Saturday, September 29, 2007

Baked Pinapple Stuffing in the Kitchen

Brenda loves Recipe Goldmine and asked if I could provide a link to it. She also e-mailed her favorite recipe from the site:

Baked Pineapple Stuffing recipe
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup packaged cornbread stuffing crumbs
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3 eggs, beaten
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 3 1/2-quart crockpot (you may use a baking dish that fits in a larger crockpot). Combine all ingredients; pour into the crockpot. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
This is good with baked ham.
Serves 4 to 6.

I don't normally include recipes I haven't tasted. I did fix it for Friday night's Iraq study group. It smelled wonderful. But it was gone before I could even taste it. People bring dishes and chips and vegetables and dips. I usually cook a few things myself. Usually something that I can bake so that it's in the oven while the meeting is going on. (Otherwise, I'd miss the discussions.) A slow cooker wasn't something I had thought of using but it's actually ideal because I don't need to set the alarm on my watch to remind myself to rush to the kitchen and pull a dish out of the oven. My husband got some ham from the deli on the way home last night when I told him about Brenda's recipe. He did taste the stuffing and wants a ham at Thanksgiving with this stuffing. (I always threaten that I'll only cook either turkey or ham but end up cooking both.) If it tasted as good as it smelled, it's was delicious.

Another thing to remember about this recipe if you're planning to use it for a holiday is that it will free up the oven. Anyone who cooks a large holiday spread knows how important every burner is and how oven space is sorely lacking. I have a very large stove but even with that and the microwave and the hot plates and the toaster oven, I can always use more space. Holidays here can mean my parents, my husband parents, our brothers and sisters (we both come from large families), their children, their children's young children, our eight children (some of whom have spouses and now we also have a grandbaby) as well as friends who weren't able to make it home for the holidays. Seventy-two may be the smallest we've ever had here for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. We have tables set up all over the house for these events. One year, we tried to set up tables together and would have managed enough seating space for that if my brother, his wife and their children had shown up at the last minute when their flight was cancelled (they had planned to go to his in-laws). There are always people who show up just before it's time to eat and it just makes more sense to use the dining room, the kitchen, the living room and, honestly, the halls.

You may be nodding along with that story or may be thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have a large family!" But if you're cooking on the holidays, you know how stove and oven space is always in short supply. I'm going to try this out again mid-week and plan to include it in Thanksgiving as well (I'll have to increase the ingredients) but you've got plenty of time for test runs between now and the holidays.

Turning to Dennis Kucinich, Paul Hackett's campaigning against him. That's certainly Hackett's right and one of his groupies e-mailed an article this week saying, "You won't even mention it." Oh, but I will. I had to suffer through Hackett's many, many appearences on Air America Radio and I believe he was even on Democracy Now! twice. Hackett was in Falluja for the slaughter but, if understand correctly, he was just in charge of the biometric program. After Falluja was slaughtered the second time, it was time to institute American decided programs such as you couldn't enter the city without being waived in by Americans and only after you'd submitted to biometrics. Hackett never expressed any dismay over the use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons on a civilian population or the fact that the city was reduced to rubble. He never showed any knowledge that tent cities sprung up for the refugees of Falluja and they didn't live there for a week, three years later many still live outside Falluja in those temporary encampments. He was all eager to get back to Iraq. (I don't doubt him. He sounded very sincere on that and other topics he shared on.) Hackett ran for the House of Representatives and lost. It was from Ohio and not a great deal of concern for me except I noted this was another candidate who was more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Paul Hackett then decided he would run for the Senate. Again, I never have doubted his sincerity so when Democrats in power made it very clear to him that he wasn't wanted in the race, he was very public in his whining. As a mother I use "whining" intentionally. Hackett could have stayed in the race. He didn't have the support of Democratic leadership? Well, wasn't he the fighter, isn't that what he campaigned on? I believe he sincerely believed he was a fighter but it's apparently easier to chase after civilians in the middle of the night -- here in the US -- with a loaded gun, force them off the road and hold them at gunpoint than it is to stand up to Democratic leadership. I wasn't bothered by his whining and thought that if you could leave the very personal nature of his campaign wound to the side, there was a great deal to be learned in his public remarks.

