Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cucumber and Madarin Orange Salad in the Kitchen

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into very thin rounds (about 2 cups)
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges, drained (about 1-1/4 cups)
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced into very thin rings (about 1 cup)
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a serving bowl, combine the cucumbers, oranges, and onion rings. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and vinegar until the sugar dissolves. Pour the vinegar sugar mixture over the cucumber salad. Toss well. Add the chopped tarragon. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Chill the salad before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: You may substitute any other fresh herb for the tarragon if you wish.

BB e-mailed the above recipe. She found "Sweet Cucumber and Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe" which she wrote is the "only cooking database I use because it's easy to search, no pop ups and there's always something I stumble across that I hadn't thought of." As I noted last weekend, my daughter-in-law and son (oldest son) moved in and she is craving mandarin oranes in the last weeks of her pregnancy. A number of you were kind enough to offer suggestions so a big thank you to all who did. The recipe BB offered was my daughter-in-law's favorite of the 12 we had and it's also one that doesn't require cooking for those who are easing into their kitchens. Salads are good any time of year but especially with the Fourth of July coming up. This recipe was a big hit with the neighbors, who are dropping by a lot more with the excitement of a baby on the way, so if you're invited to a gathering on the 4th and asked to bring something, this has been a popular and easy to make dish.

Some general business to get out of the way. I barely checked the e-mails last week due to the fact that we were cleaning out the spare bedroom and getting things ready for the move in. The weekend before, I was in Chicago and Jess was kind enough to fill in for me. So I was running behind and missed something. Melanie e-mailed me the following:

We're trying to promote a contest called the One Sheet Challenge where entrants have a chance to win a $30,000 kitchen makeover. As a cooking blog, I thought you or your readers might be interested in the grand prize.
Here's how it works:
Put one new sheet of Bounty to the test on any household mess, and share the details on For more information and a complete list of prizes, check out
To help you along, I can offer you a roll of Bounty to use for tough cleaning jobs. If you're interested, feel free to share the contest and your story with your readers.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

That's Melanie with the company that makes Bounty and not the communities, just to clarify. Also, I did not write back with, "Give me that free roll!" I haven't written back at all, not out of rudeness but because I just saw it. I do use Bounty, the quicker picker upper. With a large family, I've scrimped on a number of things over the years and there are a lot of off label and plain label brands I've used and would continue to use. Bounty was one of two products I had to go with a brand no matter what. (Tampax was the other for anyone wondering.) The towels are tough and, especially when more the one of the kids was little (common thing with eight children), there just was not time to start cleaning a mess only to have the paper towel split or tear in half in the middle of cleaning a mess. We've always had them in the kitchen and in the garage, my husband will tell you the same thing about other towels tearing or falling apart when you're trying to wipe your hands after working on the car, so I am happy to note the contest without fearing that I'm plugging something I don't believe in.

I believe I mentioned last week, I better have, that Wally, who was spending some time with us, took off the old cabinet doors and replaced them with glass ones. Since we moved into the house, years and years ago, that was the big thing I wanted. It was agreed to many times and something would come up financially, as I'm sure everyone can relate to, so it would be postponed. Now, at this late date, it's one of those things that my husband and I talk about doing but never get around to as a result of time. Everything else in my kitchen, I've changed over the years and that just left the cabinets. As with last year, when Wally came to hang out with our son Mike for the summer, he ended up doing more than his share around the house. (Wally's mother will tell you he's the same way at home and that he's always replacing something or fixing something.) Last year during his 'vacation,' his big project was our garage -- his big project he assigned himself, we don't assign tasks to our guests -- and this year, he made it the cabinets. I'm glad he asked my husband if it was okay before hand because I feel bad enough that our summer guest is doing so much around here and would feel even worse if Wally had spent his money on the project. So I left one morning with on idea anything was being changed and came back to find out that I finally had the cabinet doors I'd been wanting for over 20 years. They look wonderful and he did an amazing job.

My point with the above story, besides giving Wally credit, was to explain that if you're someone who wishes something was different about your kitchen, we've all been there and chances is we'll either live with it -- as I did with the cabinet doors -- or wish it had been changed or fixed.
Bounty's contest has to have a winner and you could be the lucky one.

