Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday and it feels like we're finishing at a reasonable time. (Though Dona points out we're in a different time zone so we probably feel like we've gained three hours for that reason alone.)

This edition's a little different. We knew we'd have a lot to deal with personally when we all got together after Mike's column last Sunday (on who refused to note that the US government does keep a body count for Iraq civilians -- listing who was notified, who replied and who still took a pass). Some illusions die hard, but eventually, they all die.

The rebirth is the exciting part of the learning process.

We'd love to tell you that all being in a central location, together, for basically an entire week meant that we spent a great deal time of thinking about this edition. It didn't. The feature we talked about the most we dropped four hours ago when it was obvious that we wouldn't have time to do it justice. We hope to pick it up next week.

What we did do was a lot of meet ups, a lot of political discussions, a lot of music. And some of us fasted past the Fourth. (We'd hoped to do a story on that but decided to hold that as well since Rebecca and Elaine fasted on the Fourth but are on vacation and not participating on this edition.) Mike noted how lonely he felt on the East Coast even though five of us and he are in two different states. The distance felt very real this week.

I, Jim, did not state that Ava and C.I.'s brains might have gone to mush out in La-La Land. (But it made for a nice joke in their TESR Investigates commentary last week.) But there is a different rhythm and this edition may benefit from it or it may suffer as a result.

First, we do have highlights. We were really surprised to get e-mails complaining that there were no highlights. Marci wrote that she could understand if we had eliminated it in the print edition but to have it in one and not the other didn't seem fair. So highlights are back:

Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. 1
Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. II
C.I. critiques Dexy
Blog Spotlight: Substituting for Elaine, Sunny introduces herself (*** note please check out Sunny's writing, we think she's doing a wonderful job)
Blog Spotlight: Cedric covering Law and Disorder
Blog Spotlight: Ask Blog Betty (*** ditto for Betty)
Blog Spotlight: Kat subbing for the substitute
Blog Spotlight: Mike on the importance of being your own media
Humor Spotllight: Bully Boy Press notes Bully Boy Turned 60
Ex soldado se declara inocente de violacion y asesinato de iraquies
Blog Spotlight: Kat on how Bono "makes even Sonny look cool"

The new content was written by the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

The new content:

Editorial: American wants the war over now -- an obvious editorial but apparently not an obvious to most Democrats.

TV: Supernatural -- a tale of bad TV -- Ava and C.I.'s latest. As always, they write the TV commentary themselves. We actually requested this when Dona and Jim saw a commercial for it and couldn't belive how bad it looked.

Things to Ponder This Summer -- a 'think' piece -- with about as much depth as any thought piece you'll find. (Meaning, not much. But we don't pretend otherwise.)

Ehren Watada -- the story that wasn't . . . covered. The one that should have been. By all outlets and all media.

Ehren Watada in song form -- for weeks now, we've all suffered through multiple versions of lyrics set to the Beatles' "Lady Madonna." Since Jess and C.I. heard the name pronouced (they belive on Democracy Now!), they've seized on the natural rhyme with "Lady Madonna" and composed various versions. This weekend, we all sat down and had some fun with it as a group.

Thoughts on a Saturday Times column -- we had some positive and negative response to last week's book discussion. Some felt too much time was spent on "special interest issues" (we wonder if they'd ever read us before?) and others loved it. When we read the column by Dowd on Saturday, we passed it around the table and felt it never weighed in one way or the other. Call it "special interest issue" if you're a hater but we wanted to weigh in.

Little Liars Lie Dirt Cheap -- just because Woody publishes it doesn't make so. (Also a way to note Robert Parry who we don't note enough of.)

The Damage Done? -- some of us are pleased with the way this turned out and some of us aren't. We are agreed that since a number of parents have taken to saying (we hope not bragging -- people would look at them like, "You poor souls") that their kids take part in this. To avoid anyone having to say, "Yeah, that was me!" if they don't want to, we kept an identity hidden online. (Although we will note that we had the father's permission to name him.) That's really not the issue. Ava and C.I. are happy to go on the record saying that they think it turned out very well. They say that they like the fact that there's no pretense at "knowing." Ava: "It's just out there. Take it for what it is and if you can build on it, great." (Okay, maybe I will say the California sun is effecting brains.)

Iraq coverage for today through last Monday -- we know C.I. works hard on the Iraq snapshots and we know if we can note some of the coverage over the weekend, it can get a link or an excerpt in the Sunday evening post and cut down on the time required for C.I. to do that. So we've started doing adding this recently. That's our personal reason for it. Our other reason? There's still not enough Iraq coverage.

So that's what we've got and for Will who has complained that we've dropped the note to the readers, look, we did it. And we did it before evening! Actually, we always plan to do one. But there are times when we are exhausted and if C.I.'s got four or five hours Sunday evening that are used going through e-mails and then posting the "And the war drags on" entry, we really aren't comfortable saying, "Hey, drop everything so we can do the note!" It's also true that on especially long sessions, Ava's attitude is, "I gave 18 hours plus, leave me alone. Don't mention that site. Don't talk to me if you're going to."

Hopefully you found something here that made you think, made you laugh or made you angry.
See you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: American wants the war over now

The Green Party's National Committee has endorsed the VotersForPeace pledge, a national effort to organize the emerging 'Peace Vote' as a voting block with the power to determine the outcome of elections.
The pledge reads "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
"We encourage all voters who agree that U.S. troops must be withdrawn from Iraq to sign the VotersForPeace pledge," said
Rae Vogeler, Wisconsin Green candidate for the U.S. Senate. "The only way to stop the war is to get Democratic and Republican warhawks out of office."

The above is from the Green Party's press release, "Green Party Endorses Voters for Peace Pledge." United for Peace & Justice supports and notes the pledge in "No Peace, No Vote: Sign the Voters for Peace Pledge:"

Last March, the ever-outspoken Molly Ivins wrote that she was fed up with "every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch" in Washington DC. Denouncing the sparseness of antiwar candidates, she proclaimed, "This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one. It is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass."
We couldn't agree more. It's time to put every Congressional candidate -- incumbents and newcomers alike -- on notice that if they want our votes, they must take a clear, public stand on ending the Iraq war and preventing any other unjust, illegal war.
We urge you to stand up with other outraged voters and
sign the Voters for Peace pledge:
"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."

Others are endorsing it as well and we'll get to that in a moment, but to pull back a moment, Editor & Publisher reports on a recent Gallup poll which found:

roughly 2 in 3 Americans urge a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, with 31% wanting this to start immediately. Gallup's director, Frank Newport, sums up the results today: "Taken together, it is perhaps fair to say that a significant majority of Americans would like the United States to either withdraw troops from Iraq or make specific plans to do so, although there is no majority demand that troops be withdrawn immediately."

