Sunday, December 31, 2006

A sad and tragic milestone

This morning:

The 3,000 marker is right over his shoulder. The administration promised a cakewalk. They also promised WMDs and that didn't pan out either. The war was built on lies and now it's just built on the dead bodies of those unfortunate enough to be in the war zone.
As long as the war is allowed to drag on, the number of dead and wounded will only rise. America has turned against the war. At some point, citizens are going to have to demand that their elected officials respect them and end the illegal war.


The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war has now reached the 3,000.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The truth emerges from his fat mouth

"One more thing and then I'm going!"

That's what Thomas Friedman was shouting from the hall. He sounded drunk.

Since Christmas, every couple of days, he'd show up banging on the front door and start by complaining that I'd changed the locks. He'd yell and holler, stopping every few minutes to beg me not to call the police.

Like I'd do that. Like I needed my trashy marital life splashed on the front page of "The New York Post."

When he wasn't complaining, he was swearing that he loved me, that he "really, really, really" did.

I wasn't having any of it.

As expected, he showed up on Christmas day, acting as though nothing had ever happened, wondering what I was cooking?

He wasn't thrilled that I'd invited guests and I seriously doubt either Rebecca, Jess, Ty, Elaine, Cedric or Wally was thrilled to see him. He wasn't thrilled with the way I was cooking the turkey, he wasn't happy about the dressing, he wasn't pleased with anything and was a huge drag but that was fine, I knew where I was going with all of this.

Dinner was over in about a half-hour. That was fine too. Everyone wanted to reflect on the year but I knew he'd bore everyone by steering the conversation to his Tall Texas Tales, I'd read the laughable columns (e.g. "And the Color of the Year Is ..."). Which he did. I figured it would send the guests packing -- which it did -- and that was okay too.

As soon as all the guests were gone, he wanted his presents. Of course he would assume not only that I'd gift him but that I'd do so in the plural.

"No, not yet," I replied. "I've made a special treat for you. Fruit salad with cheese topping."

"Cheese topping, did you say, Betinna?" he asked, licking his lips, and his beady little eyes looking quite rat-like.

He ate his way through the whole bowl, only sometimes stopping to use a utensil. There were bits of cheese stuck to his mustache and he looked dazed when he finally came up for air.

Elaine had suggested I consider hypnosis to recapture my lost memories but I was more interested in getting Thomas Friedman to talk which is why I immediately left the table and returned with a pie.

"Cheesecake," I told him.

"With cheese topping!" he said smacking his lips with delight.

I wanted to get him fat and full so the fool would drop his guard and, as he scooped pieces of the pie up with his hands, I knew I was well on my way.

His cheese lust still not satisified, Thomas Friedman then began going to the cabinets and hauling out his precious canned cheese. Putting the nozzle to his mouth, he did one shot after another.

As he did so, I piled on the flattery.

"Thomas Friedman, you really are a great man. A wise man. So smart."

He was eating up the flattery while he was sucking down the cheese. His chest puffed out so far, several buttons popped off his shirt.

"Yes, I am, yes, I am," he agreed before moving on to another can of cheese.

After 15 minutes of this, I noticed his eyes were heavily lidded and he seemed on the verge of dropping into a cheese coma.

"But there are some," I said slowly, "who think Nicky K is much smarter."

"Nonsense!" he barked followed by a loud belch.

"Well, different tastes perhaps," I said waving a hand.

"Betinna, Nicky K owes everything he is to me."

"Okay, sure," I said dismissively.

"What have you heard?" Thomas Friedman asked setting the canned cheese aside.

"Well, he does 'rescue' all those women."

"Only from foreign countries!" snorted Thomas Friedman. "Even then, the little pansy is shaking in his booties."

"If you say so," I said starting to rise.

"It's true!"

"Well, it's not like you would know. You've never gone on any of his Cambodia trips with him."

Thomas Friedman burped again and reached for my arm.

"You just sit down and I'll tell you about Sainted Nicky K," he snarled. "Yeah, he's Mr. Big Shot in Cambodia where people think he's something but in the United States, he can't do a thing without me."

"Oh, I don't know about that."

"Betinna, I am the man! I am the top dog!" he growled.

"Of course you are," I said, my voice dripping with fake sentiment.

"I am!"

"Whatever. It's really not that important. But he did win the Pulitzer."

"What! It was a sympathy prize! Or he slept with all the judges! He didn't earn it! Me, I walk like a giant where ever I go, because The World Is Flat. Nicky K, he cowers in any country where the economy's not tanking!"

"If you say so. It's not like he ever does anything you say. He really is the leader, you're the Lenny to his Squiggy."

Thomas Friedman slammed his fist down on the table causing the plates, glasses and dishes to rattle.

"Let me tell you about a little trip to New Jersey in 2004 . . ." he began.

"That's really not necessary," I said. "We'll just both pretend that you're the leader and not the tag along."

"Tag along! Tag along! I am his mentor! We were on Interstate 78 and he started whining, for the twelfth time, about his tiny bladder. He wouldn't shut up and he finally pulled over at an outlet mall in search of a bathroom. While he was doing that, I was looking at some lovely lace bras. The saleswoman was glaring at me --"

"Oh, Thomas Friedman, if you're just going to make up stories --"

"Shut up! This is the truth! I was fingering this one bra that hooked around front and the saleswoman comes over, pay attention here and see if you don't remember, and says to me, 'Can I help you?' I was looking her up and down and it was just so obvious this woman thought she was better than me --"

"Well was she?"

"Yeah, that's the attitude you had then. Eyeing me like I was a perv. Telling me your shift was almost over so I'd better hurry up and make a selection."

I don't think Thomas Friedman even realized what he was confessing to, he was too zonked out on cheese and too determined to show what a big man he thought he was.

"So Nicky K comes running up to me saying he's made sissy and we can go now and I stop him and point to you. I tell him, 'I really don't like her attitude.' What does Nicky want to do? Split. Just up and split. I'm the one who pointed out that he buys women. But he never takes. I had to egg him on and goad him just to keep him on board. We left the store and, after I bitch slapped him a few times, he agreed to pull around in his Pinto. We got in and waited for you to leave. You finally showed up, locked the store's door and were walking through the parking lot with us following. Nicky K was full of excuses on why we couldn't do anything, whimpering about how there were laws in this country, whining that we had no way to tie you up. I waived the three bras I'd shopliffted and that shut him up! When you were moving towards a car, Nicky zoomed in and cut you off. I got out of the car and you said, 'Oh, it's the fat man.' I asked, 'Who the hell are you talking to?' and you looked straight at me, then slowly turned around, scanning the parking lot, until your eyes came back to me and you said, 'You're the only fat man I see.' I hollered to Nicky and we grabbed you, then I tied your ankles with a bra, then your hands. Nicky slapped a Support The Troops bumpersticker over your mouth and I lifted you up while he opened the Pinto's hatchback. I tossed you in and slammed it down. Nicky K was standing there, wringing his wrists and hopping from foot to foot because he had to pee again. I had to slap him to get him to stop blubbering. When he finally stopped sniveling, we got in the car and drove. He was still freaking out, even after we hit the Jersey Turnpike but I told him to grow a pair and be a man. That little freak can't do a thing without me!"

