewed $475 million contract to the British firm Aegis. And Aegis is run by the infamous old-school gun-for-hire, Tim Spicer." Which calls into question the noted by Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor), made by Geoff Morrell -- Pentagon flack, that "the military, for its part, would now excercise some control over contractor training" -- a bit hard for the Pentagon to do if oversight has already been contracted out. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) notes the limited-immunity the State Department offered Blackwater over the September 16th slaughter of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and observes, "New details about the 'protections' given Blackwater contractors allegedly involved in the shootings sparked outrage from congressional Democrats yesterday, along with a flood of letters to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from committee chairmen demanding more information." Tim Harper (Toronto Star) observes of the immunity offered (with no input from anyone outside the State Department), "But legal experts said the state department move makes an already difficult prosecution even more difficult and keeps those who allegedly did the shooting in a legal zone which authorities may not be able to penetrate. Democrats accused the Bush administration of shielding potential killers and the chair of the powerful oversight committee gave U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice until Friday at noon to answer questions about the decision of her investigators." Of course, Rice isn't supposed to be in the US then. She's supposed to be in Turkey for a scheduled conference. Facing reporters in yesterday's State Dept briefing, Sean McCormack repeatedly fell back on a claim that he couldn't speak, "First of all, we have to draw a box around the specific events of September 16th and anything involved with that particular case." Other comments on the news emerging this week regarding the State Department and Blackwater included, "This is an area that I can't venture into."; "Again, I can't speak to the specifics of the September 16th case."; "In general, you have exhausted my legal knowledge concerning this case."; and "I'm just not going to have anything to say about the September 16th case." Even on something as general as the process of the incident reports that are supposed to be required whenever a contractor under the State Department fires a weapon in Iraq, McCormack stonewalled with comments such as "Let me just see if there's a standard procedure that I can talk about" and "I'll talk to the lawyers and see what we can do." Discussing the procedures on incident reports, on who sees them and the process itself does not require speaking to an attorney. Furthermore, in a democracy (open government), the process is not a secret. When Helen Thomas pressed White House flack Dana Perino on the immunity issue yesterday, Perino refused to expand on more than "Helen, as I said, it's a matter that's under review" and refused to state whether the Bully Boy had been briefed on the immunity deal the State Department offered.

As the tensions and fallout from the September 16th slaughter continues in Iraq, the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki feels pressure to do something (his earlier public statements regarding Blackwater having since been clamped down on) so he has proposed a measure that would overturn Paul Bremer's Order 17 which granted immunity (from the Iraqi government) to contractors operating in Iraq.
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports the proposed bill "was written by" al-Maliki's legal adviser. Asked about that in the briefing yesterday, Sean McCormack was again evasive stating "Well, it's their law as I understand it -- unless I'm wrong here and that has been known to happen. . . . But as I understand it, they have the ability to changer their laws. Now, let's take a look at exactly what has been proposed and has yet to be debated in their legislature. But once we have a look at it and have a chance to analyze it, perhaps we'll have more to say about it." Left unstated is exactly why the State Department or the US should have anything to say about the allegedly independent nation-state Iraq. Meanwhile Christian Berthelsen and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report that Iraqi eye witnesses to the slaughter say the FBI agents investigating "appear focused on whether anyone fired first on the American convoy and have been aggressively gathering ballistic evidence" and citing an unnamed "U.S. source" report that the team of investigators left Iraq Sunday.

Staying on the topic of crime, the US military has found a number of anthropologists who will betray their field. Earlier this month, the
BBC noted, "The Pentagon is pulling out all the stops in Iraq and Afghanistan" to recruit wayward academics to assist their Human Terrain System; however, "very frew anthropologists in the US are willing to wear a uniform and receive the mandatory weapons training." The article also notes the Network of Concerned Anthropologists an organization created to preven the betryal of the social science and the unethical use of the field to harm or destroy a people. One founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists is David Price. In a well researched and documented article entitled "Pilfered Scholarship Devastates General Petraeus's Counterinsurgency Manual" (CounterPunch), Price walks readers through how even on something as basic as a monogram, those involved are applying no academic standards and he notes that Montgomery McFate appears to believe that merely stumbling across a passage written by another academic means she can claim it as her own -- word for word -- without credit or attribution. That's theft, plagiarism and shoddy scholarship. Monty is as she was -- forever and ever. Price also examines the press-love for Monty and writes, "In a recent exchange with Dr. McFate, Col. John Agoglia and Lt. Col. Edward Villacres on the Diane Rehm Show, I pressed McFate for an explanation of how voluntary ethical informed consent was produced in environments dominated by weapons. In response, McFate assured me that was not a problem because 'indigenous local people out in rural Afghanistan are smart, and they can draw a distinction between a lethal unit of the U.S. military and a non-lethal unit'." The Diane Rehm Show referred to was broadcast October 10th. In that broadcast, though Monty claimed the local population was able to discern, the New York Times' David Rohde was asked how clear the lines were by USA Today's Susan Page (filling in for Rehm) -- "does it seem transparent for them" when they meet with "Tracy":

David Rohde: Um, she was transparent with them. I don't think she gave her full name, I think she does identify herself as an anthropologist. I saw her briefly, but I don't know what she does at all times. She personally, um, actually chose to carry a weapon for security that's not a requirement for members of the team, I've been told. And she wore a military uniform which would make her appear to be a soldier, um, to Afghans that she wasn't actually speaking with.

