Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friend or foe?

It had been that kind of a morning.

Nothing works out. At the cleaners, I learned my favorite sweater was lost. On the corner, the vendor only had the "New York Post" -- I prefer NYC's other right-wing paper, "The New York Times." And the dismays kept coming. What should have been a half-hour of errands tops ended up taking two hours and when I finally came home -- largely empty-handed -- my stomach was growling reminding me I hadn't eaten which then reminded me that I had groceries on my list that I lost so I hadn't stopped off.

I found some eggs and bread and not a great deal more. I was in the kitcehn making scrambled eggs which I intended to eat on the toast as a sandwich when I heard, "Yoo hoo!"

Yoo hoo?

Who the hell says "Yoo hoo"?

I pictured Thomas Friedman in a brassy red wig, padded bra and Mrs. Garrett outfit as he performed an ode to Charlotte Rae. All things considered, Rae would be a better figure for him to impersonate, considering his own figure.

"What was my cross-dressing husband up to now?" I wondered as I headed to the living room.

His recent column had already set him up in print as the nation's Edna Garrett and I was busy attempting to figure out if Nicky K would be the spirited Tootie or the manly Jo? I couldn't imagine Thomas Friedman allowing anyone to be Blair.

Only it wasn't Thomas Friedman. It was that damn Cathy Pollitt.

Ignoring my question of how she found out where I lived or what she was doing in my apartment, Cathy Pollitt explained she was out of tampons and needed to borrow one. I explained I hadn't been shopping and so I didn't have any either.

"Oh, it doesn't matter. What's cooking?"

And she was off to my kitchen.

By the time I caught up with her, my breakfast was long gone and she was licking the skillet.

"Betinna," she said digging around my kitchen cabinets, "I think we got off on the wrong foot. I'd love for us to be friends. I may not get all the current lingo and be down and rolling and all that but I just have never really known any colored people. Peaches!"

As I watched in schock, Cathy Pollitt used her left eye tooth to pop opn the can of peaches and then slammed it back like it was a shot of tequila.

Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Cathy Pollitt explained, "I didn't know your people liked peaches."

I was attempting to hustle her out of the apartment and explaining that "colored" really hadn't been current "lingo" for over 40 years. I also explained that I was far too busy to make new friends.

Cathy Pollitt stopped in her tracks, like a large mule, and declared, "That's too bad. I was hoping we could talk about your husband."

"What do you know about my husband?"

"I know a great deal," Cathy Pollitt declared attempting to sound mysterious but it was Cathy Pollitt so more doubt than mystery hung over her statement.

"Such as?"

"Betinna, I know you aren't his only wife."

I was listening.

"I know he lied to you and I know he hurt you and I know how to help you get back at him."

I waited. Cathy Pollitt held up a finger indicating pause.

I waited.

Suddenly a loud belch filled the room and Cathy Pollitt smiled weakly before passing out.

She lay like a large lump -- no, like a bean bag -- on my floor. I waited for her to come to for about a half hour before going about my business and vacuuming around her. She still wasn't awake when I finished cleaning. I went out to do the rest of my errands and she was still laying there when I got back.

What could Cathy Pollitt know?

And could she really help me get back at Thomas Friedman?

He'd kidnapped me. He'd drugged me. He'd lied to me. He'd threatened me.

The payback he had coming would be intense. I would need all the help I could get.

But could I trust Cathy Pollitt?

At midnight, I was still wondering that. And Cathy Pollitt was still out of it.

So I called it a night and turned in.

I awoke the next morning with no answers, found that Cathy Pollitt was gone as was all the food I'd purchased. She'd apparently come to at some point and emptied out the entire contents of my kitchen.

There was a note.

"Betinna, thanks for the snacks. I'm running out for some ice cream. Don't go anywhere."

And so I wait.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, October 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new possible outbreak in Iraq, Democrats in Congress no longer just cave -- now they whine too, torture continues and women remain under attack.

Denise Winebrenner Edwards (People's Weekly World) notes, this was to be the week of the second court-martial of Ehren Watada until US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted a stay through at least October 26th. Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports on an October 8th San Francisco press conference held by Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee where Luke Hiken (of the National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force) explained, "Under our constitution, the military is under the judiciary of the United States. In other words, all federal court systems, up to the United States Supreme Court, have authority over the conduct of military personnel when appropriate. Accordingly, federal district courts, all the way up to the courts of appeal and U.S. Supreme Court, intervene when there are violations of U.S. military regulations or laws that contravene the U.S. Constitution. The trial council indicated that there was no jeopardy attached to the case, because the defense had not completed its entire presentation, which is nonsense. In (such a case) jeopardy is attached the second the first witness is called by the prosecution." Hiken is referring to the double-jeopardy issue. In February, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided. Opening arguments were presented. The prosecution called their witnesses. And their witnesses did a pretty good job of making the defense's case. That was day two. Day three was when Watada was supposed to testify. Instead, Judge Toilet was suddenly shocked by a stipulation he had read, he had agreed to, and he had explained to the jury. Despite his own involvement at all steps of the stipulation, suddenly Judge Toilet wanted to say Watada didn't understand it. This was the excuse Judge Toilet created to call a mistrial. He did so over defense objection. Because the trial had started, double-jeopardy had attached -- as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has pointed out since the start.

Through Thursday, November 1st, we'll be including, in the snapshots, this National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force announcement: 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."