Thomas Friedman smirked at me for a few seconds more before it hit him what he'd just admitted to.

I hadn't grown up in some 'backwater village' overseas. I'd been kidnapped from New Jersey. By Thomas Friedman and Nicky K. It wasn't that different from the 'rescuing' Nicky K did overseas, it had just happened here, in the United States, where it wasn't seen as 'rescuing' but as kidnapping. A federal crime.

Thomas Friedman bolted from his chair and rushed over to me.

"I-I-I was joking. I just made that all up."

"Get out," I told him.

"It wasn't me. It-it-it was the cheese talking!"

"Get out," I repeated slowly.

Still staring at me, he backed out slowly.

"Don't call the cops, please, don't call the cops!"

As he ran off, I did make one call. To a locksmith. It was Christmas day, I was told, so it would cost plenty. I didn't care, I just wanted the locks changed.

By midnight, Thomas Friedman was back. I heard him trying to fit his key into the lock. Then I heard him cursing. Then he started pleading for me to let him in.

He's done that every other day since. He'll stand outside the front door, begging and pleading.

"I've got a gift for you," he'll announce or he'll say he'll loves me. Always, he asks if I've told anyone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Decemeber is now the deadliest month this year for US troops,
Ehren Watada finally appears in print in The Nation, is Sabrina Tavernise angling to be the new joke of the New York Times, and the US military reveals how little heart and compassion they have as they move to court-martial a soldier suffering from PTSD -- one they did nothing to help.
Starting with fatality news. Today the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Watch for the New York Times to ignore that or Little Man Marcs to report "One marine died" if the pattern this month holds true. The Times can't say they weren't warned when they decided to ignore fatalities and minimize the few that they covered but readers of the paper who depend on it to provide reality (no chuckles) may end up shocked when they discover that today December became the deadliest month for US troops. The three deaths up the total for the month to 107. Prior to this announcement, October had been the deadliest month with 106.
Some outlets report 105 and that has to do with the fact that the US military tends to hold the deaths a bit, and has the since the start of the war, waiting for those first of the month look back press accounts to be published and then noting a death or two afterwards.
106 is the number ICCC uses, 106 is the one we'll go with here. 107 is now the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month. The total number of US troops who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 2996 -- four shy of the 3,000 mark.
US troops have not been the only military fatalities and England's
Ministry of Defense notes:"It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a UK serviceman was killed yesterday, Thursday 28 December 2006, in Basrah, southern Iraq. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was taking part in a routine patrol in Basra City when the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. He was very seriously injured and airlifted to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but unfortunately died later as a result of his injuries." That death brought the total number of British troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 127.
Turning to the issue of war resistance and starting with The Nation magazine. On page 14 of the January 8/15 2007 issue (a double issue) Marc Cooper has an article entitled "Lt. Ehren Watada: Resister." The Nation makes the article
availble online to subscribrs only for whatever reasons but seems unaware that they've published it for all (subscribers and non-subscribers) on Yahoo -- click here. Cooper describes Ehren Watada as "the lighning rod case of resistance" (Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq); and notes the speech he gave in August at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle (click here for text at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which offers both text and video of the speech) where Watada declared, "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."; and notes that, in January, "a 'Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq,' featuring Daniel Ellsberg and Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk will be convened in Tacoma, Washinginton, in support of Watada".
January 4th is the date scheduled for the military's pre-trial hearing and Feb. 5th is when the court-martial is scheduled to begin. The US military is attempting to force journalists to testify at the pre-trial hearing (see
yesterday's snapshot).
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing (who was released from the military brig on Satuday) Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
Resistance takes many forms in the peace movement. As noted in yesterday's snapshot,
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in Crawford, Texas outside Bully Boy's ranchette along with four other activists. Sheehan called the action a "peace surge" to combat Bully Boy's notions of escalating the number of US troops in Iraq. The AP reports that Sheehan's attorney Robert Gottlieb believes the arrest will have no impact on the conditional verdict the judge issued this month in Manhattan. The Smoking Gun reports that, were Sheehan convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in prison and the maximum fine is $2,000.
In another mother for peace news,
Theresa Hogue (Corvallis Gazette-Times) reported last week on Michelle Darr, a mother of six, who was arrested December 12th for attempting to get US Senator Gordon Smith to sign the Declaration of Peace (her third arrest this year for attempting to lobby Smith, she was arrested twice in September) and will face a tril in January. Darr told Hogue, "What they (her children) see me doing is as important as what they don't see me doing. If Im not using my voice and efforts in the cause of the common good, how can I expect them to take initiative when the need arises? I don’t want them to ever think oppression and genocide are acceptable, or that war is a way to solve problems."
Along with courageous acts of resistance like Sheehan's and Darr's, demonstrations will take part around the United States to note the 3,000 mark for US fatalities in Iraq.
United for Peace and Justice notes:
Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.
Military Families Speak Out notes:
MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »
3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.
Also refer to
World Can't Wait's Protests & Vigils Planned the Day After the Number of US Troops Killed in Iraq Reaches 3,000
As the press continues to note that Bully Boy is seriously considering escalating the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq,
Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) note: "Two attempts last summer to stabilize Baghdad by sending in more troops failed. The increased U.S. presence led to a brief drop in violence, but as soon as the troops left the neighborhoods where they'd deployed, the violence skyrocketed." That was the crackdown that cracked up and accomplished nothing. It began in June and by August, the US military was noting that, in July, attacks on US forces were up (double the January amount) and bombing attacks on civilians were up 10%. And last week Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the US Pentagon's findings "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and this during the continued increase of US troops in Iraq. But like a greedy tele-evangilist, Bully Boy can just cry out, "Send more! Send more!"
CNN reports a bomber "waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim" in northern Bagdad and then detonated the bomb "when the clearic, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers" leaving the Shi'ite cleric dead and also killing "his brother and severn others" and leaving 15 wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar and seven more wounded. AFP reports a police officer and "a bystander" were shot dead in Hindiya while, in Mussayib, a police officer was shot dead and five more wounded. KUNA reports four Iraqi soldiers were shot dead "southwest of Kirkuk" and a fifth Iraqi soldier was injured while, in nothern Iraq, "two employees who . . . worked for the Petroleum State Company" were shot dead.
KUNA reports that the corpse of a kidnapped police officer was discovered in Kirkuk.
AFP reports on the increasing demise of communal baths in Baghdad from violence and financial costs: "In its glory days when Iraq was one of the most developed Arab countries in the Middle East, the hammam used to employ 16 people. Today only four permanent staff remains on the payroll as massive inflation takes hold." and quotes the owner of the bathhouse explaining, "The electricity is often down. Gas for heating has become too expensive. We pay 20,000 dinars ($14) for a bottle compared to 1,000 just two or three years ago. How do you expect me to carry on? There are days when it costs me more to open than doing nothing. I love my profession but it's disappearing."
In I-Schilled-for-the-U.S.-military-and-all-I-got-was-a-red-face news,
Sabrina Tavernise's 'scoop' in the New York Times had holes blown through it earlier this week and has now fallen apart completely. The US military announced (to her and James Glanz of the New York Times) that they had been holding Iranian 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' since the 12th of December. In the latest development to rip the story of Iranian 'terrorists' to shreds, the BBC reports that the two diplomats who were held by US forces but in the country of Iraq at the invitation of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, were released. On the detention of the two diplomats, AFP quotes the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, stating: "Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the US forces who firstly denied their arrest were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them. The arrest of these diplomats was carried out contrary to international laws and the Geneva convention."
In the US, the
AP reports: "Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, of Mont Alto, died Wednesday afternoon at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas" after being injured in November 13th bombing in Ramadi and quotes his grandfather, Edward Shaffer, stating that "All they could do was try to keep him comfortable. They couldn't do any more for him." 24 year-old Shaffer is among many troops who die from physical injuries recieved in Iraq but, due to dying after they are shipped out of Iraq, do not get included in the official body count.
Another war related death not included in the count is
covered by Megan Greenwell (Washington Post), 29-year-old James E. Dean, who had served in Afghanistan and recently recieved orders to deploy to Iraq, barricaded himself in his father's house on Christmas day, and was killed in an exchange with police officers.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported that the US army's crappy record on addressing PTSD within the ranks just got worse: the army is moving to court-martial Tyler Jennings who suffers from PTSD and was diagnosed with "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness" five months ago and received no assistance.
ehren watada