Like others in the field in 2006 who would crash and burn at the polls (Hackett might not have, he might actually have become a Senator), he was supported -- or hidden behind -- because he was a veteran. He didn't have any real ideas or plans, but he had been to Iraq. He wasn't for ending the illegal war so I'm not really sure what that experience was supposed to have in it for a positive. I gave birth to eight children. Maybe I should campaign for public office on that?

The Iraq War has no "up" for the United States. So a candidate whose only claim to fame is that he served in Iraq -- and possibly 'leadership' was shown there; however, the US is a democracy and you don't command in a democracy the way you do in the military -- and he's not calling for a withdrawal, just a 'smarter' illegal war, really has nothing to offer but a sugar coating shell for the Bully Boy's illegal polices.

Hackett would disagree but there were troubling aspects about his stances on gay rights and abortion. In the end, he would clarify those stances and do so in such a way that would indicate he might be in line with many who were in favor of both. I didn't see that as sop tossed out to fool the voters. I saw it as someone who had never bothered to think about either topic a great deal before deciding to run for the US Senate. Which, to me, indicated how unready he was to hold a position in the Senate since the only thing he had apparently thought about was his own life. That may be a natural issue of age (he is young) or it may be evidence that he has a hard time grasping the world isn't centered around him.

When he dropped out of the race for Senate, he made many public statements. He found his online buddies had turned on him. Democratic leadership said another person was the designate and he was shoved aside. Robert Parry (Consortium News) appeared to be firmly in support of Hackett and maintained that while others caved. C.I. was against Hackett but never wrote about Hackett's campaign (C.I.'s opposition was to the nonsense Hackett -- while not a candidate -- threw out repeatedly in interviews on Air America Radio and other useless outlets that hid behind the military because they were too cowardly to formulate their own opinions) but C.I. did defend Hackett's right to run and offered that Hackett should take back his decision to leave the Senate race. So he maintained support from Parry and C.I. advocated his returning to the race. I didn't ask C.I. about this but I know C.I. well enough to know C.I. making those comments were in response to the very quick and harsh way Hackett was dropped (I believe C.I. would use the term "used" and then dropped) and the very public manner in which that happened.

Hackett was dumped publicly. Like a contestant on a reality show sent packing. Now he's popped up to reveal a conversation he says took place between himself and Dennis Kucinich when Hackett was running for the House. I don't doubt that the conversation took place because I don't think Hackett's ever lied. I do find it interesting that who called who is not included in the retelling. (I'll assume that's the reporter's axe to grind and not Hackett's.) Left out of the retelling is that Hackett was asking for help in campaigning for the House. If you read this from the article e-mailed to me, you'll infer that help for his Hackett's campaign was being requested:

"He started his conversation off, which was pretty much a unilateral conversation, him to me while I was driving in my car in the 2nd Congressional District, by saying 'I would rather see Jean Schmidt get elected to Ohio's 2nd Congressional District than you. Because you are wrong on Iraq, you fought in Iraq, you're a Democrat in name only,' and a host of other issues."

I don't doubt Hackett's honesty, I do question his retelling abilities. How much of that is his problem and how much of it is the paper's own problem is unknown.

But I don't find anything appalling in that. Hackett was for the Iraq War. Kucinich had no reason to campaign for him. He had every reason not to campaign for him. If Bob Casey had phoned me for help, Bob Casey Jr., I would have responded in a similar manner due to Casey's opposition to a woman's right to choose.

Currently Kucinich is fighting in Congress with a handful of other reps to end the illegal war. The last thing he needed was another rep in the House who was going to push for the continuation of the illegal war. Those angry with the Democrats for still not ending the illegal war can certainly grasp that the obstructionists who continue the illegal war and buy into the illegal war are ignoring the people.

I say, "Good for Kucinich." Hackett goes on to call Kucinich a single-issue candidate which, it should be noted, was one more issue than Hackett ran on in either of his campaigns. Unless, of course, you consider a foul mouth an issue to run on.

Hackett's political immaturity still shines through as he denouces Kucinich as a single-issue candidate. Hackett's got VA benefits so he probably won't give much thought to single-payer health care any time soon. Again, we're back to the candidate (in a House race and a Senate race) who didn't think anything happened in the world if it had not happened to him personally. Kucinich is not a single-issue candidate. Hackett's still politically immature and thinks that because he was in Iraq, he's now an expert on life.