Watada is only one Iraq War resister.
Courage to Resist reports on James Circello Jr. who self-checked out in April of 2007 and writes about his experience in the poem "I saw kids turn into animals:"

I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

Courage to Resist also has an interview (transcript and audio) with war resister Mark Wilkerson conducted by The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz. At one point, Wilkerson explains, "I discussed many of these issues with a lot of other soldiers there [in Iraq]; a lot of them just didn't want to think about it at all. And then when I got back, to see the way the media portrayed the war and the way many people thought the war was going on, and then finally, after a few months, seeing some resisters coming on television -- I remember seeing Camilo Mejia in an interview and thinking, 'Wow, there are people out there like me, who are confused and angry and upset.' This 'conscientious objector' that I applied for, it was a very rough patch for me. It was a period of -- I ended up applying for conscientious objector in June. I took the rules fo conscientious objector home, and in the course of one night, I answered all the questions. I filled out my form. It was mostly seething. I was very angry, so I put all the emotion into what should be a very proper, very well thought-out document and application. I turned it in. I was told that I had a week to fill it out. And then over the next several months, I sometimes got in many arguments and heated debates with my chain of command -- my first sergeant, my platoon sergeant, some military chaplains, military investigators, military psychologists . . ." November 2005, he was denied CO status -- as most who apply are -- and decided to self-check out. He announced he was turning himself in August 2006 at Camp Casey and was eventually sentenced to imprisonment in Fort Still, OK.

in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today. Paul Fattig (Mail Tribune) reports that Condon will also "give a talk about his work at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.

Earlier this week,
National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (at Truthout) addressed the issue of torture noting that the administration continues to deny it tortures when the reality is the White House has okayed torture for some time, "Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody." AP quoted former president Jimmy Carter declaring this week on CNN, "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime." Yesterday the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released (PDF format warning) "Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007" which found many human rights abuses but let's zoom in on the issues having to do with imprisonment. Those being held went from 17,565 in March to 21,112 by the end of June leading to overcrowding in holding facilities across Iraq, prolonged periods of waiting for something resembling justice to arrive, denial of "access to legal counsel and to family visits," and "reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facitilities under Ministry of Interior facilities, including police stations. Several such cases were document during the reporting period, where UNAMI was able to interview and examine victims of physical abuse shortly following their release or following their conviction and transfer to a Ministry of Justice prison." So torture and abuse is alive and well in Iraq. For all the Bully Boy's grand words of creating a torture free Iraq, Abu Ghraib (and other earlier, less well known events) demonstrated that the US will torture so it's no surprise that the Iraqis placed in charge (by the US and its puppets) will as well. Dropping back to the snapshot on September 6th:

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".

The US is as aware of what's going on as is the United Nations -- in fact the US is aware of their own tactics and, if the United Nations knows about the US tactics, it's doubtful they would report them.
Joshua Partlow and Column Lynch (Washington Post) report today that the UN report was ready months ago (August) "but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official." Of course, the delay was really to make sure nothing flashed a little reality while Crocker and David Petraeus were in the midst of Operation Happy Talk on Congress. But the reality is that, forget what the US itself does, torture being conducted by Iraqis placed in charge -- known torture -- reflects back to the US and turning a blind eye does not make it any less culpable of War Crimes charges for the torture.

Sticking with war crimes, yesterday
Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. More information can be found here at CCR and in Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' "EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting" (Democracy Now!) from yesterday. The lawsuit is over the September 16th Baghdad slaughter where Blackwater employees killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. Anne Penketh (Independent of London) quotes Ivana Vuco ("the most senior UN human rights officer in Iraq") declaring, "For us, it's a human rights issue. We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed" and -- pay attention because this applies to torture as well -- there is a "responbility to investigate, supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing." "I don't recall" and "To the best of my memory" may have allowed the Reagan administration to avoid convictions but possibly Bully Boy should just stick with the classic "I am not a crook"?

Stayin with the UN report and human rights issues, one of the key areas to emerge in the report is Kurdistan which -- despite the p.r. hype -- has never been 'safe.' Human rights organizations have long been documenting the problems in the northern region. The new UN report (
PDF warning) notes the 'peaceful region':The human rights situation in the Kurdistan region remains of concern in a number of areas, including continuing incidents involving violence against women, the abuse of detainees and the prolonged detention without charge or trial of hundreds of detainees held on suspicion of terror-related offences. UNAMI is encouraged, however, by sveral measures adopted by the KRG authorities in recent months in an effort to address some of these concerns, including the review of long-standing detention practices followed by the regional authorities' security forces. UNAMI hopes that such measures, if seriously followed up, would pave the way for greater accountability for government officials suspected or known to have abused their authority.Along with the targeting of journalists (and the Kurdish response that 646 licenses have been given to news outlets -- and how that has nothing to do with the targeting -- arrests and detentions -- of journalists) and the persecution of Assyrians and Turkoman, the region has an 18% increase in violence against women ("15 deaths caused by blunt objects, 87 deaths by burning and 15 deaths by shooting for the first quarter of 2007; for the second quarter, there were 8 deaths caused by blunt objects, 108 deaths by burning and 21 deaths by shooting"), a serious lack of punishments for these deaths (both in arrests and -- when the rare arrest is made -- in sentencing). The situation for women throughout Iraq is awful. Earlier this week, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Article 41 in the still unfinalized constitution which "women's rights activists and legal scholars" argue "opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, 'I divorce you,' three times" while Basra is demonstrating "signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month" -- over "what the women wear or because they are using makeup." It smells like 'freedom' to Bully Boy and Laura Bush. To the rest of the world, it smells like something else.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