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Double-Wide Friedman

I thought my husband, Thomas Friedman, would be home for the holidays. Then Mrs. K called and asked, "Betinna, exactly what happened the last time you and Thomas were together?"

I tried to strangle him, I responded, rather proudly.

Possibly due to that, Mrs. K explained, he's living in a double-wide in Texas.

"He is a double-wide in Texas," I snapped hanging up.

Then I picked up the paper. There it was, another effort to recast himself, and couldn't anyone reading "And the Color of the Year Is ..." tell that we were dealing with a male with huge insecurities?

He's going with the Green lately. He doesn't understand it but it's easier than trying to talk war. So he sounds like the old guy at your parents' party that you avoided. When he writes "you're not in your parents' Wal-Mart" he does realize, doesn't he, that most readers see him as Pa Friedman?

Regardless, he's off on one of his Praise-the-environmental-Jesus moments. Which is rather strange because I've always put his celebrating Christmas down to his love of presents but the whole search for a Jesus . . . He is still Jewish, right?

At any rate, he saw the light, he went to the river, he has been healed! In McKinney, Texas where Wal-Mart operates one of two 'Green' stores. Hallalujah!

Two stores! Two!

Wal-Mart has 1,092 discount stores in the US and 2,195 Super-Centers in the US. That's a total of 3,287 stores in the United States and 2 of them are "Green." That's not even 1 for every thousand!

But it got them a nice little infomerical in the "New York Times" today.

And that's before you consider ther 576 Sam's Clubs or all the empty Wal-Marts across the nation that the company abandoned as soon as their tax abatement expired.

Since Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs carry Thomas Friedman's gag-joke "The World Is Flat," I had to wonder whether the "New York Times" would run his mash notes to Borders Books or Barnes & Noble? Probably not.

Maybe I'm just bitter? Grasping that chances are I'm getting some crap gift he picked up at Wal-Mart? Even an airport present would be a step up.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; American military fatalities in Iraq hit
2964 -- 36 shy of the 3,000 mark and Condi Rice is pleased with that figure and want to see it go higher, HIGHER, HIGHER; a US war resister will be released from the military brig tomorrow; Carolyn Marshall demonstrates you don't have to serve in the US administration to be useless; and a remedial walk-through for confused visitors from yesterday.

Starting with news of US war resister
Ricky Clousing. Joe Miller (Jacksonville's The Daily News) reports that Clousing "will be released from the Camp Lejeune brig on Saturday." As Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Indpendent Weekly) reported yesterday, there is a rally scheduled in Fayetteville (North Carolina) "midday Saturday to be greeted by human rights supporters at the Raleigh Friends Meeting House, 625 Tower St. (the street behind the Cameron Village Post Office). His reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before he catches a flight from RDU back to his hometown of Seattle Wash." Once arriving in Seattle, as Courage to Resist notes, there will be a welcoming at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 10:15 p.m. Saturday night -- "Concourse B., Baggage Claim 11."

Clousing self-checked out of the US military in June 2005 and,
on August 11, 2006, announced he would be turning himself in. Following an attempt at turning himself in at Fort Lewis, Clousing was told to go to Fort Bragg. On October 12th, Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and has been in the brig since then. Like Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, and Agustin Aguayo, Clousin is a part of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.

Resistance within the military was the story of 2006 but too few were interested in reporting it or, let's face it, in reporting at all. Chatting on some charges, don't call it reporting,
Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) continued to flaunt ignorance today, as well as what may very well be xenophobia, as she chirped away about 8 US marines charged in the November 2005 Haditha slaughter without ever noting a reaction on the part of Iraqis -- even a previously reported reaction. (Marshall does have a co-writer. Her past bylines indicate she grabs all the blame for the latest.)