Susan Page: And so you think Aghans knew that she wasn't a soldier even though she was wearing a military uniform and carrying a weapon? Or do you think that they just assumed that she probably was?

David Rohde: I would think that they assumed that she was.

That's the reality and, strangely, when Rohde was done speaking, Monty had nothing to add even though every false claim she'd offered in the roundtable had just been demolished. Price notes "a recent New York Times op-ed by Chicago anthropologist Richard Shweder indicates a stance of inaction from which the travesties of Human Terrain can be lightly critiqued while anthropologists are urged not to declare themselves as being 'counter-counterinsurgency'." that nonsense ran on A31 of last Saturday's Times and
mainly serves to update his November 2006 op-ed embarrassment where he gushed -- alleged anthropologist -- "The West is the best". The non-thinking person's anthropologist -- to anthropology what recipes on the back of a bag of Frito Lays are to fine cooking -- justified the program. While loose with the truth Monty and lost in stimulation Shweder attempt to put forth the lie that anthropologists are not being used for counter-insurgency measures (thereby assisting an occupying power by gathering information on a population -- information that will then be used against said population which is a clear betrayal of the field), Jacob Kipp, Lester Grau, Karl Prinslow and Don Smith, attempting to get the Happy Talk out on the program for the US military, wrote "The Human Terrain System: A CORDS for the 21st Century" for the September/October 2006 edition of Military Review and which not only makes clear that this is a counter-insurgency program but cites the CIvil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) as a model. CORDS was created under LBJ to "pacify" (destroy) the people studied. As Bryan Bender (Boston Globe) notes, CORDS "helped identify Vietnamese suspected as communists and Viet Cong collaborators; some were later assassinated by the United States." [Elaine addressed Price's article last night.] From Monty's crimes against humanity to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left 3 injured. Reuters notes a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing that claimed the leife of 2 people (Iraqi soldier, police officer) and left another wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in Kirkuk (two more wounded), while two children and a father were wounded in Kirkuk in a drive-by shooting and gunfire wounded a police officer in Babil. Reuters notes yet another attack on an official this time, in Kirkuk, on the chief judge of the court of appeals, Dhahir al-Bayati who was not killed but one guard was and another was left injured while, in Kirkuk, "an intelligence officer along with his wife and son" were injured in a drive-by shooting.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 8 corpses discoveredin Mosul. And CBS and AP note that Iraqi Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi announced today that 16 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Meanwhile tensions continue to escalate between Turkey and northern Iraq.
CNN reports that US planes are "flying over the Turkey-Iraq border to observe military movements" and quotes Pentagon flack Geoff Morrell stating, "We are assisting by supplying them, the Turks, with intelligence, lots of intelligence." Mark Bentley (Bloomberg News) informs that Condi Rice is supposed to "offer Turkey more intelligence on the location of of Kurdish fighters near the border with Iraq in order to avert a large-scale Turkish incursion" when she travels to Turkey for the conference. AP reminds that Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with the Bully Boy in DC Monday. Suzan Fraser (AP) quotes Erdogan declaring that "it is now unavoidable that Turkey will have to go through a more intensive military process." AFP reports the Turkish military is stating it has killed 15 members of the PKK today and cites "press reports" that "possible sanctions against Iraq include restricting trade through the Habur border gate and uctting off electricity supplies to northern Iraq." While Turkey considers that, CBS and AP report, "Iraq will set up more checkpoints along its northern frontier to keep out supplies for Kurdish rebels". Meanwhile Steve Hargreaves (CNNMoney) reports that while the tensions and violence continues the price of oil per barrel hit a new record today: $94.53 per barrel.

Turning to US politics,
Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) notes that Ralph Nader has declared he will make a decision about the 2008 race at the end of this year and quotes Nader stating of the two major parties (Democratic and Republican), "They are converging more and more. They are clearly more similar than they were 30 or 40 years ago." Nader's 2004 run was the subject of a discussion on Democracy Now! today between Amy Goodman and Carl Mayer who has filed a lawsuit against the Democratic Party:

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you suing?