AFP reports, "Iraqi civilians bore the brunt Friday of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr, as a US air raid killed 15 women and children, and a sinister suicide attack on a playground shocked a northern town." This is the attack noted in yesterday's snapshot. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes this is "one of the highest civilian death tolls acknowledged by the military since the March 2003 invasion" and also notes the playground attack which claimed the lives of 2 children with seveteen wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (Iraqi police officers) and left fifteen more injured and a Salahuddin bombing ("inside a bag of flour on a handcart") in which "[a] woman was killed and 16 people most of them children".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in an attack in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead and his wife injured in a home invasion in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mahaweel.

Torture, bombings, lack of potable water, cholera, what else?
Reuters reports the latest issue, "The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or ogans of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency."

Turning to US politics. As
Cedric and Wally noted yesterday US Senator Barack Obama who would like to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president has a new "trust me" campaign. Having repeatedly run on the fact that he was against the illegal war in 2002 but unable to vote because he wasn't in the Congress, he's now taking Senator Hillary Clinton -- who would also like to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee -- to task for voting for what some see as an authorization for war on Iraqn. Obama is highly offended by Clinton's recent vote in the Senate. So offended that some might wonder how he voted? Answer: He didn't vote. He's taking her to task for what is a bad vote but he didn't care enough about the issue to be present to vote. That's leadership?

Leadership? Let's turn to other non-leaders. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday,
David Swanson (AfterDowningSt) noted Pelosi's latest bits of insanity including her despair that people would protest outside her mansion ("If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering!" hissed our modern day Marie) and how people like her weren't "advocates. We are leaders." Rebecca noted in her post to Pelosi, "poor nancy. oh the horror! in her botox mansion with americans outside! she might have been so troubled by the sight that her frozen face almost registered emotion. the horror! 'they are advocates,' sputters the cowardly trash, 'we are leaders!' well where the hell are you leading the country, princess crap?" Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan notes (at CounterPunch) that Pelosi's attitude "is truly the problem with what was once a Representative Republic and now is a country run by 'elected' officials who believe that they, indvidually and collectively, are above any accountability and are not answerable to their constituents. Our public servants erroneously believe that they are leaders! . . . No, Ms. Pelosi, you are not a leader. You have proven time and again in what you laughably believe is a 'mistake' free run as Speaker of a Democratic House that you will do anything to protect an Imperial Presidency to the detriment of this Nation and the world, particularly the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Democratic Congress supported BushCo's disastrous and deadly surge; handed him over billions of their constituent's tax dollars to wage this murder; have by their silence and votes countenanced an invasion of another country; approved more restrictions on the rights of the citizenry to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure; Ms. Pelosi does not even know if 'torture' (which violates international law and the 8th Amendment in our Bill of Rights) is an impeachable offense; and worst of all the impeachment clauses were taken 'off the table' in an ongoing partnership with BushCo to make the office of the presidency a Congressionally protected crime conglomerate that is rapidly sending this Nation down a crap-hold of fascism."

Meanwhile the Dems in leadership are crying.
David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) notes that there is "tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base" and provides the opportunity for Dems to once again blame the voters as opposed to taking a look at their own actions. The Republican base gets frustrated with their leadership all the time. And Republicans generally respond to that. They don't blame the base, they don't whine about the base, they don't publicly insult the base. But, taking the lead from Pelosi, Democrats in Congress have no problem hectoring and trashing the voters who put them in power. When you have to make non-stop excuses for your actions, then the problem is probably you and not the base. When you're so ineffectual that you continue to cite the minimum wage nonsense as your point of pride (blood money because Dems snuck it into an Iraq bill), you've got nothing to be proud of. Instead of whining at and blaming the base, Democrats in Congress need to grow up real damn quick and grasp that the 2008 elections that they feel are the end-all-be-all are not going to benefit from the repeated trashing of Democratic voters. Leadership needs to take some accountability and Pelosi especially needs to stop trashing Democratic voters publicly.