On today's
Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez rebroadcast an interview they did with Time magazine's Aparisim Ghosh about the Haditha massacre explaning (pay attention, Carolyn Marshall), "The more we dug, the more we thought something didn't quite add up." How so? The Iraqis "were killed in their homes, in their night clothes. The night clothes were significant because . . . women and children especially, are unlikely to go out in their night clothes, it is a very conservative society." "The victims," yes, Carolyn Marshall, Aparism Ghosh spoke with victims and eyewitnesses, "told us that the Marines came in and they killed everyone in sight." One young girl told of how the Marines killed everyone in her home except for her and her young brother. Click here for the full report from May 30th's Democracy Now! and we'll note what Dahr Jamail said in that discussion: "And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that's astounding and important for people to remember, as well."

If Carolyn Marshall needs futher examples of what real reporters do, she might also
check out Majid Hameed (Reuters) who spoke with people in Haditha today. Khaled Salman declares, "Those soldiers killed 24 people. They killed women and children, isn't that enough for them to be excuted? Just so that the family can have peace." Her sister was killed in the slaughter. Hameed also notes a local judge, Talal Saed, who states, "They should be tried in Iraq and under the Iraqi law. . . . This is a show trial just to show that the Americans are doing something to be fair with Iraqis but it's nothing more than that."

Equally oblivious is the US Secretary of State. Yes, Condi Rice continues to flaunt her loose grip on reality. Her failure as US National Security Advisor (remember, 9-11 was on her watch) trails her as US Secretary of State.
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Condoleezza Rice "said Iraq was worth the cost in US lives and dollars". Today, the US military announced: "Three Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Also today, the US military announced: "An attack against a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol killed a Soldier west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 22. The Soldiers came under sporadic small arms and indirect fire during a patrol. One Soldier was killed and another wounded." Five deaths and Condi says it's worth it. The total number of US troops killed in the Iraq war is 2965 and Condi says 'It's worth it.'

As for the financial costs, the
National Priorities Project has released their summary of the US federal government's budget for 2006 which notes ". . . the total cost of the Iraq War rose to nearly $380 billion. . . . Broken down another way, on average, the federal government spends about $11 million every hour on the Iraq War, $256 million each day, or around $8 billion per month."

Condi's statements about things going swimmingly come as the
BBC reports that at least seven Iraqi police officers were arrested by British troops in Basra due to suspicions of "corruption and leading a death squad in Basra."

While Condi proves she's useless in every position,
Bully Boy hopes and prays that Santa Clause will bring him a way out of the illegal war he started so that he can announce some new 'plan' in 2007. 75 US troops, who lost their lives this month so far, won't be able to wait for that news. It is the deadliest December for US troops since the start of the illegal war and December isn't over.

And in Iraq?


AP notes that two people died and four were wounded in a car bombing in Samarra while two police officers were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Reuters identifies the two dead in Samarra from the car bomb as Ahmed al-Yaseen and his wife (name not given) and the four wounded were their children while also noting that two police officers were killed in Samarra from a roadside bomb and, in Suwayra, a bombing left five people wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that an explosion in Baghad "targeting police patrol in Al Saadon street, central Baghdad" left eight citizens wounded.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Hiba Abdullah was shot dead while in her car in Baquba and her two-year-old son Mohammed Ahmed was injured.


Reuters notes that the corpse of a "hospital employee" who was kidnapped Thursday was discovered today in Kut. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that 21 corpses were found in Baghdad, Baquba and Kut today.

CNN reports that iman Emad al-Shimari was kidnapped "at a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers."

In peace news,
Veterans For Peace announces that they, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Working Assets were able to purchase 24,000 phone cards which "were distributed to 149 VA hospitals nationwide."

Also in peace news,
Guy Smallman (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports that England's House of Lords has determined, three years after, that the police response to a March 2003 demonstartion against the war was "illegal and the protesters' human rights were violated. Lord Bingham has described the police's actions as 'wholly disproportionate' and said that the right to protest is 'an essential foundation of a democratic society'."

In let's-walk-the-vistors-through-real-slowly news (for visitors lost
yesterday), the US government wants to sideline Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqis want foreign troops to stop occupying their country. This week US troops ceded control of Najaf to Iraqis. As the BBC reported yesterday, an attempted end run around al-Sadr took place yesterday when Shia leaders met with Ayatollah ali al-Sistani in Najaf. For visitors who got lost in the basic yesterday, note this from Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP): "In Najaf, Shiite delegates were meeting the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to ask for his blessing for the new coalition. The deal would excluse al-Sadr, but participants sought to reassure him that it would not sideline his influence". Today, Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that following the meeting with al-Sistani, the same group of leaders will meet with al-Sadr and discuss with him the possibility of a one month truce/cease fire. Already one part of the plan has been enacted, al-Sadr's followers announced yesterday they would return to their cabinet and parliamentary functions. If it's still too hard to put together, the AFP reports: "US officials have made it clear that they favour a realignment in Iraq's unity government, which would exclude Sadr and his Shiite militia". Despite that desire and the Pentagon report blaming al-Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki refuses (thus far) to heed the US call. And, as AFP reports, "this week Iraqi politiicans trampled down to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to talk to Sadr's allies and encourage him back into the coalition." To review, in an attempt to win the favor of al-Sistani and his followers, US forces handed control of Najaf over to Iraqi forces. The US government's hope was that al-Sadr would then be shut out in the talks that took place on Thursday, that a new coalition would be formed which would sideline him. That, however, did not happen. Another bet Condi made that someone else will have to pay off. For visitors still confused, Sam Dagher (CNN) reports: "'President Bush is being misled,' senior Shiite parliament member Ali al-Adeeb said in response to Bush's statement Wednesday that an emerging 'moderate coalition' would marginalize those who 'use violence to achieve political objectives'."

ricky clousing

juan gonzalez

Friday, December 15, 2006

Did you hear the one about a Fat Ass who'd do anything for a Blizzard?

I was reading the "New York Times" today and came to the op-eds. There was my husband, Thomas Friedman, supposedly filing from Midland, TX.

At first, I was willing to write the trip off as another one of his 'mental flights,' but speaking to Mrs. K later, I got the low down. Thomas Friedman was craving. He whined all week about how there wasn't one Dairy Queen in all of NYC.

I know there's at least one in New Jersey because we went to the one in Jersey City after we returned from California this summer. Thomas Friedman was in hog heaven, literally.

"Oh my, Dilly Bars! Oh, and I will have a Peanut Buster Parfait as well! Oh, and I'm a little sleepy, so I need some coffee, two MooLatte Frozen Blended Coffees, please, young man. I'm not usually so hungry, as my petite frame attests, but I think I'll be having a banana split as well, for a balanced diet," he yammered on.

