Saturday, July 21, 2007

Somebody Switched His Meds

Thomas Friedman was freaking out. He was slapping Nicky around the dressing room, threatening to find all sorts of inventive uses for a Pulitzer.

He wouldn't, he couldn't, wear the dark wig. Had Nicky K not noticed the expansion of Thomas Friedman's hips? The bags under his eyes? Did Nicky K not grasp that the smartest thing for a woman was to go to a lighter shade as she aged?

No, he would not.

No, he could not.


Find the red one.

Find the blonde one.

Find a turban.

Well, not a turban. Someone might mistake him for an Arab. But anything short of a turban, find anything short of a turban, for him to wear in place of that dark wig!

He was do onstage in less than ten.

"Miss Friedman, ten minutes to show."

Hadn't Nicky K heard the call?

Was Nicky K trying to destroy Thomas Friedman's still rising cabaret career?

Three quick slaps across the face and Thomas Friedman was sure he had gotten his point across.

Still a little nervous, he pulled out the canned cheese, squirted it and snorted up lines for five minutes.

Shortly after, Nicky K was tickling the ivories and Thomas Friedman, in a silk and rhinestone number, was waddling across the stage.

Did I mention he was wearing the dark wig?

I thought of that incident when I read Thomas Friedman's "Help Wanted: Peacemaker" on Wednesday.

Just last week, he was calling for troops out of Iraq with only one exception: United Nations involvement. Then, on Wednesday, he was saying that the White House needed to offer three things: the puppet government gets its act together (which would require it cutting the strings -- a point Thomas Friedman did not make), partitioning the country (actually illegal for the US to do and illegal for the puppet government to do under United Nations guidelines) or troops kind of out (To the Borders! cries Thomas Friedman).

What was needed, Thomas Friedman explained, was for the administrations to conduct a diplomatic surge.

The best way to read my husband is to expect the kind of 'thought' one gets from a six-year-old ("Hello!") and never expect any consistency. In fact, to really grasp his columns you need to realize that he's probably switched his meds but he's surely throwing a backstage tantrum in public.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, July 20. 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the death toll mounts, a military judge sends the message that even if you're convicted in the killing of an innocent Iraqi you won't get any prison time, and the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk is Operation Push-Back.