The poll found that a third of the people responding were happy to wait and see what tomorrow might bring (apparently chaos and violence make for "happy thoughts" -- quick, someone tell that to Peter Pan!). A third wanted an immediate pullout and another third wanted a timetable for withdrawal. The poll, again, found that two-thirds of Americans (surveyed) wanted the troops withdrawn from Iraq.

The people turned against this war some time ago. The 'brains' on up the chain at various papers and news organizations haven't grasped it but, more surprising?, neither have a number of politicians. Only thirteen Senators supported the Feingold-Kerry proposal to set a timetable for withdrawal (twelve Democrats -- counting John Kerry and Russ Feingold -- and the Senate's only independnet, Jim Jeffords). Demonstrators camped outside of War Hawk Dianne Feinstein's new home but "Diane Feinstein, Girl Senator" can't seem to grasp the plain message they're sending. War Hawks Maria Cantwell and Joe Lieberman are having a rough go of it in their primaries. One political party grasps the importance to voters of the illegal war and, no surprise, it's not the Democratic Party.

The pledge is well known. Short of debating whether or not it should include the words "under God," we don't think it could get a great deal more attention than it's already received. Katrina vanden Heuvel noted the pledge in "The Peace Race" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

VotersForPeace has initiated the Peace Voter Pledge along with 18 other antiwar organizations -- including United for Peace and Justice, itself a coalition of 1,400 local groups.The pledge is focused on the Iraq war as well as potential armed conflicts such as that with Iran, and -- using language crafted by The Nation in its cover editorial last November -- it reads: "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."

As vanden Heuvel notes, before there was the pledge, there was The Nation's November editorial. The point here is that this idea (which isn't all the new, it's had traction in previous wars as well) didn't just spring to life last week. But timid Democrats (as well as War Hawks) act as though they're completely unfamiliar with it. If they continue to remain willfully oblivious, you may hear what a political consultant told us Saturday, if the Democrats can't address the war, expect a huge number of people to stay home in 2008.

That shocked us. Not for the remarks, which we agree with, but because they came from someone who would never say that publicly. We're honestly surprised he said it privately. What changed his mind? The rough go of it so many are having from challengers, established candidates holding office having to fight off challengers not from opposing parties but from their own Democratic ranks.

We were given permission to paraphrase this: If Democrats don't start addressing the feelings on the war, it will only be worse in the 2008 elections.

Somewhere along the way, when Cindy Sheehan woke up the country with Camp Casey in Crawford, the public mood shifted and it's not going back now. When two-thirds are saying the war needs to end, it's not a minority opinion -- no matter how editors and politicians attempt to marginalize it. Fence straddlers and War Hawks don't seem to grasp their current positions are no longer "safe" or electable. Possibly, more time at home in their districts and less time in the Beltway would straighten that out for them.

Something needs to. America wants the illegal war over.

To cite one more organization, CODEPINK has noted the pledge on the front page of their website for months now:

Take a Stand by Signing the Voters Pledge!
What if millions decided to vote their conscience and said 'No More War Candidates'? The Voters Pledge makes visible a powerful political force, the peace vote, a force that politicians cannot continue to ignore. It sends a clear message to the hawkish minority that leads both major parties to end the occupation of Iraq and to end unprovoked attacks on other nations. Sign the Voters Pledge and ask at least 10 of your friends to sign as well. You can help get 2 million signers in 2006!

TV: Supernatural -- a tale of bad TV

The WB is still the WB until this fall when it and UPN merge to become CW. We wonder if that stands for "conventional wisdom"? Or just "crappy writing"?

Both come to mind when viewing Supernatural (a show that will "cross over" to the CW). We're not sure what to make of this show. On the one hand, it's like really bad gay porn where the leads forget to take their clothes off. On the other, it's as though someone had a secret fondness for The American Girls.

That quickly forgotten show aired a few episodes in 1978 (white slavery was a theme of one episode) as two "lookers" took to the road to find out the truth. These days, brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) bounce around the country, from one 'adventure' to the next, and the show tries to add a little X-Files flavor -- only instead of wondering what happened to a character's sister, they're motivated by what happened to their mother and finding Daddy.

Times are tough, the news is not good. Maybe you need to hit the road with two 'lookers' once a week just to have an outlet? If so, have at it. Most people will just be bored with the WB's latest attempt to 'mature.'

That was what this show was supposed to do. They'd nailed the pre-teen set with offerings from Dawson's Creek all the way up to One Tree Hill. The problem was, as the kiddies leave high school, the shows tend to lose their audiences. So what if, it was thought, we cast two dreamboats as characters already out of school!

To really pimp the show, in the fall it aired twice a week. What most of us would call "repeats," the WB generously dubbed "encore presentation" -- akin to claiming Kelly Osbourne was brought back for an encore after really rocking the house. But when your network's all hype anyway, what are you going to do? (Merge this fall, apparently.)

The ratings started off well enough and the suits thought they'd build. That really hasn't happened. Though a few females and males continue to tune in to drool over the two leads, it really hasn't managed to pull in a large enough audience to term it a 'hit' (not even by net-let standards) and, in fact, it's also started to lose some of the viewers it initally had.

Ackles left an actual hit (Smallville, though it, like the characters, were aging) to do this show. By the way, he's from Dallas, Texas -- remember, we've been all over that emerging 'trend' -- actors from Texas on prime time for over a year -- even if AOL only recently saw fit to 'main page' it. He's the blond, the one who looks less like a CK ad model. He poses as Dean. He can't play him and it's so hard to watch him try. Ackles isn't the silent type and watching him try to be nonverbal is like watching Little Richard try to 'butch it up.' He tries so hard. He storms around in a perpetual snit, as though someone told him, "Pick one hair color and stick to it!"

Padalecki was also born in Texas. (San Antonio, we told you, it's a 'trend'! Water cooler critics take note!) He also left a successful WB show to do this (Gilmor Girls). On that show, his character was named "Dean" and on this show he plays "Sam" -- that's about it for his "stretching" from role to role.

If you've ever seen Padalecki speak as Padalecki, you know he favors exclamation points. He's quite exuberant. Possibly that's why he was given the showier role of "Sam"?

He plays the part just as you'd expect to him, just as he performed every other role he's been cast in -- with a lot of exclamation points. It's as though all those years studying acting were spent learning at the feet of Barbi Benton.

So while Padalecki eats the scenery and Ackles works so hard to blend into it, they go from one place to another and encounter not-so-scary supernatural events. The only real jolt (the special effects are a joke) in this show comes from the moments when someone reaches up through a sink drain or someone pops up behind a character.

The big problem is that the 'thinkers' behind this series failed to grasp is that the WB's hits are always about interlaced relationships. When the audience grows bored with a Joey and Dawson, they need that Andi and Pacey to quickly move from the backburner to the front burner. The scripts tell you that Sam and Dean are brothers. There's nothing else the show has to offer to the audience who wants to see ahead to high school traumas (or relive them).