And for those who don't get how weak Congressional Dems have been, note
this from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about wiretapping, the controversy now, the frustration that people have with the Democrats, supposedly the opposition party, going along with the Republicans.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, the background is that after 9/11, as we all know now, Bush gave the military the authority to wiretap phone calls without warrants, in defiance of a 1978 law that required warrants for that situation. And he used a very aggressive legal theory about the President's powers as commander-in-chief to bypass laws at his own discretion. Because that program was only legal if that theory were true, that meant that the fact that they did this set a precedent that says that theory is true, and future presidents will be able to cite that precedent when they want to evade any other law that restricts their own authority.
So now, going forward, one of the ways this agenda has been able to be so successfully implemented was that there was no resistance from Congress. At the very moment there was this stronger push coming out of the Vice President's office to expand the presidential power as an end to itself in any way possible, because of one-party rule for six years and because of the atmosphere of crisis after 9/11, there was no push back. And that's how the ball was moved so far down the field.
And one of the things that's been very interesting about the last year is now we have split control of government again, and so the question was, how is that going to change things? And what we've seen from the Protect America Act in August and the dynamic going forward is that even with split control of government, the dynamic is still there. Congress is just as it was for the first twenty or thirty years of the Cold War, when the original imperial presidency was growing under presidents of both parties, by the way. Congress is again unwilling to push back against the White House's assertion that it needs ever more authority, and checks and balances will result in bloodshed. And so, I think, going forward, that you can see that this dynamic is going to be with us. And, of course, two years from now, we may have one-party control of government again, the other party, but that will just sort of hurl us further down this path, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of the President seeking to protect those in the corporate world who go along with his policies -- well, first of all, obviously, there was the retroactive immunity to the airline companies after 9/11 for their failure to act to provide a kind of security on their planes, giving them immunity from any possible lawsuits, and now this effort by the administration to try to provide retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that went along with his surveillance program.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, and what this is, is because Congress has demonstrated that it's really not going to do anything about the basic fact that the President asserted he could bypass a law and then he acted on that assertion, and, you know, that established he can do that, or whoever else is president at any given moment from now on can do that, that the one sort of last place where critics of this sort of extraordinary development could still have some traction was the lawsuit against the companies, which had also evidently broken privacy laws by going along with this. So, by seeking retroactive immunity, it's sort of the last place closing off the possibility of accountability.

Meanwhile the
Illinois Green Party holds a fall membership meeting Crystal Lake, IL October 13th and 14th at the McHenry County College.

Candidates in attendance will hold a press conference Saturday from 1 to 2 pm at McHenry County College and they include:Kent Mesplay (Presidential)Jerome Pohlen (U.S. Congress, 3rd District)Moe Shanfield (U.S. Congress, 9th District)Dave Kalbfleisch (U.S. Congress, 10th District)Rodger Jennings ( U.S. Congress, 12th District)Steve Alesch (U.S. Congress, 13th District)Tony Cox (State Representative, 9th District)Kevin O'Connor (State Representative, 41st District)Sandy Lezon (State Representative, 50th District) Charlie Howe (State Representative, 115th District) James Geocaris (McHenry County Board, 3rd District)

On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Betinna's new B.F.F.

As if being threatened and attacked by my cross-dressing husband Thomas Friedman wasn't enough, I now have to suffer through what I term "charity visits."

No, Mrs. K hasn't come calling again.

For all the hand wringing she did early on over the disappearance of Nicky K, she now seems to be getting on with her life rather well without Nicky K -- or me, for that matter -- in it.

But since Nicky K was on the verge of revealing all only to fly the coop, like the chicken that he is, I've been logging multiple hours at the public library with research in an attempt to unearth clues as to exactly what is going on.

I was half-way through a stack of books when the triple scent of Stetson for Men, mildew and gym socks invaded my nostrils. It was Cathy Pollit, crowding my space and sending my nostrils to hell. The latter scents were her own natural smell but the first was, she gurgled, research for "another hard hitting column I'm in the midst of entitled 'Cheap Perfumes I Will Never Use.' Or that's the working title. When it's time to actually write it, who knows?"

Laughing she sank in the chair next to me, the chair groaning beneath the weight of her. Didn't she know, I asked, that Stetson was a man's cologne?

"I'm fighting that label," she explained nibbling on several Chip Ahoy! cookies at once, the crumbs creating her own version of a grunge era goatee as they gathered at her chin. "'For men'. What does that really mean? And who gets to decide?"

She informed me she was wearing a jock strap beneath her mumu and that was because she believes "in challenging the male assumptions."

Seemed a little kooky to me but I'm all for smashing the barriers of sexism as well as racism. I made the mistake of saying that to her only to get an earful on how the NAACP wasted everyone's time, in 2002, worrying about the "number of Blacks" on TV.

"We have more serious problems to address," she declared now munching on what appeared to be Oreo cookies that she was hurling them down her gullet so fast -- like shots of tequila -- who knows?

More serious problems?

I studied her thinking for a moment she might be a sister who suffered from the same disease Michael Jackson did -- desire to be White. But I didn't believe she'd been bleaching her skin color. Her pasty face appeared to be it's natural color underneath several layers of sweat.

Was there such a thing as an albino Black person?

I'd never heard of it but decided to ask?

"No, I'm White," she replied too quickly and too nervously. "Born White, die White. White the man! White the power! White, white, white!"

I couldn't figure out if she was sending herself up or revealing her racism?

I decided to get back to my work and let her write her oh-so-serious on the pressing issue of perfumes. In fact, I said that, but she missed the sarcasm dripping in my voice.

"Gotcha," she insisted. "You got work to do. Me too. I got work to do to. So you do your work and I'll do mine. And we'll just work, work, work. Lot of work to do. We'll be sitting here side by side, doing our work. Me White and you the other. Like the blind, colored boy sang, 'Ebony & Ivory, live together in perfect harmony.' Go on about your business. This'll be fun. I always wanted a colored friend. Ever since I was a little girl. Well, actually I always wanted a colored maid. Thought that would have been fun. But you people got tired of that job. It's cool. I just always thought it would be fun to have one. I could be like Lana Turner, you know? In 'Imitation of Life.' Now that was a movie! Didn't Lana look so beautiful and so blonde? Is it 'La-nah' or 'Lah-na'? I never know. My name confuses people too. It's 'cath-EEE!' I like it because it's like 'free.' Free? Why am I talking to you about that? You know all about being free, right? Civil war and all that. Back then, I would have called you a 'darkie' and now you're just another colored woman in the library and you even get to drink from the same water fountain. Because that's what it's all about, right? A White woman like me, I like water. And you like it too. Helps wash down the pigs feet and watermelon, right? And we can share that. We can have water in common. That's what it's all about. 'About' is an interesting word, isn't it? Sometimes I think about words and --"

"Cath-EEE!," I hissed, "I'm trying to do research."

