Sunday, August 13, 2006

Truest Statement of the Week A

The more surprising development is how completely one story drives out another. At other times, the collapse of Iraq would have been news.
-- Molly Ivins, "24/7 COVERAGE DOESN'T COVER IT"

Truest Statement of the Week B

"Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
-- Captain Alex Pickands (via CNN) making the prosecution's closing remarks at the Article 32 hearing of Paul Cortez, James Barker, Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another Sunday and we are behind. We're actually earlier than some Sundays but we apparently "went off the grid" about two hours ago (and lost the editorial when everything went black). Had the power not been lost, we'd all have been in bed long, long ago. There's a theme to this edition but first, let's note the highlights:

Blog Spotlight: Rebecca asking who will step up to the plate for Abeer
Blog Spotlight: Elaine reporting on a friend's speech
NYT Criticism (via C.I.) It takes . . . a paper of Hazels
Blog Spotlight: Cedric Explains It All (on the importance of Ehren Watada)
Blog Spotlight: Mike with a few questions for NYT
Humor Spotlight: Wally explains troops can't leave but Bully Boy can run
Humor Spotlight: "Thomas Friedman
Blog Spotlight: Betty filling in for Rebecca
Cooking Spotlight: Squash Soup in the Kitchen
Blog Spotlight: Kat on "Look What Israel's Done Now" and more media criticism
Blog Spotlight: Mike addressing when a crisis is treated like a car chase
2600 US troops have died in Bully Boy's illegal war

Participating on this edition produced on the West Coast are the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
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 Ils);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot
and Ruth of Ruth's Report

We thank all the above for their hard work and we thank Dallas for his hard work with links and input.

Theme of the edition? The war. We've tried to note the war on Iraq in each feature. You can judge for yourself whether we pulled it off (and, if so, to what degree). With the silence on Iraq, we felt it was important to note the war here.

"Abeer" Rebecca's argued that Abeer's story is the story of the occupation in one person. If you don't know the name, be sure to read this. You should know Abeer's name. Had media and media watchdogs been doing their jobs, you would know her name.

"Bully Boy breaks pledges easily, Sheehan doesn't without doctor's orders" Cindy Sheehan is order by a doctor to end her fast. Meanwhile Bully Boy makes big pronouncements on giving up sweets at the start of the illegal invasion only to quickly drop his own promise.

"C.I.'s Wanted In The Green Zone" -- based on phone calls from friends in Iraq as well as two e-mails from fluffers in the Green Zone this week. Fluffers think they deserve only positive praise for their fluffing. They can't really defend the crap they churn out but by golly they risk their lives! If they don't want to be over there, no one's forcing them. It is their job, after all. And if they're going to play the life risk card, we're sure we can find them many Iraqis and many US troops who would argue that they're the ones whose lives are at risk. But keeping playing that "I'm risking my life!" card fluffers. Your writing's meaningless. We were actually surprised by the assumptions one made about C.I. (Reminded of a Georgetown party awhile back which, at the end, C.I. leaned in and whispered to a friend who had sent an angry e-mail, "By the way, online, I'm C.I. of The Common Ills. Thanks for the e-mail.) Both e-mails were read this week at get togethers and whether the guests were non-journalists or journalists, a good laugh was had by all. Keep those fiesty e-mails a'coming. Who knew Green Zone reporters had so much time to surf online and write lengthy e-mails? (Well, C.I. says, that would explain so much of the superficial reporting.)

"DVD Must See: Sir! No! Sir!" -- You need to see this documentary if you haven't already. If you have already, it's out on DVD. It's worth seeing again and worth sharing with your friends.

"Damien Cave Plays the Fool so Perfectly" -- How dumb do you have to be to assume a woman who should be frightened by Iraqi soldiers and an American soldier rummaging through her home wouldn't say anything to get you out? Pretty dumb.

"4 Songs worth checking out" -- some people are commenting on the events around them. It's not all Justy churning out asexual promises to be your slave if you spank his heinie.

"Herbert Reed: Blood in his urine and stool, tumor removed, migraines, joint ache . . . D.U. exposure" -- "Short features!" always the cry of Dona. We've got two. This is one.

"Struggling for money, how did Iraq scrap together $35 million to pledge elsewhere?" -- and this is the other. James Glanz made a good point in The New York Times, one we've paired with a question Arianna Huffington posed a few weeks back.

"Editorial: Forgetting Iraq when it can't afford to be forgotten" -- the point of the edition. The moments lost when the coverage is lost. The troops won't come home with start-stop-start-stop coverage of Iraq. The war won't end as a result of the media dropping the topic for weeks on end.

"Truest Statement of the Week A" -- Molly Ivins noting reality regarding the press.

"Truest Statement of the Week B" -- the prosecution refuting the tired-hungry-fatigued led us to (allegedly) rape and kill.

All of the above were joint efforts worked on by all participating in this edition. Which leaves?

"TV: Psyche?" -- At the last minute we decided on the theme of the edition and our apologies to Ava and C.I. who had written their TV review on Thursday. This isn't it. They say they won't let it run next week (it is in the print edition) but will instead review something else. Needing something to fit with this edition, they asked for ideas and Ty mentioned Marshall had requested they review the show Psyche. They hadn't seen it. Weren't sure they knew anyone connected to the show. Working the phones on Saturday morning, they found someone they knew who was happy to give them the overview (which they decided might work with this edition's theme) and to provide copies of the show. They warned him that there was a good chance they'd trash it. His response was to laugh and assure all of us that a funny pan could be worth more than a "It's an okay show." Did they pan it? Did they feel it was an okay show? (No and no.) Read the review.

See you next week --

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

Editorial: Forgetting Iraq when it can't afford to be forgotten

Yesterday morning brought the news from AP that the fatality count for US troops serving in Iraq had reached 2600. 2600 dead. Do you remember when 500 felt like too many? 1,000? 2000? By the time 2500 rolled around in June, it didn't even rate a headline on the front page of The New York Times. On June 15th, the Pentagon announced the American troops fatality count had hit 2500. On August 12th, the fatality number had jumped another hundred. Who's going to pay attention? (Not the morning's New York Times.)

The coverage of Iraq has dropped off so much you'd be forgiven for thinking nothing had happened there recently. The coverage is so bad that some wakeup calls seem necessary.
Jimmy Breslin offer one last week with "In Case We All Forgot, Americans Are Still Dying in Iraq." A powerful piece but one whose message wasn't received to judge by the coverage.

Iraq, in case you forgot, is the war the US administration started via lies. It's the war that still has American troops on the ground. It's the war that's claiming an estimated (by the United Nations) 100 lives a day. A war in which, we were infamously told, there would be no body count taken of Iraq civilians. Of course Nancy A. Youssef blew that lie out of the water in June -- right around the time big media and indymedia lost interest in Iraq. The US has been keeping a body count, for a little over a year now. How many Iraqis have died according to that count? They government doesn't want to tell you and, thanks to the failure of media big and small, they're not feeling any heat for their silence.

They're not feeling any heat for anything.

Bully Boy should be on the run, as Isaiah's comic suggests. But for that to happen, people would have to be paying attention.

There's no indication that the media is paying attention. The non-coverage from some and bad coverage from others on Abeer (press alias appears to be "a fourteen-year-old girl") demonstrated how uninterested the press was in covering this story -- or at least in covering this story while Israel decides to Bully-Up.

And it wasn't just Abeer. There were many other examples of stories left by the wayside.
On Friday, Ricky Clousing turned himself in. Clousing went AWOL shortly after returning from Iraq. When he held his news conference, that did garner a bit of attention. But as this story was covered, it only drove home the point that Ehren Watada and his Article 32 hearing (which begins Thursday) have been ignored -- ignored at a time when Watada can't afford silence. War reister Carl Webb attended the same Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle last week that Cousing did. Webb appears to have gotten some good news -- the military, according to a recent letter, is going to release him from the service. Webb credits the publicity from magazines, programs and other indymedia for keeping his case alive and nudging the military towards the decision they reached. We'd agree with that 100%

And we need to turn to someone else at the Seattle peace conference to see that reality. Cindy Sheehan who has been on a Troops Home Fast, had traveled to Jordan to meet with Iraqi parmiament members to discuss peace, and reopened Camp Casey III got coverage -- from the mainstream media. There was no time for Cindy Sheehan. Attention was elsewhere even as the Bully Boy cut short his own vacation in what many see as an attempt to avoid encountering Cindy Sheehan. Cindy has the Bully Boy on the run, and there was no time to spare for coverage.

