Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tomato and Zucchini Casserole Bake

Mercy e-mailed me on Tuesday and wrote: "Help! After the rally, we're going back to our home with my brother who's a vegetarian, my mother and two friends. I just found out that was happening, us having a get together after. I have no idea what to fix. I figure chicken will be safe for everyone but my brother and his date. What can I serve that's a side dish and can also qualify as a meal for vegetarians? I don't think a salad alone will cut it!"

Mercy, whose parents came from Cuba, I asked her about her name when we were exchanging e-mails, and her husband lobbied hard. They're attending an event in their area to stop the war and she went to work making sure that it wasn't just her and her husband attending this event as it had been the past. (Others had attended but in terms of who she went with, it was just her and her husband.) This will be the first protest her mother's ever been at, the two friends voted for the first time in the 2004 election but her brother's probably the most active of the ones they've invited to the rally. There have been a number of meatless dishes offered here (because some readers are vegetarian and also because I love vegetables) and I wrongly assumed she was familiar with them so set to work thinking what I would serve in a situation like that.

I figured something warm because it is winter. Some vegetarians don't eat dairy so I e-mailed to ask if her brother did eat dairy (he does). It needed to be filling and Mercy wrote that he was a big fan of tomatoes. So I gave her a recipe to test out and she reports back that it was very easy to make and perfect for today. She's cooked it ahead so she just has to warm it up when they get home.

Tomato and Zucchini Casserole Bake
2 medium tomatoes sliced
2 medium zucchinis sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of grated cheese
salt and pepper

Place zucchini slices in a greased casserole dish. Lightly salt and pepper (skip the salt if you're trying to cook low sodium). Remove the rings from the onion slices and layer them over the zucchini. Add the bell pepper. Follow with the tomatoes. Top with cheese and bake (uncovered) at 350 degrees for one hour.

If you're cooking ahead of time, allow dish to cool, cover with foil or plastic (or a lid) and place in your fridge. (If using a lid, nonplastic, put it on while the dish is cooling. The steam will create a bit of a seal.) The cheese choice is up to you. I always go with mozzarella myself, but you can use chedder or any cheese you enjoy. On the bell pepper, green is fine. Some might want to use red. If you're trying to add a different flavor and color, I'd suggest yellow.

You can eat it hot out of the oven or you can reheat it and eat it later. Casseroles tend to be filling. Mercy fixed it to sample and intended to fix more items for dinner but her husband was eating forkfuls and she ended up just making that dinner. There were no complaints. So this is a wonderful side dish or main dish. If you're trying to get more vegetables into your diet, this gives you tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini.

I'm glad Mercy's got a dish she can serve but I'm even more glad that she's gotten her brother, his date, her mother and two friends to attend her local rally. It could have just been her and her husband attending together. Instead, they're going with five more people. That's how the peace movement will grow and how the illegal war will end. I'm in DC with the 'gang.' My husband and I drove in with Jess' parents. (Mike flew in with Elaine because Elaine couldn't cancel her last therapy session. Thursday nights are when she has her group of veterans.) We brought along our daughter and one of my brothers. Jess' mother brought along a friend. Bit by bit, the peace movement grows bigger and louder and we're going to get to the point where even the White House will have to listen to us.

If you're attending something today and you haven't invited anyone to come with you, take a moment or two to see if you can think of someone to invite. It's not 2003, after the illegal war began, when you might have felt you were in the minority. The American people want the war to end.

By the way, Betty's most recent chapter is "Thomas Friedman plays at being Chauncey Gardiner." Her latest will go up later today. If it's not up by the time I'm ready to post, I will note it next weekend. I would also recommend the "Roundtable" that everyone did at The Third Estate Sunday Review. That blew me away. An honest, probing discussion of the peace movement. I have waited in vain for independent media to provide that. If you have as well, read "Roundtable."

Here is C.I.'s "Iraq snasphot" for Friday:

Friday, January 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, ten days to go until Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial begins, groups mobolize to end the war in the United States, Bully Boy issues death threats to Iranians in Iraq and a death threat to American democracy, the privatization of Iraq's assets is boldly expressed but we're all supposed to look the other way and the US military gets caught in a lie.