Starting with war resisters. Ian Munro (Australia's The Age) explores the "estimated 250" US service members who have self-checked out and moved to Canada and zooms in on Dean Walcott and Phillip McDowell. Munro writes, "Mr Walcott's life was up-ended in 2004 at a military hospital in Germany when burns survivors from the Mosul mess tent bombing were shipped in." Like Walcott, McDowell served in Iraq before deciding to self-check out. Munro quotes McDowell stating, "I believed everything the Government told us about weapons of mass destruction, that there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. I was aware of the international opposition to going in, but growing up I always trusted my government" and reports, "By the end of his tour he saw the war as wrong, illegal and counterproductive, and was disturbed by the treatment of some prisoners. But he thought he was clear by the middle of last year when his enlistment expired. Then the army called him back. With his family's support, he and his partner Jamine took the Canada option in Ocotber." Jeffry House tells Munro that he estimates the number of war resisters in Canada to be 250 and, "Some don't want to go through the war resisters because they are a political group. Some people want to make the point about their concern but don't want to be part of a campaign." House represents many including Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key and Jeremy Hinzman. Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign tells his story, how he self-checked during Vietnam and moved to Canada -- where he's lived ever since and happily (to refute some of the nonsense offered earlier this week by a spokesperson for a group that does not represent self-checkouts) and he estimates there are hundreds who have self-checked out from today's illegal war and moved to Canada.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Yesterday, Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) noted that alleged 'withdrawals' pushed by Democratic leadership in the US Congress some how tend to factor in leaving troops in northern Iraq and the effects the Kurdish separatist movement has on neighboring Turkey which has its own Kurdish separatist movement. Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Gonzales and Juan Gonzales addressed the issue with the independent journalist Scott Peterson (Peterson reports for The Christian Science Monitor which actually is an independent publication and structured as one). As noted before, Turkey has an upcoming election and the tensions flaring between the regions has only increased -- whether or not for electoral gain is for someone else to determine. The region of northern Iraq has its own elections coming up which will determine its autonomy and with very little coverage from Western media, Kurdish flags have been planeted, families run off and those belonging to religious minorities have been either run off from the region or killed. Turkey alleges and identifies the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) as a terrorist organization and has argued that it is granted harbor in northern Iraq. Mortars have been exchanged and, on at least one occassion, Turkish troops have recently entered northern Iraq. From the broadcast:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Scott Peterson, this allegation by Turkey that the United States is indirectly assisting the PKK, is there any evidence of that, given the fact, obviously, that the -- isn't the PKK really a more, historically more of a leftwing insurgency, a secular insurgency that would be unlikely to be supported by the United States?
SCOTT PETERSON: Well, the PKK really disappeared as an organization for the past five or six years. In 1999, its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by the Turks, in fact. And in his first appearance in court, Ochalan said that the PKK had made a number of mistakes during the fifteen-year separatist war, that they should now try and work within the state and with state structures to find recognition of Kurdish rights and recognition of Kurdish culture. And he also said that they're no longer fighting for a separate Kurdish state. So those were all quite important changes that really kind of took the wind out of the PKK sails for many years. What we've seen in the last year or two now is a surge of PKK activity in terms of attacks -- certainly in terms of attacks that the government attributes to the PKK, and those are both in Ankara, others also in Istanbul, some targeting civilians and many targeting also soldiers, especially in Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey. Now, of course, the issue of who is supporting the PKK is a very thorny one, because, of course, the PKK remains on the list of terrorist groups, as officially designated by the US State Department. The United States has identified and chosen a special envoy specifically for countering the PKK. That's the title of Joe Ralston, General Joe Ralston. And so -- and, of course, the US denies that it is giving any support to the PKK, but from the Turkish point of view they say, Wait a minute, there are American forces who control all of Iraq, and therefore since the PKK has bases in northern Iraq, that means that by definition there are -- you know, that the US is somehow involved, if nothing else, in turning a blind eye. And you've also got apparently safe haven given to the PKK by Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq. And the reason for these latest accusations or allegations is, just in the past ten days or so there was a press conference that was purported to be from four PKK members who had fled northern Iraq. They appeared in Ankara at a press conference wearing masks and saying, we have just fled, that PKK militants are leaving their bases, expecting a Turkish invasion, and that also they had witnessed, they say, American troops actually offloading weapons at PKK bases for the PKK. And I have spoken to senior Turkish police officers who feel that the entire story is concocted, and I'm sure that would be the American view, too, but, again, it really does raise a lot of popular questions in the minds of Turks.

Elections in Turkey take place Sunday and for more on that you can read Scott Horton's latest piece in today's Christian Science Monitor. In addition, Katharine Kendrick (Turkish Daily News) reports that political parties in Turkey have forgotten to court one group: "recent Turkish citizens." Some context re: the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey. The US administration is attempting to lay the groundwork for a potential attack on Iran with a lot of loosely sourced claims which -- at best -- if true would only demonstrate that some Iranians have involvement in Iraq. The US administration uses that unproven link to argue that the Iranian government, therefore, must be assisting. In Bite Back In Your Own Ass news, Today's Zaman reports that not only has Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdulla Gul declared that the US is arming the PKK in Turkey but also: "The US Department of Defense has launched an investigation into US-registered weapons sent to the Iraqi army ending up in the hands [of] the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq."In addition, the paper reports, "Former members of the PKK escaping from mountain camps in northern Iraq recently gave testimony in which they told securities authorities and prosecutors they had seen US trucks delivering arms to PKK camps." By the US administration's 'logic' with regards to Iran, Turkey should be drawing up their battle plans. Reuters reports that Turkey was shelling northern Iraq. Meanwhile the Turkish Daily News reports conflicts between Turkey and Austria after Austraia refused to arrest "Ali Riza Altun, a founding member and the chief financial operator of the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States" when he surfaced in Austria this month before moving on to northern Iraq.