I doubt he's even an expert on destruction of life. But they conmen like Al Franken stroked his ego and led him to believe he was an expert. I would never have gone on Baby Cries A Lot show for any reason. But I gave birth to eight children and I think, in doing so, I provided more of a service to this country than someone who took part in destroying a country far away and still thinks that's a 'cool' thing to do. Hackett's attempting to destroy Kucinich today and it's a sign of how weak his understanding of the candidate he's supporting (or maybe how weak the candidate is) that all he can offer (or, in fairness, all the press can quote him on) is his uninformed attacks on Dennis Kucinich.

I don't care for Paul Hackett. Nothing he's ever said has made me wish I could vote for him. Al Franken, Sam Seder and the host of people who propped him up (when he had Democratic leadership backing) are disgusting types who hide behind the military. Adam Kokesh is a libertarian. I would be more than willing to consider voting for him because Kokesh has an understanding beyond on his own personal experiences. He is a thoughtful person who, when he runs (he will run for public office), has clearly given great thought to many issues. That's true of the illegal war but it's also true of many other things as well. If he was against a candidate who was equally strong, he wouldn't automatically get my vote.

Because I don't suffer from "Vote for Vets"! I don't hide behind a military and, more importantly, grasp that many caught up in that madness (as Hackett clearly is from his talk of his 'men') are not only threatening to women's rights, but threatening to democracy itself. But the military's been elevated so high by cowardly Democrats (such as Al Franken) who can't stand up for what they believe in but will gladly hide behind others, that we seem to be getting ever further away from what a democracy is founded upon. It's not founded upon a worship for the military and it's not founded upon a desire to militarize the United States.

During Vietnam, no veteran was spit upon. The myth survives to this day despite being repeatedly debunked. One reason is that some veterans of that era feel they didn't get their parades. I'm gald some made it back and regret that others died and "others" includes the Vietnamese. But had they thrown a parade in my area at the time, I wouldn't have (and I still wouldn't) turn out to applaud the boys who slit throats with piano wire, the ones dropping napalm on innocent civilians, the ones bombing the dykes in an attempt to starve the civilian populations. Similarly, I won't be applauding service in an illegal war. I will pray for those who were used in an illegal war. But I won't play the fool and turn out for a parade to honor participation in an illegal war.

The only thing I diagree with that's attributed to Kucinich is the thanks for service. Allowing the US to conduct an illegal war is not serving the United States. I grasp that young people may not realize that until they see it first hand, as was the case with Agustin Aguayo, to give one example. I realize that what Aguayo or Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder or other brave people do is beyond the ability of many. But to have been in Iraq, to have participated in the illegal war, and then to return to this country and still cheerlead it doesn't show bravery, it shows ignorance. Service to the United States is holding a criminal administration accountable, not marching blindly to the orders of a crook.

Kucinich is for universal health care (not for a program that's far from it but is passed off as universal health care), he's for saving the environment (which isn't a side-issue but an issue very important to our very survival), he's for repealing the Patriot Act, he's for creating jobs in this country and a host of other issues. Calling him a one-issue candidate demonstrates either political immaturity or else a strong desire for the illegal war to continue -- so strong that it blinds you to reality.

Here's what Paul Hackett thinks is a single-issue candidate:

After the remarks, Kucinich and his wife spent about an hour answering questions and responding to comments from the audience. The topics ranged from Kucinich's odds of winning the White House to his strategy for the campaign, his thoughts on reducing Americans' dependence on automobiles, the importance of sustainable agriculture and the need for universal healthcare.
"Imagine the Department of Agriculture being really involved in the promotion of sustainable agriculture," Kucinich said as members of the audience laughed and cheered. "Every area of our government can be reorganized" to benefit the environment and improve the world.
One program Kucinich touted several times during his remarks was his universal preschool program for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. The program, he said, would provide child care; expose children to the arts, including music; and provide an education boost. "Our children need to be exposed to the fullness of our culture from an early age," he said.
Kucinich also favors a not-for-profit, universal healthcare system.
"Healthcare is a basic right in a democratic society, not a privilege," he said. Elizabeth Kucinich, a native of England, where such a system already is in place, backed her husband up on his plan.
"Everybody is for this," she said. "There is absolutely no reason why the U.S. can't have a single-payer healthcare system."