My kitchen is now just as I want it so I won't be entering the contest. I also won't be requesting a free roll. I'm putting those disclaimers in so that no one wonders if I'm getting anything out promoting the contest. I'm not. I use Bounty on my own and have for years because I do appreciate their durability. And if someone knows something non-environmental friendly about them, my reply would be, you clean up after eight kids and then talk to me about helping about the environment. I am really serious about that, by the way. We do recycle and try to do other things for the environment. But from time to time, I'll read a book and think, "That would be great. If I just had one kid." When they were younger, it really was like the movie Yours, Mine and Ours. That's a Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda movie for younger readers.

Still on general business, Jess did a really great job filling in two Saturdays ago. I really appreciated it. But I may be calling that into question because I need to take next Saturday off and asked him if there was any chance he could fill in again? He said he'd be happy too (proof that his mother raised him with the good manners to say, "No, you crazy woman!") so he'll be 'in the kitchen' next weekend and thank you in advance.

BB wrote that she'd been dying to e-mail and was glad my e-mail address was up. That's back up. When we all switched to Beta . . . Don't ask me, it's something about Blogger/Blogspot, Dona called me and said she'd just switched The Third Estate Sunday Review over and figured Mike would be doing it for me but she'd do my site if I wanted? For months we were all being asked to do the switch and it was an option. You'd go to log in and get a message that X had already switched to Beta mode and now you could as well. I'd select "ignore" or "remind me next time" or whatever the alternative was. But it was going to stop being an option and become mandatory, they were clear about that. So I gladly took Dona up on her kind offer.

When we all switched to Beta, our e-mail addresses stopped displaying on our profiles. Except Kat who can be reached via The Common Ills. That wasn't a problem for community members because the community newsletters list our contact information. And for hard working visitors, who know how to Google, they could find posts with our e-mail addresses mentioned in them by searching. And it wasn't a problem for The Common Ills because C.I. ends entries with "The e-mail address for this site is" In fact, some wrote to other sites via that public address.

But we had no idea that our e-mail addresses were no longer on our profiles. We don't check our profiles and, before the big Beta switch, it had been up. My address is and it's on the profile but just in case Blogger/Blogspot has another must switch and it disappears "trina's kitchen e-mail address" is"

BB, who's about to become a grandmother as well, was wondering how others were handling it? That's what she'd wanted to e-mail me about? For me, after giving birth eight times, I'm all for someone else taking over the process. I'm happy about it. I know, for other generations, it was more of a huge marker. I'm sure for some women today, it still is and causing panic for a few. I was raised in a big family and I had a big family. My biggest surprise was that I hadn't already become a grandmother.

We were very up front with our kids about birth control and make every child a wanted child. If any of my daughters had gotten pregnant (I have four daughters and four sons) and they had decided on abortion, I would've supported the decision. Still would. But until this pregnancy, the biggest thing I wondered was, "Where are the grandkids?"

I was really starting to wonder if we'd done something so horrible, my husband and I, that our children had decided "We're not having kids ever!" I know of one pregnancy scare (which I'm not supposed to know of) in the eight and that's it. My youngest son is in college, Mike, and my youngest daughter starts college in the fall. So it was odd that we weren't grandparents already, just due to the numbers and the ages of our children.

I wasn't running to the oldest children and asking, "When are you going to make me a grandmother?" I never asked that. But, for example, Tony's like one of our children. He's my son Mike's best friend and Tony's father is my husband's best friend from like third or fourth grade, they've been best friends forever, he was best man at our wedding and my husband was best man at his wedding. They have a 'smaller' family -- four kids -- and it was about two years ago when they became grandparents for the first time. Joanna, Tony's mother, mentioned to me that she was honestly surprised it would be her before me. Her oldest was two years younger than our oldest, for example, and they only had half the children we did. And that had me wondering about the grandchild issue.

So I did my mental checklist then. Were any of the children gay? No. If they were, that would be fine. And, of course, these days being gay doesn't mean you can't have kids. Were they these career focused, career centric type people? Maybe so, but I didn't see that. No one had left the home with the 'virtue' intact. I hadn't expected that they would. (Although one daughter, if she reads this, will probably exclaim, "She knew!?!?")

But I guess the mantra we drilled into them of "make every child a wanted child" and the very serious talks about birth control paid off. One thing, true of the six oldest, is that it's a lot different now than when my husband and I were starting out. In many ways, but I'm referring to economcis. Social Security doesn't need "saving." It's more than solvent. But I can remember, for instance, at least two times when it had to be "saved" which involved cutting the monies received and also taking more out of each paycheck for FICA. That may not seem like a great deal on weekly basis, but add it up. It's also true that wages have remained stagnant while costs have gone up. For my generation, it was a matter of swinging things and tightening up a bit. Now days, I marvel that anyone can afford children. And that's before you factor in the ever increasing sales taxes and the sky rocketing cost of health care.