Sam and Dean have "conflict" from time to time. In last week's episode Sam even tried to kill Dean -- in a really convoluted story that would have made more sense if the actors had instead argued over who spent more time in make up each morning.

For a full season the show played out like we feared The Ghost Whisperer might (but fortunately did not and got a larger, continuing storyline): Touched by a Supernatural. It doesn't play to the kids (of any age). They need the messy relationships, they need a show to be locked in, not traveling across the country.

That's bascially true of most audiences today and why you see so few successful shows set "on the road." (We understand that even Charles Kuralt struggles these days.)

What the WB audience wants (and presumably the CW audience will as well) is Sam and Dean in one location. They want them in messy relationships, long term ones, possibly alternating the same woman, arguing with friends and enemies. They aren't interested in the whole "This week, we're in Phoenix!" thinking that appears to go into this show.

When you have no real supporting cast, you need strong leads or a strong storyline. Supernatural has neither. If they were smart, the first thing they would fix would be Dean. Early in the second season, Dean would decide he was tired of being the "responsible" one (translation, Mr. Brooding Grumpy). They'd let Ackles bring some humor into the part. That could potentially carry them through two more seasons if they played the whole thing as a camp send-up. If they're intent on playing it serious, they need to put the brothers in one location and give them a strong supporting cast because no one's tuning in for the shifting locales.

The truth is, not that many are tuning in for the show that much anymore. (If that's a shock for anyone -- when you not only can't hold your lead-in audience but are also being beat by UPN's Eve -- not picked up by the CW -- to come in dead last of all networks and net-lets -- you aren't a "hit." Nor does being the 19th ranked show for males ages 18-49 make you a "hit.") A second season pick up was surprising, especially considering it was competing with shows not only airing on the WB but also on UPN. We understand the most surprised were advertisers who've looked at the demographics, such as they are, and balked at the ad rates.

The show is, mainly, two things: a tale of offscreen 'talent' that doesn't know an audience and a tale of the downfall of the WB.

Supernatural is a testement to "creators" never grasping the core audience. Like an ugly poly-blend that never breathes in the summer, the show started off wanting to be everything (comedy, horror, thriller, drama) and ended up being nothing. (Despite some critics who rushed in to gush over the show. We'll be kind and not name names.) From plotline to dialogue, the show was troubled the moment the pilot was filmed. If that wasn't clear enough to anyone early on, all they had to do was check out the music the show regularly uses such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive ("Hey You" played in last week's episode), Grand Funk Railroad, Quiet Riot and Ratt. The WB, home to Sarah Mac, the Wallflowers, the made over Liz Phair and assorted others, traditionally ran with the hoped for new 'hot' song (emphasis on "new"). The WB shows were notorious for their efforts to be trendy (which was novel when Square Pegs attempted it in the eighties). There is nothing trendy about Grand Funk Railroad. There wasn't anything trendy about the group 'back in the day.'

The only other show the WB offered in 2006 that was so woefully mistargeted to their audience was the unfunny Jerry Bruckheimer attempt to corner the sitcom market. Ratings have been down for the WB period. The CW lineup won't change that. Shows that needed work done have had no work done. Shows that should have been retired are brought back. Their isn't one solid night of programming, despite the fact that they're not only raiding two net-lets but also bringing on new "attractions" (apparently someone thinks Donnie Wahlberg is an "attraction" -- although we're actually hearing good things about Runaway, his new show).

The WB officially goes out in September with plans for a look back at the pilots of four of their 'biggest' shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Felicity and Angel (yeah that last one must be included for a laugh). There's a story in those four. Buffy remains the only show that was a hit when it went out (on the WB, it floundered in it's two additional years at UPN) and still entertaining. Had they been paying attention, they would have attempted to recreate the formula which tallked to viewers (possibly talked up to them in some cases) but never talked down. The "thrills" were usually not the reason to watch (with the two-parter "Becoming," the show achieved everything many hoped for it). It was the relationships, the dialogue and the acting.

The WB's attempts at photo-copying Buffy got worse each season. First up was Dawson's which had the relationships and the dialogue but, rarely, the acting. (Michelle Williams was the stand out and would have been on any show; however, on Dawson's she had little competition for bragging rights.) Then came Felicity. Like a photo-copy of a photo-copy, it left out a lot of details and focused only on the 'relationship.' The infamous hair cut may have indeed hastened people tuning out but the truth was the show was heavy on the 'after school special' and light on the involvement. Watching Felicity decide which of the two boys she loved that year (similiar to one of the WB's lowest rated shows of 2006, What I Like About You), didn't inspire a strong core following. By the time they got to Angel, an early attempt by the WB to grow up (and grab the straight teen males), the net-let was dead. Like all the other attempts to grow up, it failed miserably. The constant cast changes and the constant refocusing only demonstrated how ill thought out the show was from the start.

Angel's the story of the WB's downfall. Airing a show that struggled to find an audience for five seasons may have helped 'syndication!' (the same reason Reba got a thirteen episode pick up from the CW) but it only forced viewers to tune out. Playing like the worst fantasy show in syndication, Angel was a detective, he was a father, he was bad, he was good, he was, above all, boring. Year after year. As the show continued to fail to pull in the desired demographics, it repeatedly raided supporting characters from Buffy (Wesley, Spike, Harmony, Faith, etc.). It dropped the voice over, it dropped one thing after another in its attempts to become something, anything, other than a really cheesy show. In it's fifth season, it finally received the mercy killing it had long deserved -- the stake through it's heart was consistently poor demographics.

That storyline appears ready for a repeat with the CW. There's not a show with "heat" on the list. (When your target audience is teens, "heat" is important.) Supposedly, One Tree Hill is going to "explode" this season. That's the current talk. That this is the year it puts to rest the comparisons to The OC. Maybe it will. If it does, it could pull in an audience. (There is also talk that the 'explosion' makes the new suits nervous.)

But what you have currently is a Sunday lineup that can boast one of the best shows on TV (Everybody Hates Chris) and not much else unless you enjoy Kelsey Grammer's interpretations of African-American females. (Failing with his company's "sketch" "comedy," he's going back to the well with The Game.) Mondays offers another year of 7th Heaven (we may review it this year, if we feel the need to punish ourselves) and the Wahlberg show. Tuesday will offer Gilmor Girls (which, as we've noted before, but Ty says the e-mails require that we note it again, we will not be reviewing because we know too many people involved with that show) and the overly praised and underly critiqued Veronica Mars. Everwood had higher ratings and better demographics but it was bumped and Moronic Mars got picked up. The CW's already touting Tuesday, to sponsors, as "girls' night." We'd argue "girls night" is about to get really dumbed down. (And add that, at it's height, every night on the WB tended to be "girls night.") Wednesdays will offer America's Next Top Model (also closing out Sunday's prime time) and the already addressed One Tree Hill. Thursdays finds the WB asking the question of exactly how many people still care about Smallville? (We think the answer will disappoint them.) And pairing it with dead last in its time slot, Supernatural. On Fridays, proof of how little they know their target audience, they intend to carry over UPN's Smackdown.

