Saturday, January 12, 2008


I was so busy snapping pics with my cell phone of The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel mounting my husband Thomas Friedman, and trying to be sure to get the puppy Katrina had broken the neck of in the photo, that I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings.

"Whatcha doing, Betinna?"

I nearly had a heart attack.

It was Cathy Pollitt, eating an ice cream cone, or licking the ice cream on top actually.

I told her, "Shhh."

I attempted to return to getting photos of the two cheating War Hawks making anger -- don't call it love -- on a public street.

"I was almost home," Cathy whispered, seemingly oblivious, "when I saw an ice cream stand and, after my third cone, I realized I could come over to Little Twelfth St. to support you. So where are they?"

I held a finger to my lips to indicate that Cathy should be quiet and pointed off down the sidewalk.

"Where? I don't have my reading glasses."

To my horror, Cathy began to step forward and advance on the panting tango that was Katrina and my husband Thomas Friedman.

Her body stiffened.

She dropped her ice cream cone.

She gasped.

She screamed.

"Katrina! You're married! And the streets are so filthy, I don't care what Mayor Bloomberg claims!"

I watches as Katrina spun her head around, squinted her eyes, licked her lips while her eyes turned a shade of green even in the white areas, and suddenly flooded across the distance between herself and Cathy.

Flooded was the only word for it.

It wasn't a run, it wasn't a lurch, it was this non-stop wave of action that seemed to take place in the blink of an eye.

"Get off me!" yelled Cathy as Katrina's body seemed to lose the majority of its bones and wrap itself around Cathy.

Only Katrina's jaws still appeared to have bones and they were opening as if they could disengage to take on any width.

"Get off me! Get off me! You psycho! Katrina, I'm warning you --"

And that was that.

Katrina's jaws snapped shut and Cathy's head was gone.

As Cathy's headless corpse fell to the sidewalk, Katrina's body seemed to stretch out 12 feet and you could see Cathcy's head move slowly through it.

Thomas Friedman stood up and I thought for sure he'd run for his life.

However, instead he walked over to Katrina and patted her on the head.

"Do you want the body?"

Katrina shook her head.

Thomas Friedman lifted the body and placed it in a trash dumpster while Katrina made gulping and growling noises.

I wasn't moving, partly because I was stunned, partly because I was in the shadows and feared what might happen if they knew Cathy hadn't been alone in catching their street performance.

I tried to breathe as shallowly as possible and not make any movement so there eyes wouldn't be drawn to me.

I played a statue for close to an hour before Katrina's long ribbon-like body returned to human form. Thomas Friedman helped her to her feet. The sound of a trash crew working its way through the neighborhood could be heard. Katrina and my husband looked around briefly and then began walking off, down the street, with Katrina farting every few steps.

"Oh my," I heard her say, "I'm still digesting."

As they were almost out of sight, the garbage truck came to a stop by the dumpster containing Cathy's headless corpse, lifted it and began dumping the contents into the back of the truck.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, January 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, false predictions come back to haunt the White House, Adam Kokesh and Cindy Sheehan receive good legal news, guess who's made an agreement with the US to transport Iraqi oil, and more.

Starting with war resisters. In 2005, David Hughey spoke at the
Veterans for Peace conference in Irving, Texas:

I am the father of Private
Brandon Hughey who is at this time in Canada. I'm basically a card-carrying Republican. Used to be.
My story basically began when my young son called me from Canada and told me that he didn't want to risk his life for Bush and Cheney's son. That cuased me a great deal of concern. As a matter of fact, it caused great conflicts. Our first several conversations over the telephone were basically fights.
But I started reading. I did a lot of research, an incredible amount of research. And I actually found myself not being able to believe what I was seeing happen to this country. So I sent my son basically a manifesto that said I support him. It took a lot out of me.
as I guess you can tell, I'm not much of a speaker.
So it's brought me to this point, basically, to make a long story short. You know, I've read the Constitution of the United States of America. I've read a lot of books written by a man named James Madison, a lot of things by Thomas Jefferson. When I did that, it helped me figure out that all of this is totally wrong.
I had some really good quotes, but I can't recall 'em off the top of my head.
I just thought I'd come up and introduce myself. I do support my son.

The speech can be found in journalist Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. Laufer co-hosts Washington Monthly Radio which will feature, among other guests, Gore Vidal on the January 13th broadcast. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were the first war resisters to publicy seek refugee status in Canada. November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Parliament is the solution.Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26. The War Resisters Support Campaign has more on the action in Canada:

The War Resisters Support Campaign has called a pan-Canadian mobilization on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 to ensure : 1) that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters currently in Canada cease immediately; and 2) that a provision be enacted by Parliament ensuring that U.S. war resisters refusing to fight in Iraq have a means to gain status in Canada. For listings of local actions, see our
Events page. If you are able to organize a rally in your community, contact the Campaign -- we will list events as details come in.

