Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The party is mere hours away, here's some news

Thomas Friedman is fussing with his wig and in a tizzy over whether to wear the white dress (like in the "Seven Year Itch") or the pink satin number (which looks only a little like the dress in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" but the sash does minimize his hips). I'm trying to pretend like I'm still reading the paper so I don't get dragged into the middle of it. What must have I done in the life I can't remember to end up in this hell?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."

As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.

Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".

In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."

Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."

In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."

Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja, "[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822):
Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members ofAlpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Around the globe. The AFP reports that confronted with a direct threat of nuclear strikes, from North Korea, the White House shrugs and White House spokesmodel Tony Snow declares, "It is still deeply hypothetical." However, the Bully Boy demonstrates no reluctance to play Wallflower with Iran. The Associated Press reports "Western powers" are demanding a July 12th dealine for beginning talks and ceasing nuclear enrichment -- after that, it's a nuclear dance off! This despite Seymour Hersh's reporting that "Pentagon planners and other experts" are not in support of Bully Boy's plan to nuke Iran. Korea? Iran? Iran? Korea? Michael R. Gordon's head spins as he attempts to figure out which war is a "go" in order to start marketing his own brand of home-made (war) porn. (Seymour and Shane -- what have you wrought!) And in the occupied terroritories? The 'jokesters' at the Associated Press, reporting on continued armed agression, dub their story "Israel keeps up pressure on Gaza." In the real world, Nora Barrows-Friedman, on KPFA's Flashpoints, noted that over 130,000 Palestinians have been left without water; that sonic booms are being used to terrorize the population throughout the night; that Israeli forces, in the last week, have abducted " one-third of the Palestinian government. No one in the international community has yet expressed any outrage at this or the Palestinian political prisoner's conditions."

In election news in the United States, Robert Parry writes on the campaign "tool" that benefitted the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004: Osama bin Laden's rush-released video timed to debut four days prior to the election. Though it didn't fly off the shelves at Blockbuster, CIA analysts studying the release came to the judgement that "that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term." Meanwhile, professional politician Joe Lieberman, who never met a baby or an ass he couldn't kiss, has thrown down his Zell-Miller-like marker announcing that if he doesn't win his party's nomination (Democratic), he will run as an independent to hold on to his Senate seat. Particularly surprising to Lieberman may be no cries of: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" This as fellow Democratic War Hawk Maria Cantwell appears to hope she can just wish the war away from constituents' minds. In contrast to Cantwell's fiddle-dee-dee approach, newly declared Democrat Jim Webb stated in Saturday's Democratic radio address: ""I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."

In other election news: Que una sorpresa -- another election in Mexico is rife with accusations of fraud and rigging. Possibly, next time an election approaches, US media outlets could spend less time shoring up the lite candidate as "left" and more time exploring the system that continues to fail the people? (We mean the system itself, but if it's easier to focus on the voting mechanics, even that would be preferred.) The BBC reports that conservative Felipe Calderon is the winner and the less conservative Manuel Lopez Obrador is waiting for a recount while the people of Mexico wait for a real leader to emerge. (The actual count of the votes will not begin until Wednesday, as noted by the KPFA Evening News Monday.)

In science & techonology news, the London Free Press is reporting that: "A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early yesterday, passing about 433,000 kilometres from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon." Meanwhile, Jane Kay (San Franciso Chronicle) reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science which has found the world's bird population to be disappearing at an alarming rate: "The study, the most thorough analysis of global bird species, says 12 percent of existing species -- about 1,250 -- are threatened with extinction by 2100." La loco bird flies on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post where the always laughable Eugene Robinson shows up days late, without a tardy slip, and rushes to shore up the justifiably (long) tarnished image of Star Jones (a modern-day Joan of Arc burned at the TVQ pyre, to hear Robinson tell it) in a column that will provide laughter for years (print it up, it's doubtful the 'collected works' will ever be published). The always late for the train Robison trots out a seventies spoof of Barbara Walters but seems (not surprisingly) unaware that Star Jones has been spoofed repeatedly in more recent years on both Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. For the record, roaches weren't used in any spoof revolving around Walters. Alleged homophobe, peace-activist hater, and attorney Jones will apparently next argue the case that her firing from The View just because the audiences hated her was a case of wrongful termination at I-Hops and truck stops across the country. Chances are that she won't draw a crowd there either. Meanwhile Robinson is prepping his next hard hitting column: an exploration of Shannen Doherty's public firings. [Note: C.I. participated in the writing of the previous six sentences only after consulting with friends at the Washington Post.] In a better use of space, investigative journalist and internet sleuth Ron Byrnaert discovers that a certain Free Republic poster is apparently better known to many as a voice of the left or 'left.' Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) searches for the answer to the question of "Who is Vis Numar?"

Monday's Democracy Now! offered "We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger" while today's broadcast will feature:

StoryCorps: A national social history project records the voices of ordinary people -- citizen and non-citizen, old and young -- telling their stories to each other.

Musical question of the day from Carly Simon's "Playing Possum" (written by Simon, title track to the CD of the same name):

We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a rugged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you playing possum for a while?

This joint entry written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report. [With additional help from Dallas and Tracey.]