CARL MAYER: To defend democracy. That's the title of the show -- excuse me, is Democracy Now! And this was the most massive anti-democratic campaign to eliminate a third-party candidate from the ballot in -- probably in recent American history. It is -- not content with having all these laws and statutes on the book that make it difficult for third-party and independent candidates to run, the Democratic Party and their allies in over fifty-three law firms, with over ninety lawyers, were engaged in filing litigation in eighteen states. They were to remove Ralph Nader from the ballot. It was an organized, abusive litigation process. The core of the lawsuit is that these lawyers, led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman, and something called the Ballot Project, which was a 527 organization, systematically went around the country and filed lawsuit after lawsuit, twenty-four in all, plus five FEC complaints, to try to completely remove the Nader campaign from the ballot and to, in effect, bankrupt the campaign, which they succeeded in doing. Not content with that, one of the defendants, Reed Smith, which is a large corporate law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they are now going after Ralph Nader's personal bank account to make him pay some of the cost of this litigation.
And, understand, despite being outspent by the Democratic Party and its affiliated lawyers, the vast majority of these lawsuits were won by the Nader campaign, which was a largely volunteer effort. And these lawsuits were won across the country, despite this organized effort of intimidation and harassment. It's basically abusive process and malicious prosecution. Those are common law torts. And it was very clear from the beginning that the Democratic Party was using the legal system for an improper purpose. In fact, Toby Moffett, who's a former congressman from Connecticut, said directly to The Guardian of London in an interview in December of 2004, this wasn't about the law. "I'd be less than honest if I said" this was not about the law; this was about getting Ralph Nader off the ballot. And that's what this effort was about. And it's a shameful anti-democratic process by a party that claims to be a democratic party. And on top of that, the Democratic Party, or its allies, filed five FEC complaints against the campaign, alleging improper --

AMY GOODMAN: Federal Election Commission.

CARL MAYER: The Federal Election Commission -- alleging improper funding, improper finances, etc. They were all dismissed by the FEC.
Now, let me tell you how bad it got. There was an organized effort of harassment of petitioners who went around trying to collect signatures for the Nader campaign in Ohio, in Oregon and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, for example, lawyers were hired to call up petitioners and tell them that if they didn't verify the signatures on the petition, they would be guilty of a felony. They were called at home by -- and they were, in many cases, visited by private investigators and told -- this is voter intimidation of the worst order. In the state of Oregon, for example, there was a nominating convention, and you need a thousand signatures at the convention. We have emails from Democratic Party operatives stating, we want our people to go to this convention and then refuse to sign the petition at the convention so Nader will not get enough signatures at the convention to get on the ballot. And they accomplished their goal in Oregon. After the convention, there's an alternative way of getting on the ballot, which is to collect signatures, and the Nader campaign went about doing that, and during the course of that there was further harassment and intimidation of petitioners by law firms, private investigators, calling up and threatening petitioners that they would be called before a court if they did not certify all the petitions.

For the record,
Ralph Nader is against the illegal war and calling for an immediate end to it unlike the three Democratic front runners. Last night the and others participated in a forum billed as a 'debate' but more of an embarassment.

Hillary Clinton demonstrated that even when attacked by two men (Barack Obama and John Edwards), a woman is up for the job. Whether she would be the president Americans want or not is another question. Like Obama and Edwards, Clinton refuses to pledge to end the illegal war if elected president (in 2008) by 2013.

Apparently having exhausted the alleged "rock star" charm and having no real ideas to offer voters,
Marz Barbabak and Peter Nicholas (Los Angeles Times) report, Barack now claims the really issue is that Clinton is reportedly "divisive" stating, "Part of the reason that Republicans, I think are, obsessed with you, Hillary, is because that's a fight they're very comfortable having." Considering that many Americans look back favorably on the 90s and that Bill Clinton won two presidential elections, Obama's attempted smear was ineffective. By contrast, John Edwards wanted to talk about his beliefs, CNN notes, for instance: "You know, I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the tooth fairy." And candidates wonder why they aren't taken seriously? As Bill Richardson stated of the tag-team attacks on Clinton (note, neither man was up to the attacks before they could tag-team), "I think that Senators Obama and Edwards should concentrate on the issues and not on attacking Senator Clinton."

But where were the issues? Iraq was rendered nearly as invisible as
Mike Gravel who was not allowed to take part in the forum. Moderator Tim Russert attempted to further narrow the field by ridiculing Dennis Kucinich -- possibly because Kucinich actually has a plan to end the illegal war? "Now, did you see a UFO?" Many Americans have seen UFOs. UFOs are not flying saucers. Russert bungled his own big moment by failing to grasp that, as Kucinch pointed out, a UFO is "unidentified." Millions of Americans call in UFOs every year -- and will continue to. Apparently, if Americans saw strange planes flying along the eastern coast, Russert would prefer they not alert authorities? UFOs is what Russert offered. No substantial exchange on issues, just ha-ha UFOs. All Things Media Big and Small continue to ignore the very real issues at stake in the 2008 election. Last night may be the most extreme televised examples as one candidate felt the need to cite the tooth fairy while avoiding the realities most Americans are living with and a moderator thought he could better serve the public by offering up ha-has.