Starting with Ehren Watada, he, his father (Bob Watada) and his mother (Carolyn Ho) will be out in full force tomorrow. Susan Paynter (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports will be taking part in Seattle's events to end the war: "1 p.m. at the Center for Social Justice, 2111 E. Union St., moving to the Military Recruitment Center at 2301 S. Jackson St., then to the Langston Hughes Center at 104 17th Ave. S. at 3, where speakers will include Lt. Ehren Watada." Watada, who will be part of a panel discussion, is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and he is facing a Februarty 5th court-martial in which he will not be able to present any real defense because 'Judge' Head has a really sick sense of what "justice" is.
Michael E. Ruane (Washington Post) reports that Bob Watada will be speaking at the DC rally tomorrow and Bob Watada tells Ruane: "There is no doubt in my mind that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is wholly unwarranted. The Iraqi people have done absolutely nothing to the United States. They've done nothing to deserve the massacre and the pummeling they're getting . . . the plunder, the torture, the rape, the murder of innocent people. It's got to stop." Meredith May (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that, in San Francisco, things kick off with "a noon rally at Powell and Market streets. Carolyn Ho, the mother of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada of Hawaii, who is refusing orders to deploy to Iraq, will speak to the crowd."

Three different cities tomorrow where they will be attempting to get the message that the illegal war needs to end and that what will take place in the February 5th court-martial won't be justice because the 'judge' has refused to allow
Ehren Watada to present his reasons for refusing to deploy, the studies he did as part of his command that led him to the conclusion that the war was illegal and immoral. Marilyn Bechtel (People's Weekly World) spoke with Marti Hiken (National Lawyers Guild) who noted that "people do not surrender all their constional rights when they enter the military" and that "Regardless of whether the military wins this court martial, they lose for silencing an individual who has so much integrity that is evident to people across the country."

Saying "no" to an illegal war is hard. It takes courage. (Note the Cowards Silence plauging the left if you doubt that, but I'm actually talking about those in the military who have said "no.") Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In the United States, tomorrow sees protests, rallies and marches around the country. As
CODEPINK notes: "Join us on January 27 to say No More Funding for War! Bring Our Troops Home Now! We will use our feet and our lungs and our signs and our outrage to let Bush and our new Congress know that we are serious about ending this war.If you can't make it to DC, see if there is a solidarity event being planned in your area. If not, create your own, even if that means standing alone on a street corner with a sign! In lieu of lobbying, you can call your Congressperson to demand they cut the funding for George Bush's War. Our voices are powerful, wherever we may be geographically. We know peace is the only real path to hope and opportunity for this country. Together we will make it happen."

If you can't make it to DC, you can still be heard. If there's not an event in your area, start one. (formely Ceasefire Campaign Team) is attempting to get the word out on a way you can be heard in DC if you're not able to attend:

Join Saturday's global peace march... without Leaving Your House!This Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Americans will march on Washington DC to demand peace and justice in Iraq and the Middle East. We can be there too, raising a global voice of solidarity -- through our own worldwide virtual march. Time is short, so add your voice and join the march today! This could signal the rebirth of the US peace movement. We need to show them the world is on their side. Let's bring our call for peace to the streets of power in Washington. Join the global peace march and tell your friends today!

Events will be covered by some media. Known coverage will include:
KPFA which will broadcast live from the DC demonstrations from 10:00 am to noon PST. (At which point it will begin covering demonstrations in the Bay Area.) and Laura Flanders who will cover the days demonstration Saturday night (7:00 to 10:00 pm EST) on her program RadioNation with Laura Flanders (heard on Air America Radio and other outlets). (Both KPFA and Air America Radio offer online streaming.) (KPFA also offers their achived broadcasts for free, so if you miss the live coverage and would like to hear it later, check out the KPFA Archives). Rachel notes that WBAI will broadcast live coverage of the demonstrations from
11:00 am to 1:00 pm EST. In addition, she notes that tonight (Friday) on
WBAI, David Occhiuto will host a special which will feature anti-war films, interviews and will include coverage of Ehren Watada including sections of the speech he gave in Seattle that the the Article 32 hearing in August included and the court-martial next month plans to include in their prosecution of him. Tune in to hear the message that so frightened the military brass that 'Judge' Head has gagged Watada's defense from presenting. That's tonight, WBAI,
7:00 pm to 11:00 pm EST (over the airwaves in NYC and surrounding areas as well as online).

