Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another Sunday. What have we got?

Highlights? We got 'em:

Music Spotlight: Kat on Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Music!
Humor Spotlight: Wally on the Closed Caption Scandal!
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on the GOP's "Dirty Depends"
C.I. on the little noted death toll
Blog Spotlight: Mike, tired but standing
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on the progress
Ruth's Report
Humor: Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix cover the Senate Intel Report
Humor Spotlight: Betty's "The Central Proof"
Blog Spotlight: Cedric wonders who was it that was in bed with the Nazis?
Blog Spotlight: Kat walks you through the al-Maliki Shuffle
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca's "the mouse that purred for the bully boy"
Cooking Spotlight: Mac & Cheese in the Kitchen

We thank everyone for their permission to repost. We thank Dallas for the links and sounding board. And we thank the following for their contributions to this edition. The following worked on this edition:

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;
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;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

New content? We got it.

We were going to make this a visual heavy edition (and did in the print edition) but went a different way with the online edition.

"MyTV's Fascist House" -- visual.

"Iraq War Vets hold press conference Sunday 9:30 am in DC at Camp Democracy" -- this was up two hours before the press conference began.

"Last Week In Iraq" -- is it new content? C.I. says no. We say yes. We did a whopping single paragraph, granted. But when Iraq coverage is so little covered . . .

"Listened to while working on this edition: Michae..." -- we forgot to title this in our haste.

"The People Speak September 15-17" -- PSA for an event you should go to if you're in the NYC area. (We relocated to the West coast, we won't be there.)

"No Link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda -- none" -- we tried to be clear in this, realizing how hard headed some are and how some enable the administration.

"Hint, hint" -- our essay. We have no problem calling The Nation out (and have before) but we focused on it due to its reach (and we noted they did offer some coverage of Iraq this summer and that they wouldn't make our top ten lists of indeymedia resources that forgot about the war). Betty's line in a roundtable gave us the title.

"The Real 9-11 Moment for Bully Boy" -- a reminder in a time of myth.

'RadioNation with Laura Flanders asked: "Are you ready?"' -- are you ready? Do you know what the 'long war' is about and what are you willing to sacrifice? (Juan Gonzalez is on Flanders' show today).

"Editorial: Troops Home Now" -- our relocation touched on the Sammy Powers for one reason, we'd addressed it before. We heard from regular readers, we heard from new readers, we heard from people attempting to address Darfur through peaceful means who agreed with us that the War Hawks on the issue (the ones wanting the US military sent in) are giving the effort a bad name. All the e-mails except one (noted in this editorial) asked us to please address this issue.
So we did.

"TV: Bo provides the B.O. stinking up Fashion House" -- along with the Darfur issue, we got notes regarding the relocation. In fact that was the biggest response to anything other than our editorial "War Got Your Tongue?" and . . . well any TV commentary Ava and C.I. write. That was the big thing last week (Ava and C.I. didn't believe it, they judged their review a piece of ___"). This one, the one they wrote for today's edition is probably our favorite of recent months. (Possibly the year.) It's funny, it's pointed and it's got a point (as you'd expect from them). We didn't write a line. We did send them back for additions by saying, "Wait, now, during the week, you had a great line about . . ." Because they were bouncing lines off one another all week. We think they were trying to be kind in earlier versions. (I, Jim, still think they were much kinder in print than they were trading lines during the week.) But it's hilarious.

And that's it for us this week. See you next week.

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

Editorial: Troops Home Now

Troops Home Now. From where? We'd forgive if you asked that because Iraq fell off the radar this summer and there's been little attempts to pick it up since. As the nation turned against the war in even larger numbers, this summer should have been the time to gain traction. Certainly organizations tried. They even succeeded via word of mouth. Think how that could have been amplified if there had been coverage of the actions?

But there wasn't. Summer 2005, the independent media did appear to care about the war. Cindy Sheehan brought new life into the movement. This summer, she went to Jordan to meet with Iraqis, she fasted for 37 days, she was at the peace confrence in Seattle where war resister Ricky Clousing announced he would be turning himself into the military he'd self-checked out on, she opened up Camp Casey III, she spoke in various towns and cities, she was there when Mark Wilkerson, like Ricky Clousing earlier, announced that he would be turning himself into the military. During all of that, she was in the hospital at least three times. Cindy Sheehan worked her butt off. She's now recovering from surgery and we wish her a speedy recovery and we thank her for all the work she did.

We think it did matter. Even without independent media coverage, it mattered. Imagine how much more could have been accomplished if independent media had shown the slightest bit of interest in any of the above actions. (A few did and they've been noted here and at other community sites.)

Iraq's not an "Issue of the Month."* Independent media would do well to stop treating it as such and stop chasing down whatever issue of the month they were sent. Now we realize they only have four-to-six weeks to decide whether they'll keep that month's issue or return it, but we'd argue if you can't follow more than one story, you need to go off the road/promotion tour and start doing your job.

July's "Issue of the Month" was supposed to be the elections in Mexico and we heard so much about how unfair the elections were from . . . non-Mexicans. Considering how cheap long distance is today, compared to years ago, the failure to bring on actual voters, actual citizens who might have real concerns about the election was frightening. Isn't that what independent media is supposed to do? Provide a voice to the voiceless.

That was how it was going to be. Mexico for the month. Then the Israeli government went into wacko-mode and decided that they could do whatever the hell they wanted (with a wink and nudge from the Bully Boy) and that "Issue of the Month" became the wall-to-wall.

Right now the Sammy Powers movement is trying to make their issue the issue of the month that will crowd out everything else. (And, once again, they're competing with anti-war actions.) Our modern day Carrie Nations are concerned, they swear, with what they've termed 'genocide' but most refer to as "the crisis in Darfur." A self-made expert provides numbers that he 'extrapolates' and everyone runs with them. What is the 'extrapolated' number today? Is it still around 250,000? Or has it reached a million yet? (Give him time, give him time.)

By the United Nations' estimate over 3,000 Iraqis die each day. Want to extrapolate that? That is a crisis. And it's a United States made crisis. We understand the Carrie Nations of today bleed, they bleed for this crisis in Darfur. They don't have the time to spend on ending the war in Iraq (again, a US made crisis) except to carry laughable signs that say, "Bring the Troops Home and Send Them to Darfur."

Here's a thought for the Sammy Powers: The United States has its own crisis right now so take the actions actions to the UN and work on it there. Stop your pleading to the Bully Boy. It makes you look like simps and idiots. He didn't "save" Iraq, he didn't "save Afghanistan," but, as the Doobie Brothers once sang, "What A Fool Believes . . ."

As much as the Sammy Powers and Little Nicky have whined for over three years, surely some other nation can step in. The United States has its own problems. Not just economic or the usual problems that we've grown to expect in this age of lowered expectations, but real problems like an illegal war.

It's a little hard for the Sammy Powers to accept the fact that, all over the world, people are dying. They want to save the world. Well, they want to call for the world to be saved. None of them have gone over to the Sudan to do what they're screaming the Marines should. They want the United States to play "Cops of the World" (with a nod to Phil Ochs) while they play town crier.

They'll probably continue to get a helping hand from the useless ones of independent media. Why? Because they are always eager to latch onto any new 'issue' that they can run into the ground the same way cable news does.

All politics are local. That translates as you expect your streets to be safe, your services to be provided. Then it goes to the state level, then it goes to the national level. When you have a breakdown on the national level, you don't start screaming for the US military to be sent to yet another location. The Sammy Powers have all the zeal of the Cuban-Americans who scream for Fidel Castro's head on a platter. Cuban-Americans. American citizens still trying to even a score with another country. If you're a citizen of the United States and your country's in an illegal war, that should be your first national and international concern.

At a time when the military is so over-extended that tours of duty don't end -- but get extended, that recruiters resort to any trick (legal or non according to recent coverage) to sign up anyone (qualified or not -- the screening process let Steven D. Green in), and families suffer from government imposed single-families as a result of the long deployments, we think they're insane to call for the US military (or a US-led NATO mission) to go into Darfur.

If the Sammy Powers care so damn much about Darfur, they need to get over there. If they're willing to send the exhausted and extended US military on yet another mission, they need to get over there right now on their own or they need to sign up for the military. (We're sure the Bully Boy can use each and everyone since he has Iran in his sights.)

The notion that Bully Boy could or would "Save Darfur" is laughable. But maybe the idea popped into the Sammy Powers' heads when they had their pre-rally meeting with the Bully Boy in March? Clergy opposed to the war in Iraq couldn't even meet with the Bully Boy. The Sammy Powers must be pretty tight with the Bully Boy to get face time.

There's a crisis in the Congo, there's a crisis in Nepal. There's a crisis in East Timor, there's a crisis in Zambia, there's a crisis in Zimbabwe . . . Or, to put it in music terms, "There's a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store. There's a drummer and a dreamer and you know there may be more" (Joni Mitchell's Cactus Tree, off Song to a Seagull).

There is more than one crisis in America. There's an illegal war. There's an Oval Office occupant who doesn't believe in the Constitution (the same occupant the Sammy Powers met with). That's just two, there are many more. Instead of ignoring the very serious troubles of your own country (and who they're caused by), one might try focusing on them. Probably also a good idea to try to stop oversimplifying history and reducing people to cartoon versions of Arabs v. Black and Muslims v. Christians (though we're aware that oversimplification plays well to the Jerry Fawell crowd).

Those calling for military action should damn well be signed up since they're willing to put the lives of others on the line. "Not On Our Watch" scream the modern day Carrie Nations. What watch? Exactly what are they are doing besides screaming that others go fight their battles? Along with being the Carrie Nations of this century, they're also the Barney Fife's of the military-industrial complex. Darfur's crisis goes to Darfur, goes to the Sudan, goes to Africa and goes to the United Nations, that's the hierarchy. Attempts to bypass that and inject US troops into the region either is evidence of the-ends-justify-the-means thinking or gross stupidty.