The focus wasn't on Iraqis. Not on Abeer nor on any of the 1,855 corpses Baghad's central morgue handled for July alone. A poll from CNN last week found that "[s]ixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003."

The inroads that could be made with prolonged to cover the peace movement vanished as indymedia decided you could only follow one incident at a time. Everything that wasn't an armed attack by Israel or the victims of an armed attack by Israel got crowded off the page, crowded off the screen.

That's no way to end a war.

Cindy Sheehan got mainstream media attention, just no indy support. That hurts everyone. That hurts the news consumer and the activst. It's also a lousy way to say, "Thanks for restarting the peace movement last year, Cindy!" Sheehan's done as much as one person can, so much so that she's ended up in the hospital (in Seattle on Thursday, in Waco on Friday). From the AP:

Peace mom Cindy Sheehan spent the night in a hospital for a gynecological procedure and treatment of dehydration but said Saturday that wouldn't stop her protest against the Iraq war on land she bought near President Bush's Crawford ranch.

And Sheehan's response to these hospital stays, it's not going to stop her. She's not stopping. Are you?

Sheehan was part of the coalition that met with Iraqis in Jordan this month. Tom Hayden's "Iraq Is Dying" writes about the meeting (which was reduced to an indy headline if it was covered at all) and offers these conclusions:

Despite all its complexity, the Iraq debate now heating up in American politics should favor opponents of the war. The White House's insistence on "staying the course" sounds bankrupt given the daily news from Iraq. Antiwar candidates, alongside the peace movement, can offer a defensible alternative, as the interviews in Amman show, including:
1. A declaration by the United States of its intention to withdraw troops within a fixed timetable, including no permanent bases.
2. A parallel commitment to fix as many mistakes as possible in the same timetable.
3. An amnesty for Iraqi nationals who have fought against the occupation. If a US withdrawal timetable is agreed, the foreign jihadists will lose the margin of support they currently have.
4. An end to Paul Bremer's de-Baathification policy and restoring former military and other professionals to security and civic roles.
5. Termination of US support, training, financing or advising of sectarian militias.
6. A paradigm shift away from neoconservative extremism toward diplomatic and political solutions to the region's problems.
7. International efforts to rebuild Iraq after fifteen years of sanctions, bombardment, invasion, war and civil war.
The most contentious of these points concerns amnesty for Iraqis who have fought the occupation. But it should be remembered that the American Civil War ended with an amnesty for Jefferson Davis. Amnesties always are included in negotiated settlements, and this endgame looks to be no different. If we don't achieve this, we will face a future of faith-based militarism until, as they say, the end of days.

Did you agree with them? Did you disagree with them? Did you even know of them? This historic meeting got very little coverage.

Again, no way to end a war. For approximately two months now, C.I.'s been posing a question at The Common Ills repeatedly: Do the War Hawks want this war to continue more than we want to end it? With all the non-coverage of Iraq in the last few weeks, it's a question to think about.

With the polls demonstrating the continued opposition to the war and with all there's been to cover in Iraq, from Iraq and Iraq related, this could have been a summer like that of last year.
Instead, mainstream media has cut back on staff reporting from Iraq and independent media has demonstrated no interest in covering Iraq.

TV: Psyche?

Ty compiled a list of some comments from e-mails this week. There are questions of why does TV suck so much; why is it all about crime, crime, crime; and why, on the fall schedule, are networks offering repeats?

Because TV sucks is our answer to those questions.

With basic cable and premium cable offering up TV series (a bonus compared to earlier days) and repeating episodes throughout the week, broadcast TV figures they can live a little on the cheap and turn their crime dramas into "draws" in repeat offerings. Crime shows (forensic and legal) dominate because a number of people (much smaller than the broadcasters think, we'd argue) need reassurance in chaotic times. Bully Boy can't catch Osama but you just know the stick figures, crudely drawn, of a Dick Wolf drama won't let you down.

Crime shows were popular during Vietnam as well. (So was kitsch, Nobody Loves Raymond checked out way too soon!) They're thought to give structure to chaotic times. Hospital dramas were also popular because they could 'bring home' the gore that others couldn't and use the excuse of "it's a medical procedure." (The gore then is mild compared to now.) What suffered were sitcoms.

The thinking was that funny didn't play. (Unless it was fish out of water which was the only real theme of the sixties' sitcoms.) Long before the war drew to a close, CBS would do some serious house cleaning (mainly taking the trash out to the curb) and shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and M*A*S*H would demonstrate that Americans could laugh and would laugh. Provided with the opportunity to.

Two networks think the weekend answer revolves around repeats (of crime dramas). They'd be much wiser to use what they see as 'dead nights' for showing a little spirit and adventure in their programming choices. TV sucks. The screens didn't get smaller, just the choices.

Which is why we want to urge you to check out NBC's first hour of primetime Monday. Marshall e-mailed asking if we'd take a look at a new hour long show entitled Psyche. Psyche aired on NBC last Monday and it airs again this Monday. That's apparently it for the program already airing on the USA network. Those who recieve USA will still have the show (which is doing quite well in the ratings thus far), but those relying on broadcast TV will have to do without.

Here's what you need to know to enjoy Monday's broadcast of Psyche. The show stars
James Roday as Shawn Spencer. (Roday was born in? Texas. Once again, Water Cooler Critics, Texans are invading TV -- it's as though Bully Boy ordered a Texas-size wallop of a crackdown on primetime.) Dule Hill plays Gus, Shawn's best friend, and Corbin Bernsen plays Shawn's father Henry (plays him so well it almost erase the memories of Frozen Assets and Hello Again). There are other performers but those are the three to watch.

If TV is nothing but a huge magpie grabbing from all around us, there's some interesting things that are being picked up. Shawn works for the police as a psychic. Gus is his partner. Psyche?

He's not really a psychic. His father, now a retired police officer, trained and helped hone Shawn's observational skills. The non-psychic bounced from job to job (and didn't live up to Dad's dream of him joining the force) earning some easy cash by providing the police with crime solving tips. Footage broadcast on the evening news would allow Shawn to help take a bite out of crime and pocket a little easy cash. The gravy train came to an end when the tipster became a suspect -- if he knew so much about a crime, maybe he was involved?

To avoid potential arrest, Shawn immediately announced he was a psychic -- that's how he could provide tips. Now he fakes seizures (when the 'psychic' insight hits him) and uses stranges voices when he's supposed to be channeling. It's all a put on and often he'll almost out himself but Gus is always there to provide the cover.

Think of him as the counter to the Bully Boy. In Shawn's case, he's a pretender who can actually deliver. Students will see the 'special effects' to demonstrate Shawn's keen observation skills as the equivalent of marking up a text with a highlighter, parents will probably think of Blue's Clues. There's nothing special about the effects, this is a show shot on the cheap in Canada (standing in for Santa Barbara).

But setting the not-so-special-effects aside, the show has plenty to offer. Marshall offered that it reminds him "somewhat" of The Rockford Files. We can see that in an updated manner with regards to the father-son dynamics. But we think it's actually more like the blink and you missed it Richie Brockelman: Private Eye. Though Shawn appears to lack a vintage ride, he's got the weasal and the wimp down pat. That works because the show's being pushed by some as a comedy. (We think it falls into the caper genre.)

Last Monday's big case was a twist on the overdone Mother Does Anything To Make Her Daughter A Cheerleader. In this case, it was father does anything to make his son a spelling bee champ -- cheating, murder, you name it. The plots are wisps of whimsy. Where the show is solid is the interaction between the three main characters.

Even with really bad dialogue (such as when Henry appeared to be channeling Rosie Perez in Untamed Heart to lecture Marisa Tomei, er, Shawn about how he never finishes anything), the three actors have created something that plays real. (Hopefully, others in the cast will fill in their roughly outlined roles in the future.)