"Oh sure. Sorry. Didn't mean to go on. I'll be quiet now. You just do your research and I'll do mine," Cathy Pollitt said reaching into her purse for more snacks and pulling out some cheese and crackers.

As I went back to my research and attempted to ignore her, I could hear her struggling with the plastic on top of the cheese & crackers and container.

"Cheese and crackers! This baby's a doozy. I have low blood sugar and have to snack throughout the day or I feel faint. Probably like you and your people's high blood pressure only in reverse. I hope I get this package open before I feel light headed --"

Too late for that, I thought, while trying to ignore her but the cry of "Yippee!" made that impossible as she finally ripped the plastic off the crackers and sent them flying.

She was on the carpet, on all fours, hunting down the fugitive crackers.

Huffing and puffing from the effort of crawling, she hollered, "Got the last one!"

Standing up quickly, she knocked the table over sending all the books and my note cards flying.


She chuckled. Or chortled. The chins danced regardless.

"Well, my, my," she said surveying her damage. "Let me help you pick up your cards. So what you researching, Rosa Parks?"

I noticed she scanned each card before handing it back to me.

She was a very nosy and uninformed person.

I snatched my cards from her hands and attempted to walk away.

"Where you going? Off to eat? I sure am hungry. I haven't eaten in forever. Want to grab a meal? I know the best buffets in town."

No doubt, the most truth she had said all day was in that last sentence.

But, not getting my jollies from lunching with the Grand Dragoness, I kept on walking. She tried to keep up but I didn't have all the weight to carry that she did.

I managed to shake her that day but ever since, no matter where I go, she seems to appear. Or is, "seems to break out"? She's like a nasty rash I can't get rid of.

I called Elaine to tell her about it and she said, "Beware the BFF."

"Best Friend Forever?" I asked.

"No, Best F**king Friend, Betinna," she explained. "They always want something. She tried that with me and I blew her off because of her racism as well. Because she has nothing to say herself, she'll take what you say and pass it off as her own."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, Ocotber 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths, Ehren Watada's court-martial is still set to start next Tuesday, the bait and kill teams get a white wash, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. As Aaron Glantz (The War Comes Home) notes Ehren Watada's second court-martial is scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday. And if it takes place and the prosecution is trailing, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) can call another "do over." Glantz reported on the first court-martial each day of the court-martial (as well as on the Sunday rally of support that preceded the court-martial) and you can click here for some of that audio. Truthout also covered the court-martial daily and they announce: "Truthout will be covering the court-martial from Fort Lewis, Washington, beginning Monday." Their coverage last time provided both video and text reports. Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports on yesterday's events, "U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle on Thursday afternoon heard arguments from Watada's lawyers and a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether he has jurisdiction in the case. Settle held the hearing after Watada's defense attorneys, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagen, sought an emergency halt to next Tuesday's court-martial. They said they were compelled to go to federal court after receiving no word from the military justice system's highest appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, concerning Watada's challenge to his court-martial." AP reports that a decision by Settle may come down today; however, Michael Gilbert (Washington's The News Tribune) reports, "A federal judge indicated he won't likely decide whether to halt Lt. Ehren Watada's second court-martial until Tuesday morning, when the proceeding is scheduled to begin in an Army courtroom at Fort Lewis." Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorializes "Watada Court-Martial: Let him go:"However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a person of conscience."

In Canada this week, war resister Robin Long was arrested this week.
Charlie Smith (Vancouver's Straight) reports that when twenty-year-old war resister Brad McCall attemptedto enter Canada on September 19, 2007, he was arrested "and driven to a jail in Surrey" with McCall telling him, "I don't know what kind of police officer he was. He put me in handcuffs in front of all these people that were watching that were trying to get into Canada also" and McCall aksed the Canadian Border Services Agency, "I told them, 'Why are you playing the part of the hound dog for the U.S. army?' They didn't know what to say. They just started stuttering and mumbling." Brad McCall did make it into Canada and is staying with Colleen Fuller in Vancouver. As is very common in stories of war resisters going to Canada "over the Internet". McCall also speaks of hearing about atrocities/war crimes in Iraq as participants bragged about the actions. Robin Long also cited that in his interview for CBC Television. McCall explains he was interested in CO status but when he raised the issued with "his commander and sergeants," the dismissed it which has happened repeatedly with many war resisters. Aiden Delgado and Camilo Mejia are among those who can share their struggles to receive CO status -- Delgado was one of the few to be successful in his attempt. Robert Zabala has the distinction of being awarded CO status by the US civilian court system. Agustin Aguayo attempted the process both within the US military and within the civilian court system.