Being part of a big family probably made them aware of what they did without and what they got passed on from others if they were the younger kids. One area that I would do different is money in terms of raising them. I think we were very practical about money and that's a good thing. But I think, looking back, we should have been more open as they got older. I never blinked at saying "no" when we didn't have the money for something and explaining that. But, when they got older, I wish we'd talked to them about it in terms of the history of our family.

I say that because our oldest son, the one who's moved in, had a huge student loan debt. He was the first in college and we still had seven younger kids to support so he went to college on loans and working his way through. That didn't worry me too much because I knew people my age who had loans. They paid when they could. I actually know one woman who never paid anything on her college, still hasn't, and graduated in 1972. I knew my son would pay off his debts and thought it would be like the people my age, where they'd pay it off as the years went by.

Things have really changed there. They garnish your wages. They aren't content to just add interest on and collect later these days. I had no idea things were bad. But the way it's worked, and Ted Kennedy -- one of my senators -- you said you were getting to work on this issue but I'm still waiting for results, is that you apply to the government, you get the money and, long before you have graduated, you're sold off and then the loan is sold off again. So each semester's loan is now owned by a different company. If Ted Kennedy is serious about wanting to help young people, he needs to put forward a limit on garnishing. My son has four companies taking out of his bi-weekly check starting next month. Right now, it's five. They all want a little over ninety dollars. Could you go to work each week, full time, knowing that when the check came in every two weeks, over $450 was being taken out before it got to you just for student loans?

He jokes about it and says that he knows his wife married him out of love. I'm glad he can joke about it because I would be going crazy. His wife's insurance cut back and so he added her to his policy. When that happened, his check was good for a stick of gum and that was about all.

If Ted Kennedy is serious about helping people with student loans, he should propose a set amount that can be garnished (I'm assuming there is one and will get back to that) and then set a limit so that no more than one student loan could be garnished for at a time. (I honestly don't believe in garnishing wages for anything short of child support.)

We knew nothing about this, my husband and I. When he was buying Christmas presents with our son Mike, he mentioned it. That's how we eventually found out. We should have caught the clues Mike was dropping immediately. Such as saying we should give cash that Christmas. I think cash is a really rude gift and says, "I didn't have time to shop for you or you're not important enough for me to shop for." So when Mike kept pressing us to give his brother cash, we finally did and assumed he had plans for a vacation or something and needed the money for some big get away. We finally caught on, as we'd replace soemthing around the house, a phone a can opener whatever, and start to donate it to Goodwill and Mike would insist we call and see if his brother could use it?

We stock up, on Bounty and everything, in our home. When the kids were younger, we were always running out of something at the worst time, so we'd just make a point to buy things in bulk. I'd noticed that stuff seemed to be running out faster and didn't think much of it. Then my husband saw Mike 'stocking up' and we just assumed that there was someone Mike knew in need. We weren't bothered or offended. It was a can of something here, a roll there, etc. We were glad that Mike was doing that because we really tried to raise our kids with the concept that we're all in need and, if you can help someone, you do so.

But then one day, no Nick and Nora Charles or Tommy and Tupence were we, it finally hit us what was going on. It was after we'd learned about the pregnancy. We'd noticed they were nervous when they told us and we figured that was just first baby jitters but then it didn't go away. So one night, we were just wondering what it could be that had them so nervous and that's when it hit us. Mike was already asleep, which was good, so we woke him up. Good because he talks for about 15 minutes after he wakes up without realizing what he's saying. If he's got a secret and you want to get him out of it, that's when to do it. He's groggy for about 15 minutes.

We got over our hurt that they hadn't asked us for help because what's the point of worrying about that when there's a problem in the here and now to address? Both of us left home early, when we got married, but we both had brothers that continue to live at home long after 18. When our kids would move out, we'd always tell them, and mean it, that they could move back in. There's one daughter who has a huge car payment that we've repeatedly tried to talk into moving home. I do understand the importance of having your own space. But this is their home, everyone of them, and they could all move back tomorrow with spouses or whomever they're seeing now, and it would be crowded but we'd all manage.

So we went to work on them when we finally learned how things were. And last weekend, they moved back in. They're planning a year and that's fine. They can stay longer, they can stay here for years and years. I'm not having any more children. Our youngest moves out in the fall, she wants to live on campus when she starts college, there's no way we need a home this big for all of us. I assume at some point Mike will move in with Elaine. (That's not get Mike out the door. He can live here his whole life and it wouldn't be a problem.)