We thought it was stupid when Nouri al-Maliki promised Lebanon 35 million dollars. If you're asking the United States for monies to prop up your puppet government, at a time when malnutrition is on the rise in your country, you don't turn around and say, "Hey, here's 35 million dollars. Sure it could be spent on Iraqis, the way the US tax payers understood it would be, but hey, I'm a big spender because I have a strong need to impress." By the same token, you don't use the American military as your sanitation workers sent out to clean the world.

American troops have suffered enough and will suffer for years to come (without any adequate health care). The Sammy Powers want to play war? They need to haul their butts over there.
They want to fix the world. You start by fixing your city, fixing your state and fixing your nation. Want a cause? The victims of the tsunami at the end of 2004 are still suffering. That might not have the built-in-drama of Darfur but they've oversimplified that conflict so we're sure they could divide the still suffering victims of the tsunami into mythical categories.

We got a lot of positive feedback when we touched on this issue last week (including e-mails from those working on the issue who support divestment and other means that don't involve deploying the US marines for a US action -- thirty of them suggested that the September rally should include policing of signs so that "Bring the troops Home and Send them to Darfur" type signs were displayed -- as one woman wrote, "I see that, go numb & wonder if I should even continue working on this issue."). We also got one whiner who suggested that, since we've proposed no solution, we had blood on our hands and would regret it for the rest of our lives. We did propose a solution. (And comprehension seems to be a problem for the Sammy Powers since we noted that solution and linked to it in last week's feature.) We proposed it back in April, when Israel was refusing to take in refugees. If people are suffering, all nations need to open their borders to them. It may not be as chest pounding as a Jerry Bruckheimer action flick, but it's a solution. "Bring the troops home and send them to Darfur" is not a solution. This isn't Gladiator and we're not going to cry, "Unleash the hounds of hell!" (meaning the Bully Boy).
A solution. The Sammy Powers are encouraged to think of their own (if 'extrapolating' doesn't take up all their time).

They're not encouraged to hijack peace rallies with their looney "Send the troops to Darfur" signs. Only a person with serious issues could, at this late date, believe that the Bully Boy could execute anything other than a prolonged occupation. Only a person with serious issues could look at the already over burdened military and think the answer is to deploy them elsewhere.
For the younger crowd of Sammy Powers, maybe they don't grasp that when someone signs up for the National Guard, they don't expect to be deployed overseas. Maybe they don't grasp that another war is just what the Bully Boy's itching for since his poll numbers always rise when he starts one and that fact seems to make post-war planning slip right out of the mind.

People are dying all over the world. Many from starvation which doesn't seem to rate a similar "Not On Our Watch!" cry. The younger Sammy Powers may have begun their adult lives knowing only war and the use of the military as the only means of addressing an issue. The older ones should know better. They remind us of the 'vangical speaking in Joni Mitchell's "Dog Eat Dog": "I think we should turn the United States Marines loose on that little island south of Florida and stop that problem. I am preachin' love, I am!"

The United Nations has many faults but it was created to address issues like the crisis in Darfur. Civilian control of the military is what this country was built upon and done so to avoid a military junta. By the same token, civilains shouldn't utilize the US military as santitation workers. The relationship goes both ways.

In terms of the media, we're sure the Sammy Powers will succeed. They've already managed to shut down the discussion in independent media with very few exceptions (exceptions include Bonnie Faulkner, CounterPunch, etc.). The Sammy Powers pen articles or appear on programs and do shout outs to one another without ever noting their connections. It's such a carefully manufactured 'spontaneous resistance' (one that, again, gets face time with the Bully Boy). They footnote one another -- their own little echo chamber. And since the same independent media that decries The New York Times, for so many things, accepts as gospel
their reporting on this, the fact that the paper of no record has assigned a fabulist to tag-team with columnist Little Nicky (who never met an evangical aim he couldn't get behind and oversimply), we're sure they'll get even more media traction.

But, the thing is, they've had media traction for over three years now. They've had cover stories and gut wrenching op-eds. Bully Boy's already on their side but the American people don't appear to be. You can pin that on an isolationist streak, if you like, but it's also an internationalist streak that realizes US force doesn't cut it. (Doesn't cut it for a number of reasons.) Some realize that, post-Kosovo, NATO's not the answer. So for all teary, Sally Struthers like heart tugging, the issue's gone nowhere.

Bully Boy's aims are the same as the Sammy Powers when it comes to the Sudan. He may very well act alone. But the American people grasp that US troops have suffered enough. They're not about to end Bully Boy's "long war" just to turn around and redeploy the troops.

Troops Home Now. Not troops home for a 72-hour-layover and then off to Darfur.

[Credit for "Issue of the Month" to Common Ills community member Folding Star. Folding Star used to do the blog A Winding Road -- you can find highlights of that site and an interview with Folding Star via the archives.]

TV: Bo provides the B.O. stinking up Fashion House

MyTV launched last week. It's a Fox offshoot. Unlike Fox (entertainment) proper, Roger Ailes is in charge. Which may mean MyTV is off to a long and rocky start (the way Fox "News" floundered in the ratings for years). The new netlette is building it's schedule around two shows. You read that right. Fashion House and Desire. For thirteen weeks, a story will unfold on each, five nights a week of new episodes and Saturday featuring a 'best of' compilation. At the end of the thirteen weeks, a new storyline will begin.

A lot of hopes are pinned on (and money poured into) these shows. The result? Fashion House stinks. It actually features a cast that's trying to find their roles and floundering for the most part. (The sole stand out is Mike Begovich as the deceitful Lance Miller.) They aren't giving bad performances so much as they're still finding their way. It's a lot of work to produce five new hours of the same show each week.

But the reason the show, whose milieu is the world of high fashion, stinks so is that it revolves around a matriarch, Maria Gianni (and no, we didn't make that name up). Maria's meant to be a major bitch. She's not. And that's because she's portrayed by Bo Derek who puts the deadly B.O. into Fashion House.

Bo's Maria is stealing from her painter son's trust fund, sleeping with a blackmailer and supposedly chewing up everyone and everything around her. On her shoulders hang the entire series and that's why it's headed for the racks of an outlet mall near you immediately -- where you'll still avoid it.

Bo? To clear up a few misunderstandings . . .

There are those who call her a "porn star." Not true. Porn stars usually have to give the appearance that they're having a good time.

There are those who say she's Linda Evans if Evans had remained married to John Derek. Wrong. Evans could have marched straight from The Big Valley over to Casa de Moda and held your attention. Back then, she wouldn't have given a brava performance that scaled new heights, but even as a young woman Linda Evans could act.

There are those who say Bo Derek is an actress. This may be the most laughable claim of all.

Bo is a thing. She has always been a thing. She's apparently satisfied with always being a thing. When John Derek was alive, she was his play thing so possibly it's best, after all, that he's no longer around to see her revert to mere "thing."

On Fashion House, Bo Derek has a really bad habit of darting her eyes all over the place while saying her lines. Some suggest this is due to the fact that, being unable to memorize her lines, she's resorting to cue cards. We considered that possibility but, for it to be true, it would mean Bo could read. We find that as laughable as the book she recently "wrote."

Back in the early 80s, when workouts were all the rage, a women's magazine sought workout tips from Bo.

Bo's advice? Sit ups.

Lay on your back (so far it does sound like Bo), raise your legs in the air (uh-huh), cross them at the ankles then . . . . Bo crossing her legs? We'd sooner believe she could read.

She can't even cross her legs, fully clothed, on Fashion House which is why she's always reclining (she's supposed to be sitting) with one leg tossed here and one tossed there.

When we think of Bo, we think of Hershey bars, nudie scenes and someone suffering from, if not Epstein-Barr virus, then the sort of rolling blackouts that plauged California (thanks to Enron). The woman makes Kim Novak look like Anthony Quinn and Ricky Martin combined. Roger Ailes apparently okayed her in the lead because he's trying to demonstrate that Republicans can act. As Bo's film nadir or zenith (it's difficult to tell with what passes for her career) proclaimed Ghosts Can't Do It. No, and neither can Republican Bo.

In 1979 she was the thing with nipples. (Don't kid yourself, that -- more than the cornrows -- is what made her and what drew eyes to the film's movie poster.) She parlayed that into extreme nudity and, somewhere around the time of Tarzan or Bolero, America saw all she had to offer and then some. If, in watching Fashion House, you feel as though you're watching a made for USA Network movie, you're not remembering wrong. But, we'll note, USA Network has moved beyond those tired movies and we should all wonder why MyTV felt Bo Derek was the thing to jump start their network?

John Derek worked very hard at giving her a passable speaking voice. It just can't register emotion. (For laughs, watch her try to snap and use the word "pompous." She gives it about half the emotions most would give to, "Is it going to rain today?") Nor can her face which, surprisingly considering her relative young age for someone famous in the seventies, is pretty scary. Her appearance isn't aided by the bulky blazers she favors or the granny glasses perched on the end of her nose. Her hairstyle will only remind you of how wonderfully Barbara Eden's aged by comparison. But Bo? The years have not been kind.

When you can't act and the looks are gone, where do you go? Roger Ailes apparently. MyTV will no doubt soon treat us to the acting of others who also faded for good reason. Possibly fellow GOP poster pal Wayne Newton can do a laughable variety show for the netlette?

It's a real shame that Derek was cast in the lead because the other actors have had moments that showed promise. Mike Begovich should actually be able to go on to better things but that probably depends upon whether or not he can evade the stench that surrounds this show. Begovich hasn't hit a wrong note. (The scripts are translations and we'll just note that somethings don't merit translations.) While Bo seems to think the sight of her splayed against a chair or a sofa (legs akimbo) should be more than enough to satisfy TV watchers (didn't do the trick for movie goers), Begovich actually fills the screen and leaves you wanting more (in what's written as a one-note role).