Shawn is the slacker nightmare of every parent and Roday has done been sketch comedy (and what's supposed to be more than that) for so long that he's grasped the necessity of energy to a performance. Gus never quites break free (it's written that way) so you get Shawn running circles around him and Gus chasing after (frequently this is demonstrated physically, but it's also the dynamic between the two friends).

The only thing that can pull Shawn down to earth for brief moments is Henry. In those moments you can see in Roday's eyes and body movements the desire to get back and when, at the end of the episode he does, you end up amused -- far more than you should be since the scripted moments makes no sense on any level. The performances are what make the show entertaining. Roday is so broad that if, at any moment Bernsen stopped being the anchor and attempted to match Roday, the whole thing would implode. (This as Fox struggles with its 'big' sitcom starring two performers who are all reaction.)

This isn't a well written show. (Hopefully, it can become one.) The writers seem to go to "check in" scenes whenever they run out of steam and the dialogue really needs to be worked on (all the characters are written as if they speak the same). But this is a show that really can make the audience feel good. That has nothing to do with moralizing or happy endings, it has everything to do with performers exhibiting delight in their roles. With smarter scripts, this could be the decade's Moonlighting (pre-cowing of Maddie); however, as it is, it's still worth watching and these days that's a rare thing.

In a nation that was lied into an illegal war, there's probably a bit of satisfaction at seeing Shawn put one over on the 'establishment' (the police in this case) -- a minor 'score one for the little guys' moment. In a nation still waiting for an opposition party to emerge, that may be all we can hope for right now. Tomorrow, Monday the 13th, Psyche airs one more time on NBC.


June 4th, we offered a short story entitled "The ones we never know" -- the point of which were the many Iraqis who die and, if we're lucky, are noted . . . as a "civilian." They frequently don't have names, they frequently exist, in reporting, as nothing more than someone who sprung to life moments before they were killed. There is no attempt to put faces (let alone names) to the fatalities. Each death speeds by in a number and by the next day they're no longer even a "one died in Baquba" but part of a collective "38 people died in Iraq yesterday."

Sometimes that results from the sheer number of deaths (which the United Nations recently estimated to be 100 a day), sometimes it results from the fact that reporters really can't move freely in Iraq. Sometimes there must be another reason.

Such as with The New York Times repeated actions to render Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi invisible. Abeer Qassim Hamza was murdered on March12, 2006 in the town of Mahmoudiyah along with her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. Originally, an investigation into their deaths pegged the killer or killers as "insurgents."

The last week of June, the US military announced that they were investigating the deaths. There was talk that one of the four, Abeer, had been raped. The military gave her age as
twenty-years old. On July 3rd the the US government issued a press release noting that the previous Friday (June 30th) Steven D. Green had been arrested in Asheville, North Carolina and charged with rape and murder. The 21-year-old Green had served with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army but been dischared. Later, four soldiers still serving in the military (Paul Cortez, James Barker, Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard) were charged with murder, rape and arson (there was an attempt to burn Abeer's body and 'do away' with the evidence) and a fifth serving soldier Anthony W. Yribe was charged with derelection of duty for failure to report the incident.

The same day that Green's arrest was announced, Ellen Knickmeyer's "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" ran in The Washington Post refuting the claim that Abeer had been twenty-years-old. To date, this remains the most serious attempt (domestically -- big media or small) to detail Abeer's life and death.

Last weekend, an Article 32 hearing began for Cortez, Barker, Spielman and Howard to determine whether there was enough evidence to charge them with the crimes they are accused of. (Steven D. Green will stand trial in a federal court in Kentucky.)

You might think this was the time for reporters to explore Abeer's life? If you thought that, you weren't thinking like a reporter because no one stepped up to the plate. What you saw instead was what you'd seen largely since the beginning, details of Green's life, details of the other soldiers, denials, excuses (stress) . . . You name it, you saw anything but Abeer.

Saturday, August 6th The New York Times rendered Abeer invisible yet again. In a lengthy article running the day before the Article 32 hearing began in Baghdad, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence" managed to make the argument that the defense would (stress, fatigue, etc.) -- thing is, the defense had yet to make that argument. Apparent psychics Worth and Marshall could see into the future and read the defense briefs.

Worth and Marshall should start their own 900 hotline because they presented their argument before the defense and the defense's argument? From Andy Mosher's "At Rape Hearing, U.S. Soldiers Describe Stress of War" in The Washington Post:

Eugene Fidell, a Washington military law expert, said Tuesday that the defense attorneys were most likely emphasizing combat stress to argue that their clients not face a possible death penalty in the event of a court-martial. "This is not a defense known to the law," Fidell said. "But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty."

Worth and Marshall -- amazing psychics for grasping a defense "not . . . known to the law."

Day after day, The New York Times repeatedly rendered Abeer invisible. She never had a name, she was always a "14-year-old girl." They never provided details about her life, though they had many details of the accused. They also had a very sanitized way of reporting on the Article 32 hearing. Apparently, readers of the paper of no record are thought to be delicate souls who can't take the hard details of a murder and rape case.

They heard things about drinking and golf (manly men, the accused), they just didn't hear some of the less Animal House-like antics involved. AFP was left to report that, on the first day of the hearing, "An Iraqi army doctor has told of his horror at coming upon a dead teenager 'naked with her legs spread' after the alleged murder of her family by a group of US soldiers." Al Jazeera could report the following:

An Iraqi army medic has described a scene of horror to a US military hearing that will decide if four soldiers are to be court-martialled for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family.
The medic, who was not named, said that when he entered the house in Mahmudiya on March 12, he found 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi naked with her legs spread and burned from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye.

But it was just too much for the Grey Lady. Another Times, The Times of London, could carry a report on military investigator Benjamin Bierce testifying to the hearing about the confession James Barker had made to him:

Special Agent Benjamin Bierce recalled how Specialist James Barker described how the couple and their youngest child were put in another room, while the teenager was kept in the living room.
Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl, but said he was not sure if he had done so, Special Agent Bierce told the hearing.
Some shots were fired in the other room and Private Steven Green emerged, saying "They're all dead. I just killed them." Green put down an AK-47 assault rifle and raped the girl while Cortez held her down, the hearing heard.
Special Agent Bierce said Green then picked up the weapon and shot the girl once, paused, and shot her several more times. Kerosene from a lamp was poured over the girl and someone - it was not clear who - set her alight.

Reuters would note:

A U.S. military court heard graphic testimony on Monday on how U.S. soldiers took turns holding down and raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl before murdering her and her family.

Took turns raping her. Took turns holding her down. Took turns.

The same newspaper that could front page the most recent Michael Jackson-and-child case, day after day, suddenly got all thick tongued and couldn't say a word. (Leading Mike to wonder if The New York Times was employing perverts, rapists or pro-rapists?)

By the time the hearing was winding down, the paper of no record fell strangely silent on everything. So readers didn't hear Captain Alex Pickands' closing remarks which included: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."

The soldiers had more than seen her on a previous patrol. As Ellen Knickmeyer noted:

Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.
As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.
Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.
Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.

It wasn't a one time thing. As C.I. noted:

The 14-year-old had noticed and been made nervous by the way those alleged to have raped her (it seems crazy to say "alleged" to have killed -- she's dead, she was a fourteen-year-old girl, she was killed, no alleged). Her family was about to send her to another home for her own safety.
If [Robert F.] Worth and [Carolyn] Marshall want to chart the decay of the military company, might they take a moment to wonder what sort of leadership existed that adult males sent by the US to Iraq were able to leer at (and comment on?) a fourteen-year-old girl? So much so that she and others noticed it. Who didn't notice it? And why didn't they notice it?

As Rebecca noted:

i don't know an american adult male who doesn't know the concept of the age of consent and grasp that they'll go to jail for sex with a minor that's consensual. add in that we're talking about underage girl was raped. the mainstream press covers this trial and can't even mention her damn name. good god, most of us have seen silence of the lambs, we know how important it is that the victim have a name.
it puts a face on it, it gives it's weight.