Another who attempted CO status is Kevin Benderman. Monica Benderman, Kevin's wife, addressed Congress in May of 2006 noting, "My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command's flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience. Times have changed -- and so has conscientious objection. What has not changed is the Constitution, the oath our volunteer soldiers take to defend it, and every American citizen's right to freedom of choice. This conscientious objection goes beyond religious teaching. It is not dramatic. There is no epiphany. There is reality. Death is final, whether it is your own or you cause the death of another. No amount of field training can make up for the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of a real battlefield, and no amount of threats, intimidation, and abuse from a command can change a soldier's mind when the cold, hard truth of an immoral, unethical justification for war is couple with real-life sensations." Monica, and not Kevin, addressed Congress because Kevin was still serving the sentence on the kangaroo court hearing he was subjected to when he attempted to be granted CO status by following every detail by the book with no margin for error. But the US military brass doesn't like to issue CO status and they were willing to manuever and lie in their attempts at retribution towards Kevin Benderman. The laughable charge of "desertion" (which has no basis in reality) was shot down (he was acquitted of that ludicrous charge) but the brass was successful with other charges (trumped up charges) and that goes to how they control the court-martials, how they refuse to allow evidence to be entered and arguments to be made in an arrangement that's already stacked against the individual. (For instance, in Ehren Watada's trial, Judge Toilet was known to report to his superiors who, presumably, gave him orders throughout the February court-martial. In a civilian court, a judge reporting to a 'superior' and taking advice from one would be grounds for an aquittal.) Kevin and Monica Benderman fought the brass and continued fighting when others might have given up.
Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is the new book, out this week from The Lyons Press (US $24.95), in which they tell his story. Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience is also the fourth book by a war resister of the Iraq War to be published this year. The other three are Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Early on as the brass was targeting her husband, Monica Benderman visited bookstores attempting to learn more about CO status and similar topics and she couldn't find anything. The four books rectify that and join Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq which covers the stories of variety of war resisters and was released in 2006. In an ideal world, bookstores across the country would stock all five and no Monica Benderman, in search of information, would ever be greeted with "We don't carry anything like that." Kevin and Monica Benderman have done their part to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, Letters from Fort Lewis Brig by Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman was released this week, is available at bookstores and online and it'll be the focus of a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, 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, 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 [(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.

Canada's in the news not only for the arrest of war resisters these days but also for their oil deal. In
a curious press release that proclaims "THIS PRESS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICE OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES" at the top, Canada's Heritage Oil Corporation declares (to "Business Editors") that they are "pleased to announce that it has executed a Production Sharing Contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Miran Block in the south-west of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and that Heritage will be operating as a 50/50 partner with the KRG to create a 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the vincinity of the license area. . . . Heritage will join the existing and increasing presence of international oil exploration, development and production companies operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. . . . Heritage will commence geological work immediately, having established its local office in Erbil in 2005, and aims to commence a high-impact exploration drilling program in 2008." Last month a deadly clash took place on Lake Albert between "Congolese troops and the Ugandan army" which Heritage Oil has denied any part in despite media reports. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) notes that the Kurdish government has "announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US." In addition, this week Canada refused entry to CODEPINK's Media Benjamin and retired US State Dept and army colonel Ann Wright. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed Wright:

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ann, you were turned back at the border. You go back to Washington, D.C. You meet with Canadian officials at the embassy. What did they tell you?
ANN WRIGHT: Well, they told us that any time that the FBI puts people on this NCIC list, they just accept it at face value, that they don't really investigate things. And we kept saying, "Well, you ought to, because a lot of these things appear to be going onto this list because of political intimidation," because, indeed, the list itself for the database says that people like foreign fugitives, people on the ten most-wanted list or 100 most-wanted list, people that are part of violent gangs and terrorist organizations, are supposed to go on that NCIC list. It didn't seem like that we were a part of -- we haven't done anything to be on the list. And since this thing is just now -- we are the first ones that we know of that have been formally stopped from going into Canada. In fact, it happened to me in August, when I went up to Canada to participate in the Security and Prosperity Partnership. I had to buy my way in, $200 for a three-day temporary resident permit. "If I'm so dangerous, why would they even give me that permit?" I asked the immigration officer in the Canadian embassy.

Turning to the Iraqi puppet government
Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reported: "Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, and an American official said U.S. efforts to combat the problem are inadequate. Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to head the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion." Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "Enormous sums of oil revenues ended up in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias, he said. Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who is seeking U.S. asylum because of death threats against him, said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government prevented al-Radhi's U.S.-backed Commission on Public Integrity from taking action against top national officials."

Turning to the topic of violence,
AP notes that the mercenary corporation Blackwater USA has a new p.r. flack -- Burson-Marsteller -- and that, "The State Department, which pays Blackwater hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has stringent rules barring the private security contractor from discussing with the media the details of its work, according to those familiar with the arrangement." While Sudarsan Raghavan, Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explain the latest reports on the September 16th slaughter Blackwater conducted in Baghdad, "U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official. The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, the Iraqi official said. The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded."

Staying on violence . . .