Now the man behind the counter might have thought he was dealing with another fat, middle-aged glutton were it not for the fact that the man in front of him was wearing a platinum blonde wig, false boobs and and a red mumu. (Thomas Friedman felt it was beach wear perfect for the Jersey Shore.)

Still, he might have just raised a few eyebrows (it's hard to shock in New Jersey) if he hadn't noticed a couple at a nearby table eating Blizzards. Those are a blend of ice cream and snacks, usually candy, as we both found out when Thomas Friedman asked, in his most girlish, most high pitched voice, what was in the cups?

Immediately he was back at the counter, demanding a Blizzard with a Heath bar, a Blizzard with Snickers, and letting the man behind the counter know that they should both be free since no one had bothered to inform him what was on the menu.

The young man wasn't buying it and Thomas Friedman had to open his change purse and pay for both which he slurped down so quickly I feared he'd get an ice cream headache. He didn't. But he did stay at the counter and was quite upset when a woman came in and order a Blizzard with M&Ms AND chocolate covered cherries.

"You didn't tell me I could have two ingredients in one Blizzard!" Thomas Friedman shrieked in dismay.

Somehow managing to leap over the counter, Thomas Friedman was quickly on the other side and slamming toppings and candies into his mouth while the young man attempted to restrain him. It was no use. Once Thomas Friedman had stuffed everything possible into his mouth, he parked his head under the soft ice cream dispenser and just let the ice cream flow into his open mouth until the police arrived about 20 minutes later.

He was banned from Dairy Queen and I honestly thought it was just that Dairy Queen but he seemed to believe it was all of them in New Jersey.

So he started craving Blizzards at the first of the week and couldn't stop whining about them. Finally, Nicky K gifted him with Larry McMurty's "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond" and suggested, mainly to get him to shut up, that he go to Texas where they make the best Blizzards.

That's all Thomas Friedman needed to hear and he was off an instant. Hopefully, he wore his business clothes.

Once down there, he began sending in reimbursment requests. When the total bill hit $1984.75 and they were all from a Dairy Queen in Midland on, get this, Wall St., Bill Keller asked exactly how any of this was work related?

Thomas Friedman didn't like anyone questioning him and spent Wednesday pouting but on Thursday told Bill Keller that he'd gone to Texas to write about wind energy.

Bill Keller pointed out that Massachusetts was much closer so Thomas Friedman seized upon the notion that he was writing about wind energy and the Bully Boy.

Keller allowed it and Thomas Friedman's hastily tossed together column, "Whichever Way the Wind Blows" (which does appear to describe his belief system) , appeared in today's paper.

As usual, it was important that Thomas Friedman find a businessman to suck up to. And, as usual, it was important that he not include anything resembling reality because that might require real work. A businessman said it? Good enough for Thomas Friedman.

So when I was talking to my neighbors Jess and Ty, they mentioned it to C.I. who hooked me up with phone numbers to Billie, Dallas and Eddie who actually know a thing or two about Texas since they live there.

They told me that Thomas Friedman had written a supposed paen to the environment without ever grasping that the issue in Texas today, as court cases increasingly demonstrate, is that the windmills pop up anywhere and everywhere. Billie shared that the whole thing was starting to freak many out and remind them of a small town, Van, where the public schools have working oil wells in the middle of campus. Billie once played in a tennis competition at both the middle school and the high school and what stood out was the stench of oil that overwhelmed each campus ("not very far apart from each other"). She said it couldn't have been good for the students to have to smell that all day and that she and others think about that when they contemplate Texas' windmill turbines. Just as the oilwells ended up wherever it was best for the industry, with not a lot of thought for the people around them, so it is with the windmills.

She wondered how anyone, let alone a reporter, could contemplate the topic and not grasp that issue? I explained to her that when a Fat Ass is craving, he only sees the food. Eddie pointed out that many see the 'success' for business as deriving solely from the tax abatements big business is receiving and Dallas told me that many farms are very opposed to the wind turbines.

All three urged me to give Thomas Friedman a good talking to. I intend to do just that. Though he's not been home since I attempted to strangle him, he did send me a list of approved gifts to purchase him for Christmas. (Top of the list the Atelier Makeup Box -- "It's what professionals use! This is a dream gift for any busy man on the go!" he jotted beside the request. At $700, he can keep dreaming.) Which clearly means he's planning on at least visiting our home by Christmas. So I'll share their concerns while attempting to find out exactly what he's lied to me about and exactly what he knows. If he thinks the gifts are going to be his only disappointment, he's in for a very big surprise.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's been attacked repeatedly by the US military, the US military announces that three troops have died, the US media attempts to ignore the big Iraq story of the day, Kyle Snyder continues speaking out and Donald the Rumsfled leaves an appointed office but he does not complete a 'tour of duty.'

Starting in England, with the big story.
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) report that Carne Ross ("Britain's key negotiator at the UN") statement in the Butler inquiry (2004) that's only now been revealed and it exposes the lies behind the 'case' for war in England. AFP reports that Ross declared "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests." Ross also declared that: "It was the commonly-held view among the officials dealing with Iraq that any threat had been effectively contained" (Al Jazeera).

Though Carne Ross' statements have been kept secret (swept under the 'national security' rug), Last month,
he did speak to the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee and note that the intel offered to the public was "manipulated." As Brown and McSmith note, the Commons Select Committee is the body that's brought the information public while an unidentified member of the Foreign Affairs committee states: "There was blood on the carpet over this. I think it's pretty clear the Foreign Office used the Official Secrets Act to suppress this evidence, by hanging it like a Sword of Damacles ovre Mr Ross, but we have called their bluff." The Irish Times declares: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair's case for attacking Iraq has been dealt a new blow with the release of once-secret evidence from a former British diplomat who dismissed the threat of weapons of mass destruction."

As the mainstream media in the US bends over backwards to note Ross' statements, many may be reminded of the Downsing Street Memos and how they were greeted with silence and then derision. AP was the excuse many hid behind with DSM -- claiming they would have run a story if AP had covered it -- if only a wire story . . . Well
AP has covered it.

Turning to peace news,
Alex Zdan (Trenton Times) notes Tuesday speech Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, gave to the Nassau Presbyterian Church where she described how her son became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq ("In studying all the literature, he was stunned by what he saw") which included refusing to accept a "desk job" in Iraq. On last Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Carolyn Ho explained that the refusal was for himself as well as those serving under him, "He felt the best thing he could do for his men was to remain behind and speak truth." She is asking for everyone to contact their members of Congress and put pressure on Congress to carry out their oversight role. Monday, Carolyn Ho appeared on Democracy Now! and discussed her own progress when meeting with members of Congress. Outside of Maxine Waters, not much. So those who haven't contacted their Congress members should considering doing so.