Despite raiding two net-lets, you may first note that they couldn't come up with seven nights of programming. (Fox still can't either.) But what you'll probably notice second is that there's not one night solid enough to make people tune in (even on the nights where only two hours of prime time programming is aired!). Joss Whedon was never able to recreate the success he had in Buffy so it may not be that much of a surprise that the WB also failed.

But it says something about how miserable TV is today that not only could they not program seven nights, but they have nothing new to offer. One half-hour comedy, one hour of drama. That's it for offering anything new. The shows that make up the bulk of the schedule have underwhelmed for some time. It's as though Nabisco merged with Pepperidge Farms and had nothing to offer but the products that never made it off the shelf to the check out counter. It's so bad we honestly wonder if fall 2007 (provided it survives that long) will find the net-let rescuing what ever the big three cancels and attempting to build six nights around that.

Things to Ponder This Summer

Ten things to ponder as you move through the summer days.

1) When a leaf blower blows the leaves (and trash) into the street, why isn't that littering?

2) When you're watching the week's big action flick and seeing some fiery explosion -- ask yourself what effect all those explosions have on the ozone?

3) Gym bunnies seem to bounce around everywhere in the summer -- or people who think they are g.b.s. Should someone tell the guys with the huge, overhanging, beer guts that tanks, with or without spaghetti straps, aren't a good look for them even when the t's read "Gold's Gym"?

4) Looking at the yards and lawns, notice how the flowers are planted out in direct sunlight. Since the greenest grass, as summer progresses, will be that under the trees, why aren't the flowers planted around the tree?

5) Looking at the asphalt parking lots and seeing not just weeds but also blades of grass poking up through the cracks, wonder why those will continue to sprout while tended lawns will go brown as summer moves along?

6) Does the cab driver trying to cut down his fuel cost really think any customer's buying "The a.c. is broken" excuse?

7) If the windows in the cab must be down, does it also mean that that the driver must shout across two lanes of traffic to another cab driver he or she happens to know?

8) The same warm sun you're thanking for drying you off after you emerge from the water is the one you're going to be cursing at in a half an hour as you moan about the heat.

9) What amazing, life changing story did you miss as you rushed past everyone to get to where ever?

10) On the first day of fall, no matter how you spend you these months, you're still going to be wondering where summer went?

Ehren Watada

The first time Jess and C.I. heard news of Ehren Watada broadcast, they both exclaimed "Lady Madonna" and have had various songs of Ehren Watada set to the tune of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna." If you missed the news last week, and you may have because it didn't take place in Mexico, Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to the illegal war in Iraq, was charged by the government "with three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: missing movement (Article 87), two counts of contempt towards officials (Article 88) -- specifically President G. W. Bush, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman (Article 133). If convicted of all six charges by a general court-martial, Lt. Watada could be sentenced to over seven years in a military prison" (quoting from the e-mail that was sent out by Courage to Resist).

Pretty big news. But, as we've noticed lately, big news doesn't get a great deal of coverage. (We're still waiting for the coverage of the fact that the US government does keep an Iraqi civilian body count.) We noticed that a large number of news outlets took a pass on this story or crammed it while covering 'more important' topics.

Apparently, we're supposed to be up in arms over the fact that Mexico had a crooked election. If we take up arms over that, is the understanding that France or Germany will do the same after the results of our 2008 elections? Remember, too, how we were all supposed to be outraged over the election in the Ukraine -- only later did we learn that the candidate we were supposed to be outraged on behalf of was actually married to a US citizen from Chicago who was a Republican operative. Maybe countries should address their own elections? Mexico has rigged elections, a long history of them, and it's also an open-society (it's not East Timor) so if the people are outraged, they'll address it. All the coverage seemed manipulative and insulting.

Especially since it pushed Iraq out of the loop. Especially since, when independent media drops the ball, you can't exactly scream at corporate media for failing to cover a story. They haven't. The New York Times has never published a piece by one of their reporters on Ehren Watada -- or even mentioning him. Now maybe if our independent media had expanded half the energy they wasted last week on Mexico's elections by instead covering Ehren Watada we could storm the corporate media with letters, phone calls and e-mails asking, "Why aren't you covering this story?" But when even independent media has 'better things to do,' it's hard to make that case.

We've all read Mike's "War As An After Thought" (we're referring to the speech he gave that runs in Polly's Brew today and not the prelude he offered at his site). War has been an after thought. What is all this coverage, hours and hours, of the Mexico election about?

It feels manipulative. If it's about stolen elections, why did we hear about Macedonia only from C.I.'s column in Friday's gina & krista round-robin? If it's about stolen elections, you might think that another stolen election might also be covered?

As Diana pointed out to Ruth, some of the same people that aired the opinion that those young people participating in the immigration rallies this spring who carried Mexican flags were 'hurting' their cause? They're loyalties were in question, according to that nonsense. (Carrying the flag to immigration rally was no more 'hurtful' than an Irish pride march.) But now, is that's what's going on, this is supposed to be a story that Mexican-Americans can't get enough of? Since the core is all out in California, we were able to speak to many activists and what we heard repeatedly is that there were serious issues in Mexico and the election was about as important as any 'official statement' big media parrots.

One youth activist on the immigration rights issue told us that the coverage implied the most pressing concern to immigrants and descendents of immigrants from Mexico was "a really bad election." He spoke of the serious issues that the two candidates currently squabbling over 'victory' failed to address and how this "manufactured outrage seems to be an Anglo concern." He regretted that so little of the same time could be used to address the Bully Boy's new push for passage of "laws that will only hurt immigrants now and in the future."

Another, a young woman, wondered when "Pacifica became Telemundo? Seriously, I turn that off now. They start talking, I turn it off. I'm a first genereation immigrant with deep ties to Mexico and thatcoverage doesn't reflect any of the feelings I'm hearing in phone calls. My grandfather said he doesn't care and that it's, bascially, I'm putting it not just into English but into something people my age can relate to, a turf war between two spoiled pampered brats. I do sometimes worry if the more right of the two, because they are both of the right, will turn out to be just not right-wing but also an aspiring Bush. That would frighten me but the political process is such that when you add in the region's power or lack of it, he'd have a hard time doing the sort of global damage George W. Bush can do in just one day."

We asked her what she felt the most important story of the week was?