"Shams survived, but is now blind. She is one of hundreds who were injured, but survived this attack. More than 200 others died. This is her story," so begins Alive in Baghdad's video report this week entitled "
Car Bomb Survivors, No Longer Statistics" which focuses on the aftermath of the November 23rd bombing for the year-old Shams whose mother died shielding her from the blast and whose brother Ghaith was left with shrapnel. Her father, Hesham Fadhel Karim, explains his wife, Shams, and Ghaith and Taif (two sons) were in their car in Sadr City when three bombs went off, "My baby girl Shams was injured and lost her two eyes, her mother was killed and my older son Ghaith was injured by shrapnel in his back. . . . Shams face was injured because she was beside her mother who was burning. As for my wife, the fireman came to extinguish her and I carried her to the ambulance which brought her to the hospital. We took her out of the ambulance into the hospital. I was trying to extinguish her but I could not, because she burnt my hands, legs, and shoulder. At last, she died. As for Shams, I didn't know which hospital she was in. I searched for her in every hospital in Sadr City but I couldn't find her because she was carried to the Adnan Khairallah Martyr hospital." The search for Shams was made more difficult by the night time curfews forbidding travel. After finding her, her family attempted to get treatment for her in Jordan and Iran but were told there was nothing that could be done about her eyes. Shams' grandfather declares, "In fact, I appeal to this world and the humanitarian world to care for the children of Iraq because there are millions of children who are without eyes, deformed or having their arms or legs amputated."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports, "Up to twenty-four Iraqi civilians are reportedly dead following a U.S. air strike near the city of Baquba. Another twenty-seven people were wounded. The toll is said to include women and children. Witnesses say at least four homes were leveled in the attack. Some of the victims were killed after rushing out of their homes to help those hurt in the initial bombing." AFP reports, "Witnesses said US helicopters attacked Jayzani, northwest of the mainly Shiite town of Al-Khalis, at around 2:00 am (2300 GMT), destroying at least four houses. An AFP photographer saw at least four trucks, each carrying several bodies from Jayzani, being driven through Baghdad to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial. One of the dead was clearly an elderly man" and AFP quotes Ahmed Mohammed saying, "There are 24 bodies on the ground in the village and 25 others wounded in Al-Khalis hospital." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bombing today "near Latifiyah Bridge" outside Babil left three people injured while a Tuz Khurmatu bombing left three wounded. Reuters notes that a Laitifya roadside bombing left three people injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Yasir Al Yasiri was shot dead yesterday and Sheikh Khalid was shot dead last night, both in Basra, both were professors at "Al Sadr religious university".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kifil.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated during operations in the southeastern region of the Iraqi capital Oct. 5." And the US military announced: "One Multi-National Corps - Iraq Soldier was killed and three were wounded in Salah Ad Din province today when an improvised explosive device was detonated near their vehicle." ICCC's total number killed in the illegal war since it started (March 2003) stands at 3813 and Reuters stands at 3812.

Turning to news of white wash,
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) 'investigates' the bait and kill teams of US snipers in Iraq by . . . reading court transcripts. Work that will no doubt to elevate him to the level of Maury Povich or at least Ted Baxter. Parker writes: "Interviews and court transcripts portray a 13-man sniper unit that felt under pressure to produce a high body count, a Vietnam-era measure that the Pentagon officially has disavowed in this war. They describe a sniper unit whose margins of right and wrong were blurred: by Hensley, if you believe Army prosecutors; by the Army, if you believe the accused." Wow, shock and dull, shock and dull. In June of this year, James Burmeister went public with the news of the kill teams. All Things Media Big and Small ignored it in this country. Last week, a court-martial forced them to cover it with limited hangout. Now it's time for the white wash and Parker shows up in flip flops, a half-shirt and Daisy Dukes, scrub brush in hand.

James Foley (Medill Reports) quotes Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) declaring, "People say it's an all-volunteer army, but the truth is many people's contracts have been extended, some involuntarily extended. That's not only against an all-volunteer military, but putting the same people in a combat zone again and again . . . We get a lot of calls (asking) 'What should I do? Should I go back.'" Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone) highlights two articles -- First, Philip Dine (St. Louis Dipatch) reveals that "Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- as many as 10 a day -- are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had 'pre-existing' conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government." This is an effort to deny treatment for service members suffering from PTSD by claiming that the PTSD is actually a prior condition. Dikinson then notes a report on the number of service members who are deployed "for only 729 days. . . exactly one day short of the 730 days needed to guarantee thousands of dollars a year for college."

Today on the second hour of
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm's roundtable guests were McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel, the Washington Post's Keith Richburg and UPI's Martin Walker.

Diane Rehm: Let's talk about what's happening in Iraq with Iraq buying $100 million worth of weapons from China.

Martin Walker: Well you go to the best. I mean if you want, if you want the kind of material you need to supress people and maintain an authoritarian state where do you go? China. The point that the US wasn't able to supply the weaponry required and the Chinese are able to supply cheap knock-offs of AK-47s.

Diane Rehm: But haven't the Iraqis had terrible trouble keeping track of weapons to begin with?

Martin Walker: The place is awash in weapons but don't forget it also took place as we've got this new report about corruption in Iraq and about the way in which corruption is being covered up and protected by al-Maliki's government and I would be amazed if some of that money for the Chinese weaponry doesn't matter to leak out some way or another.

Diane Rehm: At twenty-seven before the hour, you are listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Do you want to add to that, Keith?

Keith Richburg: Just to add, it's ironic that these weapons are supposedly going to be going to the Iraqi police which is the one unit that all US investigators going in there have said is the most corrupt, the most inept and basically should be abolished and reconstituted from scratch. Here's Talibani saying, "Actually we need weapons to arm this force."