Bo just makes you wonder if the name (not her birth name) was a nickname for "boring." It's not just that Donna Mills, Joan Collins and Ana-Alicia don't have to worry (they don't, their performances remain unchallenged), it's that even Virginia Hawkins need not worry that her place in the primetime soap universe is being challenged. (Hawkins played the Carrington's maid Jeanette on Dynasty and she made more of an impression in a bit part than Derek does as the lead.) On the fourth episode, at the very end, you saw all that was wrong with the show besides lousy writing. In a tight shot, showing only her mouth, Morgan Fairchild brought more life to the show in three minutes than the languid Derek (supposedly playing a bitch) had all week.

If Fairchild's role was more prominent (she's not going to be featured in every episode, in fact, she's in about a sixth of the episodes), we could tell you the show was trash but watch for the life Fairchild and Begovich bring to the proceedings. What we can tell you is that the cast is probably doing about as well as any will (outside of Bo). Every thirteen weeks, each cast will have to leap onto the treadmill and run as fast as they can with no workout coach to advise them. (Direction on this show is sorely lacking.) You might find an actor like Begovich who somehow manages to create an entire character despite all the odds. More likely, you'll find a group like you've got now, actors who are trying their hardest with limited time and no guidance as they try to bring the characters (from scripts that are old and tired) to life.

If you want to see the worst the show can offer (supposedly MyTV plans to stick with this format no matter how low the ratings go -- and the word of mouth on Fashion House may explain why so many commercials for Fox shows and TV Guide -- which Murdoch owns -- fill up the ad space), check out this thirteen week cycle because there will never be a 'performance' like Bo's again. That's because, good or bad, all others will be trying to act.

This is the worst you will see all season. It's so bad, the Golden Raspberries should create a TV award for the woman they've so frequently, and so rightly, 'honored' in the past. We think it's fitting that this netlette is run by Roger Ailes. It's Fox "entertainment" the way Fox "News" is "news."

And it's fitting that their crown jewel should star a woman who has never grasped that polite conversation isn't discussing how vexing it was for her late husband to attempt to film erect penises. We think she's more than a perfect fit for her hero who enjoys farting on underlings because Bo Derek is to acting what George W. Bush is to leadership.

The People Speak September 15-17

We're no longer in NY, the core five of the core six (Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and C.I.), but if we were, we'd be attending this event. For those who are in the area or will be in the area:

Please join us for a special workshop presentation of The People
Speak by Rob Urbinati, with
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, as part
of the Impact Festival at The Culture Project
Friday, September 15, 7 pm
Saturday, September 16, 7 pm
Sunday, September 17, 3 pm
A stage adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's acclaimed Voices of a People's History of the United States (Seven Stories
Press), The People Speak is a new play about the United States today,
as seen through the prism of history.
The People Speak brings to life incendiary and inspirational stories
of dissent from U.S. history, past and present.
Directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati.
With Sarah Chalmers*, Frank Deal*, Edwin Lee Gibson*, Ami Shukla*,
Caroline Smith, and Thom Rivera*.
Lighting by Garin Marschall, Sound by Jacob Subotnik, and Projections
by Jessie Kindig.
Stage manager: Maeve Sweeney.
(*member of AEA.)
Tickets are only $10 and are on sale online now at:


and also are available now in person at The Culture Project's box
office. The Box Office does not take ticket orders over the phone,
only in person. If you have a question about ticketing, please call
45 Bleecker Box Office Hours:
Sunday 12pm-4pm
Monday 2pm-6:30pm
Tuesday 2pm-9pm
Wednesday 2pm-9pm
Thursday 2pm-9pm
Friday 2pm-9pm
Saturday 12pm-4pm
Directions to the Culture Project:
All three workshop performances will be downstairs at The Culture
Project's Bleecker Street theater. The Culture Project is located at
45 Bleecker Street.
Three different subway lines bring you within walking distance to the
* Take the 6 train to Bleecker Street.
* Take the F/V/B/D train to Broadway/Lafayette, and walk one block
north to Bleecker Street.
* Take the N/R train to 8th Street, and walk south to Bleecker
Street, and one block east to Lafayette; or take the N/R train to
Prince Street, and walk north to Bleecker Street, and east to
Bus Lines include the M1, M5, M6, M21, and M103.
For more on The Culture Project, visit:

For more on the festival, visit:

For more on Voices of a People's History of the United States, visit:

Note that Sunday's event begins at 3:00 pm, not at seven as C.I. noted last week (and we've got up here). C.I. says that's fine and it's a reason to mention the event again in an Iraq snapshot this week. (The snapshot because it appears at other community sites in full.)

No Link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda -- none

In the United States, AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

The above is from The Common Ills and it ran Friday. In a Saturday New York Times article, Mark Mazzetti pinned the moment of the well publicized link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda false as being in 2005 (from a 2005 CIA report). Here's Mazzetti slapping some whitewash on the fence:

But one report did contradict the administration's assertion made before the war and since, that ties between Mr. Zarqawi and Mr. Hussein's government provided evidence of a close relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.As recently as Aug. 21 Presdeint Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi." But a C.I.A. report completed in October 2005 concluded instead that Mr. Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or even turn a blind eye toward Zarqwi and his associates," according to the new Senate findings.

In the land of the real, Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War" (Washington Post):

But, as [Olympia] Snowe emphasized in her statement, the report concluded that information provided by an INC source was cited in that estimate and in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations as corroborating evidence about Iraq's mobile biological weapons program. Those citations came despite two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning -- all saying the INC source may have been coached by the exile group into fabricating the information.

Yes, Mazzetti, the 2005 CIA report did contradict the lies of the administration but so did "two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning". It does make a difference when the lie was refuted and it was refuted as early as 2002. It makes a difference (and Pat Roberts' claim that it's information 'everyone' already knows reminds us of a pseudo-liberals same excuse for not covering the Downing Street Memos). Colin Powell admits to a "blot" on his record but it wasn't his fault. He did the best he could, he told America. From Ava & C.I.'s "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were:"

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?Possibly. Such as when Powell informs Walters that the fault lies with the intelligence community -- with those who knew but didn't come forward. Unfortunately for Powell, FAIR'sSteven R. Weisman (in "Powell Calls His U.N. Speech a Lasting Blot on His Record ") steered everyone to a Los Angels Times' article from July 15, 2004 which reported:
Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.

It does matter when the truth was known. That's when the lie begins. It's very generous of Mazzetti to cover for Colin Powell (and others) by focusing on the 2005 CIA report. It's not reality but who expects much reality from The New York Times? There was no link. The administration lied and that includes Saint Blotty Colin Powell. Ignoring reality may be a hobby of the paper of no record's, but that's no way to inform the people.

The CBS Evening News managed to note Colin Powell, even if The Times can't:

Its statements like this one, made Feb. 5, 2003, by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell that have become so controversial, implying Iraq was linked to terror attacks.
"Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associated collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants," Powell said.
But after 2 1/2 years of reviewing pre-war intelligence behind closed doors, the lead Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, who voted for the Iraq War, says the Bush administration pulled the wool over everyone's eyes.

That's truth. Colin Powell told Barbara Walters that he'd like to be remembered as "A good public servant somebody who truly believes in his country. . . . Somebody who cared, somebody who served." Ava and C.I. replied:

Yeah well, Nixon wanted to be remembered a certain way as well. Liar's the way many remember him now. Liar's the way many will remember Colin Powell. Belief in your country doesn't allow you to lie to your country. Belief in your Bully Boy does. That's something this adminstration fails to grasp. They all think they're working for the Bully Boy. Powell makes statements to that effect. He's full of many things including his "service" to the Bully Boy.The administration is supposed to be working for the country. Presidents come and go. The nation is what is supposed to matter. Belief in your country would mean you tell the peoplethe truth.
Somebody who served?
He didn't serve the country. He betrayed it. He didn't live up to his office. He didn't live up to the public trust. He didn't live up to the principles of democracy. He lied. He lied. He lied.
We won't put the glossy spin on it that Walters did. We're not looking at Powell through the blind eyes of love.

There was no link. The "blot" is a "stain" (a blood stain) and the lie was a lie. No link.

Hint, hint

On the cover of the November 28, 2005 issue, The Nation front paged their editorial "Democrats and the War" (the cover caption reads: "There can no longer be any doubt: The American war in Iraq -- an unprovoked, unnecessary, unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial-style occupation -- is a moral and political catastrophe. It has also become the single greatest threat to America's national security.... The Nation will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the American war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign.") A brave cover. 2005.

The three covers to the side are from the injustice that preceeded and followed Hurricane Katrina (using Judith N. Shklar's defintion, the hurricane itself was a tragedy, the reality before and after was an injustice). The first is the January 2, 2006 issue which contains three articles on Katrina (Ari Kelman, Susan Straight and Billy Sothern). The second is the April 10, 2006 issue which contains two articles on Katrina (Mike Davis and Seth Tobocman). The third cover is the September 18, 2006 issue which contains four article (Adolph Reed Jr., Michael Tisserand, Chris Kromm and Gary Young) and an editorial.

Three covers in nine months? Well it was an injustice. It's worth covering. But where is Iraq? "Who Is Killing New Orleans?"? How about: "Who Is Killing Ramadi?"

In the most recent Katrina cover issue, Gary Younge writes "New Orleans Forsaken." We think Iraq's been forsaken.

We think the peace movement's been largely ignored (don't offer that campus 'activism' issue to any of us, we'll hold our noses and wave you away). We're glad Tom Hayden wrote of the trip to Jordan to meet with Iraqis (including parliamentarians) but that was a "web exclusive." As the weekly political magazine with the largest circulation (of any on the political spectrum), we wonder if readers of the print edition might have benefitted from hearing of that trip?

RadioNation with Laura Flanders is partnered with the magazine and certainly Flanders has done her share this summer (as has Matthew Rothschild with Progressive Radio). But that's audio. Any of Flanders' opening monlogues from the first segments of the show could have been transcribed and, featured online or in print, would have helped Iraq stay in the public eye.

But that didn't happen (either the transcribing of Flanders' passionate, factual speeches or the keeping Iraq in the public eye). What did happen was that a great deal transpired this summer.