As people mobilize to get the truth out, the US military finds some cover-ups implode faster than others. New details emerge regarding Saturday's reported violence. Saturday, five US troops were killed in Karbala when resistance fighters reportedly wearing US uniforms were waived through checkpoints and made it to a meeting in Karbala. Five US troops were reported as dying during the attack that followed. The
AP is reporting (based on US and Iraqi military sources) that four of the five were kidnapped and the four were then killed with bodies being discovered as far away as 25 miles. There was a lot of Happy Talk this week. There was the lie that corpses discovered in Baghdad were tapering off (42 discovered yesterday), there was the lie that what's happening on Haifa Street is normal and not an attack that's killing civilians, there were showy moments in the US Congress and there were the lies of Bully Boy's State of the Union address. When we're neck-deep in lies, it's really easy for the US military to lie (that is what happened) and misinform the public.

Without the lies, the escalation couldn't be sold and a lot of people are vested in selling the escalation. And note that when the AP asked about it, the US military played dumb. As
Steven R. Hurst and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reported later, the US military has now confirmed that four were kidnapped and killed later (1 of the 4 was apparently discovered "mortally wounded").


CBS and AP report a bombing of a pet market utilizing a bomb hidden among pigeons that has resulted in the death of at least 14 people in Baghdad. Stephen Farrell (Times of London) reports: "Police said insurgents concealed the explosives inside a cardboard box punched with holes to make it appear a container for pigeons, parrots or other birds which are prime attractions at the market. The blast, which also wounded 55, hit the Ghazel market on the eastern banks of the Tigris just before the weekly curfew intended to protect crowds attending mosques during noon prayers on the Islamic day of prayer." Farrell notes that the explosion allowed some caged pets to be let loose but many died. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Two civilians were injured when an IED exploded in Milhaniya, a part of Amil neighborhood at 1 pm." Reuters notes: "On Friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque on the outskirts of Mosul, killing seven and wounding 17 more after prayers, a police source said."


Reuters notes: "Gunmen opened fire on a crowd in Baghdad's Bayaa district, killing one person and wounding two, a police source said."


CBS and AP report: "Seven tortured bodies of people who had been blindfolded and had their hands and legs bound before they were shot in the head were found in the capital Friday, according to police." Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Baghdad today has risen to 27 while one corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and a headless corpse was discovered in Hawija. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The body of the Iraqi boxer Hussein Hadi was found in Haifa street. Police said that Hadi was kidnapped three days ago and he found hanged today."

Also today, the
US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

CNN reports that the Iranian government is calling "terrorism" on Bully Boy's recent order (backed up by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) for US troops to kill (on the spot) Iranians they suspect of plotting terrorism. These execution orders by the Bully Boy come with no jury or defense, just an instant passing of judgement.

In financial news,
AFP reports that one of Iraq's two vice presidents, Shi'ite Adel Abdul Mahdi, has called the illegal occupation of Iraq "idiotic" but is pushing the 'we will be safe if we have to raid and terrorize school children, residents of homes, etc' that was so popular with the puppet of the occupation yesterday. Those confused by the both-sides-talking Mahdi can refer to a commentary by Antonia Juhasz (Huffington Post) last May: "The re-appointment of Mahdi may yet provide the Bush Administration with its most important victory in the Iraq war since Saddam Hussein was pulled out of a rabbit hole in Tikrit. However, Mahdi's Vice Presidency may also ultimately generate at least as much hostility towards the United States as the invasion itself. Over the course of the war, Mahdi emerged as one of the most aggressive proponents of the Bush administration's economic agenda for Iraq, including the implementation of controversial corporate globalization rules and greater U.S. corporate access to Iraq's oil." Mahdi earlier served in the Bremer 'government' and will probably serve in a great many other puppet governments to follow.

MarketWatch reports: "Over the next several years, the minister [Mahdi] said Iraq would look to privatize all of state-owned industry, which number around 60 companies. He also said Asian companies were keen to enter discussions with the Iraqi government over industrial contracts. Hariri said Iraq was also in discussions with San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp over engineering contracts, without elaborating."