Ehren Watada, as Aaron Glantz (IPS) reported, is also the subject of subpoenaes -- the US military is attempting to compell three journalists to testify in court: Sarah Olson, Dahr Jamail, and Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin). Jason Leopold (Truthout) notes that Olson is "one of few reporters covering the anti-war movement and the voices of dissent" and that she has not decided yet how to respond to the subpoena -- Sarah Olson: "Once you involve a reporter in prosecution, you turn that reporter into the investigative arm of the government."

Another US war resister continues speaking out:
Kyle Snyder Washington's Bellingham Herald notes an appearence at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center. Last weekend, at a speaking appearance, police showed up. Snyder continues speaking out.

Watada and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.
Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.


As Aileen Alfandary noted on
KPFA. this morning ( The Morning Show), two car bombs went off outside US bases in Ramadi.


Qais al-Bashir (AP) reports that Muhsin al-Kanan, a cleric who was tight with British forces, was shot dead in Basra and that a civilian was shot dead in Kut. Reuters reports that "a member of the Iraqi intelligence agency" was shot dead in Diwaniya as was an oil company guard.


Reuters cites hospital sources in Mosul having received 13 bodies today.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's the target of US forces.
Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that that the IRC states there has been "a spate of attacks on its offices over the last three years" and in the most recently, according the the IRC's vice president (Jamal Al Karbouli), about a week ago, "US forces had occupied and nearly destroyed its Falluja office, held staff for hours, and burned two cars clearly marked with its neutral symbol." CBS and AP report: "'We have flags, we have everything, we have (the) logo, so they (U.S. forces) know everything, but unfortunately they come again and attack us many times,' Al-Karbouli said. He complained that U.S. forces broke doors and windows at the Red Crescent headquarters "and they didn't find anything, and they left.'"
Today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from woundssustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." The US military also announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team,1st Cavalry Division, died Tuesday as a result of enemy fire while conducting operationsin Ninewa Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility."

Tomorrow is the first of two 'big meets' for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki.
KUNA reports that he "will convene another National Reconciliation Conference for political leaders from across Iraq." While he gears up for his conference, Jawad al-Bolani is in Syria apparently not overly concerned with the opinions of US Secretary of State Condi Rice. KUNA reports the Interior Minister of Iraq is there "to discuss security issues as the first Iraqi official to visit Damascus since diplomatic relations were resumed between the two neighboring countries." This comes at a time when Tareg al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's vice-presidents, is in the US and criticizing Bully Boy's 'plan' Al Jazeera quotes him saying: "Imagine one day waking up and finding out that your nation's leaders had completely dismantled all police and military. As a result, there is no one policeman, or state, or federal law enforcement agent, or even one national guard or any soldier to protect you from criminal elements, or terrorists. It will be total chaos. Then imagine that instead of calling back the army and security forces, the authorities in this imaginary scenario decided to form a new army and police from racist militias, some mercenaries and organized crime gangs. . . . This is exactly what has happened in Iraq."

In a
lengthy talk/performance with the Washington Post editorial board, Condi Rice attempted to buff her image a bit but mainly demonstrated (yet again) that even her fabled 'expertise' in Russia/the Soviet Union is inflated. The take away should be Rice's declaration, "I find Prime Minister Maliki a strong man." A statement so laughable it begs for a remix and one that will come back to haunt her.

In other things that should haunt, Donald the Rumsfled began a three-day farewell while most Americans wonder, "I thought he'd left already." Today it was time to 'salute' him and watch for the media that makes (at best) an idiot of itself or (at worst) spits on democracy by referring to the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense's 'tour of duty.' The Rumsfled was a civilian. Civilians are in charge of the military in the US. He did not complete a 'tour of duty' but fools and those with no respect for democracy will repeat the nonsense.
Roger Runningen and Brendan Murray (Bloomberg News) note this remark by the Bully Boy: "He spoke straight. It was easy to understand him." File it away from the future War Crimes Tribunal should Bully Boy attempt to say he was confused about what was being discussed.


kyle snyder

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Choke a Moron and Send Him Packing

It's not like I didn't warn him.

That was my first thought when Mrs. K broke the news to me.

I was standing in my kitchen, looking out the window and listening to her over the phone as she passed on what Nicky K had told her.

He hadn't repeated his dress up moment, mainly because I snatched the wig off his head and refused to give it back, but word had gotten out and back to the "New York Times."

I tried to figure out what would have bothered Bill Keller the most? The fact that my husband Thomas Friedman was babbling in public dressed as a woman or the fact that he was in black- face? I was just about pin the bulk of the blame on the name of the establishment, Chunky's Rainbow Lounge, because we all know how concered about appearances Bill Keller, et al. are.
But then Mrs. K clued me in to the loud discussion Nicky K had overheard.

Turns out the reaction would have been the same if Thomas Friedman had done the same act, even in black-face -- though there was no reason for it, to the tune of "Where The Boys Are" and "Stupid Cupid." I gasped. Bill Keller was a Connie Francis fan!

Fanatic it turns out. He was already telling the people working for the arts section that there would be a big roll out for last century's yesterday's news, Gloria Estefan, when her vanity project came out --

"If it gets filmed," I interrupted Mrs K.

Estefan, like her hero Bully Boy, had seen her own popularity tank. Why she thought the American public that wouldn't buy her on CD was dying to see her soon to be fifty-year-old ass as the lead in a movie was a mystery to me and apparently to the film studios as well since they hadn't been lining up to bankroll a film on the life of Connie Francis -- regardless of whether or not it was written by Estefan.

I was telling Mrs K that at the least the Jets had gone away so you could hear "Crush On You" today and bop along with it as you went about your day. But Estafan? She'd broken up the fun group to chases after non-stop schmaltz as a steadily declining solo act.

"I think it's the drama queen connection," said Mrs. K noting that both Connie Francis and Estafan had an inclination to play up the 'drama.'

Which had us laughing and discussing how Francis' nose job scene -- the event that destroys the voice a few loved -- would play out? Would they play it straight? Did they really expect anyone to buy the I-had-a-nose-job-because-of-air-conditioning excuse? Isn't that like three steps below the lie of "deviated septum"?

Mrs. K was going on about how both women loved their wars and I was thinking about how War Hawks make the most mechanical singers and how any of the lousy middle-of-the-roaders Estafan foisted off on the public could have been brought to life by a real singer like Natalie Cole but just lay there and stunk up the airwaves when delivered by the Boredom Is Gonna' Get Ya Estafan.