Camp Casey III opened and closed and good thing for the Associated Press because otherwise there wouldn't have been significant national coverage. Ehren Watada was the subject of an article when he first publicly refused to deploy to Iraq (becoming the first officer to publicly refuse). His Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th? Not mentioned. Considering that Ann Wright, Denis Halliday and Francis A. Boyle testified, we'd assume at least one of them would have something to write about it. Possibly Bob Watada and Carolyn Ho (Ehren Watada's parents) also have some thoughts they'd like to share with Nation readers? Mark Wilkerson and Ricky Clousing have gone from AWOL to turning themselves in. Anita Anderson says Darrell Anderson is turning himself in at the end of the month. (Anita Anderson is Darrell Anderson's mother.) War resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are awaiting word on their appeals (to stay in Canada and not be forced to return to the United States). Camp Democracy is ongoing. International Peace Day is September 21st. CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues and continues to grow. It passed the two-month point last week. Military Familes Speak Out conducted Operation House Call. The World Can't Wait has been active (and has an October 5th action of mass resistance coming up). That's just some of what's been going on in North America.

In Iraq? Iraq's fallen to pieces. Nancy A. Youssef broke the news that the US military was keeping a body count in June (in "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency" -- the topic was also covered in Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" or Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?"). The US military fatality count passed the 2600 mark in August. (And are nearing the 2700 mark now -- 2667 currently.) (Again, thanks to AP for being one of the few outlets to note the 2600 passage.) The Senate Intel Report demonstrates lies before the war, immediately after and as recently as August 21st of this year. The US troop level has not gone down but has risen (with over 140,000 US troops now in Iraq). Troops whose tour of duty was supposed to be ending got extended. (Military Families Speak Out was quite vocal on this.) The 'crackdown' has been a joke and if the security of Baghdad is important, we'd argue that the parliament didn't need to take the month of August off. There has been no winning of hearts and minds (in fact Falluja was again bullied last week: Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." ) The morgues are overflowing and new ones being built. The UN estimated 100 Iraqis are dying a day. The Pentagon recently stated 800 are dying a week. The 'brain drain' continues. The suffering continues and, yes, the war drags on.

But the coverage?

If we were making a list of independent media outlets that forgot Iraq this summer, The Nation wouldn't be at the top of our lists or even in the top ten. It has been far less silent than many other outlets. (Who, frankly, make themselves look ridiculous when they, for instance, criticize what the mainstream chooses to cover after ignoring Iraq all summer long.) But we're focusing on The Nation for four reasons.

First, we all subscribe or purchase the magazine.

Second, it is the weekly political magazine with the highest circulation (left, right, center or somewhere in between, none have a higher circulation than The Nation).

Third, to no one's surprise except our independent media 'brave' voices, Bully Boy is attempting to turn the conversation away from Iraq because he knows his party can't win in November on Iraq. This is apparently some surprise to those deciding what gets covered in independent media, but it's not a surprise to any thinking person. The polling all summer long has consistently noted the Bully Boy's weakness on Iraq and the continued increase in those opposed to the war. So Bully Boy can consider himself blessed that independent media was so eager to drop the coverage of Iraq.

Fourth? "There can no longer be any doubt: The American war in Iraq -- an unprovoked, unnecessary, unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial style occupation -- is a marl and political catastrophe. It has also become the singel greatest threat to America's national security." Who wrote that? The editors of The Nation. So let's see some action. Let's see some coverage that makes the cover. It is wonderful that Ms. magazine devote their winter 2006 issue to the war. But where's The Nation? Food's an important issue (the focus of a recent edition). So is Iraq. The war hasn't stopped, so why did the coverage? (We're speaking of independent media as a whole -- The Nation did cover war related issues this summer.)

As the largest weekly, the magazine has influence and power. As Betty said two weeks ago of the food issue, "I think it's great that The Nation devoted an issue to it -- and look forward to an issue devoted to Iraq, hint, hint . . ."

The Real 9-11 Moment for Bully Boy

As the myth-series begins airing on ABC tonight, we should all remember the real 9-11 moment for Bully Boy. It occurred in a Flordia classroom. Though he's laughably claimed at times to have seen the first plane hit the Twin Towers on TV, the reality is that he did know one of the towers had been hit before he went into the classroom. While in the classroom, the second plane hit the other tower. Andrew Card whispered the news into his ear.

And 'Mr. Action,' 'The Decider'? He decided to sit in the classrom and do nothing. Well look at the pictures of My Pet Goat. Though he'd be fully of Bully Boy talk by the end of the day, when action should have been taken (for his safety, the school's safety and to provide the country with leadership) he did nothing.

The Memory Hole puts the time on the above photo at 4:45 (minutes: seconds). It continues. You can see it by clicking here. This was how Bully Boy responded to 9-11. By sitting in a classroom and doing nothing.

Later in the day, he would fly all over the country -- not to offer comfort or leadership, but to play Bunny-Fu-Fu skipping around the nation in fear.

Something to remember as ABC offers it's distorted view of 'profiles in courage.'

For more on this, in addition to The Memory Hole, you can read Wally's commentary.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders asked: "Are you ready?"

It can happen in a moment
And sometimes it does
When what could be is
And what shouldn’t be was
There are times
When you gotta stand steady
There are other times
When you gotta be ready

That's from David Rovics' "Crashing Down" off his new CD Halliburton Boardroom Massacre (which contains a bonus DVD). It seems a good place to start. "When you gotta be ready". Are you ready?

That was a topic on Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders (and Kat called it right, there were nough topics for an entire month's discussion -- and that was just Saturday's show).

We're focusing on the segments with Tom Hayden as a guest (if you missed them, they may be included the highlights archive of Saturday and Sunday's shows that will post here no later than Monday). Disclosures up front, C.I. and Ava know and like Tom Hayden.

On Saturday night's segments, Tom Hayden threw cold water in America's face. Some people were probably shocked. Some listeners may have even been offended. Hayden talked strategy.
And it's rare that Americans are treated to anything beyond sloganeering on most issues, especially issues regarding the nation's directions. Oh, we can hear about gay marriage as though anything said or passed against it makes a long term difference. The LBGT community is very much a part of the fabric of America and they've raised their own voices (when others wouldn't) and aren't going anywhere. The most offensive legislation can be passed, stripping those Americans of all their rights, and it can be hailed as a "victory" but it's only an obstacle. Granted, it's an obstacle that hurts a lot of people in the present, but in terms of the march of history, the wave is on the side of LBGT and acceptance.

But it's the sort of phoney issue (we strongly suggest that all those outraged by same-sex marriage take a vow . . . never to marry anyone of the same sex and then sit down) that lets some Americans think they're having a voice in the direction of the country, that they're as involved in the nation's course as they are in the weekly American Idol contests.

So Hayden came on to discuss Iraq. We agree with Laura Flanders ("It's five years, I'm impatient" and "I think our level of moral outrage needs raising"). If Hayden were campaigning for office, it probably would have been a good idea for him to have explored the impatience in this country. He's not up for office. Though an important voice in the peace movement, he's not its leader. That allows him a freedom that elected officials don't have and he used that freedom Saturday.

We imagined this would be a quick feature where we'd just note some key points you missed if you missed RadioNation with Laura Flanders (we don't try to dissect or critique the show here -- which we enjoy -- we just attempt to get the word out on). Who knew Hayden was going to take it in a different direction?

What direction?

Strategy and long term. He and Flanders discussed the upcoming anniversary of September 11th and the question he posed was what are you willing to live with? Not just now, but tomorrow and well into the future.

Are you ready for endless war (he cited Gore Vidal, we'd recommend Vidal's bestseller Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace)?

If you're not, what are you willing to do? What conflict resolution do you see?

What do you know about the issues/grievances of those fueling the al-Qaeda?

The idea may be shocking to some, the need to understand. In the Fox "News" world, it's probably seen as 'treason.' The reality is that the government is and does analyze the data. Bully Boy offers up the laughable "They hate us for our freedoms." The swine lap it up.

What Hadyen was speaking to is a point that The Nation's book section has made quite often this year -- most ambitiously in Raffi Kahatchadourian's "Behind Enemy Lines"( in the May 15, 2006 issue, pp. 23-31):

For more than a decade, bin Laden has been unapologetic about his own struggle to correct "the great book of history," and he has carefully and lucidly described the specifics of his Kampf in a series of epistles, declarations and interviews. As far as it is known, bing Laden has never written a book, but that may be because he believe the most important book, the Koran, has already been written. Where Mein Kampf elevated the all-encompassing state (der totale Staat) and specifically the German nation, into the realm of the sacred, bin Laden seeks to bring the Islamic faith into the realm of the profane. The Koran, in his reading, is a revolutionary document. There is no need to hire calligraphers to give it the authenticity of ancient wisdom. It is already ancient and wise. Beside it, bin Laden's scattered pronouncements are meant to seem derivative, as if he were merely a clerical warrior interpreting the word of God. But that notion clouds bin Laden's real significance. In fact, he has a complex political vision that is highly coherent, uniquely contemporary and in many ways irreligious. And it is startling that only now, several years after 9/11, a number of new books give us the chance to inspect, firsthand and in detail, precisely what he has been saying.

All these years later, what do you know? And what's discussed in the media?

Khatchadourian rightly noted that this lack of knowledge "hardly presents the image of of a society committed to understanding its foes" and that it's in direct contrast to the expectations for Americans during WWII. Are you going to be responsible for peace or just nod along with every empty assurance Bully Boy gives you?

Are you going to be active or passive? Bully Boy lied the nation into war -- are you going to continue to let him be 'the decider'? An alternative is to arm yourself with knowledge and do your own work. Hayden asked, "What interest does the average American have in pursuing a crusade?" It's a question worth asking yourself. Bully Boy's so-called 'long war' is, as Hayden noted, "placing us and our loved ones at risk."

Speaking of the endless 'long war', Hayden wondered, "Where does this stop?" We hope it's a topic that Flanders will explore in future shows. (It is a topic she regularly touches on in her opening monlogues and with guests such as Bill Christison.) As the media rushes to note the anniversary, it was a brave way to discuss both the anniverary and the war.