As Elaine noted:

People are acting, including Scotland's Sunday Herald, as though the US troops just snapped. That's now what's been reported. They were "eyeing" Abeer. Fourteen-years-old and she's got to deal with the disgusting ogling of adult males, adult males with guns, adult males who are part of the foreign forces occupying her country. Do you think the press has given much thought to what that must have been like for Abeer?
To be so nervous, so bothered by the unwanted attention that she complained to her parents who quickly decided that, for her own protection, they needed to have her go live with neighbors.
Abeer never got to do that. She was murdered. She was allegedly raped. Fourteen-years-old.
I don't think the press gets how disgusting this is. I think they see it as a murder and nothing more. Certainly, the New York Times in their early coverage emphasized the murder and treated the rape in a secondary manner.

And? We're sure some other websites noted it, noted the case. We just couldn't find it on our official independent media outlets. Abeer wasn't just rendered invisible by the almighty New York Times, she was rendered invisible by independent media which didn't have a moment to spare from the wall-to-wall coverage of Look What Israel's Done Now! to cover the details emerging from the hearing.

With Mai Lai during Vietnam, it wasn't the all powerful papers and networks breaking the story.
So you'd think that independent media would remember that. You'd think that they'd see the coverage coming from The New York Times and, at the very least, want to offer a critique about how a major daily under-reported the events and testimony of the hearing and, though they humanized the defense, they never did the same with Abeer, or, as the paper insisted upon calling her, "a fourteen-year-old girl" -- one who apparently had no life, no dreams, no hopes and not even a name.

Independent media often speaks of the need to go where the silence is. What's more silent than a rape victim who has been murdered? How about one that the press refuses to name? (CNN did name her in their coverage.) Abeer's story hasn't been told.

An excuse offered this week was that they didn't have the money big media has so they couldn't send people to cover the hearing. We won't argue that point. We'll simply note that the Lebanon coverage wasn't dependent upon reporting from Lebanon. (Flashpoints reports from the occupied territories and elsewhere day after day, week after week. Flashpoints didn't suddenly discover the story, they always cover the armed agression of Israel. We're not talking about Flashpoints.) What we saw or heard were discussions of Israel's actions, discussions of the effects of Lebanon. We think that there could have been discussions of the details emerging in what happened to Abeer and her family. But that didn't happen. Rendered invisible by the paper of no record, not explored by independent media, Abeer remained a statistic, not a person. She was faceless, she was voiceless.

We weren't even treated to a discussion of how the media was covering it. Possibly because independent media felt it might be hypocritical to slam big media when they hadn't done any work on it themselves?

Did Abeer's life matter? Did her death matter? Judging from the (non-existant) coverage, the answer is no. It's the same "no" we'd get to the question of has Iraq mattered in the last few weeks. It hasn't. Independent media has gone to Camp Casey III or provided Cindy Sheehan via a phone call or video-link.

In fact, all the topics you might normally count on independent media for happened outside of it last week. It was The San Francisco Chronicle that took a look at war resisters in Canada, for example. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey will soon learn the decision on their appeal (to remain in Canada). Some media attention would help their case. Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing starts Thursday and there have been no efforts to cover that.

Like Abeer, they were lost in the pursuit of one story and on story only. Independent media can pat themselves on the back that they weren't doing wall-to-wall on a missing blonde, but they're kidding themselves if they think they were providing the news people can use because that news is never just one topic.

Abeer had a life and she had hopes and dreams. Those are gone now. In death, she's ignored. In life she ended brutalized, raped and murdered. She became, through press treatment one more of "The ones we never know."

She had a name, she had a face. Below is her national i.d. which carries a photo of her when she was two-years-old. (This was the document that established her age as fourteen-years-old.)

The New York Times was happy to make the defense's case both before the hearing started and during it. It boils down to stress, blah blah blah, fatigue, blah blah blah. Captain Alex Pickands' response to that nonsense?

"Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."

It's an argument not only against the defense's rationale but agains that of The New York Times which may be why these words never made it into the paper of no record.

Bully Boy breaks pledges easily, Sheehan doesn't without doctor's orders

In Seattle Thursday, Cindy Sheehan was in the emergency room. Dehydrated and exhausted, Sheehan was admitted Friday to the Providence Health Center in Waco. Cindy Sheehan had been taking part in the Troops Home Fast action. On doctor's orders, she ended her liquid only fast after 37 days.

Troops Home Fast is an ongoing protest to draw attention to the reality of Iraq. The fast is ongoing and will last through September 21st. Anyone wishing to participate for one day, by choosing a day each week to fast, or in an ongoing fast can do so at anytime. (As C.I. noted, those with medical conditions or concerns are recommended to seek medical advice before going on a long-term strike.)

Some people, including Sheehan, make sacrifices. Others promise then but don't deliver. Does anyone remember when Bully Boy stated that he would give up sweets while troops were in 'harm's way'? By October 2003, the press was noting the obvious: Bully Boy hadn't managed to stick to his pledge. (Imagine that.) Possibly why, try as he may, he can't shed those extra five pounds noted in his most recent physical.

It's been a relatively easy time for Bully Boy. The Downing Street Memos? Press didn't care much about them (Michael Kinsley reveled in his own worthlessness). The blogs stayed on that issue last summer and made it an issue. Websites, independent media, Air America Radio and others helped build on that and were there when Cindy Sheehan started her vigil last summer.
It was a great moment for the peace movement.

Camp Casey III got far less attention (the understatement of the week). On Saturday, the AP noted that 2600 American troops had now died in the illegal war. Last week, CNN's latest poll found that American were still against the war and the numbers had only increased. This should have been a summer to hold Bully Boy's feet to the fire.

But the attention went elsewhere. Not 'some of the attention' which would make sense -- Iraq's not the only story in the world. But it wasn't some of the attention -- it was all of the attention. Week after week, we've gotten wall-to-wall coverage (from independent media) of Israel's war. We've had discussions, we've had critiques. We've had non-stop coverage.

We just haven't had Iraq. Like Bully Boy's pledge of no sweets, Iraq's disappeared.

At a time when Bully Boy's feet should be held to the fire, at a time when "Troops Home Now!" is a cry more and more are adopting, when even a War Hawk like Thomas Friedman starts noting some truth, Iraq's disappeared.

Cindy Sheehan's doing her part to end the war in Iraq, are you?

C.I.'s Wanted In The Green Zone

C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
The invitations come in
C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
We all just want the war to end.

There's a fluffer e-mailing
Saying he's beyond criticism
There's a real reporter calling
"Make me laugh with a witticism."
There's a G.I. stationed in Baghdad saying
"It's worse than you know"
There's a friend in the Air Force swearing
"The whole thing's 'bout to blow."

C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
The invitations come in
C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
We all just want the war to end.

There's a fluffer e-mailing
To whine some again
There's a Natioanl Guard reserve
Wondering when it's going to end
There's an embassy employee
Who just tries to smile
Says "I can forget where I am
for at least a little while."

C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
The invitations come in
C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
And we all just want the war to end.

There's a fluffer e-mailing
With a whine and a pout
There's a medic in Iraq
Thinking 'bout checking out
There's a woman
Who only signed up for tuition
There's a back door draft victim
Who just wants to be home fishin'

C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
The invitations come in
C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
We all just want the war to end.

There's a fluffer e-mailing
Who thinks it's all about him
He paints pretty word pictures
While all around it's grim.
He points with pride to a single sentence
From every press release filed
It's just so unfair, he thinks,
That's he so reviled.

C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
The invitations come in
C.I.'s wanted in the Green Zone
We all just want the war to end
And we all just want the war to end
Maybe not the fluffer
But the rest of us
We all just want the war to end.

[Note: All items in quotes, direct quotes. Two fluffers have been merged into one but all events portrayed are accurate.]
[C.I. Note: added Monday, August 14th. Susan, community member and music lover, noted that the above could be sung to "Cactus Tree." That is correct. "Cactus Tree," written by Joni Mitchell, is available on, among other albums, Mitchell's Song to a Seagull.]

DVD Must See: Sir! No! Sir!

Hey, what would it have been like if the ones resisting during Vietnam had included soldiers? That would be pretty wild, right?

Hey, know what? They did. That happened and a lot more. What may be most shocking is that this history and reality that has vanished (replaced with revisionist fiction). As Jerry Lembcke points out, "This was stuff that was in living rooms all over America so people knew this. And this is an important piece we're talking about: how memory about the war has been rewritten, has been reconstructed. This is gone. This has been erased. This has been displaced."