Turning to England, the United Kingdom's Military of Defence announced: "It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of one serviceman from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and two servicemen from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment on Thursday 19th July 2007. They were killed in an indirect fire attack on the Contingency Operating Base in Basra, Iraq." Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) noted that British forces are "the second-largest contingent of the American-led coalition in Iraq." ICCC lists the total number of British troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 162. ITV News reports that 126 of the deaths are classified as having "died in action" while the BBC reports the three deaths come after the announcement that "british troops in Iraq will be cut to 5,000 by the end of 2007." Michael Evans and Fiona Hamilton (Times of London) observe that the three deaths come "ten days after three British soldiers were killed in the same area of southern Iraq" Earlier this week, Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported, on a new study by the Royal Stastistical Society that "found the death rate of British troops has now surpassed that of Americans, following a sustained upsurge of violence in the southern city of Basra."

Turning to the United States, today on
KPFK's Uprising, Sonali Kolhatkar spke with Erik Leaver of IPS (Institute for Policy Studies) on the topic of empire, Iraq and more topics addressed in the new report [PDF format warning] "Just Security." With regards to Iraq, the first step, stressed repeatedly, is getting all foreign troops out of Iraq. Kolhatkar brought up the demonizing the administration is attempting to do with regards to US Senator Hillary Clinton. As The Chicago Tribune reports: "Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, accused Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) of aiding the enemy by calling for contingency plans for a troop pullout. 'Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,' Edelman wrote in reply to Clinton's May inquiry. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's letter 'outrageous'." The demonization of Clinton for reqeusting information on contingency plans (which do already exist) is part of a full out assault by the administration, a push-back effort attempting to resell the illegal war long after the majority of Americans have turned against it and are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.
That's why, yesterday, US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, did a song and dance (via video link) for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Wally ("
THIS JUST IN! THAT'S A CROCK!") and Cedric ("It's a Crock") covered it in their joint-post. Crocker was selling the 'fear' because the administration knows to get what they want, honesty doesn't work; however, if they can scare the American public, they might stand a shot. Starting with the Crock which existed to sell the fear (as did all parts of the marketing). Reneee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) reports US Senator Richard Lugar asked, "Are you planning for an eventual change of mission or redeployment of American forces in Iraq?" But Crocker refused to admit a Plan B existed or was being created. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that Crock said the benchmarks weren't being met and probably wouldn't. Cloud's whines were laughable since the US administration created the benchmark talk long before Congress even considered legislation on it. But with more bad news coming, they needed to stall with something. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) would be reporting today, "A committee directed by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Bush to accelerate the transfer of security responsibility to Iraq's army and police has warned that Iraq is lagging in a number of categories. The quarterly report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, says the Finance Ministry is blocking the Iraqi military from spending $660 million to build a logistical network; that militias are an obstacle to handing over to Iraqis responsibility for security in three mainly Shiite Muslim provinces; and that competition among rival security organizations has prevented the country from settling on a national security structure."

None dare call it progress. Which is why the big talking point is "Forget September, We Need To Wait Until November." As
Kat noted last night, the new 'deadline' is supposed to November. Barbara Slavin's "General: September too soon to assess Iraq" (USA Today) noted that "the number two" (in Iraq), Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, was leading that pushback. Shanker and Sanger (New York Times) report, "Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that while he would provide the mid-September assessment of the new military strategy that Congress has required, it would take 'at least until November' to judge with confidence whether the strategy was working."To really make the push, Bully Boy left DC and the national press corps hoping to yet again get soft press from local outlets. James Gerstenzang (Los Angeles Times) reports the stop yesterday was Nashville to the always hyper-enthused audience of a local Chamber of Commerce, "Such visits draw little national attention, but the out-of-town stops gain extensive local coverage sought by the White House to counter the steady beat of the Iraq war on news pages, websites, television and radio. And they provide a backdrop of a White House seeking, city by city, to portray the president as focused on the breadth of his job and not just the war."