MyTV's Fascist House

This week on MyTV's Fascist House:

Bully Boy sniffs out Tony Blair to see if he has staying power. Musical guest Jack Johnson gives song to the thought on many minds with his performance of "Wrong Turn." Fascist House, airing 365 days a year, no repeats!

Iraq War Vets hold press conference Sunday 9:30 am in DC at Camp Democracy

We saw this as Op-Ed News and, it being a press release, we're noting it in full.

4 Iraq War Vets Detained at Pentagon
by David Swanson
Contact: David Swanson 202-329-7847
September 9, 2006
Karen Bradley 202 669 3927
Michael McPherson 314-303-8874
Online at:
Speakers available for interviews:
Four Iraq War Vets Detained at Pentagon
What: Press Conference with veterans who have been detained, and possibly arrested, at the Pentagon
When: 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006
Where: Camp Democracy on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near Fourth Street.
Four veterans of the current war in Iraq and one supporter (a total of five young men) were detained at the Pentagon today after they attended an open house and left behind flyers providing information about the lethal effects of depleted uranium.
The five (if released) and leaders of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday, September 10, at Camp Democracy, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near Fourth Street.
The veterans observed literature available in the Pentagon's chapel, which is at the site of the 9-11 plane crash. This literature, produced at tax-payer expense, included copies of the New Testament in camouflage covers.
They left behind flyers explaining the effects of depleted uranium. Some of the vets detained currently suffer from depleted uranium poisoning.
The four vets are Steve Mortillo of Pennington, N.J.; Joe Hatcher of San Diego, Calif.; Geoff Millard of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Toby Hartbarger of Indiana. Also detained was Gregory "Tristan" Watson of Chicago, Ill.
Retired Col. Ann Wright said, "Iraq vets who have suffered the effects of depleted uranium have every right to educate others about the terrible effects of this illegal substance used in weapons produced by the United States government."
For more information see:

Camp Democracy, free and open to the public, is an ongoing camp in DC that has daily activities to reconnect citizens with the concept of democracy. Camp Democracy will continue through September 21st and will tackle issues from immigration rights to labor, from the illegal war to Hurricane Katrina and much more. This week includes many speakers and topics, September 11 is Ghandi Day of Nonviolence, the 12th is Climate Crisis Day, the 13th Verdict Day sponsored by the Bush Crimes Commission and World Can't Wait . . .

From an e-mail sent out last week:

Camp Democracy opened on the Mall in Washington on Tuesday, and will run through September 21st. We need you to come and join us now!
Here's what the Washington Post had to say about us this morning:

[. . . Note: This was a photo credit]

Check out the schedule of upcoming events:
If you live outside of the Washington, D.C., area and you come, we will find you a free or cheap place to stay. But you can make it easier for us by signing up here:
If you live in the DC area, please offer a bed or couch or floor to people who are acting on behalf of all of us by coming to make their voices heard. Please list any space you have here:
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Last Week In Iraq

Briefly, on Saturday, AFP reports three US troops were wounded in Baghdad from "a makeshift bomb." Also in Baghdad, Reuters reports that 14 corpses were found, that two different car bombs killed two police officers, another killed a civilian, several other bombs in Baghdad left people wounded, journalist Abdul-Kareem al-Rubaie was shot dead and that was just in Baghdad. Reuters also reports two police officers dead in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb, a home invasion in Mosul on Friday that killed a boy and his mother, and three dead from bombs in Baiji.

For a look at the rest of last week, we offer C.I.'s snapshots (moving from Friday through Tuesday).

"Iraq snapshot"
Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."

In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."

Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."

Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.

As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.

Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."


CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.


CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).


AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".

AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.

And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."

In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."

Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."

In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.

And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:

It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!

For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."

Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."

We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."

A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.

"Iraq snapshot"
Thursday, September 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, in Australia -- Brendan Nelson learns the morning after isn't always pleasing; a US soldier who went AWOL to Canada may be returning; Bully Boy & the GOP continue "
Dirty Depends" actions, in Baghdad -- puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki closes a TV station, al-Maliki also calls it "a great day" as Iraqis and US soldiers die throughout Iraq; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.

Starting with the US soldier who may be returning.
Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) breaks the news that war resister Darrell Anderson "wants to come home." Anita Anderson tells Warren that she's urging her son Darrell not to come back "because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."

War Resisters Support Campaign notes this of Darrell Anderson: "Darrell Anderson arrived in Toronto from Lexington, Kentucky in Januray 2005. He served 7 months in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. When faced with a second deploymnet to Iraq, he chose instead to come to Canada. His experience in Iraq convinced Darrell that the war was unjustified. Innocent civilians are being killed, and young soldiers are dying for an illegal war. 'Coming to Canada doesn't ruin your life,' said Darrell, 'it saves lives.'"

On the redeployment,
Anderson told Gary Younge (Guardian of London): "I was supposed to leave for Iraq on January 8th. On the 3rd I started to talk to people about the war. By the 6th I woke up and had hit a brick wall. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life if I went back."

His mother Anita Anderson cites his reasons for wanting to return as economic, his PTS has gotten worse and that he wants to make.

Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that will serve him best. Should he remain in Canada, he will be part of a movement that includes Brandon Hughey, Kyle Synder, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and others. He will also be part of a historic movement. (And it needs to be remembered that even in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter, as president, would not grant an amnesty to those who checked themselves out. The amnesty only covered those who avoided the draft, not those who enlisted and checked out.) If he returns to the US, as his mother fears, he will be part of a movement of refusal. This summer has seen
Ehren Watada become the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. We also saw Ricky Clousing and Mark Wilkerson turn themselves in.

There is bravery in either stand and Darrell Anderson needs to make the choice that's right for him. Like
Cindy Sheehan, he's already done his part and then some.

Turning to cowardice, the Bully Boy continues his
Dirty Depends campaign with the hope that it will scare up votes for the GOP in November. Which is why he boasts of his unconstitutional secret prisons, extends the national emergy act from 9-11 and attempts anything to change the topic away from Iraq. As Matthew Rothshchild noted on The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Bully Boy can't run on the war. How true that is gets brought home in a recent report by the AP that notes Bully Boy is losing his "once-solid relationship with Southern women" and quotes "self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three" Barbara Knight stating, "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant. He's been an embarrassment."
AP notes: "The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country." AP cites their own polling numbers and they track with Ms. Magazine's poll which earlier (poll conducted from May19th to 22nd) found 55% of women (43% of males) wanted US troops withdrawn "immediately or next year."

And in Iraq?

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday Nora Barrows Friedman spoke with Dahr Jamail about life on the ground in Iraq. Jamail: "Overall the situation in Iraq is worse than ever . . . but particularly in al-Anbar province the US military really doesn't have much control of anything there, outside of the areas around their immediate, or inside, I should say, their immediate bases. . . . It's important the people remember that Ramadi is the capital of al-Anbar province. So what the US has done there to try to get control of that city is there's an area right in the middle where the government offices are centrally located in Ramadi and the US has been unable to keep people, resistance fighters, from attacking the government offices so, as a result, what they're doing is literally demolishing, making a no-man's-land between, all of the buildings between the government offices in the middle of the city and then the rest of the city. So they're literally leveling at least eight city blocks, an area of at least eight city blocks, around those government offices to try to prevent them from being attacked so regularly. Of course what this is doing is infurating people of Ramadi who are saying, 'Look, you've already destroyed so much of our city, you've already launched massive operations in here . . .' Recently snipers, US snipers have killed at least four people there, mostly women and children. Just one travesty after another has been occurring inside Ramadi. The people are angry and now this takes it to a whole nother level where the people are outraged, they don't really know what to expect next. And, of course, the end result of these brutal, heavy-handed military tactics, just like we saw in Falluja, it doesn't actually stop the resistance. It maybe pauses it for a few days, or a few weeks. But then in the end it generates more people. It really causes more people to join the resistance or become sympathetic towards them if they're not already."

Two of the three US troops (one Marine, two soldiers) who died on Wednesday (
US military announced deaths today) died of wounds received in al-Anbar province. The US government has announced that another Marine has died today from "wounds sustained from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province September 6."

Oh, but, as the BBC reported, Nouri al-Maliki called it a "
great day". He was referring to supposed "control" handed over by the US (to him, the puppet) of the Iraqi military. It's not really a handover. It's more like, "Here are the keys to the car and if you do everything we say, we might let you take it for a spin on the weekend but, right now, it's still our car." Which is why "[a] BBC correspondent in Baghdad says the transfer of control could be long, slow and fraught with problems."


AFP notes "a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a police fuel depot in the town centre, killing at least 12" police officers in Baghdad. AP notes another bomb, also in Baghdad ("hidden under a parked car") that killed three and wounded 20. Reuters notes two roadside bombs, also in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of two and left seven wounded while another roadside bomb, still in Baghdad, killed one person and left two wounded and, still in Baghdad, another roadside bomb left four wounded. Outside of Baghdad? Reuters notes four police officers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes that two police officers were shot dead in Baghdad (four civilians wounded); a police officer was shot dead in Hay; and, in Mosul, a man and a woman were shot dead in parking lot while a father and his teenage son were shot dead elsewhere in the city.


CNN reports four corpses were discovered today in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Mosul ("multiple gunshot wounds"), three corpses were discovered (one, a female, was beheaded) in the Tigris river near Suwayra and two were discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture").

On the subject of deaths,
AP is reporting that contrary to the hype, there was no decrease in the figures for violent deaths in Baghdad. As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, the US government had attempted to earlier say the numbers had lowered as a result of the 'crackdown' when in fact, August's actual numbers were "the same number as July."