Diane Rehm: Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah, absolutely. There was a hearing in Congress this week that highlighted the issue of corruption and a report, the State Department's own report, shows that virtually every ministry has just massive corruption problems. It's hard to believe that lots of the weapons won't end up in the street. It's hard to believe there won't be huge kickbacks, as Martin said, for the weapon sale.

A caller brought up Seymour Hersh's report that the administration is planning to start a war with Iran.

Diane Rehm: Didn't Sy Hersh also go on to say that many in the administration know we don't have the resources to go into Iran, Warren?

Warren P. Strobel: Which is true, we don't in any serious way. Diane, if I had a dollar for every tip I got, or every e-mail I got, or every caller I got that the administration was about to launch another war on Iran, I'd be a rich man. I think we have to be very careful here. Some people in the administration, close to it, say "yes," some say "no." Cheney is said to be pushing this -- I'm not so sure. I think it's a debate that's going to go on right till the very the end of administration.

[. . .]

Keith: I would just add, well, two things. First, I agree that the resources, the troops aren't there for an invasion. If you're talking about some kind of an airstrike, I would just say the most dangerous period I think you can be in is when you've got a lameduck president with nothing to lose, facing a military catastrophe in Iraq at the moment. And secondly, I find this demonization of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a new Hitler and a new dictator a bit curious because within Iran he's not a dictator. They're all kinds of other institutions that are keeping him relatively constrained including the various ayatollahs who actually run the country. He's not a dictator and also he's not incredibly and also he's not incredibly popular as well.

[. . .]

Martin Walker: There's another factor which tends to get forgotten here, which is that Iran has bought -- and had delivered last year -- from the Russians a state of art anti-aircraft missile system called the S300 which is probably better than the Patriot. Now that's now installed. It's being made operational. Even before that, I was told by a former head of the Air Force that the US Air Force would need a US air strike would need something like three days to suppress the anti-aircraft to be able to go in and hit the targets. What's going to happen on Capitol Hill in those three days on that kind of suppression of the anti-aircraft system? He would be impeached.

Keith: Just to add one quick thought there as well, I think one reason you can see the echo chamber of hostility towards Iran building is because

Diane Rehm: Could or would the US go to war against Iran without total Congressional support?

Keith: Well it depends on "What is war?" Are a series of air strikes war?

Diane Rehm: A series of air strikes.

Keith: Well I think some might argue that he needs Congressional approval, I think others might say that's within his perogative as commander-in-chief to do that. I think within Congress you're going to see a lot more, it's a Democratic Congress first of all, and you're already hearing a lot more people saying, "Wait a minute. North Korea has already exploded a nuclear bomb, Iran is still ten years away, why are they the greater threat?"

Martin Walker: Well it depends. I think one could certainly see and envisage some kind of provocations taking place or perhaps being concoted and engineered under which there's an exchange of fire on the border, US marines get arrested in the way that those British navel personnel were so you can see something being whipped up along those lines. But I was at, I was at an event, a social event recently with two former National Security Advisors and one of them said, "These guys ain't nuts." And the other one replied, "Yes, but they aren't sane either."

Which works as a transition to PBS'
Bill Moyers Journal (Friday in most markets, check local listings -- and it's a listen, watch and read online after the episode airs) when Moyers explores the group Christians United for Israel and also speaks to Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber on the topic of? Should the US strike Iran. A YouTube preview is up and, at the program's website, essays on the topic will be posted as well. Again, the hour long show begins airing on most PBS markets on Friday (check local listings -- and at the website, you can also locate the airtime for your local PBS station). Also Friday on most PBS markets, NOW with David Brancaccio airs their latest half hour installment and this week interview Michael Apted about his owngoing documentary where he tracks a group of British people every seven years, energy conversation will be addressed with a report on Decorah, Iowa and Ken Burns will be interviewed about his latest documentary The War. On October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Last (and one time only) we're tossing a link to the Democratic magazine American Prospect. Due to the fact that it has David Bacon's "Mexican Miners' Strike for Life". Excerpt:

In a well-run mine, huge vacuum cleaners suck dust from the buildings covering the crushers, mills and conveyer belts. The Cananea miners call these vacuums colectores, or dust collectors. Outside the hulking buildings of the concentrator complex, those collection tanks and their network of foot-wide pipes are five stories tall. But many of the tanks have rusty holes in their sides the size of a bathroom window. And the pipes, which should lead into the work areas inside, just end in midair. None of the dust collectors, according to the miners' union, have functioned since the company shut them down in 1999.
So for the past eight years, the dust that should have been sucked up by the collectors has ended up instead in the miners' lungs. That is the most serious reason why the miners are out on strike. But there are other dangers. Many machines have no guards, making it easy to lose fingers or worse. Electrical panels have no covers. Holes are open in the floor with no guardrails. Catwalks many stories about the floor are slippery with dust and often grease, and are crisscrossed by cables and hoses. Not long ago, one worker tripped and fell five stories to his death onto a water pump below.

The community is a left community, it is diverse and American Prospect is geared towards Democrats. That's their right and we don't spend time knocking them for it. We're covering mainstream media and independent media and we really aren't able to note things from Democratic Party magazines because we do have Greens and other political party members. Bacon's written an important article -- that was the first and last exception for American Progress. (Short of them hiring Bacon to blog or to be a regular contributor. He's a labor beat reporter and there are so few of them that such a move would probably alter the above and members would be fine with it.)