That's from Michelle L. Klampe's article in the Ventura County Star. Lastly, a member wrote wondering if there were any hard feelings between C.I. and I over my post last week? No. Nor on my part over C.I.'s noting Hillary will stand firm when she stands up. My post was noted in the Sunday entry and also Monday morning as well as in Monday's snapshot. I offered my opinions and C.I.'s repeat linkings were supposed to make clear that here's a viewpoint you should check out. C.I.'s not interested in telling anyone who to vote for and will also note good qualities of candidates as well. There was no problem for either of us with what the other wrote. I am actively supporting Dennis Kucinich. C.I.'s not going to endorse any candidate. Mike, my son, may not end up supporting Kucinich (he's still deciding who to vote for or if he's even going to support a Democrat in the primary). If he chooses to support a candidate in the primary and it's not Kucinich, there will not be a problem there. To be clear, C.I. is not supporting or endorsing any candidate. They get mentioned at The Common Ills only in relation to Iraq. There is no one that hasn't gotten a favorable mention for at least once telling truth on Iraq in some aspect. Kucinich and Richardson get mentioned more because they are talking about the illegal war. If one of the candidates says (or does) something to prolong the illegal war, they get called out on that. C.I. was here last night and is still here. They're leaving for California shortly. When C.I. came in from running with Mike this morning, I was informed by the two of them by an idea they had for a piece at The Third Estate Sunday Review dealing with the way the primary campaign is currently going. I would urge you to check out The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow.

I said "lastly" but . . . One thing C.I. and I spoke of last night was how furious we are over something. We're not supposed to write about it online. No one is. We're all supposed to support Mike's feelings that we just avoid it. I'm probably the only one who can get away with breaking that because I'm his mother. So let me weigh in. Dave Zirin is a piece of work. Writing a 21-year-old young man who has done nothing but praise you to hiss that you've been distorted and called a "flack" for Obama (Mike did not write that Zirin was a 'flack' for Obama) is really juvenile. Dave Zirin is a juvenile and he's an idiot. I don't care that he in some form retracted that in a later e-mail. The reality is Zirin went on Democracy Now! and praised Roberto Clemente. (And if it's Roger Clemente, I don't give a damn. I'm not a sports fan and think it's hilarious the way so many get so caught up in something as trivial as sports.) In the midst of that praise, he brought up Barack Obama. He may not wish he'd stated that Clemente did something brave and he doesn't see Obama's statements as brave; however, he did not say that on Democracy Now! What he did on that broadcast was praise Clemente and then offer a comparison to Obama that was not negative. In the midst of his gush-fest over Clemente, his comparison inserted of Obama reads like praise for Obama. The fact that in the later e-mail Zirin acknowledges that he was made aware of Mike (and Wally's) praise for Zirin's book in 2005 but never wrote to thank them may not seem like a big deal. It becomes a big deal when you consider that he never thanked either young man for that and he never thanked Mike for the repeated praise my son offered of him over a two year period. However, he shows up two years later, for the first time, to yell and screech at my son, making baseless accusations that (though withdrawn) seriously upset my son. I won't be silent on that even though Mike's asked us all not to mention it. Over 250 times Dave Zirin was praised by my son at his website. When Mike noted that he wasn't into Zirin that much these days, Zirin e-mails a nasty e-mail. Zirin was a personal hero of my son. It's not a question of hate mail because Mike gets that and laughs at. It's a question of someone you've gone out of your way to promote, someone whose work you have really enjoyed, never bothering to thank you over a two year period but showing up to be nasty about the fact that he (Zirin) can't speak clearly. I've seen my son depressed over lost games (that he played in or just watched), over elections, over relationships, but I've never seem him not bounce back quickly until this week. He will be fine. But that someone who has been a hero to him decided to go to town on him (hissing "slander" among other terms) because Zirin's not proficient enough in public speaking to be clear about his own meaning is really sick. Congratulations to you, Dave Zirin, you took someone who was your biggest fan and showed them exactly why they never should have wasted their time even reading you. I will not be silent on that.