And the
BBC reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's nephew has been kidnapped in Baghdad. al-Mashhadani is the speaker of Iraq's parliament and was also the target of a He's-Out-Of-Here-So-Out-Of-Here campaign at the end of July and start of August. al-Mashhadani remains in parliament, his nephew Ahmed al-Mashhadani has been kidnapped.

al-Mashhadani is Sunni and switching to parliament news, yesterday
AFP reported: "Iraq's dominant Shiite alliance submitted a draft of a new law to govern the division of the country into autonomous regions". Today the Associated Press notes that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "interrupted a stormy legislative session on Thursday after a draft bill submitted by the largest Shia party led to accusations from Sunni Arabas that they were trying to divide the country." al-Mashhadani: "The parliament speaker does not know about this draft bill. Is that credible? Who else should know about it if the speaker does not know? When was it announced?"

Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad.
CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."

In the United States,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public, five tents worth of activity and more in Washington, DC. Tomorrow's activities include a focus on labor issues. A complete schedule can be found here.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues -- probably much to the regret of Chuckles Brendan Nelson.
Yesterday, Nelson, the Defence Minister, sought to deny statements, credited to him in the press, made back when he saw himself as Johnny-On-The-Spot and felt that the nation needed each unparsed idea that tumbled from his mouth. Today?

Malcolm Brown and Cynthia Banham (Sydney Morning Herald) report that "Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has contradicted the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson on key events surrounding the death of Private Jacob Kovco." How so? Dan Box (The Australian) sums it up as Houston states Nelson "had ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the death" and that Houston denies evey telling Nelson that Jake Kovco had been "handling his weapon in some way and it discharged."

AAP notes this "directly contradicts" Nelson's statement yesterday and, in addition, Houston states that he "told the minister several times that a proper investigation was needed". What was Chuckles Nelson, the 'rising star,' doing issuing those statements (statements he had to retract and yesterday attempted to disown)? Justin Vallejo (Daily Telegraph) notes that the statements came after Nelson was warned not once, not twice, but three times (by Houston) "that it was too early to speculate". But when your a 'rising star' and you can interject into a national story, even if your actions cause more pain to the mourners, why sit on the sidelines waiting for information to come in? Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that the three warnings were given the day after Jake Kovco's death "[b]ut Dr Nelson went ahead and told the media that Private Kovco was shot while 'maintaining' his nine-millemetre Browning pistol -- a statement he was forced to retract five days later."

Let's be clear. No one knows what happened in the room where Jake Kovco died. (Or, if they do, they're not telling.) However, the reason polls demonstrate Australian's haven't bought the official story (whatever it was from week to week) goes directly to Brendan Nelson, with all the authority of his post, declaring X one week and then saying Y the next. Now Houston
and Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy have both denied that they ever provided Nelson with any of the information he (Nelson) took to the airwaves with.

If the grief and heartache his statements have inflicted upon the Kovco family isn't enough to give pause, it needs to be noted that the doubts about the inquiry have their roots in Nelson's very public, ever changing story.

Anthony McClellan (The Australian) lays it out very cleary noting: "It has taken a clear cry this week from the Kovco family to help us understand how bad this is. The family is sitting there every day in Victoria Barracks in Sydney, listening, I would think with increasing incredulity, as incompetence after incompetence, and worse, is documented. The family has now taken its criticism even further from its intital rage over the mishandling of his body." McClellan notes the need for transperancy and calls the 'national security' claim (the excuse for not giving the names of the soldiers testifying) "plain bunkum" and closes with this:

To sum up, here's a short competency primer for Defence headquarters at Canberra's Russell Hill:
* Wrong body.
* Initial investigators underfunded, obstructed and overruled by army command.
* Interference in the investigation.
* Death scene not preserved; forensic evidence removed.
* Those present in the room allowed to clean up.
* A litany of miscommunication.
Can it get any worse? Yes. If we do not find out what really happened.

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Iraq snapshot
Wednesday, September 6, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq, England's Tony Blair and the United States' Donald Rumsfeld cause waves, Condi Rice -- who failed at national security -- fails at US history, Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson tries to pretend he didn't say what he said and peace activities are ongoing at
Camp Democracy.

In Iraq, the parliament yesterday,
Al Jazeera reports voted to extend the state of emergency for the country (not for Baghdad as I noted yesterday). AP reports that the measure "has been renewed every month since first being authorized in November 2004" before the slaughter of Falluja. Edward Wong (New York Times) notes that
"[t]here has been no serious move to roll it back" and that "[d]espite the affirmation of emergency powers, violence continued to roil Iraq." Also raised yesterday was the issue of breaking up the nation into a federation.
Al Jazeera reports: "Abbas al-Bayati, spokesman for the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, predicted: 'In the next few sessions the parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces.'" Also making predictions is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (whom many predicted would be gone when parliament resumed -- they were wrong). CNN reports that al-Mashhadani, the speaker of parliament, estimates that Iraq has "three to four months" before collapse if the warring factions persist.

Over the weekend, "
Iraqi army boasts they squeezed out Number Two -- but did they remember to wipe?" and the boast was called into question by Richard A. Oppel (New York Times) who reported that an unnamed American official expressed doubts as to the man being a "top-tier guy" and stated "I'm not sure we are ready to put a number on him." Now Qais al-Bashir (AP) is reporting that the arrest did not take place recently, it "took place in June" -- June 19th. A battle of spinmeisters causes William B. Caldwell IV to emerge and state that fellow spinner Mowafak al-Rubaie was wrong that the so-called "number two" was squeezed out this weekend, but that "permission to announce the arrest . . . had been given a few days earlier." For those assuming that he truly is number two . . . if he were flushed down June 19th, it obviously didn't make a damn bit of difference since the violence and chaos hasn't been effected (or diminished) by his June 19th arrest.

Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out
And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco

Tony Blair, is he in or out? Should he stay or should he go?
Nick Assinder (BBC) reports that while Blair wants another year as prime minister, "Senior party figures were openly arguing over whether prime minister should be allowed to stay for another 12 months or beforced out, in a Thatcher-style coup, much sooner." CNN reports that: "The acrimonious row over the timing of the departure . . . has grown with the resignation of a dissident minister and six ministerail aides." A memo has been leaked, reportedly detailing the plans for his exit, and Blair refuses to comment on it. Gulf News says the plans "will see him treated like a rock star, with slots on popular TV shows and a stage-managed farewell tour. It opened the Prime Minister to charges of vanity and ruined his attempts to douse speculation of an imminent departure that he fears could turn him into a lame duck." Commenting on attempting to sell Blair as a much wanted rock star, Iain Macwhirter (The Herald) points out: "Where have these people been for the last two years? The crowds aren't calling for more, they're calling for Tony Blair to go -- now." Fiona Hudson (Herald-Sun) reports, if the memo is accurate, Blair would "step down as Labour leader on May 31 next year and quit as PM on July 26."

And, in the United States, Donald Rumsfeld? The Secretary of Defense was rumored to face Democratic opposition in the Senate but
Andrew Taylor (AP) reported it was a ceremonial measure (nonbinding resolution) and that "Democrats conceded there's not likely to be any vote whatsoever." White House Lap Dog Tony Snow says, "It's not going to happen." David Lightman (Hartford Courant) reports that Ned Lamont, who is vying with Joe Lieberman for the Senate seat Lieberman currently occupies, has stated that if wins the race and Bully Boy attempts to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Joe Lieberman "he would probably not vote to confirm" No-mentum.

Meanwhile the
AP reports that Condi Rice, US Secretary of State, is comparing the current on the ground realities in Iraq to the US Civil War. While it is true that the Bully Boy, in March 2003, issued what could be termed an Obliteration Proclamation, no foreign invasion is known to have started the US Civil War.

Turning to Iraq . . .


Xinhua reports that, in Nineveh, a car bomb killed six police officers and left an additional six wounded. AFP reports that at least six people died "in twin bombings in Baghdad." AP notes that nine people died from the Baghdad bombings (not six) and 39 were wounded. Al Jazeera also reports nine dead and notes that they included two Iraqi soldiers. CBS and AP report that: "Mortar attacks in residential areas in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killed three people: a two-year-old child in the Khan Bani Saad area and two people in Muqdadiyah". Reuters notes a bomb took the lives of two and left eight wounded when it went off near a funeral tent in Baghdad.


In Baquba,
AFP reports a woman was shot dead and a the owner of a store was shot dead as well. AP notes that "three construction workers waiting for a bus" in Baquba were shot dead. Reuters notes that two people were shot dead in Mosul. (The total for the above, bombings and shootings, should add up to twenty-seven reported dead from bombings and shootings.)


CNN reports that 19 corpses were found in Baghdad ("Overnight . . . signs of torture"). Reuters reports the 19 and notes that 15 more corpses were found in Baghdad today ("blindfolded with some showing signs of torture").

Still a wee bit touchy about abandoning a base (see
August 24 and August 25), AFP reports that the British continue to maintain that, basically, they left because they felt like it. Of course they did.

In peace news,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public."
Petula Dvorak (Washington Post) quotes Charlie Richardson (Military Families Speak Out) stating, "Every day, we realize there is a war in Iraq. But the vast majority of Americans don't; the forget. Less than 1 percent of this population has gone to war. And we need to get those troops out now." Australia's The Advertiser reports that the
"[f]ive tents will be open until at least September 21 for panels, protests and press conferences" and quotes Charlie Anderson stating, "This administration does not want to have a discussion especially with those of us who have lived the nightmare of what this war is really about." Anderson was also quoted on
The KPFA Evening News yesterday where he spoke about his growing realization that the war was wrong and what encouraged him to speak out.

Tomorrow is Immigrants' Rights Day at
Camp Democracy and director Robert Greenwald (The Burning Bed, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; Uncovered: The War on Iraq; Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and the upcoming Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers). A complete schedule can be found here.

Other peace actions are going on and will be going on. In NYC, Friday September 15, Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 (7:00 pm each night), The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC or that will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.

CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast action continues is on day 64, and due to continue through September 21st, with at least 5,023 people participating. Those wanting to fast can grab a one-day fast at any point between now and the 21st or grab a one-day a week fast. Long term fasts are also possible but seek out advice before embarking on any long term fast.