G.I.'s resisted, G.I.'s protested. In many ways that you may not have heard about. That's just one reason to see Sir! No! Sir! now out on DVD. The documentary, directed by David Zieger, does with film what Howard Zinn does with text -- unearths the history they don't rush to teach, the knowledge they let fall through the cracks.

Memory Lane Tripping is a good reason to see the film but it's equally true that the stories shared in the film matter today. Friday, the news broke that Ricky Clousing, AWOL for over year, held a news conference and turned himself in. This Thursday, August 17th, Ehren Watada (the first known commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq) faces his Article 32 hearing (Courage to Resist and are organizing and trying to get the word out for "a National Day of Education" on August 16th). Suzanne Swift was arrested at her mother's home this summer, Kevin Benderman appeals the verdict in his case, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey will shortly learn the verdict on whether they'll be allowed to remain in Canada.

In Sir! No! Sir!, you'll hear echoes of some of today's stories. You'll hear Susan Schnall explain how the idea to leaflet a military base from a plane came about and you'll hear how she came to the decision to wear her uniform to a protest and her court martial that followed. The film examines the coffeehouse movement and it's importance in raising awareness and ending the war. Specifically, the film zooms in on The Oleo Strut, a coffee house in Killeen, TX with historical footage and pulls back to examine others -- their purpose and the attacks on them (from vigilantes and from law enforcement).

Walter Cronkite is seen in black & white footage explaining the G.I. press to America,
"A new phenomon has cropped up at several army bases these days. The so-called underground G.I. press which consists largely of anti-war newspapers. Military authorities are clamping down hard on the papers." Do-it-yourself media? The only thing new about today is the use of the web. (Online examples today include Citizen Soldier, the Central Committe for Conscientious Objectors' The Objector and the War Reisters League's WIN.)

The issues of racism are tackled and the connections made by African-Americans to the racism that was aimed at the Vietnamese. ("Gook" then is "Hadji" today and Matthew Rothschild discussed the modern derogatory term on last week's The Progressive Radio Show.) African-American resistance isn't pushed aside or just touched upon -- it's seriously addressed. (Something worth noting at a time when so many documentaries reduce the voices to White when their supposed focus is "all.")

The film offers a strong record of the past, it also offers strong applications for today. Speaking of Mai Lai, Joe Bangert notes that William Calley "was doing what we were all told which is kill them all and sort it out later."

Kill them all? Sound familiar? Raymond L. Girouard, William B. Hunsaker, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Braber are accused of killing three Iraqi males on May 9th, after detaining them and handcuffing them. The men were detained and handcuffed, how did they die? Shot in the back. After reportedly being told they could go and after their plastic handcuffs were removed. Why?
Defense lawyers and witness Pfc. Bradley Mason have argued that when the soldiers passed on that they detained three Iraqi males, their commander, Col. Michael Steele, gave orders to kill them all.

There's nothing wrong with Memory Lane Tripping, but the film is much more than that -- even for those who lived through the period. Regardless of whether the events and information are new to you or not, the film is relevant to today.

What will you take away from the film? Specific moments are many. Such as the reactions of soldiers to the FTA Tour (this counter-tour to the rah-rah-rah war and tits-and-ass sexism of the Bob Hope tours is often portrayed by some as not reaching an audience, not being humorous, not being entertaining -- all not true) or it might be the coverage of fragging and the attempts to railroad Billy Dean Smith? Maybe it will be Jerry Lembcke refuting the lie that returning vets were spit on, or, like Jane Fonda, it will be seeing the way G.I.s respond to Rita Martinson's performance of "Soldier, We Love You"? ("Soldier, We Love You," written by Martinson, is available on the soundtrack CD.) Possibly, it will be the statements of people today trying to explain where they got the courage to make the stands they did?

One example? Louis Font became the first West Point graduate to refuse to serve in a war. He recalls how he explained his decision to his parents, "You always taught me to do what is just, what is right." Reflecting all these years later, he states, "I know I did the right thing."

You can (and we have) debate and discuss which moment stood out the most to you.
The coffeehouse movement, the underground press, the refusals to serve in the war, the refusals to be silent, the Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit (1971), the film covers a great deal and moves at a fast pace.

If you're looking for boredom, a film that will leave you feeling like you've suffered through a learning experience, this isn't the film for you. Mixing archival news footage, recent interviews, songs you know and some you may not, and photos, the film's never static. Sir! No! Sir! was directed, produced and written by David Zeiger. Troy Garity (Barbershop, Barbershop II, Soldier's Girl) provides the narration.

Need more convincing? We're fond of Jane Fonda and so are our regular readers, so we'll end with her closing thoughts from the film:

You know, people say, "Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?" We keep going back to Vietnam because I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was."

Reason enough to see Sir! No! Sir! which documents an important segment of history still valid today.

Damien Cave Plays the Fool so Perfectly

You gentlemen can watch while I'm scrubbing the floor
And I'm scrubbing the floor while you're gawking
Maybe once you tipped me and it made you feel swell
In a ratty waterfront

In this ratty, old hotel
But you never know to who you're talking
Never know to who you're talking.
Suddenly one night, there's a scream in the night
And you yell, "What the hell could that have been?"

And you see me kind of grinning while I'm scrubbing
And you say, "What she got to grin?"

--"Pirate Jenny" written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for The Threepenny Opera.

"Pirate Jenny" is a song we love, no matter who is singing it but our favorite versions are probably by Judy Collins (on In My Life) and Nina Simone (on various collections). The Threepenny Opera, which was recently staged again in New York, is considered a musical theater classic but apparently reporters at The New York Times aren't too well rounded in their education.

Which would explain Damien Cave's "On Patrol, Iraqis Prove Eager, Erratic and Green" -- an article that led to a long, long breakfast discussion among the core six (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) on the Thursday it graced the front page of The Times.

From the article:

In one squat concrete home, an American sergeant and about six Iraqis moved from room to room while the owner, an older woman in a full black ahaya, sat on a bed by the stove and watched. When a revolver was found, she was told that it would be confiscated because Iraqi law permittedonly one AK-47 per family.
Smiling the woman said she appreciated the American presence and hoped the raids would make the neighborhood safer. "I never leave the house because I'm too afraid," she said.

An older woman in an ahaya. Ahaya? Head to toe black cloak. So Damien Cave's not only a fool, he's redundant. Do most people get how offensive the above is. A woman, covered in a cloak from head to toe, the person in charge of the home when Iraqis and an American search through it? Between customs and fear, we can't imagine this was a happy experience. Though Cave swallows it hook line and sinker. (Cave, if the Green Zone villa gets a maid named Jenny, watch your back!)

200 years ago, Damien Cave could have reported:

In the slaves quarter, the plantation owner and six armed men, conducted a search while a slave looked on. Smiling, the slave said she appreciated the owner's concern and hoped the searches would make life better for all the ones picking cotton.

C.I. commented on the article Thursday but not in detail due to the shock that Cave could be so publicly stupid in print. We're shocked as well. We're shocked that Cave, in Iraq, has yet to grasp that statements to your face aren't always genuine, that a woman smiling at armed men (Iraqis and an American) in her home may be smiling out of fear. But the quote (which we're having a problem believing Cave translated himself -- no one else is credited for the article) makes it into print -- and you wonder why Americans are so misinformed about Iraq.

Again, Cave, watch your back if the Green Zone villa hires a Jenny.

4 Songs worth checking out

A lot of strong music has come out recently and we're noting the lyrics to four songs that you've hopefully heard already. If not, why not? One's from a soundtrack, one's from a big label, one's about a world that's about to crack, and one's about what's under the table.