And I think someone's ego needs to be checked when they want to reap all the positives from my son's ringing endorsement but when one thing is noted (and noted by Mike correctly), suddenly it's time to e-mail and act like an immature brat. The fact that in what I term "clarification" (not "apology"), Zirin notes he's familiar with all the praise goes to the fact that Zirin was happy to have his ego stroked but anything less than 100% praise means it's time to lash out demonstrates that Zirin has problems. That's my son and I will not be silent while Zirin does a number on him. I understand that Elaine (his girlfriend) and C.I. and others have to be silent. I'm Mike's mother, I do not have to be silent and I will not be silent. Long before the net, C.I.'s ignored the press. I've mentioned write ups since I met C.I. and have always been surprised by the remark, "I didn't read it." But I get the point now. C.I. has always maintained that if you read the good, you have to read the bad; that everyone's not going to like you; that you will do or say things that will upset some people; so you either go full out and read everything or you ignore it. C.I. elected to ignore it. C.I. has repeatedly noted people who read only their positive press and end up with an inflated view of themselves. I would think, "How silly. You are grounded. It's not going to go to your head." But obviously, it did go to Zirin's head. Which is why he felt he could attack my son for the mildest of statements based upon what Zirin did on Democracy Now! -- not on anything my son created, but what Zirin actually did. As Elaine noted (and I won't link to the actual post because Mike's asked us all not to link to any of this and just let it die -- Wally and Cedric link to everything and they told Mike they would emphasize it but they were linking to it):

C.I.'s known as a "really-real," actually, and it is because there's no pretense. C.I. was that way in college, C.I. was that way after the first blush of fame all those years ago. But, and this is in no way blaming C.I., it's probably equally true that the way C.I. is made Mike think that someone far less famous would be the way they self-present and that's not the case with Dave Zirin. Let me add far, far less famous. Maybe another "far" is needed? I doubt Dave Zirin will ever make even one magazine cover.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, September 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the air-war continues and NPR goes ga-ga over it, the mercenaries at Blackwater continue to raise questions, and Dems fund the illegal war again. And, ADDED, PBS examines the Iraq War (tonight in most markets) via Bill Moyers Journal and NOW with David Branccacio.

Starting with war resistance. As Iraq Veterans Against the War notes, the government's 'do-over' (double-jeopardy) attempt at court-martialing Ehren Watada is scheduled for October 9th and "Lt. Watada is facing four charges that could land him in jail for up to six years." June 22, 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in the Iraq War (rightly) noting that the war is illegal. Daniel Ellsberg gave a speech (posted at ICH) last week where he noted Watada, "I've often said that Lt. Ehren Watada -- who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war -- is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath." Watada's attorneys are appealing on a number of grounds including the fact that Judge Toilet (aka John Head) thinks he can be impartial and preside again as well as the fact that a second court-martial (after Head ruled the February court-martial a mistrial over defense objection) would be in violation of the US Constitution which forbids double-jeopardy.

At the start of the week, Audra D.S. Burch (Miami Herald) provided an overview of war resister Aidan Delgado's book The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, noting, "This is a story of one young man's transformation from reserve volunteer to soldier to conscientious objector, practicing Buddhist, author and always -- always -- relentless critic of the Iraq War, a peace advocate with a point of view based on real wartime experiences." Delgado is the third war resister to tell their story in book form this year. In May, Camilo Mejia shared his story in Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia while in February Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

ADDED:In media news, the latest episode of Bill Moyers Journal airs on PBS in many markets tonight (check your local listings) and he will remember two US service members who died recently (two of the seven who wrote the New York Times column "The War as We Saw It") and this is also up at YouTube..In addition Bill Moyers Journal examines the Iraqi refugee crisis with NPR's Deborah Amos and War Hawk George Packer while also taking a look at the outrageous amount of monies being spent on the illegal war.

Also: This week (Fridays in most markets) PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of US service members wounded in the illegal war: "For many Iraq and Gulf War veterans, the transition from battlefield to home front is difficult. Bouts of fierce anger, depression and anxiety that previous generations of soldiers described as "shell shock" or "combat/battle fatigue" now earn a clinical diagnosis: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the relatively new medical label doesn't guarantee soldiers will get the care they need. On Friday, September 28 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW looks at how America's newest crop of returning soldiers is coping with the emotional scars of war, and some new and innovative treatments for them."