In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Another soldier has testified via videolink. This one, Soldier 20, shared a room with Soldier 14 whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's pistol. Soldier 20 appears to have left himself ample wiggle room.
The Advertiser reports that Soldier 20 stated Soldier 14 was in the room with him, that they both yelled at the room next door (Kovco's) due to the "loud music, singing and 'obnoxious digger s**t" and that he was attempting to sleep and Soldier 14 was on a laptop. But when asked "if Soldier 14 could have left the room while he was trying to sleep" the response from Soldier 20 to this yes or no question was, "To the best of my knowledge sir, he didn't leave the room."

More wiggle room could be found in the testimony of Brendan Nelson, Defence Minister and "
star on the rise in the Government" (Michael Edwards, ABC's PM). Nelson's come under considerable heat for issuing statements, attention getting ones (well he's a 'star on the rise,' isn't he?). So Brendy gave his statement to the inquiry and, guess what, it wasn't him. Malcolm Brown reports (Sydney Morning Herald) that "Brendan Nelson, has distanced himself from a story that circulated soon after Jacob Kovco was killed in Iraq -- that he [Kovco] accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon." Nelson's statement contains this laughable statement: "The media used the term, 'cleaning his gun,' I never did, now was I told by any person." Fortunately for Chuckles Nelson, ABC is more than ready to clean up after him. On PM, Michael Edwards states Nelson's laughable claim (we'll get to it -- it's laughable) and then an actor recites Nelson's statement (in a re-inactment). That passes for reporting.

Will it pass for the truth? Only if ABC scrubs their own earlier stories. Nelson's trying to deal reality. We noted reality here
on April 27th:

"As noted by Australia's ABC and
WBAI's Wakeup Call, Jake Kovco remains in Iraq. Kovoco died in Iraq last week. Jacob Bruce Kovco was twenty-five years old and was to be honored this week in the Gippsland community of Briagolong. For that to happen, Kovco's body would need to make it to Australia. The wrong body was in the coffin. Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defense Minister, tells of breaking the news to Shelley Kovco and when the widow demanded to speak with Prime Minister John Howard, Nelson dialed the number. Nelson then angered family members (brother of the deceased, Benn Kovco, and mother of the deceased, Judy Kovco) by making statements regarding the death (which is still under investigation)."

From ABC's "
Kovco's family demands answer" (April 27, 2006 8:12 pm): "Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has further angered the family of dead Australian soldier Jake Kovco with comments about the manner of the Private's death in Iraq last week. . . . . Dr Nelson had previously said Private Kovco was maintaing his weapon when it discharged, killing him, but today he told Macquarie radio that is not the case. 'He wasn't in fact cleaning his weapon,' he said. There was obviously a live round in it which there should not have been.' His comments have angered Prviate Kovco's mother Judy."

While his original statements did use "maintaining" (as opposed to "cleaning"), it is the same difference. And when he felt the need to take to the airwaves with new statements, he clearly stated "cleaning." AAP reports that Nelson's statement also included this: "I would like to say there was no attempt at cover-up, deceit or misinformation." Presumably, he means then because his statement to the inquiry seems to attempt several.

Brendan Nelson's original statement: "I am advised that the soldier was simply handling his weapon and maintaining it as soldiers are required to do and for some unexplained reason, the firearm discharged and the bulletin unfortunately uh-uh entered the soldier's head.

Brendan Nelson's second statement (April 27, 2006): "He was in a room, uh, with two of of his mates who were doing other things, working on a computer and so on, and he was, it appears, the information I now have, is he wasn't, in fact, cleaning his weapon. It was near him, in his vicinity, and he made some kind of movement which suggest that it discharged. Obviously there was a live round in it which there should not have been. That's as much as I should probably say right now."

Or maybe it was more than you should have said to begin with? The media used the term because Nelson used "maintaining" and Nelson used "cleaning" himself. Take some accountability.

Things just happen under Chuckles Brendy Nelson's watch. Things just happen and they're never his fault. The Kovco family is obvioulsy overreacting. So is the Lawton family, we're sure. The Lawton family? Oh, Paul Lawton died August 31st.
Mark Dunn (Herald Sun) reports that his mother and his "former wife" learned of his death via . . . a cell phone calls (no sympathies expressed). So, no, it's not just the Kovco family. Nelson's department appears as unwilling/unable to learn from mistakes as he does. (Hint: First step is accepting the blame for your actions.)

The hearing also heard from someone many Americans probably hoped never to hear from again: Robert Jensen. Speaking in his role as mouth piece, president and CEO of
Kenyon International, Jensen told the hearing the mix up between the corpses of Jake Kovco and Juso Sinanovic wasn't his company's fault. Michael Edwards reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today) that Jensen blamed (a) "the lack of experience within the Australian Defence Force," (b) the use of visual identification [which apparently wasn't used -- but it's clear you can say anything to this inquiry board and never be challenged], (c) Australia lacks clear guidelines on how to "repatriate bodies" [which one might assume is something Kenyon International should have pointed out when they won the contract] and (d) "unreal expectations."

Flashback to Robert Jensen jawing in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina a year ago: "
This is not going to be quick or easy. It is not something that will be handled in a couple of weeks." Well he got that right. While he was jawing away, it's surprising no one asked him to offer a theory as to how Soldier 14's DNA ended up on Jake Kovco's gun because Jensen is a forensic scientist (or was i.d.ed as such plenty of times on CNN prior to Hurricane Katrina). But apparently physical evidence, like shifting stories, are something the inquiry will ignore.

Russell Skelton (The Age) reports that Jake Kovco's father-in-law, David Small, has termed Jensen's comments "pathetic nonsense" and stated, "We are utterly disgusted. The contract was to bring Jake Kovco home and they failed to do that. They had an obligation to check the contents of the casket. . . . Kenyon was not hired just to bring a casket home."

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"Iraq snapshot"
Tuesday, September 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy spouts hot air, the so-not-successful 'crackdown' in Baghdad is extended for another month, Ehren Watada and others rally in Seattle, Washington and, in Australia, the family of Jake Kovco delivers a blistering evaluation of the hearing into the death of Kovco.

As already noted, 29 US troops have died in the last ten days (that's counting today). The figure has already risen. Centcom reports that: "Two Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." 32 in ten days -- and where is the coverage? The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the illegal war now stands at 2656 (three up since this morning as a result of Centcom's announcement of three more deaths on Monday). (117 is the number of British troops killed thus far, including the two who died on Monday Retuers reports a British soldier has been shot north of Basra and is "seriously wounded.".)


China's People's Daily reports that three are dead and five wounded from a roadside bomb and a car bomb in Samarra. AP reports that "a house explosion" in Mosul left two wounded.


CNN reports that a drive-by shooting left three dead in Baghdad while four drive-bys resulted in seven deaths in Baquba. Tthe sevend dead includes three police officers. Reuters reports that they were killed by "a rocket-propelled grenade" aimed at their car and that, near Latifiya, a Shi'ite pilgrim was shot dead and three others wounded.


Reuters reports five corpses ("blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered near Suwayra and seven corpses discovered in Baghdad.

And the
BBC reports the kidnapping, on Friday, of Ghanim Khudayer, 22-year-old football player/star who had been planning to sign with a team in Syria to escape the violence in Iraq. Khudayer was kidnapped in Baghdad.

Baghdad, city of the fabled 'crackdown' that began on June 14th and has been so 'successful.' Baghdad is also where the Iraqi parliament is meeting for the first time in a month (a month's vacation when your country is falling apart seems more than a bit indulgent -- to put it mildly).
AP reports that their first act was to renew the so-called crackdown for another month. Al Jazeera reports that "a possible federal break up of the country at the top of its agenda." AFP reports that discussion times was also devoted to the issue of a new flag, this on the day when at least twenty Iraqis have been killed. No word as to whether or not Nouri al-Maliki should sport mutten chops is also on the agenda.

Alastair MacDonald (Reuters) reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has stated that all British forces in Iraq could leave by the end of 2007; however, like the last guest who won't take a hint no matter how you yawn to indicate the hour is late, Margaret Beckett, England's Foreign Secretary pooh-paed the notion and termed progress on the ground in Iraq "very slow." Yes, but you were all but ordered to leave.

In the United States,
AP reports that Bully Boy has delcared the nation to be "safer but not safe" which is either an attempt to, yet again, personally profit from fear or he's got a self-destruct wish and continues to feel the need to feed fuel to the impeachment efforts.

In peace news,
Jennifer Sullivan (Seattle Times) reports that a march and demonstration for immigrant rights, reproductive rights, an end to the war and more led to a thousand participating including Ehren Watada and eleven members of The Raging Grannies Action League who sang, as Raging Granning Carolyn Hale put it, "for peace and justice for all. We have a lot to sing about."

Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, heard testiomony Thursday August 17th and has since recommended a court-martial for Watada. As the recommendation works through the chain of command, more information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and

In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy is up and running and "free and open to the public" though they caution you should bring your own chair if possible. Among today's scheduled activities was a march and tomorrow Congress members Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Jim McGovern and Bob Filner are among those scheduled to be participating in events. A complete schedule can be found here.

One person who is not at Camp Democracy is Cindy Sheehan.
Speaking to Bill Whitaker (Waco Tribune-Herald), Cindy Sheehan explained that due to her surgery and (intense) activity over this summer, she's going to be taking some time to heal and rest in the immediate future. Sheehan noted that Camp Casey is a permanent presence and, on the subject of the Bully Boy's avoidance of Crawford this year, stated: "I don’t see it as so much a victory as just proof that our presence is very effective. I would rather he was here because then he would see us and we would still be out at the (ranch) checkpoint all the time protesting and things like that. I believe they (the White House) changed their schedule constantly when we changed our schedule." Reflecting on the differences between last summer's Camp Casey and this summer's Camp Casey III, Sheehan noted: " Well, if you look at the past year, so many things have happened. When I came to Crawford last year, 51 percent (of the American public) disapproved of the war. Now I’ve seen some as high as 67 percent. I’m seeing so much grass-roots activism all over the country. Just this past week there were thousands of people protesting in Salt Lake City."