"There's nothing worse than someone who doesn't grasp that their initial fame was a fluke and that everything after has been one long, slow public embarrassment," I said into the phone and it was like I was Penny Marshall creating a Lenny & Squiggy moment because just then Thomas Friedman entered the room.

"How dare you!" he gasped before turning on his heel and storming out.

Some days I think, "I long for caberet. Instead, my life is like a sitcom."

After I got off the phone with Mrs. K, I heard Thomas Friedman huff "Finally!" as he picked up an extension and began dialing.

I had no idea what he was doing home. I hadn't seem him since I'd de-wigged him.

He didn't look any worse for the wear. Probably ten pounds heavier. Which didn't surprise me because Mrs K had said he'd been eating fast food, going to McDonalds and ordering cheeseburgers, discarding the buns and licking the cheese off the hamburger patties.

What was the obession with cheese?

I wondered if his mother had called him her "little rat" when he was growing up?

Then I heard his voice break from the whispering. If he was getting louder, he was obviously up to no good. So I listened in.

He was yacking about the importance of "brutal honesty" which I doubt he applies to calls of "fat ass." Oh, and he was talking about me.

He was saying that the way he sees it, he's got ten months to "fix" things or he'll be stuck with me for ten years.

Apparently in the world of Fat Ass Friedman, I have no say in the matter.

But then, the colonized rarely gets a seat at the planning table.

"The currency of marriage is pain," he mused with self-enchanted wonder. He was talking about "knocking sense" into me and "the threat of pain," none of which worried me because I could take down Soft, Old and Pudgy with both hands tied behind my back. He was calling himself "Mr. Big" which clued me in that he must have spent the last week crashing on the pathetic and "Sex in the City" obsessed Gail Collins' couch.

As he went on and about "Mr. Big," I wondered why it was always the men with the shortest and stubbiest penises who were so obsessed with size? Then I remember what my grandmother used to say about people always wanting what they couldn't have.

I could hear her saying that in my head.

I could hear her speaking and she was speaking in English.

I could see her standing by her stove in what was your basic kitchen. She wasn't in a hut. Out her kitchen window, you could see cars passing on the street so she wasn't in a "backwater village" which Thomas Friedman repeatedly told me I'd grown up in.

I could see myself sitting at her kitchen table, coloring a picture and nibbling on one of her freshly baked cookies.

I could see her smiling at me and it just hit me how much she loved me and how everything Thomas Friedman had ever told me about the life I couldn't remember was a lie.

"Holy crap!" Thomas Friedman was screaming and I realized I had leapt across the couch, grabbed his neck with both hands and was proceeding to choke him.

Looking into his scared, old, fat and tired face, I saw the pathetic man he was and always would be and told myself, "Betinna, you don't want to spend your days in prison even if most of America would thank you for the mercy killing."

As soon as I got off him, he ran, limping, out of our apartment.

Opening the paper yesterday, I saw, to no surprise, he'd rewritten the whole thing and was back to talking "big." But I bet more than a few readers grasped that behind the hollow pose, he was one frightened, tiny, boy. He should be.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; US war resister Kyle Snyder continues speaking out against the illegal war; Bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter Peggy Poop demonstrates that not everyone ages well; over 200 protest the war in San Francisco;
you know it's ugly when the US military dubs children 'insurgents'; and the Rumsfled has one more persona to test before he bows off the public stage.

Starting with peace news within the United States. Kyle Snyder is currently traveling the West coast speaking out against the illegal war. Snyder was heavily and repeatedly targeted by a recruiter who promised the moon and delivered nothing. Because verbal agreements can be broken . . . on their end. On leave from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out and went to Canada in April of 2005. Happy there, speaking out, a job he enjoyed working with disabled children that paid well. Snyder began to consider returning to the United States. As October drew to a close, he did just that and on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering that the military that lied to him before had lied yet again.

On KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder. Barrows-Friedman noted his Army Corps of Engineers training and Snyder explained that he thought he'd be in Iraq doing construction "asphalt and concrete, laying foundations for schools, hospitals, roads." Instead, they made him a gunner and "an escort for high ranking officials." He saw a number of things in Iraq, reconstruction wasn't one of them.

Kyle Snyder: The things that I saw there for instance, you know, when we're told that we're liberating the people of Iraq and we're doing positive things you know I expect to at least see the civilians and stuff, you know, accepting us more. And basically accepting what we're doing. But children were flipping us off, they were begging for food and water almost all the time when I was out. I had seen people killed, I had seen people injured and it's just basically what led me to leave the war in the first place were the policies that drove the war. You know, when the Bush administration in 2004 and 2005 were saying 'We're liberating the people of Iraq' like I said I expect to see some of that happening. You know, no matter what rank you are, I think that we deserve to know why we're fighting. And basically it felt like a lie. It felt like a lie. And mainly because we couldn't explain what the mission was.

Despite a warrant for his arrest, Snyder's "going around speaking to povertized areas, mainly African-American and Latino communities, around the country because they're targeted by recruiters and I think that recruiters should tell people the truth." He didn't have that himself. No one was warning him. The mood of the country then was still Rah-Rah, he was targeted heavily in high school (recruiter evern came to his graduation) and he grew up in foster homes. Snyder knows what it's like to think some adult's really interested in you, really concerned about you, only to realize after they were just trying to hit their month's target goal.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And Kyle, if you were speaking with a young person who was considering joining the military right now, they were weighing their options, what advice would you have for them and what would you talk about with their families?

Kyle Snyder: . . When a recruiter comes up and talks to you, it's not because you're a special kind of person. It's not because you have any type of thing that some other human being doesn't. And a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds assume that, you know? 'Oh a recruiters talking to me because I have some kind of special ability that no other person has.' And they over-glorify it making you know basically the Army into Rambo-like figures and things that you know are in action movies when that's not the case. They really need to look at what they'll be doing. . . . You're a gunner, medic, driver or, you know, an escort. Those are the only four jobs that are in Iraq regardless of what you sign up to do. I'd say, you know, if somebody signed up no matter what branch of service, I'd say it's about an 80% chance you're going to Iraq as long as the Bush administration is in power. So they really need to look at that and understand that, yes, they're going to Iraq as long as, like I say, the Bush administration has their say, the war's going to last. So they just need to understand that. And I can understand people that do join the military and that believe in what they're doing but they need to understand people like me as well --that are lied to to get into the military. And, you know . . . I don't know. That's basically all I can say.