The privatization. Antonia Juhasz (author of
The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) attempted to address the realities of the oil law on KPFA's Living Room
January 11th. But a (male) guest, of course, new better and felt that whatever laws were passed, Iraqis could undue the damage many years on down the line. That's confronting the problem! For those who didn't grasp the importance of what Juhasz was addressing, The San Jose Mercury News reports "Iraq is in negotiations with San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to build a new $3 billion petrochemical facility, and is in talks with several other Western companies over industrial projects. In an interview Thursday, Iraq's minister for industry and minerals Fowzi Hariri said the discussions with Chevron and Exxon began this week in Washington and are at an early stage." The New York Times fluffed their coverage of the law last Saturday. Apparently, we're all supposed to pretend it doesn't matter or take the attitude of, "Hey, they can fix in 20 years!"

For those who've forgotten, in polling where Iraqis side with the resistance on the topic of attacking foreign fighters (including American troops), they also note the belief that the continued war is nothing but an attempt for foreigners to get their hands on Iraqi assets. Prvatization laws and multi-billion dollar deals by outsiders tend to convey that impression.

In political news,
CNN reports that that the Democratic leadership in the US Congress may push for a revamping of the 2002 act that the Bully Boy cited as his authorization for starting a pre-emptive, illegal war of agression on Iraq. Of course, with Democrat leadership, "maybe" means basically what "We'll see" means when said by a parent.

In news of dictators,
CNN reports on Bully Boy of the United States latest string of I statements: "I am the decider . . . I've picked the plan . . . I know . . ." Though his love affair with self continues unabated, as the recent poll by CBS News found on Bully Boy's desired escalation: "More than 70 percent of Americans think he should have to get congressional approval before he commits those troops." (68% of poll respondents stated they were "uneasy" with Bully Boy's ability to make decisions regarding Iraq.) Though Bully Boy appears to have forgotten this basic fact, in a democracy, the people are "the deciders."

Reminder: Those in DC Saturday should check out
Anthony Arnove, author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal, who will be speaking at Busboys and Poets at 5:00 pm and those in the NYC area on Sunday should check out Joan Mellen speech at 7:30 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street and Lesington Avenue). Mellan, a professor at Temple University and the author of seventeen books, will be presenting a lecture on the JFK assasination . . . and beyond. Tickets are $25. Mellen's latest book is A Farewell to Justice which probes the assasination of JFK. She was a guest on Law and Disorder November 7, 2005. And the March 15, 2006 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter featured her speech "How the Failure to Identify, Prosecute and Convict President Kennedy's Assassins Has Led to Today's Crisis of Democracy." You can also read a transcript of that speech here.

ben hamamatoliving roomkpfa

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cajun Chicken Wings

I was exchanging e-mails with Patsy this week about a number of topics. Her mother passed away over the summer and she only recently was at a point where she could open up the boxes of her mother's items and go through them. Immediately after the death, her brother and her sisters divided up their mother's items and, among other things, Patsy ended up with the cookbooks.

She was amazed at how many cookbooks, even name ones, as late as the 60s were built around canned ingredients. That's because fresh foods, which we take for granted today, weren't always as easily transported as they are today. In many grocery stores today, you can walk to the produce section and find a wide variety of fresh foods and vegetables. I can remember, as a little girl, when iceberg lettuce could always be found and any other form of lettuce was considered a bonus. Patsy has a similar memory where tomoatoes meant one variety.

It's also true that a number of families canned their own vegetables back then. With the corporatism of farming, family farms have disappeared. I spoke to my mother about this and she instantly thought of peaches and how canning made peaches available year round in stores (with the sugary syrup they're packed in). Canning was an early revolution in cooking and Patsy and I were discussing changes with regards to that and other topics.

She talked about how going through the pages, the ones most used were obvious and she could remember her mother cooking certain dishes. She was also surprised to find recipes to items we might think of as new.

She wanted to share one that she found in her mother's recipe box -- a plastic box with recipes on index cards. This is credited to "newspaper" and Patsy has no idea what newspaper but she knows it ran in or before 1978 because her mother had made a note on it to serve it at Patsy's father's retirement party.

Cajun Chicken Wings
1 pound chicken wings
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Seasoned bread crumbs
Oil for deep frying.

In a large bowl, comine chicken, milk & Tabasco sauce.
Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour.
Drain wings and roll in bread crumbs then refrigerate 20 minutes.
Heat oil to 375 degrees F, fry chicken wings, a few at a time, about 12 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and cooked on the inside.