Sheehan is the subject of a song on
David Rovic's new CD out today. "Song for Cindy Sheehan" is among the tracks appearing on Halliburton Boardroom Massacre.

In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi (usually reduced to "14-year-old girl") was raped and murdered in Iraq on March 12, 2006. Also murdered were her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. On June 30th, Steven D. Green was arrested in the United States and will be tried in federal courts for his alleged role in the rape and murders. Green had been discharged from the military. On August 17th, an Article 32 hearing was held in Baghdad for five soldiers still serving in the military. One of the five, Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failure to report the alleged crimes (dereliction of duty). The other four were charged with rape, murder and arson and the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether the evidence merited moving forward with the charges.

Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that Col. Dwight Warren has recommended that the other four (James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, Paul E. Cortez, and Bryan L. Howard) face a court-martial because, his report states, "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged." During the Article 32 hearing, the defense argued stress, fatigue, etc. (And, in fact, the New York Times, with Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall's "G.I. Crime Photos May Be Evidence," manged to argue that defense before the hearing could even commence.) As CNN reported, Captain Alex Pickands' counter argument to those claims was, "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." Santana reports that David Sheldon, attorney for James P. Barker, intends to arguein a court-martial that, in the field and in the Article 32 hearing, his client didn't get the support he needed.

Turning to Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues. Yesterday,
Sydney's ABC reports, military psychologist Col. Peter Murphy testified that Jake Kovco "was not behaving in a way that would suggest he was likely to commit suicide" and that he did not display any of the known indicators of sucide.
Jake Kovco was killed by a bullet to the head, the gun used was his own and that's about all, after all this time, that anyone's been able to establish. A variety of contradicatory testimony has been given throughout the hearing.
Last week, Soldier 14 admitted that he and Kovco's roommates, Soldiers 17 and 19, "had discussions on a numerous occassions trying to work out what happened." Unlike Soldier 17's claim that Kovco was a 'cowboy' with his pistol, this statement wasn't amplified (or headlined). For any who have fogotten, though Soldier 17 admitted he never saw any such behavior himself (and remember that Jake Kovco was well versed in guns long before he joined the military), he stated he'd 'heard' about it from people that he couldn't name -- and he got away with that. (And his charge, about something he'd never seen, was amplified and headlined.)

If all the numbers leave you confused, you're not the only one.
Last week, Australia's Nine Networks aired footage of Soldier 14 (whose DNA was found on Kovco's pistol) and they were the first to break the policy not to identify (by name) anyone testifying or to show them. (Those wishing to see the video, this page has a link.) The Australian reports that Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson is making noises of how such actions (showing the footage or revealing names) could destroy morale and therefore security and blah, blah, blah. They're witnesses in a public hearing. No one's argued that they need any sort of witness relocation program after the hearing. And Nelson was far from worried about morale when he made (obviously false) claims to the media (for which he had to issue a retraction). Were a screen capture possible from the footage, we would have posted Soldier 14's face here last week.

Soldier 14 was on duty with Kovco the day he died. He was "two-seconds away" from the room Kovco died in. His DNA is on the gun. His 'excuse' for why it was on the gun was deemed ridiculous
by the DNA expert. (He stated he must have touched a bullhorn, radio, or something that Kovco did while they were both on duty. Then Kovco must have touched it and then Kovco must have transferred it to the gun. The DNA expert, Michelle Franco, stated that was unlikely to have occurred and noted that Soldier 14's DNA on the pistol's slide was greater than Kovco's which, even if a transfer had been likely, means that it did not get on the gun via a transfer of the sort Soldier 14 describes. For it to have been on the slide in the concentration it was, she stated, he would have had to have touched the gun.) But he and all other soldiers testifying are numbered and not named. National security? Morale?

On the latter, since it seems very likely (
best explanation for the bungles) that the early investigation and Jake Kovco's body were rushed so he could arrive home by Aznac Day (only he didn't, the body of Bosnian carpenter Juso Sinanovic was mistakenly sent to Australia instead) to score a p.r. coup (even Juso Sinanovic didn't arrive then, he arrived the day after), morale is a laughable resort at this late date. Morale probably also went out the window when Nelson claimed on national TV that Kovco had killed himself while cleaning his gun (he had to retract that false claim).

Australia's ABC, which has followed the strange guidelines to the letter, reports that "director-general of the Defence Community Organisation, Janet Stodulka, says it is a common sense decision, appreciated by soldiers and their families" -- it being the decision not to identify witnesses in the PUBLIC hearing. Australia's ABC was where Nelson made his (false) claim about how Jake Kovco had died -- back when "morale" and "national security" weren't apparently a big concern and "common sense" was in short supply.

Meanwhile, Amanda Dynes (who for some strange reason, can be identified with no risk to national security or morale) has testified.
ABC reports that Group Captain Dynes, a military doctor, testified that she doesn't understand how the mix up of Juso Sinanovic and Jake Kovco occurred -- noting that there was a twenty year age difference between the two (Sinanovic was twenty years older), that she observed an identification tag on Juso Sinanovic's arm properly identifying him, and that Juso Sinanovic had a "thick moustache and a hairy body, while there was little hair on the body of Private Kovco" -- leading her to wonder if anyone had even bothered to open the body bags before sending what was thought to be Jake Kovco's body to Australia?
Belinda Tasker (NewsCom) reports that Dynes also testified to an identification tag on the body bag containing Juso Sinanovic, the fact that he had intravenous tubes, while Kovco had a tatoo and "badly bruised eyes." But supposedly, the body was checked -- that's what previous testimony has noted. If Dynes is being truthful (not doubting her), the question remains as to how anyone could have done their assigned duty (and it was an assigned duty, not a favor, they were ordered -- that includes not just Soldier 2) and Juso Sinanovic's body could have been shipped to Australia by mistake.

Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, previously referred to the "Keystone Cop" mentality at play and had to leave the hearing because she was so upset by the bungles and what she saw (which this community agrees with) as ineptitude continuing throughout the hearing. What's being called a family statement (and apparently represents the parents of Jake Kovco, Judy and Martin, Shelly Kovco, Jake's widow, as well as Jake Kovco's siblings) was read by Jake Kovco's step-brother Ben to the inquiry Monday.

Tracy Ong and Dan Box (The Australian) provide the background to the statement noting the stripping of Jake Kovco's room (where he died -- before forensic tests could be conducted, and the clothes he was wearing were also destroyed before testing) and note that the Kovco family has termed this a "face-saving exercise" on the part of senior officers of the Australian Defence Force and that the actions indicate "negligence that defies belief." Belinda Tasker (The Age) reports the statement included: "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing." Malcolm Brown (Syndey Morning Herald) reports: "Mr [Ben] Kovco said he believed there had been a conspiracy to cover up, collusion between soldiers, that the room had been contaminated as a crime scene and the Defence Force had waited for nine days before interviewing witnesses."

ABC reports the response of the Australian Defense Association disputes the statement and that the head, Neil James (and remember these are his words), stated of the integrity issue, "We don't have too much of a concern about it, remembering that of the three-man board of inquiry, one of them is an outsider, is an independent member, a retired New South Wales coroner and one of the other two members, whilst he is in the military as a reservist, is a respected New South Wales judge in civilian life," Well, they certainly haven't conducted themselves as if they ever had "too much concern".

Via The Australian (which provides extracts of the Kovco's family statement), we'll close with (some of) their words read to the inquiry by Ben Kovco:

"Given the current evidence of Jake's roommates, at the time officers in Iraq would have very soon after the incident been aware that neither could, or was willing to say, how Jake was killed. Under these circumstances, even the most ill-informed, indeed an individual who had never before investigated a potential crime scene, would know better than to allow the only potential witnesses to wash their clothes and themselves, return to their daily duties and then allow the clothing of the deceased to be destroyed.

"Trained military officers and MPs have no excuse. They are not new to this environment. It is hard to imagine what the NSW Police officers must have thought, arriving to a fully stripped, effectively sterilised room with a couple of blood stains on the carpet and a hole in the ceiling. "Hearing the testimony of the soldiers directly involved with Jake on April 21st was frustrating in the extreme. To touch on the absurdity of their evidence, we have Jake killed by a gunshot wound while in very confined quarters with two other individuals, soldiers 17 and 19. Soldier 19 claims to be looking away from Jake when he heard the gun shot yet says he reacted and turned quickly enough to see Jake falling to the floor. Soldier 17 openly admits to have been facing Jake, sitting so close that he was almost in bodily contact, yet saw nothing. In fact, the claim is that he heard the gun shot and was completely unaware of an imposing six-foot tall man falling to the floor practically on top of him. Difficult to stomach from professional soldiers, whose training equips them better than most to observe and report. "Soldier 14 is then unable or unwilling to adequately explain the presence of his DNA in larger quantities than Jake's own DNA on the weapon that killed Jake ... He also offers an account of Jake supposedly mishandling his pistol the week before his death, accounting in detail an event that has been demonstrated in the inquiry to be physically impossible. Furthermore, Soldier 14, via his legal representative refuses to co-operate with the NSW Police.
"Soldiers 14, 17 and 19 have provided all this to the board as their sworn testimony, but as conscious individuals, it is absolutely insulting to have this evidence put to us as the full and honest truth. Perhaps these soldiers can live with the decisions they have made and the effect it may have on finding the truth about Jake's death. Likely, it will play on their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope they can live with that because we cannot. Not knowing exactly what happened to our son and brother will haunt us for the rest of our lives. "Though we would like to believe otherwise, it is very difficult to move beyond the undesirable idea that the ADF and its representatives have gone out of their way to destroy as much evidence as possible in an attempt to protect the organisation and its personnel from any implication of wrongdoing. The actions described above (among many others) coupled with the disturbing inability of the witnesses to the event to provide any credible account of what happened, makes it very nearly impossible to reach the truth of what occurred in room 8 and in this the ADF is solely responsible and their actions have almost ensured that the truth may never be found.''

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