Kyle Snyder is a public US war resister. He is part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.

When asked to speak about this movement, Kyle Snyder noted, "There's over 8,000 AWOL soldiers in the United States right now, 200 in Canada, 38 have applied for refugee status in Canada and I'm hoping, you know, that they start coming out. And I know that some of them are going to be coming out in the next few months. . . . I could use Bush's words, 'Are we going to solve this problem now or are we going to wait for the next president 5 years from now, 10 years from now when 8,000 Iraq veterans are homeless or hiding in a corner because it wasn't taken care of like it could have been?'"

[Rebecca wrote about Snyder's interview here.]

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Tina Kim (WorldNow) reports on Appeal for Redress and notes that Jonathan Hutto and others involved with the appeal will be holding a news conference next Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to raise awareness on the project which is gathering signatures of active duty service members calling for the US troops to be brought home. The appeal will be presented to Congress in January. Jonathan Hutto was a guest last week on WBAI's Law and Disorder. [Mike noted it here.]

Today begins the National Days of Action to Support GI Resistance, called for by Courage to Resist, which run through Sunday the 10th. Indybay IMC notes: "Other Bay Area Events: On Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film 'Ground Truth' will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film 'The Ground Truth' will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

Sunday, the 10th, is also Impeachment Day and click here for David Swanson's overview of the goals and list of events. Action is needed to end the illegal war. And each day it drags on, more and more are wounded, more and more die.

They Kill Civilians, Don't They?

CBS and AP report that, on Friday, "20 insurgents, including two women," were killed in a US airstrike (in the Salahaddin Province). The US military has a breathless press release on it that's all blah, blah, blah until this line: "Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately." And children too, right?

CBS and AP note that the area's mayor, Amir Fayadh, says that "seven women and eight children" were killed. AFP reporters "found and photographed relatives weeping over several mangled bodies, including those of at least two children, near the ruined homes." AFP also notes that the US military's flack Christopher Garver denies children were killed, even when presented with photographic evidence by AFP. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the "charred and bloody blodies laid out" were covered with blankets and "An AP photo showed an Iraqi man who had pulled back one of the blankets and uncovered the face of one of the dead, who appeared to be a boy about 10 years old". Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports that "grieving relatives showed the bodies of five children wrapped in blankets to journalists."


CNN reports a bombing in Tal Afar that left three dead and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed four lives and left eight more wounded. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports: "On the outskirts of Baghdad, three mortar rounds hit a Shiite residential area, killing 25 men, women and children, and wounding 22" according to police.


Reuters reports that Human Nuri ("head of customs in the city of Najaf) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad while in another Baghdad incident an unidentified person was shot dead and three more wounded.


Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 7. The Soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol responding to a possible IED, south of the city, when a roadside bomb detonated, killing two Soldiers and wounding two others." And earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

And the US military boasted of entering Falluja General, a civilian hospital, on a whim. Blood donors were needed . .. maybe 'insurgents' were present! Screw the rules guiding civilian institutions in warfare, lock and load, baby, lock and load. And it's those incidents and many others that explain why the war is lost.

In legal news, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for excercising their right to free speech. To summarize the case so far, a dramatic recreation based upon the reporting of Samuel Maull (AP).



Typical municipal courtroom. Well, maybe not 'typical,' it is Manhattan.

We see the DEFENSE TABLE where FOUR WOMEN listen: PATTI ACKERMAN, MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE, MEDEA BENJAMIN and CINDY SHEEHAN -- attracitve women all. They stare ahead intently

FOUR WOMEN'S P.O.V. -- a gnome-like woman, in a faded, tattered Kerry-Edwards: 2004 t-shirt, BITTER PEGGY KERRY, sputters on the witness stand in front of D.A. HAN who smiles and nods in sympathy.

I was on my way to meet the group, to take their
petition -- then I saw --

Bitter Peggy begins sobbing. hands her a tissue. Bitter Peggy looks over at the defense table and glares.

Then I saw -- Peace Mom!

Bitter Peggy points a menacing finger. Cindy waves and grins sheepishly.


Free speech, peace doves, compassion
Peace Mom
Passion, peace sign, bravery
Is Peace Mom
She's tinsel on a tree . . .
She's everything an American should be!
If you find one to emulate
Only one to emulate
Let it be Peace Mom . . .
Peace Mom!*

Han smirks to the defense table as DEFENCE attorney rises and walks to the witness stand.

Bitter Peggy Kerry, you agree that you were
notified that a petition would be dropped off?

Yeah, so?

And you agreed to accept the petition?

What of it?

You were on your way to accept the petition and
then something stopped you.

Peace Mom.

Just the sight of Cindy Sheehan was enough to
make you break your agreement?

Damn right. "Peace"? Please. I'm bitter
and angry and mad at the world. Keep Peace Mom
away from me. Every where she travels, there's always
a chance that, at any minute, peace could break
out! I hate her. I hate her! I hate her!

Bitter Peggy goes into spastic convulsions while Defense looks on. Alarmed, D.A. Han leaps to her feet.

Your honor, a recess?

I'll get that Peace Mom. I'll get her. I hate
her. I hate her like I hate kittens and puppies.
And Christmas! And peace! I hate peace!
War! I must have war! I do want war, I do!
Screw Peace Mom, find me Kill Mom! I want
Kill Mom. Kill mommy! Kill mommy!


So ends the docu-drama recreation. [*Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff wrote the theme to the TV program That Girl starring Marlo Thomas -- who also was the executive producer of the show.]

In other news of courage, Steve Rubenstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the 200 plus people march yesterday from Grace Cathedral to the federal building downtown which was led by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus to protest the Iraq war. The Bishop was among those arrested and he stated, "God is with all who have suffered in Iraq. This war needs to be opposed. Even though there is widespread sentiment against the war, we need to continue to push for peace. There is good reason to believe this is an unjust war." Zach notes that Wendell Harper reported, from the protest, on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.

And finally, he's been the White Queen, the Scold, the Nag and, on his way out the door, the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided he wanted to try on one more persona: Axel Rose. Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Rumsfled thinks what the world . . . needs . . . now . . . is just a little patience. Just a little patience.
The tragically unhinged Rumsfled declared that Iraq was still 'winnable' "if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power." Rumsfled's "staying power" -- obviously in question now -- can surely take credit for the 655,000 estimated Iraqis killed during the illegal war. To the would-be-Axel-Rose, the world responds, "There's no room for you here, go away, girl, there's no room for you here" (White Stripes).

kyle snyder