Courage to Resist notes:

Join and support January 25 vigils and delegations in support of U.S. war resisters currently seeking sanctuary Canada.
Actions are being planned in Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Supporters will meet with officials at Canadian Consulates across the United States in order underscore that many Americans hope that the Canadian Parliament votes (possible as early as February) in favor of a provision to allow war resisters to remain. Download and distribute Jan. 25-26 action leaflet (PDF).Supporting the war resisters in Canada is a concrete way to demonstrate your support of the troops who refuse to fight. Help end the war by supporting the growing GI resistance movement today!
Details January 25-26 actions/events in support of U.S. war resisters.
Sign the letter "Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay!" and encourage others to sign.
Organize a delegation to a
Canadian Consulate near you .
Host an event or house-party in support of war resisters.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

Yesterday, we ntoed that Maria Lauterbach had been missing since mid-December. The soldier who was eight months pregnant when she went missing is now said to have been murdered and CNN reports that Onslow Country Sherriff Ed Brown stated today that they are looking for her corpse and that Ceasar Armando Lauren ("a fellow Marine whom Lauterbach had accused of sexual assault") is a suspect. WTOL quotes family neighbor Kent Zimmerman saying that Maria Lauterbach was "very polite, very respectful." The Cleveland Leader states, "According to court documents, the anticipated birth of Lauterbach's baby 'might provide evidentiary credence to charges that she was sexually assaulted by a senior military person.' Investigators also said that the military had been pursuing rape charges against Lauren, and had plans to hold a hearing in December."

Currently there is tension in Australia and England over the issue of blood provided by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reports, "British soldiers and civilians contractors seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are being tested for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases as a health campaigners reacted angrily to the news that they had been given blood from American donors who [had] not been properly screened. British defence officials confirmed that the US military had not followed its own procedures by testing all the donors after the blood was given to 18 British service personnel and six civilians." The Daily Mall reports that Frances Shine, whose son Steve Shine lost "his left leg when his tank was blown up in Basra, southern Iraq" and who now must wait to find out if he received tainted blood. In Australia, Mark Dodd (The Australian) reports, "Defence officials are urgently checking whether Australian soldiers have been exposed to contaminated blood amid fears 18 British troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan received tainted transfusions. . . . ADF spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said he believed the risk of Australian troops being infected was low but checks were being made." The Australian Defence Force spokesperson states, "It's a very low probability any of our people would have been infected." Michael Evans (Times of London) explains, "The Pentagon revealed at a meeting in Washington in early November that, according to its records, 11 British servicemen had received life-saving blood transfusions from American volunteer donors at US military centres in Iraq and Afghanistan over the six-year period. None of the donors had been pre-screened to detect for any sign of HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis or other blood diseases." CNN quotes the UK undersecretary of defense Derek Twigg stating, "The (U.S. Defense Department) has told us that for the British service personnel they have records for, they know that the blood that they received is clean. However they do admit that their records are incomplete." Thomas Harding (Telegraph of London) points out, "The infections could have occurred any time between 2001 and last year to soldiers or civilian security guards who needed emergency blood transfusion while being treated in American field hospitals in Iraq or Afghanistan." Pay attention to this from the CBC: "In emergency situations, military forces sometimes use other coalition medical facilities, blood or blood products if they are available sooner, the ministry explained on its website. If supplies are exhausted, medical officials use emergency donor panels which are later screened." The warning went out in November -- so why did the UK wait so long to notify anyone? And when you put the above together, it may apply to US service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. The US military supplied the blood -- not some US hospital's mobile blood bank doing runs through Ramadi.

Yesterday at the US State Department, the department's deputy spokesperson
Tom Casey delivered the briefing. He was asked, "Mr. Casey, on Turkey, do you favor a political dialogue between Turkey and the Kurdish organization PKK?" He rsponsed, "We favor putting the PKK out of business. It's a terrorist organization. . . . We want a political dialogue between the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq, which is ongoing and continuous, over how to defeat the PKK. I don't believe anyone in the U.S. Administration has ever called for dialogue with a terrorist organization." That was yesterday. Today Reuters reports, "Turkish artillery shelled northern Iraq on Friday morning, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties or material damage, a Kurdish government official said." This as Reuters reports that Turkey and the US have reached an agreement where "Turkey will help the United States to operate and transport neighbouring Iraq's oil as part of its drive to become an energy hunb" according Hilmi Guler, the Energy Minister of Turkey.