From Ani DiFranco's Reprieve, "Millennium Theater" (written by Ani DiFranco):

Millennium theater
Get out there and buy that water and gas
Ramadan orange alert
Everybody put on your gas mask
First leak it out about the president
Then stand up and shout "impeachment"
Pulling coat tails out from under that little V.P.
Before he has a chance to get in the driver's seat

From Michael Franti and Spearhead's Yell Fire, "Light Up Ya Lighter" (lyrics by Michael Franti, music by Michael Franti and Manis Itene):

So me say engine engine number nine
machine guns on a New York transit line
The war for oil is a war for the beast
The war on the terror is a war on peace
Telling you they're going to protect you
Telling you that they support the troops
don't let them fool you
with their milk and honey
No, they only want your money
One step forward and two steps back
Why do veterans get no respect PTSD and a broken back
Take a look at where your money's gone
Take a look at what they spend it on
No exuces no illusions
Light up ya lighter
Bring em home

From Dashboard Confessional's Dusk and Summer, "Slow Decay" (written by Christopher Carrabba)

You're injuries aren't mortal wounds
The only thing that's killing you
Is what you saw
And what you couldn't stop
Well you're not the one I blame
It wasn't your mistake
But you're safe now so come home

From the soundtrack to the documentary Sir! No! Sir!, Rita Martinson's "Soldier, We Love You" (written by Rita Martinson):

I read that you took a stand
And refused to kill in Vietnam.
You said no man was your enemy
What he's fighting for is to be free.
Ghetto streets lead nowhere
Ghetto cries fill the air.
Uncle Sam's in Nam to loot and rob
And people starve at home cause there's no jobs.
Oh ain't it hard
To smile sometimes?
I know it's hard
To smile sometimes.

We recommend all four songs, we recommend all four albums. If you haven't heard them, make a point to check them out.

Herbert Reed: Blood in his urine and stool, tumor removed, migraines, joint ache . . . D.U. exposure

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.
Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.
There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

The above is from Deborah Hastings "Is an Armament Sickening U.S. Soldiers?" (Associated Press) and when we saw the title and assumed it was on D.U. (depleted uranium and that was what Reed was most likely exposed to) we thought, "Maybe an indymagazine will pick up on this!" Then we remembered what was done to David Lindorff.

File the above under another worthy story on Iraq brought to you in recent weeks by . . . corporate/big/mainstream media. Often the only outlet for Iraq coverage these days. (Sad but true.)

Struggling for money, how did Iraq scrap together $35 million to pledge elsewhere?

On page A6 of Saturday's New York Times, James Glanz noted the following in "An Audit Sharply Criticizes Iraq's Bookkeeping:"

But in a country in need of every dollar it can generate to restore a crumbling infrastructure, pay government salaries and train its security forces, the auditors found enormous sums simply deposited in the wrong government account or counted differently by various offical agencies. The actual oil exports could not be determiend accurately because Iraq still does not have modern equipment for measuring what its pipelines pour into tankers.

Iraq is a country in need of every dollar and reading the above made us recall a question that apparently only Arianna Huffington will ever raise. From her "Maliki's Testy Visit: Is This What Our Troops Are Dying For?" at The Huffington Post:

What more, Maliki wants to "maintain strong ties to Iran," has sided with Hezbollah in the current hostilities with Israel, and has pledged $35 million in aid to Lebanon (where is that money coming from?).

Where is that money coming from? He made that pledge before coming to the US as part of the "Send more money!" efforts. When you're dependent upon aid from other nations, how do you manage to scrape together $35 million to send to another country, any country?

Blog Spotlight: Rebecca asking who will step up to the plate for Abeer

Rebecca, back from vacation, wonders where the Abeer coverage is?

raped and murdered, 14 year old abeer can't defend herself, who's going to step up to the plate?

this is the part in the book not returned
where i'm going to come and save the day
did you miss me?
did you miss me?

i had to open with courtney love's 'hero.' i did last year when i returned from my vacation as well. last year i took more weeks off and this year i had a vacation & a honeymoon, so cut me some slack. (plus you had betty doing a brilliant job.)

let's dive in. i'm going to post the snapshot of iraq by c.i. and then we're rolling up our sleeves because any who worried marriage would make me go 'soft' worried in vain. i'll toss in some brief comments between paragraphs and then let loose at the end of it.

'Iraq snapshot'
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Tuesday, August 8, 2006. Bombings, a bank robery . . . all part of what the
AFP term "Bloody Day in Baghdad." And while people continue to dicker in the United States with games of "Is it or isn't it a civil war," Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports on Iraqi politicians who "way that the country is in civil war already." This as the so-called 'crackdown' (in beefed up form) appears to . . . crack apart.

a bloody day in baghdad? now i've been out of the country on both my vacation and my honeymoon but i'm sure that the media covered iraq nonstop, right? this is a u.s. war so i just know no jack offs decided they could pull their crap just because i wasn't around to scream. iraq's been on the front burner day after day, right? wrong. i encountered people reading their new york times and their wall st. journals (no washington post, which surprised me) and they'd ask if i wanted to see it? like they were doing me a favor? i'd ask 'well do they cover' and start reeling off the info from c.i.'s 'iraq snapshot' the day before. they'd be a little stunned. i had truged down to breakfast or the pool or the beach and maybe brought a book with me and maybe not so there they all were feeling superious as they went through their blessed dailies, so much smarter than the blonde beside them. thing was, they weren't. they got far less information in their blessed daily papers.

Strongest dose of reality comes from Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch): "The vast city of seven million people, almost the size of London, is breaking up into a dozen cities, each one of which is becoming a heavily armed Shia or Sunni stronghold. Every morning brings its terrible harvest of bodies. Many lie in the streets for hours, bloating in the 120F heat, while others are found floating in the Tigris river."

read patrick cockburn's article. use that link. realize how awful things have gotten in baghdad as patrick cockburn describes his life as an un-embedded reporter in iraq. and realize how much crap the new york times and others have offered you, day after day, while iraq's reached a new low.

In the captial,
ITV notes "three near-simulaneous bomb explosins near the Interior Ministry building." Police officer Bilal Ali Majid tells the AP that at least 10 are dead and at least 8 wounded from the three bombs. Al Jazeera puts the toll at nine and notes "[t]wo roadside bombs exploded in the main Shurja market in central Bagdad within minutes of each other, killing 10 civilians and injuring 50". CBS and AP place the death toll at 10 for each bombing (20 total). AFP notes that ths market blast "set fire to several shops."
This is the AP in case anyone's confused (some early reports lumped the two attacks together): "Three bombs exploded simultaneously near the Interior Ministry buildings in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said. A couple of hours later, two roadside bombs ripped through the main Shurja market, also in central Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 50, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said."
Reuters notes a police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "in the eastern Zayouna district of Baghdad"; in Iskandariya, two people were wounded by a roadside bomb; and, in Tikrit, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb (eight people wounded "including a child").

i watched on my vacation & honeymoon as suddenly a kidnapping needed to have more than 40 to be seriously reported (as opposed to 'shout outs') and saw that a single bombing needed to kill at least 21 to get reported on and not just tossed out in the dailys.

what the hell is that? i saw remarks like 'relatively calm' used on days when 20 or more people died. what is that crap?

Reuters notes two civilians were shot to death in Rashad, "a police lieutenant colonel" was shot dead in Falluja (his brother was wounded), and two were shot dead in Mosul.
CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, three people were shot dead (including a teacher) and that drive-by shootings claimed two lives in Baquba. AP notes "two Sunni brothers . . . slain in their car repair shop in southwestern Baghdad:.
In addition to the above, the
BBC notes the death of "three security guards and two bank officials" during a bank robbery in Baghdad today. AFP notes that the robbery of the al-Rasheed Bank utilized three cars and that the interior ministry is saying it only netted "seven million dinars (less than $5,000)". The AP states it was two cars.

shootings get less and less press attention because, by their nature, they usually involve 1, 2 or 3. so they're completely off the radar. the press needs a massive blood letting in 1 incident to bother to cover it.

CBS and AP note the discovery of nine "bullet-riddled" corpses in Kut. AFP notes that at least seven were "Iraqi border guards." Reuters notes that seven corpses were found "south of Baghdad" and that they were "wearing military uniforms". And the AP notes two corpses found in Baghdad ("shot in the head").

i hope everyone gets that the 19 corpses were people who were killed 1 day and their deaths didn't get calculated that day because no 1 knew they were dead until the corpses were found.
so since it's now know they're dead, you might add them to the 30-plus death toll today and get 50-plus. you might do that but the press won't.