"Ehren Watada without a doubt. I say that with no hesitation because if he does not, if his case does not get massive awareness, he's out of luck. With Camilo [Mejia], we saw how attention did effect the way the judge responded. That should have led to a massive pouring on of support for Watada. It's not just his victory, but a victory for all of us opposed to the war that's at stake. I doubt he'll walk. But I know what happened to Kevin Benderman who got a lot less attention than Camilo did. The attention matters. What we focus on matters. I am alarmed, bothered and troubled by what's going on in Gaza. I do pay attention to that coverage. After that the issues that are most important to me is that we stop Congress from acting, in any way before the 2006 elections, with any legislation on immigration, and the war."

Our opinion is that Kevin Benderman got railroaded. He was denied justice. Our fear is that the same thing could happen to Ehren Watada. More information can be found at Courage to Resist
and at

With so little coverage of Ehren Watada last week, we've rewritten a lyric to the tune of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna." Will you run from the topic of Watada as well?

CODEPINK gets it:

Support War Resisters! For the first time in the Iraq war, an officer in the U.S. Military, Lt. Ehren Watada, has publicly refused orders and will be brought to court-martial this summer. Click here for ways to show your solidarity and here to read a letter from Carolyn, Ehren's mom, and find out more about his case. You can also support Army Specialist Suzanne Swift, who suffered sexual harassment at the hands of her commanding officers and refused to return to Iraq. Click here for more info.

Do you?

Ehren Watada in song form

Ehren Watada right-wing at your door
wonder how you manage to stand once more.
Who finds the time for coverage?
Did you know so many would run?
Thursday sneaks in without a word
Friday morn arrives with little news
Hacks stand beneath their street lights
For many your bravery is unheard.
See how they'll run.
Ehren Watada standing up strong
wonder if the silent ever feel wrong?
See how they'll run.
Ehren Watada staking your ground
even when no one is around.
Will you become the future Woodstock,
Milli'ns claiming they were there?
What's it take to wake the nation?
See how they'll run.
Ehren Watada right-wing at your door
Wonder how you manage to stand once more.

[To the tune of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna."]

Thoughts on a Saturday Times column

Maureen Dowd's column "A Tale Of Two Rachels" ran Saturday and we wanted to note it here.
(Apologies but we can only find it 'behind the wall' at The New York Times.)

So Dowd's trying to see if a chattered 'trend' is a really a trend (something more at the paper of record should do before reporting a 'trend') and she's examining the supposed "less than patriarchal trend towards guys agreeing to merge their last names". That would be less than matriarchal as well since it's a merger as opposed to taking a wife's last name.

But we read it with anticipation, waiting for her opinion. Not in terms of what people do in their private lives. But in terms of their public life. We don't, for instance, see her marrying John Jones and deciding to start writing under the byline of "Maureen Jones."

She covers the former Jodi Wilgoren who merged her last name with her husband and came up with Jodi Rudoren. If it's in her private life, no problem. If it's in her professional life, it strikes us as a problem.

You don't go through your professional life earning your public name only to drop it. Forget marriage for a moment (although considering the divorce rate, maybe we shouldn't?), it just makes little sense. When Prince changed his name to a symbol, it created a host of problems (including the fact that most type set didn't include the symbol). But he had a reason for doing it, a protest. We could respect that.

"I did it for love!" Well let's all hope you did it for a long-lasting love because the only thing more embarrasing than giving up your professional, established name to create a blend (or take on someone else's last name) would be having to turn around in a few years and change it again.
Maybe, like Cher or Roseanne, if the marriage doesn't work out (we're hoping it works out well), she can become a one-name personality: Jodi!

Back in May, C.I. wrote a lengthy piece on that but ended up saving it for another day (despite Dona and Jim encouraging that it should go up immediately as is). C.I. returned to the topic and dispensed it with a single sentence in June.

Dowd writes a lengthy column and (though we suspect having established "Maureen Dowd," she's not about to give it up) never offers an opinion on the issue. We think that's too bad because the issue needs to be tackled.

And it was April (as C.I. insisted) not May. Did we say argue just to get C.I. to pull it up, perhaps? Here's a portion from the thing that never ran at The Common Ills. (We think it should have and this wasn't Dona and Jim's favorite part but we'll all happily go with following.)

There's an actress who had a hideous maiden name. It's no surprise she wanted to ditch it. And to use her husband's name (which was and is "a name") also wasn't surprising. But she's been divorced from him for how many decades now (and married to the songwriter -- a lot of people thought when the two marriages broke up, the couple standing would break up as well but that hasn't been the case which proves you never know)? But she grasps that her professional name was long ago set in stone and, like it or not, she's stuck with it. The marriage could end (and did) but the name is now her professional name. That a reporter can't grasp that is sad. (Or that she doesn't care.)
In my college days (the "old days"), cross-referencing was a pain in the butt. The Times hasn't cross-reference her articles (nor should they be bound by any guideline to do so). She's divorced herself from her previous reporting (which might be a good thing). You earn your professional name and that's not something to monkey around with. Nor should your marital status be part of 'marketing' your name. (My opinion.)
I have a friend, a multi-married friend, who always swears in the first months of the latest marriage that she's either going to go hyphenated or change her last name to his name. As I've asked her repeatedly, "So forty years from now, if someone sees your credit, you're expecting that they will know you also worked on this and on this and on . . .?" Cross-referencing isn't a requirement. Sometimes it's done, sometimes it isn't. If you're trying to make a professional name for yourself, you need to do it in a professional manner. (My opinion.)

To be honest, one of us didn't get the big deal and had to have it explained to him. To his credit (Jim freely admits it was him), when it was explained to him, he got it.

Maureen Dowd's choosing to write about this. By the end of the column, you're left with the impression that the blended name isn't a trend that's running wild across the country. That she establishes. But as a writer, one who's established her own name, we wish she'd shared her own thoughts on the topic. She established her name in the eighties. We can't see her ditching it to become Maureen Jones. (Though if Big Babs and Poppy split . . .)

We're also suprised, considering how she enjoys working in pop-cultural references, she failed to note the blend non-trend is a shortened version of an early-to-mid-seventies practice -- the Simon-Taylors, the Lennon-Onos. C.I. says that actually got cross-referenced as such in periodical guides. The two examples cited dropped it before the seventies came to end. Carly Taylor or Carly Hart just doesn't conjure the same meaning Carly Simon does.

Little Liars Lie Dirt Cheap

The title's a riff on "Dirty Deeds." We take corrections here seriously and are happy to note it if we make a mistake. We get a number of right-wing visitors and when we were letting Bob Woodward have it repeatedly, we received a number of e-mails telling us that George Tenet had called the case for war with Iraq a "slam dunk." We didn't issue a correction.