Meanwhile, the escalation is set to wind down in Iraq.
Thomas E. Ricks and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) noted yesterday that it was one year since Bully Boy announced that the "surge" would take place (and Congress, of course, rolled over offering only 'symbolic' resistance). Ricks and DeYoung observe, "In many cases -- particularly on the political front -- Iraqi solutions bear little resemblance to the ambitious goals for 2007 that Bush laid out in his speech to the nation last Jan. 10. 'To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis,' he pledged. 'Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year . . . the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.' Although some progress has been made and legislation in some cases has begun to slowly work its way through the parliament, none of these benchmarks has been achieved. Nor has the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki taken over security responsibility for all 18 provinces, as Bush forecast it would. Last month's transfer of Basra province by British forces brought to nine the number of provinces under Iraqi control." There were no provincial elections, there was nothing. Yesterday, in a Pentagon briefing, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared, "And so I think that our hope is that in the relatively near future we will see some progress on one or more of the key pieces of legislation that we've talked about at the national level, but we clearly are hoping that the reconciliation and improvement in the political environment that has taken place at the local and provincial level over the past number of months will now meet further progress coming at the national level." Yes, we have repeatedly heard that song and dance every year of the illegal war.

As the US Institute of Peace's Barbara Slavin (on leave from USA Today) declared on the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today, "One disturbing note, I mean, there has been an increase in violence apart from the US combat. There have been more suicide bombings, more attacks. It seems to be stepping up again. So you know, we've had all these stories celebrating the surge and saying what a huge success it's been, obviously it has not succeed in securing the country." To see the failures of Bully Boy you don't have to drop back a year. South of Baghdad and Diyala Province (to the north) are targeted for slaughter this week. In ten minutes Thursday, 40,000 pounds of bombs were dropped outside of Arab Jabour and Jamie Gumbrecht and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) remind the administration "recently held" the region "up as a security success" with Bully Boy, speaking in November, declaring, "Slowly but surely the people of Iraq are reclaiming a normal society. You see, when Iraqis don't have to fear the terrorists, they have a chance to build better lives for themselves."

From Bully Boy's November 2, 2007 speech at Fort Jackson, South Carolina (remember, he can't really appear before the general public with his disapproval ratings):

Here's what this progress means to one shopkeeper in the former al Qaeda stronghold of Arab Jabour. He's a local butcher. He says that as recently as June, he was selling only one or two sheep per week. Now, the terrorists cleaned out and residents returning home, he's selling one or two sheep per day. Slowly but surely, the people of Iraq are reclaiming a normal society. You see, when Iraqis don't have to fear the terrorists, they have a chance to build better lives for themselves. You must undertand an Iraqi mom wants her child to grow up in peach just like an American mom does.

Does that "Iraqi mom" see the bombs falling and say, "It's okay, it's just the US bombing us this time?" Or does she it as terrorism as well? In the same speech, Bully Boy got a qucik shout out to Diyala Province, "In Diyala province, tribal groups come together for the first time to foster reconcillation." The 'success' stories only a two months ago has fallen apart and civilian populations are now being targeted in collective punishment which is in violation of the Geneva Conventions. As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The US is claiming success in a massive air-strike campaign sough of Baghdad. More than 40,000 pounds of bombs were dropped on the Arab Jabour district in one of the most intense air attacks since the US invasion. . . . The Pentagon says no civilians were killed but the claim hasn't been independently verified." However, in their briefing yesterday Gates babbled on -- apparently thinking no one was listening -- and declared the latest attacks on the population were going well because "frankly, after these places, there's not much else -- not many places they can go." That statement led to this, "Three follow-ups, then. The current bombing south of Baghdad, after this you say there's not many places they can go. I mean, after this, is it all over? And what should Americans, after yesterday seeing -- nine service members killed in Iraq, what would you say to the American people? Should they still expect days of heavy casualties? What do you forecast?" Gates had no real replies but noted he didn't find it to be "a suprise" that the US would "see some higher casualties" -- all heart -- and that "this job is not finished. There is more to do." Yeah, we've heard that every year of the illegal war as well.

But, hey,
speaking with NBC's David Gregory today (link has text and video), Bully Boy showed no concern. NBC reports: "Asked about recent comments by Republican presidential hopefuly Sen. John McCain that it would be fine to have a U.S. military presence in Iraq for 100 years, Bush said it's up to Iraq. 'That's a long time,' he said, adding that there could 'very well be' a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad. When asked if it could be 10 years, Bush replied, 'It could easily be that, absolutely."