In addition, the BBC reports: "Also on Tuesday, a US soldier died of wounds sustained in fighting, the US military said"; while CBS and AP report: "Two Iraqi journalists were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad, police said Tuesday. Mohammed Abbas Hamad, 28, a journalist for the Shiite-owned newspaper Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida, was shot by gunmen at he left his home Monday in western Baghdad, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. Late Monday, police found the bullet-riddled body of freelance journalist Ismail Amin Ali, 30, about a half mile from where he was abducted two weeks ago in northeast Baghdad, Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. The body showed sign of torture, he added." The AP reminds that the two are "among more than 100 Iraqi and foreign media workers slain here since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003."

reporters die and your embedded reporters don't seem to give a damn. the new york times, remember, made a huge deal out of the death of their stringer but they don't care to cover the deaths of other reporters.

Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) notes that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and puppet of the occupation) no longer pushes the "reconcilation project" and that Abdullah Aliawayi (Iraqi parliamentary member) describes it as "failed." Nouri al-Maliki's criticism of the "U.S.-Iraqi attack on Mahdi Army's stronghold in Baghdad's Sadr City" continues. Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) writes of the attack: "Families sleeping on rooftops to escape the summer heat were startled early Monday by helicoprters and gunfire" and that the action "killed three people, destroyed three homes and sent families scurrying for cover." (For those who wonder about the heat, a friend says it is 110 degrees in Baghdad right now). As AFP noted yesterday: "An AFP journalist in Sadr City reported that the raid on the area, a stronghold of the firebrand cleric, was accompanied by air strikes." Today AFP notes: "Coalition aircraft were called into action after the Iraqi army snatch squad came under fire, and at least three civilians were killed." Coalition aircraft would most likely mean US military aircraft. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) notes Times' colleague James Hider's observation that "This security plan is basically the last chance to save the country from civil war. It seems like he [al-Maliki] is trying to distance himself. There is a very fine line between sending your troops out to attack militia that are linked to a government party." Hider himself writes that "a clear rift" has opened between puppet al-Maliki "and the American military" which leads to "doubts about whether the security forces would have the political backing required to tackle powerful militias beholden to parties in the governing coalition."

these attacks happen all the time. the u.s. claims any 1 on a roof is an 'insurgent.' and people in this country buy that nonsense. i ended up going over that repeatedly on vacation. yes, i was talking iraq. see, i didn't put it on the backburner just because i was vacationing and honeymooning. you can't afford to. there's no excuse for doing so. i was shocked by the figures on how many americans believe iraq had wmds! it's like it's going backwards.

why is that? i blame the media. i blame their nonsense of all running after israel and just covering that 1 story (corporate and indy) and ignoring iraq.

In Baghdad, the trial into the murder of Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members continue (as well as into the alleged rape of Abeer). This is the case that yesterday, as Reuters notes: "A US military court heard graphic testimony about how US soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murderer her and her family." Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that the attornies for the four troops currently serving (James Barker, Paul E. Cortez, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard; Steven D. Green is no longer in the military) accused of rape, murder and arson are calling for "a new hearing, accusing Yrbie's counsel of deliberately asking incriminating questions. A ruling was expected later in the day." Anthony Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for alleged failure to report the incident, he is not accused of rape, murder or arson. Also, CNN reports that a witness testified of "colleagues who drank whiskey and cough syrup and swallowed painkillers to cope with their jobs." The witness, Justin Cross, was asked if Steven D. Green could have done the crimes by himself and Cross responded, "Green does nothing by himself."

i'll deal with abeer after i'm done commenting on other events.

In the United States, peace activist Cindy Sheehan and others continue their protests in Crawford, TX. Sheehan is quoted as saying of the Bully Boy, "He can shorten his vacations or not show up at all, but he's not hiding from the truth." Camp Casey III is up and going again this summer. Writing of Sheehan and the first Camp Casey last year, Tom Hayden noted: "Cindy Sheehan inhabits an alternative world of meaning that more Americans need to experience before this war can end. She represents the survivors' need to define a meaning in her son's death -- and her life -- that is counter to the meaning offered by President Bush. That is why she refuses any condolences, and why she continues to ask the President what was the 'noble purpose' for which Casey Sheehan died."

this was probably the biggest shock to me because we saw coverage out of the country. we came back so flyboy could vote for ned lamont. (he's always maintained legal residency in conn. that's where his family's home is. no 1 in his family is voting for joe lieberman and that was his request for a wedding present if they were registered as democrats. i'm serious on that. we don't need anything. i have more money than i could ever spend - and you know i won't be giving it to indymedia after the last few months - and fly boy's got more than i have. this is a remarriage for us. we're doing dinners this week with family members but he said 'if you want to give a gift, rebecca and i would appreciate that you vote for ned lamont.' when they agreed, he would ask them to give their word.) so we get back and where is the media with cindy? i see ap. i don't see a great deal more.

In an interview with Dan Bacher (Toward Freedom), Sheehan spoke of the Troops Home Fast action and noted, "We hope the fast will galvanize public attention, invigorate the peace movement, build pressure on elected officials, and get our troops back home." Troops Home Fast continues with at least 4,549 people taking part today from around the world.

i don't know toward freedom but obviously they grasp that camp casey is news so good for them. on the fast. i saw c.i. for the 1st time since july 4th at my wedding and was shocked. there was no weight to lose before the fast. (c.i. religiously works out and did during the fast.) i admire the committment. i know it must have been a pain in the ass. and i know c.i. wasn't sitting on the ass during that. so i marvel (always) at my friend's strength. but please, never again. c.i.'s doing a one day a week fast now until september 21st. i need to pick a day and start doing that. fly boy took 1 look at c.i. and said, 'we need to do at least 1 day when we get back.' (let me clear, c.i. didn't look haggered. c.i. looked great, the skin was amazing and i was envious as hell, to be honest. but i'd guess 15 pounds were lost, maybe more, and they weren't there to lose. c.i. wrapped a piece of my wedding cake and hopefully will eat that soon. when we spoke on the phone today it was still easing back into solid foods, which began on sunday. bananas have been a big thing and tomatoes, c.i. loves tomatoes.)

In other peace news, Edwin Tanji (The Maui News) reports that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, is getting the word out on his son (first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq) and will appear at Maui Bookseller (Wailuku) today at four p.m. as well as on the TV program Crossroads tonight at 7:00 p.m. Maui Democratic Party leader Lance Holter says of Ehren Watada: "I'm awe-struck by this man's bravery. He has taken on the entire American military machine and standing up for principles of honor and justice and American patriotism. There is no more patriotic man than this person."
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."

i know the answer to this but let's pretend i don't. so while i was gone, indymedia just piled on this story, right? august 17th isn't that far away and they've just been getting the word out like crazy, right? nope. i'm really glad c.i.'s been able to locate stuff from hawaii because otherwise there would pretty much be no news for the last few weeks. i'm back, i'll be back to working my own contacts asking friends (in big media), why aren't you covering this? when will you be covering this? on watada and a host of others. but i want to be really clear that independent media has blown it. i was at c.i.'s for a long period before i left on my vacation. i heard the calls on speaker phone if we were working out, i heard c.i.'s end of the calls otherwise. i saw people come by and c.i. corner them and pretty much demand that they cover it. that's big media.
the 1st question on any iraq story would be 'is any 1 covering it' or a statement of no 1's covering it. if c.i. was able to list off a series of indymedia programs or publications covering it, the person was interested in right away. if not, c.i. had to start from scratch walking them through it, explaining why it was 'news' because, in many cases, these aren't political people. they're not writing columns, they're reporting news of the day and there questions are how is this news, how is this more important than another story, blah, blah, blah. if c.i. could say '___ wrote about it in ___, and ___ spoke about it on ____' the next moment was always, 'okay, tell me about it' it wasn't 'well tell me why i should think it is news?'

this should be a time when all media is covering iraq but indymedia has laid down, rolled over and played dead. i heard c.i. call in markers from friends to get coverage of iraq-related stories (in 1 instance, 'you owe me from 1997 and i'm calling in the favor'). now, when we're getting some coverage from the mainstream, indymedia wants to pull the rug out from underneath?

that's disgraceful and shameful. when they all went running after israel in indymedia, they didn't just leave the topic, they made it that much harder for every 1 like c.i. who is willing to use every and any connection to get coverage on iraq. c.i. has called in favors, has traded favors and this would really have impact if indymedia was doing a damn thing on iraq right now. but they're not. they're lazy ass idiots who fail to realize that this is the moment. take it from some 1 who made a bundle in public relations, if you don't get press, you may as well forget about changing anything in most instances.