On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today (second hour), Al-Arabiya TV's Hisham Melhem explained the new meaning of Blackwater since the September 16th incident where they slaughtered at least 16 Iraqi civilians, "In the past, Susan [Page, USA Today], if you wanted to discredit the American war in Iraq or if you wanted to discredit the war on terror all you had to do is just invoke the names of places such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib or Haditha. Now you can add to that Blackwater USA. I mean this is a huge embarrassment and a problem for the United States in the future. These people are now seen by the Iraqis as the new face of the occupation. And the irony of all ironies now, because these people are in charge of providing protection to the American diplomats there -- I mean, you have a private army. This is the privatization of war. More than 30,000 men. And I'm not saying that many of them . . . are [not] honorable and former good soldiers, the problem is that given what they've done, as Robin [Wright, Washington Post] said, just imagine Ryan Crocker, one of the best American diplomats serving in the Middle East, probably the best one available for Iraq now, trying to visit a neighborhood in Baghdad, after the surge, whatever, he's going to be protected by whom? By elements of the Blackwater. That's the irony of ironies."

On the topic of Blackwater, today Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that among the deaths resulting from the US mercenary compnay are four Iraq journalists including Suhad Shakir who was shot dead February 2nd while driving to work inside the Green Zone while three guards of the Iraqi Media Network were shot dead, "picked off one by one by Blackwater snipers stationed on the roof of the 10-story Justice Ministry". The US Defense Department has maintained that they do not use Blackwater for their employees; however, the US State Dept does. James Risen (New York Times) reports that the State Department released a count that found Blaackwater "had been involved in 56 shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq so far this year." An Iraqi government investigation found Blackwater responsible for the September 16th deaths at a time when Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, was issuing strong words that Blackwater would be gone. Instead, the puppet's strings were pulled and he agreed to go along with a US State Department led investigation. AFP reports today that US Gen David Petraues and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker have stated that this 'commission' has still not met and is still "preparing for its first meeting in Baghdad". Rather surprising when Steve Fainaru and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) are able to report on the US embassy's insta-study of the situation today which finds 'confusion' and 'good intentions' (at least one Blackwater employee all but yelled, "Stop the madness!"). Though James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise are back to pimp this report, the New York Times' reporters fail to use the term "self-serving" though they were very happy to apply that to the report on Blackwater from the Iraqi government. Since the mercenaries do not protect Iraqis, since they protect US embassy employees, exactly which report would be more likely to be "self-serving"? Play dumb, Glanz and Tavernise, play dumb. As Reuters notes, the official US State Dept response is "We're not commenting on the substance of the investigation" which allows them to float this, to get it out there, and if it explodes in their faces, claim they never said those things happened. Meanwhile, Kristin Roberts and Sue Pleming (Reuters) report that US Brig Gen Joseph Anderson declared today of the mercenaries, "I can certainly say I've seen them do some tactics that I thought were over the top. Are they quicker with the trigger? Are they quicker to wave a weapon, brandish a weapon, other tactics, cutting people off? All of us have experience, have seen different things at different times. I have seen them, in my opinion, over-react but that does not mean it's consistently the case."

Blackwater is far from the only problem facing Iraqis. Today on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio (first hour), host Mario Murillo spoke with CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee who explained his latest piece ("The Boys from Baghdad: Iraqi Commandos Trained by U.S. Contractor") noting that Blackwater shooting at civilians was "just the tip of the iceberg . . . because you do have US soldiers and US security guards that are in the country shooting at civilians, dropping bombs on them, etc. -- creating mayhem. But in fact the role the US has played in creating the civil war in fact is far more long lasting, could be far more insidious and dangerous than the occasional massacre of civilians. That's in no way to condone it at all -- but just say that there are far worse things happening today. There are probably at least, to the best of my knowledge, six training programs to support 'Iraqi security'. The first couple are the training of the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army which interestingly enough were given over to private contractors. DynCorp from Virginia trains the police and Vinnell from Los Angeles originally had the contract to train the Iraqi army. Both of these have been pretty much disasters. And in fact one of the things I explain in this article is that in April 2004 when there were like two major incidents in the country -- and I was in Iraq at the time -- one was the civil uprisings in the south with the siege of various cities and the attack on Blackwater personnel in Falluja -- the US tried to press this police and army into service and in both cases, in fact they shipped police down to Najaf the Iraqi police and soldiers just basically fled the scene and refused to fight and, in some case, turned against the US. So the US quickly realized they needed something way beyond the sort of regular security forces. . . . So they came up with this idea of third force. The third force was going to be special commandos that would be highly trained -- a little like Special Forces that could go into action." Chatterjee explains in his article that these are Emergency Response Unit or ERU and that they training "began under General David Petreaus as an effort to bolster security in Iraq, and soon evolved into a system for providing support to the deeply sectarian Ministry of the Interior." That ministry provides their paychecks as well as controls them today. "Sometimes the people that they train are people who come from backgrounds that are either sectarian or criminal," Chatterjee explained to Murillo. "It's one thing to bring in Blackwater and have them protect US diplomats and shoot at anybody who comes close -- that's horrendous -- but it's another thing to actually go in and train people in the art of warfare and hand this training over to sectarian groups that are now creating multiple civil wars in the country. And that, to me, is one of the most insidious and dangerous parts of the US occupation."