The pushback comes as Nouri al-Maliki's promise that Iraqi troops would be ready to take over responsibilities in Iraq is revealed to be just one more bad sales pitch.
CBS and AP report Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, did everything but sing Don Henley's "Not Enough Love In The World" as he declared that promise was no more: "We had hopes and intentions to take over security in all provinces and command of all army divisions before the end of the year. But there are difficulties and challenges that appeared along the way, in arming, equipping, recruiting and training our armed forces."

Al-Rubaie droned on about how difficult it was "to predict a certain time." A difficulty al-Maliki wasn't bothered by in April. And the endless, illegal war that doesn't result in the puppet or his masters getting upset has now claimed the lives of
52 US service members this month and the lives of 3631 US service members since the start of the illegal war (ICCC). The number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war gets closer to one million but no reason for a puppet government, hidden away in the Green Zone and protected and flattered by foreign forces and government, to care too much.

In the real world . . .


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala mortar attack that injured eleven. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that injured a police officer. DPA reports, "An Iraqi civilian was killed in a US helicopter attack in Mosul . . . The Iraqi civilian was killed and five others wounded Friday morning when a US helicopter bombed a residential area in Mosul" and two of the injured were children while two more women.


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person was shot dead in an attack on a car in Baghdad (three were wounded) and notes 2 more shot dead in Al Muqdaya suburb and 2 women shot dead "in Nawfal" and that an attack in Al Wajehia has left numerous people displaced and at least 5 dead -- Jenan also notes that on Wednesday "gunmen attacked Waheda Abd Al Muhsan Member of Salahudding governorate council. The gunmen shot her convoy when she was going to Tikret."


Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports and that a corpse was turned over to Al Muqdadya hospital while, yesterday, the corpses of Zena ans Suha Khusai (sisters kidnapped two days prior) were discovered in Mosul. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi (New York Times) report that 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad yesterday.

Turning to legal news. Yesterday, we noted that Trey A. Corrales and Christopher P. Shore were each charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian on or around June 23rd. Today, AP reports that Albert Corrales Sr. has stated his son is innocent (though "he hadn't talked to his 34-year-old son about the death") and quotes him stating, "I think that it's wrong because the people he supposedly shot, they were terrorists and he was under orders to clean them out, and he did." In other father and son legal news, Michael Vick (19-year-old) and James Vick (44-year-old) have both been charged. Lindsay Wilcox (KLTV, Tyler, TX) reports that the father's been held by authorities since May while the son "was arrested at DFW Airport [Dallas, TX] on Tuesday after returning home from Iraq" and that the two men are charged in the sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl and a nine-year-old girl who had been foster children in the Vick home during 2003 and 2004. Cindy Mallette (Tyler Morning Telegraph) spoke with Sgt. Wendell Wilcher of the Anderson county's sheriff's department who stated that "the Army released Michael Vick from his Iraq duties after the sherrif's department obtained a warrant for his arrest. He said the Army is considering Vick's status and may discharge him at some point in the future." Paul Stone (The Palestine Herald) also spoke with Wilcher who has been interviewing other children who stayed with the Vicks and states there will be more names added: "There's definitely going to be more than two. We may have a considerable amount of children. It's hard to say." AP notes the bail for each man is set at $300,000 and that Michael Vick is "assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington." On Wednesday, marine Trent Thomas was found guilty in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was dragged from his home, bound and murdered. Thomas was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder by a jury of his military peers. Although he could have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, the military judge instead decided murder, lying, and more was no big deal. AP reports Trent Thomas' 'punishment' is to be discharged from the military and face a reduction in pay. And? That's it. No prison time for the man convicted by his peers in the murder of an innocenct civilian.