All the children have their strong points and one thing I'll note is Mike's strong point. (If you're new, my children are only named here if they give permission. Mike's the only one who has.) Mike is the most practical. That's not an insult to the others. I often fear that being so practical means he's less likely to dream and picture opportunities. And a lot of that comes from being the one near the end of the line. (We have one daughter who is younger.)

And some of that has to do with how we raised him. But Mike is very money practical. When he got his own car, he paid for it and he didn't buy a shiny new one. Others did and they have really nice cars. Mike's concern was that it ran and, if it broke down, he was able to fix it. And there's the fact that while everyone else was hitting the door at 18, he asked if it was okay to live here during college. (It was more than okay. He can stay forever. Any of our children can move back.) But the point of this story is that, and my husband agrees, he and I have taken far too much credit for Mike being so practical. Though it was only recently that Mike found out how bad things were for his oldest brother, they had been talking for some time about money issues. If there's a bright point in all of these money problems it's two-fold. One, the house isn't empty. Two, where we didn't go into money in depth with our children, our oldest son did. Some didn't listen, Mike took to it heart, but he picked up the slack and, as the oldest, he did that a lot growing up and is still doing it.

I didn't mean to go on so long about that but a few did wonder in e-mails if I was okay? Last week, I didn't write that much apparently. That was because I wrote late and I was nervous about the move in. And we also had the incident with our youngest that Mike wrote of last week. E-mails came in on that so let me do one paragraph and only one paragraph on that topic.

She is not the first to throw a party when left alone. She is not the first to throw a party and have something break during it. She is the first to throw a party (actually parties) and not bother to clean up before we got home. I won't speculate as to why that happened, Mike has and you can read his site for his thoughts. But for someone about to start college, that was really disappointing. Thank you to Wally and Mike for cleaning up her mess the Sunday we all returned. My husband was so angry he had to leave and I mainly wandered room to room shaking my head in a daze. I cleaned up some but was mainly in shock because none of the seven older children had done that (proof that each child is different) and I couldn't believe someone would go "out with friends" when things like a TV was broken, glass from the broken screen left on the floor, when the kitchen table was piled with dirty dishes, when curtains were torn, and I won't do the whole list. I will note the house was completely trashed and that I would assume anyone eager to go off to college would, knowing when everyone was due to return, would at least pick up their mess. As Mike noted this week, she's holed up in her room now. When she decides she wants to talk to any of us (she's not even talking to her sisters, all of whom have come by and tried to talk to her), helpful hint, the first words should be, "I am sorry." So if you noticed something different last week, it was probably the fact that I was and am still stunned that what took place happened. It's not the end of the world but it was and is a shock.

I'll note that the fundraising cycle is coming to an end (second quarter, I believe) and post this from Dennis Kuccinich's site, "A special message from Dennis:"

Dear Supporter:
Thank you so much for being involved with my campaign.
We have just a few days left for our fundraising efforts in June. Our Patriots for Peace campaign expresses how true patriotism supports peace. It is supporters like you who fuel our campaign and give hope to millions of Americans who are not represented in this debate. Help our campaign reach its goal of raising $150,000 online by June 30th in support of our message of hope and peace.
For the past few months I have traveled all over the country, talking with voters every day. I have had the chance to demonstrate the difference in what we stand for and what the other candidates stand for. And as you know - We Stand for Peace. Help us keep this message moving. Our message continues to resonate, and we continue to be a vital part of the debate to change the course of this nation. Our campaign is going strong, and it is getting stronger everyday. We have developed a comprehensive plan that you will be a part of in the coming months. Your support today will give us the resources that are needed to execute our plan and continue to spread our message of peace.
Click here to become a Patriot of Peace.
This campaign for peace is not only going to change America, but it's going to change the world. I am so grateful for your support, and I am grateful that you and I have the chance in our lifetime to transform this country from being on the war path into a path to peace. This is an important moment in our lives and the life of our nation. Help us reach our online fundraising goal of $150,000 by June 30th. Become a Patriot for Peace by making a contribution today. Again, I thank you, and I look forward to talking with you again in the very near future.
In Peace,

I had planned to blog about Iraq but I really have gone enough. Be sure to read C.I.'s "'Five IVAW Members Arrested at Fort Jackson For Wearing IVAW T-Shirt' (Adam Kokesh)" and the rest is covered in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.