Jess and Ava could tell you that even more mail came in from the right to The Common Ills. C.I.'s attitude was "prove he said it because I have people swearing he never did." (Especially after Wired, C.I. is highly skeptical of Woody's reporting.) At one point, George Tenet gave a speech where he joked about "slam dunk." Would we correct it now?

We pow-wowed. C.I. noted that people in the public view, under repeated assaults, often give up defending reality and find it easier just to accept what is said. Did we know Tenet said it? (To be clear, this is our strongest piece saying Tenent didn't say 'slam dunk' here. C.I.'s been much more vocal at The Common Ills. The right-wingers e-mailing felt that we needed to "add" to our coverage more than "correct" it.)

From Robert Parry's "Was Bob Woodward Slam-Dunked?" (Consortium News):

One of the most memorable behind-the-scenes accounts of pre-Iraq War decision-making was Bob Woodward's story of an Oval Office meeting on Dec. 21, 2002, when George W. Bush and his top advisers reviewed the CIA's case against Saddam Hussein for supposedly hiding weapons of mass destruction.
Using flip charts, deputy CIA director John McLaughlin presented the evidence while President Bush watched impatiently. When McLaughlin finished, Bush reportedly remarked, "Nice try" and added "I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we've got?"
According to Woodward's account, CIA director George Tenet then rose from a couch, threw his arms into the air and exclaimed, "It's a slam-dunk case!"
When Bush pressed -- "George, how sure are you?" -- the CIA director supposedly threw his arms up again and declared, “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk!” According to Woodward, Bush then cautioned Tenet several times, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case.”
Almost a year later, in an exclusive interview with Woodward on Dec. 11, 2003 -- after the U.S. invasion of Iraq had come up empty in the search for caches of WMD -- Bush confided to Woodward that Tenet’s assurance had been "very important" in the presidential decision to go to war.
When the "slam-dunk" story appeared in Woodward's 2004 book, Plan of Attack, it immediately made Tenet the butt of endless jokes and portrayed Bush as the skeptical leader who wanted the truth but was misled by his subordinates.
While some Bush critics immediately questioned Woodward's version of events, the Washington Post star reporter carried tremendous weight among his mainstream journalistic colleagues who enshrined Woodward's inside story as the new conventional wisdom.
However, in the two years since publication of Plan of Attack, other evidence has emerged suggesting that Woodward was acting less as an objective journalist than as a stenographer taking down the preferred history of Bush's inner circle. The legendary hero of the Watergate scandal may have been the one who was slam-dunked.

Conflicting Account
A contrary version of that Oval Office meeting appears in Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine, which drew heavily from U.S. intelligence officials much as Woodward's book relied on senior White House officials.
According to Suskind, the two CIA officials -- Tenet and McLaughlin -- have very different recollections of the Dec. 21, 2002, meeting. They remember it more as "a marketing meeting" about how to present the WMD case, not a review of the quality of the underlying intelligence.
Both Tenet and McLaughlin say they don't even recall Tenet exclaiming the words "slam dunk," although Tenet won't dispute the version from Bush and his top aides, Suskind wrote.

Read Parry's article. With the emergence of Mark Felt in the Watergate tale in the last year, there has been more questions asked about Woody's past reporting and characterizations. It's interesting how little Wired is brought up in that questioning.

Maybe that's because it's the supposed story of the life and death of John Belushi? Maybe it's seen as a celeb book and not very important? It was important enough to Woody to write about it and the criticism he received over that book remains the strongest and most public criticism to date that his work has ever received. Things got so bad he even had to 'explain' himself to Rolling Stone in an interview that will provide chuckles to this day as Woody, repeatedly, alleges that he just prints what he's told.

Anyone surprised by Parry's story or Ron Suskind's latest book, , should probably check out Woody's 'defense' of his 'style.'

The Damage Done?

The core six of us spent the last week in California. Maybe it's what some of us see as the slower/more relaxed pace, but we found time to reflection. (Core six are: Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) There was a great deal of reflecting this week. Saturday night, while discussing a week where a number of us turned to music (Mike, Cedric, Betty and Kat included), one memory stood out.

Neil Young's song "The Needle & the Damage Done" is a song about a number of things including drug use. That's obvious when you're an adult. ("I sing the song because I love the man/ I know that some of you don't understand . . .") But when you're a kid?

One of us can remember being five-years-old and loving the song, strumming his plastic guitar along and pretending he could play the song. But what he associates with the song the most is an explosion at his house. His father was very angry, yelling, pacing and finally punching a hole in the kitchen wall.

As the young boy retreated his room, he listened to this song over and, when he thought/hoped all was calm, went into the kitchen to perform the song hoping this would help or calm down his father.

It's strange the things you associate with music. (Betty wrote about her own associations on Friday.) But what we found interesting was how many of us had similar memories.

The father wasn't abusive (we have permission to name the father and he's said we could explain the details of the event but we're taking a pass online -- print readers won't be left guessing). He was very upset (not at anyone in the house including his wife) over a disappointing outcome for someone else. In varying degrees, we could all see ourselves responding in similar ways (and many of us have).

But that moment is so embedded to this day when one of us hears "The Needle & The Damage Done" (and, again, almost all of us can think of similar moments). When you're that small and every grown up is a GIANT, when you don't know what's going on, you just know that your parents are in a room together and one of them is exploding and smashing things, it can be really scary. Even if your mother isn't the target (and she wasn't in the story above), you can be frightened for her as much as for yourself.

This isn't a PSA. We don't have a tidy little moral or any suggestions for anyone.

We're not recommending that any parent try to keep their anger out of sight of their children. (Two of us who had parents who did that and think they were successful in hiding it. They weren't.) We're just wondering what the effects are from those moments?

That was the first (and only) time one of us ever saw his father that upset. But for years after, if his father was upset, he'd fear how upset his father might get. If he screwed up, as every kid does, he'd be more scared of his father's reaction than anything else.

His parents like Neil Young's music (we are aware that it's down to one of three males participating in the writing of this edition, online readers can guess away) and he grew up with it. The song was a happy song to him up until that moment. Then it became an "aftermath" song. ("Not in the Rolling Stone sense," Kat clarifies.) So we're just tossing that out there this week. We have a lot of readers who are young parents and maybe they can make something of it that will benefit their own lives? Or maybe non-parents will reflect on a song's association for them?

Iraq coverage for today through last Monday

Iraq news for Sunday. The Associated Press reports that Cyrus Kar ("aspiring Iranian American filmmaker who spent nearly two months in a prison in Iraq without being charged ") has filed suit against US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others and is being represented by the ACLU.

In Baghdad, home of the "crackdown," at least forty people are dead after, Reuters reports, "gumen went on a rampage." In Karbala, the AP reports, "an Iraqi intelligence officer" "was gunned down after his car was intercepted"; a police officer was gunned down in Baghdad; and a police officer was gunned down in Kirkuk. Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad ("near two Sunni mosques" that killed at least five people and left nine wounded while "[a] mortar attacked" that resulted in at least three deaths and thirty wounded.