In Australia, AAP reports "Soldier 14" will be the next to testify into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad. In addition to Soldier 14 testifying in person, AAP reports: "The inquiry is also this week expected to hear more evidence about the bungled repatriation of Pte Kovco's body from witnesses appearing on a video link from the Middle East." Last week, one of Kovco's former roommates testified that the repatriation was contracted out and done on the cheap, tying that into the mix up that led to the body of Bosnian capenter Juso Sinanovic being sent to Australia instead of Jake Kovco. Those remembering how the scene of Jake Kovco's death was cleaned up before the investigation into what happened began won't be surprised by Ian McPhedran (Australia's Courier-Mail) report that it's happened again -- in this instance David Nary ("father-of-five SAS Warrant Officer") died in Kuwait last November and the military board's finding include "criticism for the lack of procedures to preserve an incident site."

jake kovco has never been a story i've seen covered by indymedia. everything i know about him, i've learned via the common ills. if you don't know about him, he is the 1st on the ground fatality australia had in the current war on iraq. he died of gunshot wounds. at one point, the country's defense minister was telling the press it was a suicide. was it? the testimony in the hearing doesn't indicate it was. i'm really bothered by the hearing, by the way, and how it's 'truth' if some 1 heard of something 3rd or 4th hand. they testify to things they never saw or heard. the hearing has to be winding down because it's been going on for some time. i think it's been established that it wasn't a suicide. i think other questions were never addressed.

In election news in the United States, as Ned Lamont challenges Joe Lieberman (polls close at 8:00 pm EST) for the Senate seat currently occupied by Lieberman, commentators sees the race as a sign post. Stephen Schlesinger (Huffington Post) draws comparison to Eugene McCarthy and LBJ in 1968 and offers that: "A Lamont triumph or near success will make (and is already making) Democrats like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden shift progressively more in favor of withdrawal from Iraq and is certainly going to alter the entire spectrum of political views over the issue of Iraq, not only for Democrats, but for Republicans, too. In short, this is likely to be the turning point". Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) takes a look at Lieberman's "strategy" noting: "Anxious to move Iraq to the backburner, Lieberma dug deep into his long history in the Senate to find a reason why Connecticut voters shouldn't send him packing tomorrow. The biggest selling point he came up with? 'I don't hate Republicans,' he said while arguing that he wasn't President Bush's 'best friend and enabler.' Talking points for the ages."

as i said, we came back so fly boy cold vote for lamont.

now let's talk about abeer. abeer qasim hamza. 14 years old. dead. raped. i won't say allegedly raped. the article 32 proceeding has heard from 1 witness who heard about it and a military investigator who says 1 of the alleged murders and rapists admitted the rape and murder to him.

there's also the descriptions of how she was found.

indymedia, where the hell are you?

where the hell are you?

i don't know an american adult male who doesn't know the concept of the age of consent and grasp that they'll go to jail for sex with a minor that's consensual. add in that we're talking about rape.

an underage girl was raped.

the mainstream press covers this trial and can't even mention her damn name. good god, most of us have seen silence of the lambs, we know how important it is that the victim have a name.
it puts a face on it, it gives it's weight.

so where the hell is independent media to call this b.s. out?

'oh we can't go to iraq.' don't give me that whining nonsense. you bring up some 1 to talk about rape or about pedophiles. you bring on some 1 to talk about the changes in a combat zone that allow soldiers to dehumanize the civilians around them.

abeer is dead. witness testimony (including by the military's own investigator) indicates that she was raped. the way her body was when she was found (and the remains of her clothes) indicate it was rape.

so where the hell is the coverage?

a 14 year old girl.

good god, how sick do you have to be to not get that this is an important story that you need to be covering?

how full of shit and yourself do you have to be to ignore abeer?

it's as though you've just been handed the photo of the girl in vietnam burning from napalm and you're saying, 'oh wait, um, i've got to cover the 6 day war instead. this isn't that important.'

this is damn important.

this is the story of the occupation. this is the story of a 14 year old girl who was raped and murdered and they also killed her parents and her sister and then attempted to burn them to hide their tracks.

this is a story that is repulsive. outrageous.

it demonstrates why the troops need to come home.

those soldiers were supposed to be protecting them. but the occupation has so degraded that soldiers can leer at a 14 year old girl to the point that she and her family are worried for her safety (with good reason). they were going to move her to another area to protect her.

why is it that her family noticed what was going on but no 1 in the military who could stop it (who should have stopped it) did?

don't give me that one of the higher ups had a mini-crack up. so what.

there's a chain of command it doesn't end with him, it doesn't being with him.

the fact that u.s. soldiers could leer at a 14 year old girl without any 1 stepping in is frightening enough. the fact that she and her family could be killed and she could be raped and soldiers though they'd get away with it? this is the occupation.

there's been no accountability.

there's not any now as you hear (from the defense and their co-horts at the new york times) that the soldiers were just really stressed.

hey, i was stressed when i recently miscarried. i didn't go cruising the junior high looking for tail.
they're responsible for their actions and the fact that they thought they could get away with it indicates that a lot has been gotten away with it.

over here, in this country, would they have thought they could get away with raping a 14 year old girl, killing her and her family?

no. but that they thought they could in iraq tells you how out of control the occupation is.

abeer has a name. fair needs to address this coverage. whether they will or not, they need to address it. (they should also credit c.i. and the common ills because they have been loud and clear on this subject while every 1 else took a damn pass.)

as usual, in the face of silence, the common ills has waded in where no 1 else wants to go. and not with a weak ass 'on the 1 hand, on the other.' c.i. has called the press out on the way they've covered abeer. repeatedly.

where has independent media been?

they've all been off in on israel.

that's an important story and i've covered it here. its importance doesn't mean everyone drop iraq. and it certainly allows no excuse not to note the way a 14 year old girl who was raped and murdered is now being shoved under the carpet day after day by big media.

since the article 32 started, the new york times won't even print her name. they've printed it before. but now that there's a hearing with american soldiers charged, the paper won't even print her name. they are rendering her invisble. they are presenting and making the defense's case.

apparently no 1 knew abeer. that must be why the same reporters that can chase down stories from other soldiers serving with the accused can never find out anything about abeer.

but when there was talk of exhuming her body, her remaining family said no. they didn't want her distrubed. she still has family living. she still has friends living. she still has neighbors living. but the new york times doesn't want to interview them.

why is c.i. the 1 pointing this out? why isn't this a huge story? it should be. it damn well should be.

and if another week goes by with indymedia silent on abeer, i'll start noting them by name.

i don't take rape lightly. i don't any women who do. (but i'm sure, law of averages, there has to be some who will - or who will make excuses for the rapist.)

is this the equivalent, u.s. soldiers accuses of rape, of accusing a nba star? is that why the victim's being trashed in death by repeated efforts to render her invisible?

every 1 should be outraged by this coverage, but women should be especially outraged by this coverage. this is a return to the dark days where the rapists got all the press sympathy (provided they were white) and the victims were ignored.

abeer is dead. apparently a group of u.s. soldiers thought they could do whatever dirty, criminal thing they wanted to 14 year old abeer and, guess what, the press thinks that's okay. they don't think her story matters, they don't think she's even worthy of being given a name.

feminists my age and older should be outraged. we should be able to remember very well when the way abeer's being treated is the way all rape victims were treated.

abeer's dead. she can't defend herself. at 14, she shouldn't have had to. so who's going to step up to the plate and defend her from those who would render her invisible?

again, thank you to betty for filling in for me. i'll write more about that next time. tonight i want to concentrate on abeer. if you're new to the topic of abeer, c.i.'s most recent coverage includes:

'NYT: Rendering Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible again'
'NYT: Continuing render Abeer Qasim Hamza invisible'
'NYT: Paper of record files one report from Iraq'
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