Another insidious part of the illegal war is the little noted air war. (Norman Solomon has long noted the air war and it's under-reporting by the media.) Guy Raz (NPR's Morning Edition) reported today that "about every 90 seconds something takes off or lands at Balad Air Base there's C130 Cargo planes, there are helicopters, there are fighter jets and those are just a fraction of the forty different kinds of aircraft that use this base. It's not just busy, it's really busy. Actually the busiest Pentagon airport in the world and the second busiest airport in the world overall." Though such activity might give many pause, Guy Raz is a rah-rah-rah-er and tickled pink to be one of the 'boys'. This as Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 2 a.m. U.S. military used aerial fire targeting a building in Al Doura area south Baghdad, Iraqi police said. The aerial fire targeted building number 139 in Al Siha district. 10 people were killed and 7 others were injured according to the Iraqi police sources." Reuters notes eight dead. Meanwhile, the US military issues a press release regarding events Tuesday: "A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcom dropped precision munitions near Al Nussayyib, Iraq Sept. 25, killing Abu Nasr al-Tunisi and two other Al Q'aeda in Iraq operatives. They were killed when the aircraft, assigned to U.S. Central Command Air Forces, dropped two laser guided 500 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition GBU-12 bombs, destroying the terrorist safe house when the three were meeting." If this is the announced 'investigation' into the Tuesday bombing in Mussyyib that claimed the lives of 5 women and 4 children (see yesterday's snapshot), consider it a white wash.

In news of other violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two people while a truck bombing in Mosull "destroyed a bridge". Reuters notes the Mosul truck bombing left twenty people wounded. KUNA reports that the British military base in Basra was attacked with mortars overnight.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "David Shamoun, a 28 Christian Iraqi . . . worked with a Turkish company and a college students" was shot dead in Mosul


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Meanwhile Dominic Evans (Reuters) reports that if the 59 announced deaths holds, September will be the lowest month of announced US service members deaths for the year. September in 2005 and 2003 was lower than the announced 59. Also worth noting is that M-NF 'elected' to allow DoD to announce deaths this month.

On the subject of the US military's "kill teams," the press continues to avoid the fact that war resister James Burmeister was publicly speaking of them months before the press stumbled onto them this week. Paul von Zeilbauer (New York Times) reported this morning on the court-martial of Jorge G. Sandoval and noted that Anthony G. Murphy had testified in July that there was a sense of sense "of disappointment from field commanders seeking higher enemy body counts" and that "Soldiers also testified that battalion commanders authorized a classified new technique that used fake explosives and detonation wires as 'bait' to lure and kill suspected insurgents around Iskandariya, a hostile Sunni Arab region south of Baghdad." AP reports that Sandoval was acquitted today of some charges; however, "the panel decided he had placed a detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look as if the man was an insurgent."

In Wednesday's snapshot, the Joe Biden led push in the Senate (Biden is a senator and also a candidate for the Democratic Party's potential presidential nomination) to divide Iraq into three section in a vote that found 75 US senators voting in favor of it and only 23 voting against it. Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes, "Partitioning Iraq is not a solution that is Washington's to make. The recent vote by the US Senate is misguided. In addition, it will do little to further the desire of the US public to bring the troops home. Instead, it will put US forces in the position of maintaining the newly created divisions along new lines in the sand. Senator Biden's bill is not a solution. It is another false approach that has as much chance at success as anything tried by the Bush administration. In other words, it is destined to fail." Al Jazeera reports that Nouri Al-Maliki is denouncing the US resolution and declaring, "They should stand by Iraq to solidify its unity and its sovereignty. They shouldn't be proposing its division. That could be a disaster not just for Iraq but for the region." Strong words from the puppet. Words that, if pattern holds, will vanish with the mere pulling of a string.