The AFP is reporting that Sunni MP Taiseer al-Mashhadani captors (al-Mashhadani was kidnapped the last Saturday in June) have released two of her seven bodyguards and added to their demands (which include immediate withdrawal of all troops) a list of 25 prisoners held in American prisons that they want released.

This as the Associated Press reports that US authorities want to exhume the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza, the young female (some reports pegged her age at fourteen-years-old) who was allegedly raped and murdered by US military forces. To date only Steven D. Green has been charged in the alleged crimes but the AP notes an unnamed "U.S. official" who states that "several more soldiers will soon be charged."

In related news, Reuters reports that a soon to be released report into allegations that US forces killed 24 innocent civilians and then attempted to cover up the crime will, quoting an unnamed offical, predicting: "The Marines will go through their day of pain."

Dropping back to Saturday, the AP reports that "a former senior Baath Party official and his 5-year-old granddaughter . . . wer gunned down" in Baghdad. Also the AP reports that three US troops were killed on Saturday in Iraq as was an Iraqi translator.

Those aren't all the reported incidents and events from and related to Iraq. The focus went off Iraq last week at many outlets. We have no control over that. We do have control of whether or not we pay attention to situation.

For those who missed the Iraq coverage last week, we are posting C.I.'s Iraq snapshot for each day (working backwards to Monday). Tuesday comes from an entry that was a joint-entry with many working on it.

Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lives of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".
Along with the above, the AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."
Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'" Reuters reports.
In peace news, Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) -- no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."
CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."
Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:
An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822) Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

Thursday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Today in Iraq,
CBS and AP report that a car bomb "near Ana town" wounded two. While the AFP notes car bombs in Baghdad that resulted in at least three dead and at least eight wounded. And the bombing of buses in Kufa has killed at least twelve and wounded over forty. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports that: "The bomber drove his car between the two Iranian coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine".
KUNA reports that six corpses were discovered in Kirkuk, Reuters notes "a beheaded" corpse was discovered in al-Zab, AFP reports "the discovery of 35 corpses of the last 24 hours, despite a three-week old security crackdown in the capital". The "crackdown" we're not supposed to notice the failure of.
Among the many of victims of violence has been Alaa Hassan. Hassan, 35-years-old, was an unembedded journalist who died in Iraq Wednesday June 28th: "
When Alaa crossed the bridge Jun. 28, gunmen sprayed his car with machine-gun fire, killing him with six bullets." Aaron Glantz remembers his sometimes co-writer in "A Story IPS Never Wanted to Tell" (IPS). Hassan and Glantz co-authored: "Basra Begins to Fall Apart" (IPS) and "U.S. Military Hides Many More Hadithas" (IPS). (That's not a complete list.)
Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the illegal occupation and the current prime minister, turns chatty.
KUNA reports that he says Iraq is "determined to hound the 41 outlaws" (including Saddam Hussein's daughter) and again bragged about how tight he was these days with the so-called insurgents. He then began recounting his whirlwhind trip in recent days (when he might have better served Iraq by addressing the issue of the alleged rape and murders in as they were happening as opposed to waiting over five days later to even make a public comment) but somehow left out the assurances he gave everyone about how 'stable' Iraq is now and how they should start investing. Though one might expect such statements to be greeted with loud laughter, greed knows no reality. IRIN reports: "Kurds approve foreigner-friendly investment law" and Reuters reports "[a] top United Nations envoy" was in Baghdad today to extoll the IMF and World Bank, and to promise international aid and support provided "Babhdad will commit itself to a series of yet unedfined political, economic and security steps."
Bloomberg notes this on al-Maliki and others' attempts at a peace 'scam': attempts at Happy Talk: "Harith al-Dari, who heads the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told AFP on June 30 that the amnesty offer was meaningless because it excluded those who had targeted foreign soldiers. He also said most insurgent groups had rejected the plan because it offers no timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, AFP reported.
As noted during
WBAI's Pacifica news break at noon anchored by Mitch Jeserich*, Ehren Watada was charged by the Army yesterday for his refusal to serve in the illegal war. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes that "Watada said he was morally obligated to obey the Constitution, not what he claimed were unlawful orders to join in an illegal war." Courage to Resist notes: "Supporters in Washington State’s Puget Sound area will gather . . . July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis)."
In other news, Mitch Jeserich also noted: "Anti-war activists are at the White House" protesting with
CODEPINK and, as Medea Benjamin stated, hope to encourage the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do as was done during Vietnam, give harbor to the war resistors.* The fasting is to put pressure on the administration and Congress to withdraw US troops from Iraq; to say no to permanent bases; to create "a massive reconstruction effort but with funds going to Iraqi, not U.S. contractors." For more information, click here.
And in trash news, does editing the Independent for a publicity stunt mean London's Independent goes easy on you? Apparently so as
Andrew Buscombe works over time to defend the piggish 'rock star' Bono.
Fat and happy, if not exactly peaceful, Bono has long decided to play his own version of corporate raider (picking off the bones of others) but Buscombe appears unaware of that as he rushes to provide cover for Bono's part in releasing a videogame that brings the "joy" of declaring war on Venezuela to your own home. Unlike an earlier game Bono was involved with ("unwittingly" Buscombe would no doubt rush in to say), Mercenaries 2 World In Flames does not appear to have been financed with either US Defense Department money or CIA money. While Buscombe provides Bono with so much cover he's practically spooning him, Wednesday's
KPFA Evening News provided a more in depth look at the "rock star" and his business. Though quite happy to put out videogames where one gets to attack Iraq or, now, Venezuela, Bono infamously told Jann Wenner, for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, that he didn't feel he could "campaign" against the illegal war in Iraq. Though he may suffer from "War Got Your Tongue?" that doesn't prevent him from profitting.
*Note: Thanks to
Ruth for passing on both Mitch Jeserich items.

Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Violence and chaos continue. Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail told Nora Barrows-Friedman, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."
How long before the mainstream press admits that?
In kidnapping news, Raad al-Harith and his body guards have been released. al-Harith is the deputy electricity minister in Iraq who
was kidnapped Tuesday. The AFP reports that, "after being held for 10 hour," the bodyguards and al-Hareth were released but that is not the case with regards to Taiseer Najeh Awad al-Mashhadni who was kidnapped Saturday. al-Mashhadani's kidnappers, the AFP reports, "issued demands including special protection for Shiite places" and "called for the release of detainees in US custody and a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops".
Both al-Harith and al-Mashhadni were kidnapped in Baghdad. Remember Baghdad? The "crackdown"? The press seems to have largely forgotten it. As the
AFP notes regarding the continued bombings in Baghdad: "The series of blasts come despite an ongoing security plan that has put some 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by US forces on the streets."
Basra, which was also placed under a state of emergency also appears largely forgotten.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The state of emergency ended Saturday, but residents said that little had changed: Shiite militias and tribes still control the city's streets, political factions still fight for control of the city, and Shiite Muslim militias still threaten Sunni Muslims with death. Morgue officials report that the number of people killed in sectarian violence remains unchanged."
Baghdad? The
BBC reports that a car bomb near a mosque resulted in at least six dead and at least 17 wounded. AFP notes a bomb "outside a restaurant . . . noteworthy for the massive banners praising Shiite martyrs it displayed" that killed at least one and wounded at least seven as well as another bomb that went off in a market and wounded at least ten peopole. Reuters notes a car bomb in Kirkuk that left three wounded and a roadside bomb that left two wounded. In Mosul, AFP reports, a police officer and a civilian lost their lives when a car bomb exploded (at least four other people were wounded).
Near Kirkuk,
AFP reports, "a headless male corpse" was discovered. Reuters reports the discovery of two corpses in Kerbala. AP notes the discovery of a corpse ("shot in the head) in Baghdad.
Shooting deaths?
AFP reports a Kurd was killed while driving his car in Kirkuk. In Mosul, Reuters counts four dead from gun shots. In Baghdad, AP reports that a drive by targeted a Shi-ite family, "killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding his brother and two other relatives."
Reuters reports that the central morgue in Baghdad places the body count for June at 1,595. Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi states: "June is the highest month in terms of receiving cases of violence since" the Februrary 22nd bombing of the Golden Mosque.
To underscore, the waves of Operation Happy Talk that the peace plan/scam was a 'turning point,' that the death of Zarqawi/"Zarqawi" was a 'turning point,' go down the list -- there has been no 'turning point.'
On Tuesday, Iraq's justice minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli made a call for an independent investigation into the alleged rape of an under-age Iraqi female as well as her alleged murder and that of three of her family members. Today, the Associated Press reports, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraq prime minister and puppet of the illegal occupation) is following al-Shebi's call for an independent investigation. Canada's CBC notes that today was the first time he spoke publicly on the matter . This despite the fact that Green was arrested Friday (news broke on Monday) and the US announced the investigation on Friday. Though various reports mention the alleged involvement of others, thus far only Steven D. Green has been charged. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the military has gone from referring to Green having an alleged "personality disorder" to his having an "anti-social personality disorder." Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Safiyya al-Suhail and Ayda al-Sharif (both serve in Iraq's parliament, both are women) are asserting that al-Maliki needs to appear before parliament "to give assurances the US troops would be punished."

Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."
As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.
Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".
In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."
In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."
Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja, "[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."
An upcoming event:
Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822) Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.
To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members ofAlpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Monday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue. The usual bombings, the usal corpses. The parliament continues to be split into many directions and news is breaking about a United States soldier arrested Friday.
First up, KUNA reports that Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, UAE president (United Arab Emirates), met with Nouri al-Maliki today and "voiced . . . utmost concern on deterioration of security position in Iraq".
Al Jazeera reports a car bomb went off in Mosul and took the lives of at least five today. The AP offers an update with the number of dead climbing to seven and the number of wounded to be at least 28. Reuters reports a home invasion that resulted in the death of "two women and a teenage girl" in Najaf. The Associated Press reports that a market in Mahmoudiya was bombed for the second day in a row ("three people were killed and 22 were wounded").
The AFP reports that, while in Saudi Arabia, al-Maliki was attempting to interest foreign investment and stated, "the majority security concerns are centred on Baghdad but there are plenty of other opportunities elsewhere". Apparently that area doesn't include "northern Iraq" where another bombing attack on the oil pipeline has taken place.
In Mandali, the Associated Press reports, five corpses were found ("bullet-riddled bodies") near "a sanitation plant." In Hawija, Reuters reports the discovery of "a beheaded body."
Developments in the Mahmoudiya incident where four Iraqi civilians died, allegedly at the hands of the US forces, in March continue including the age of one of the alleged victims and the arrest of a US soldier. To recap, one of the four was allegedly raped and this morning Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) broke the news that the town felt the "woman" was a fifteen-year-old girl who had complained about the 'interest' some US forces had in her. Sandra Lupien noted on today on KPFA's The Morning Show, the military had put the age of the female at 20 years-old when they announced their investigation last week (Friday). Reuters reports that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister". Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, "the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death" while, if convicted on the charge of rape, "the maxmium statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison."
In Parliament news, KUNA reports, the Iraqi speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani is visiting Iran "accompanied by heads of parliamentary committees and other figures". This as Reuters reports that members of the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front continued their boycott and say they will not return to parliament until Taiseer Najah al-Mashhadani is returned released. al-Mashhadani was kidnapped on Saturday. And, closing out news of Iraq's parliament, the AFP reports that Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who heads the lartest bloc of Shi'ites, has stated that amnesty should incluse "insurgents who may have killed US troops."
In the United States, as the 2006 Congressional races heat up, some feel more heat than usual such as War Hawk Maria Cantwell who is trying to keep her Senate seat but facing very vocal constitutents. The Associated Press notes 64 year-old Joe Colgan ("With all the information that is out now that shows the war was a terrible mistake, she will not admit that her vote was wrong. That's a fairly serious flaw.") and Howard Gale, 51 ("What I would be concerned about if I'm her staff is that in November, a lot of people might be so conflicted, they'll just sit it out."). The article also notes the state party's Democratic chair (War Hawk Cantwell is a Dem): "Dwight Pelz acknowledged that Cantwell's support for the Iraq war is hurting her campaign, turning away volunteers and grass-roots support."
And in peace news, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Tammara Rosenlef and Charlie Anderson are suing McLennan County "over roadside camping and parking bans" near Bully Boy's ranchetta in Crawford. The Associated Press reports that the lawsuit was filed on Friday. Cindy Sheehan writing her reflections as the Fourth of July is upon us:
BushCo and the neocon regime embarked on this disastrous misadventure in Iraq to prove to the world how strong and virile Pax Americana is. Their abjectly failed mission, which was evil and corrupt from the beginning, has not proven how strong our nation is, but, on the contrary, how weak. However, the neocons have managed to prove, that how, with the "mightiest" war machine in the world an insurgency in a country smaller than the state of California can hold their false freedom and deadly democracy at bay. One other thing that the neocons have proven is that America is no longer the moral touchstone of the world but is a nation that commits torture and crimes against humanity with the presidential seal of approval. BushCo has destroyed any credibility our nation ever had in the world and all of us need to fight to regain it and thereby redeem our own souls.
And finally, CODEPINK is calling for a day of action tomorrow:
On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.
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