So, as Barbara Slavin noted, "Obviously" the escalation has "not succeeded in securing" Iraq.

It's Friday, very little violence gets reported. Among the reported violence today . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 2 lives with eight more wounded. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya roadside bombing that left three police officers injured.

US military announces it shot 2 people yesterday and labels them "terrorists" -- strangely the 11 also arrested are just "suspects". If you die, you're a terrorist, apparently.


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

IVAW co-chair
Adam Kokesh blogs, "After the government had three and a half months to preapre their case against those of us challenging our arrests from September 15th, the case finally went to trial January 3rd. Sort of. One of my tendefendants, Sholom Keller had come down from Philadelphia the day before and was staying at our new house in the Petworth neighborhood where our new office is set up. S**** ***** (an active duty US Army soldier and member of IVAW) who had been present on September 15th came up from Pensacola as a witness." "How do you resist liars?" Kokesh asked speaking to the September 15th rally before answering, "Speak the truth. How do you stop a war based on lies? It starts with the truth!" He ended his speech (available in full here) stating, "Today may very well mark the beginning of the American anti-fascism revolution. March with us. Honor the dead with us. If you are willing to risk arrest, lie in the street, if not, lie in the grass. Die-in when you hear the air raid sirens. Raise your voice and your fist with us in defiance to send a message to our leadership. If you will not make peace for us, we will make it for ourselves! Power to the people!" As Karissa Marcum (The Hill) reported that day, approximately 200 demonstrators were arrested, "[a]t least two protestors were pepper-sprayed after they tried to breach the police barricade on the west end of the Capitol. The men joined the 187 other anti-war activists who were arrested after crossing a police line. One person was charged with a felony. Iraq Veterans Against the War co-chairman-elect Adam Kokesh stood on the concrete fence and was arrested by Capitol Police wearing riot gear." In other peace and legal news, Reuters reports, "A U.S. appeals court on Friday overturned Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan's conviction for demonstrating without a permit on the White House sidewalk in 2005 and ordered a new trial. The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that Sheehan's conviction had been based on errors of law by the magistrate judge that eliminated the prosecutor's burden to show her criminal intent." On a related note, this Sunday, January 13th, the Green Party presidential debate is held in San Francisco (moderated by Cindy Sheehan) with Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, Jard Bell, Kat Swift, Jesse Johnson Jr. and Ralph Nader to participate. The Green Party notes, "The first, and only, live debate between candidates on the Green Party's California ballot for President of the United States - featuring a former Democratic Party member of Congress, consumer protection icon, professor and environmental engineer - is scheduled here January 13, said John Morton of the Green Party Presidential Debate Committee." The debate starts at two p.m., Herbst Theater in the Veterans Memorial Building on 401 Van Ness Avenue.

Today a photo exhibit of the work of artist and journalist
David Bacon opens at the Galeria de la Raza (2857 24th St, San Francisco 94110): "Living under the trees" "Viviendo bajo los arboles." The exhibit is from January 11th through February 23rd (Enero 11 - Febrero 23, 2008). "An exhibition documenting communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California through photographs and the narrative experiences of community residents and leaders" y "Una exposicion que documenta a traves de fotografias y testmonios de lideres y residentes las comundades indigenas de campesinos mexicanos." Inauguracion de exposicion (Opening Reception) Enero 11 7:30 p.m. (January 11th). Y mesa redonda de fotografos (photographers' panel) Sabado, Enero 26, 2:00 p.m. (photographers' panel, Saturday, January 26). And on WBAI, Sunday, The Next Hour features Malachy McCourt (broadcasts NYC, streams live online, 11:00 am to noon) while Monday's Cat Radio Cafe finds Janet Coleman and David Dozer joined by Hattie Gossert (author of "the immigrant suite: hey zenophobe! who you calling a foreigner?), Paul Browde and Murray Nossel (from the Barrow Street Fortnight's Two Men Talking), Dan Barrett (International Street Cannibals) and the latest on the Save Carnegie Hall Towers actions. Lastly in audio Time 4 Hemp is a podcast (free podcast) whose broadcasts feature, among others Ed Rosenthal (a regular guest on Kris Welch's Living Room), Tere Joyce, Keith Stroup, Steve Hager, Allen St. Pierre, Steve Bloom, Jack Cole, Gatewood Galbraith and Carl Olsen. Upcoming interviews will include Andy Dick.

jeremy hinzmanbrandon hughey