Which is why the Iraqi government, 'officially' led by the puppet, is held in such low opinion by Iraqis. Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Hiba Dawood reported, "The slow crumbling of Iraq's government began when the Sadrists withdraw their ministers from cabinet, demanding real authority to provide local services and a timetable for an end to the US occupation. In the fourteen months since then, the Sadrists and the Fadheela Party have split from the United Iraqi Alliance Coalition the largest Shi'ite grouping in the Iraqi parliament. The latest to leave the government were the ministers from the Sunni Accord. They accuse the government of serving sectarian ends. Shi'ite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is accused of sectarianism even by other Shias who accuse him of marginalizing them. But the United Iraqi Alliance, now reduced to just the Dawa Party, and the Iraq Islam Supreme Council insists the government is still performing. Jinan [Jasim] al-Ubaydi is a member of parliament and with the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council. She says the withdrawal of so many parties from the governing alliance doesn't effect government policy or performance: 'There dreams are negotiable and though there are many withdrawals, the government is not collapsing. Ryan Crocker said the Iraqi government has enjoyed many vital successes.' Despite the US ambassador's optimism few ordinary Iraqis say the government is succeeding. There is a growing frustration with both the government and the parties that have pulled out."

Despite this, the US Congress continues to fund the illegal war. John Nichols (Common Dreams) reports that the Senate raised the debt limit for the federal government and gave the Bully Boy "at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq" in a 94 to 1 vote with Russ Feingold being the sole senator to vote no (and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sam Brownback all missing the vote due to campaiging for their parties' presidential nomination) while the House of Represenatives passed the measure by a 404 to 14 vote with Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Earl Blumenauer, Keith Ellison, Ron Paul, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Maurice Hinchey, Dennis Kunich, Jim McDermott, Donald Payne, Lynn Woolsey and Diane Watson voting no (Kucinich and Paul are running for their parties' presidential nomination). Meanwhile, the national Green Party has noted Democratic party hopefuls for their party's presidential nomination Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama declared this week in a forum broadcast by MSNBC that they couldn't guarantee all US troops would be home, if they were elected to president, by the year 2013. The Green Party notes:

The Green Party of the United States has called for full and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of which is entering its sixth year; the party opposes a US military attack on Iran and warns Americans not to believe the new flood of deceptive war propaganda.
Greens stress that Congress could end the war quickly if Democrats refused to move on bills for war funding, including the latest request for nearly $190 billion the Pentagon says is necessary to keep combat troops in Iraq for another year. Greens urge Congress to divert federal funds from war spending to human needs and services in the US, including restoration and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast.
The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, including misleading the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. Greens have called the invasion a criminal breach of the US Constitution and international law, motivated by desire for political and corporate dominance in the region, control over Iraqi oil and other resources, and cooperation with Israel's aggressive strategic objectives.

In news of pacts, CBS and AP report: "Turkey and Iraq signed a counterterrorism pact Friday aimed at cracking down on separatist Kurdish rebels who have been attacking Turkey from bases in Iraq. The agreement, however, falls short of meeting Ankara's demand to send troops in pursuit of Kurdish rebels fleeing across the border into northern Iraq, Turkey's Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. 'It was not possible to reach a deal on chasing Kurdish rebels, however, we hope this issue will be solved in the future,' Atalay said. 'We are expecting this cooperation against terrorism to be broadened as much as possible'."

Last night, Houston's The Progressive Forum (KPFT -- here for KPFT archives) devoted the second hour of the program to a speech by Gloria Steinem delivered September 17th in Houston, Texas and entitled "The Progression of Feminism: Where Are We Going?". Steinem declared near the start, "I arrived here this morning and I said, 'Oh, this is Ann Richards Airport.' Don't you think we're going to live to see the day when they'll be glad to change the name?" She then began addressing the efforts to destroy tribes, women, LBGT and other members in an attempt to dominate and colonialize. As she observed, "No, we can't go back and it's not about romanticizing the past but it is about understanding that if a system of male dominance had a beginning, it can have an end." Steinem's Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions was mentioned in yesterday's snapshot as was a documentary, Anthony Thomas' Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done which a typo turned into "They" (I put in links on a good day and then dictate later in the day -- I dictate very fast and would have my own typos if I typed the snapshots -- we're noting this one because the documentary's title was wrong due to the typo "They Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.")

now with david branccaciopbs