If you're someone who eats chicken wings today, you may think they're a new thing. They really aren't. Back then, anything hot and spicy tended to get dubbed "Cajun" so I couldn't even begin to guess if chicken wings started out as a Cajun treat. (There's a similar Chinese dish as well.)

She remembered the retirement party for her father and how quickly the wings went when she saw the index card in her mother's recipe file. Moments like this were repeated when she went through the other cards and the cooking books. All of that almost got tossed in the trash. When they all gathered at her mother's house, they were mainly attempting to go through everything quickly -- both due to the fact that most of them had to travel a distance and also because, with the loss and the funeral, they were still in shock.

Patsy says she's not a big cook and hadn't planned on grabbing the cookbooks or the recipe box until she saw they were going to be trashed. She wanted me to pass on that if you find yourself in a similar situation, grab them. You don't have to cook. But just looking through them will provide you with the same kind of memories you'd have from looking through old photos.

Wally's mother and I were talking about on the phone this week and she agreed with Patsy. She said she hates having her picture taken and each year that happens less and less but if, years from now, Wally's trying to remember moments of his childhood, he could do so going through her cooking books. She noted she goes through phases where she's into this or that for a few years so just going through the books chonologically should bring back many memories. ("Including my first experiments with a dish which always seem to fail. Burned or undercooked, it's happened many times and we've laughed about it every time.")

Turning to Iraq . . . I continue to be shocked by the silence of The Nation on part of war resisters. My husband and I were talking about that and what C.I.'s termed the "Coward's Silence" all week. We believe we're done with it. It is distressing, week after week, to read a magazine that has nothing to say which really is the case, issue after issue, with few exceptions. It is the silence on war resisters, the refusal to cover them, that stands out the most to me.

The magazine wants to assert that they are against the illegal war but as one service member after another has faced court-martial for refusing to deploy, the magazine has played Coward's Silence. When Darrell Anderson returned, nothing. When Ricky Clousing returned, nothing. When Ivan Brobeck returned, nothing. When Kyle Synder returned, nothing. When he self-checked out after grasping that the military was once again lying to him, nothing. Mark Wilkerson and others, nothing. Ehren Watada faces a court-martial on February 5th and he's gotten a sidebar in the magazine, a sidebar to an article where he's called a coward. Agustin Aguayo is facing a court-martial and the magazine has nothing to say.

I don't pay for silence and I don't respect cowards. So, as we've waited for the magazine to weigh in, and waited and waited, my husband and I have finally reached the conclusion that The Nation doesn't have anything to say about the war worth hearing.

It can offer the sort of chat & chew talk one might find on any of the superficial Sunday chat shows. But bravery isn't a trait of the current Nation. We announced it at the Iraq study group meeting last night and others said they'll stop reading it as well. Comments included that the magazine was cowardly, juvenile, sucking up to the powerful, unable to take any stand, and directionless. At some point, you either represent and speak to your readers or you don't and The Nation doesn't. It offers superficial commentary on what Congress should do or could do or any number of things. It's as embarrassing now as American Prospect, Washington Monthly or any other Democratic Party publications that try to pass for left. It is not a magazine for the left anymore.

The left needs one but propping up a magazine that spits on readers isn't going to change things. And it does spit on readers. It robs them of their power and it speaks down to them with scolding posts of how they better not say anything bad about this, or bloggers should write about that, or any number of things. It's not serving a readership, it's attempting to channel the public into the magazine's safe, do nothing approach.

If you agree with that, please stop buying or subscribing the magazine. Stop enabling that behavior. Stop settling. Stop fooling yourself that at some point they will change and that they probably feel as strongly as you do. They've had months to cover war resisters. They've had many topics that could have led to an editorial. Instead, they have stayed silent. Don't support cowards who stay silent. Silence continues the war. Telling people that the only power they have is begging Congress to act robs people of their power. We are more than voters, we are citizens in a democratic society and any magazine that refuses to grasp that isn't worth reading.

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

Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)

University of Illinois-Chicago Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)
Busboys and Poets

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Lemon & Rice Soup in the Kitchen

Kyle e-mailed Tuesday about a soup his grandmother used to make. This is the soup he was referring to but is probably not the exact recipe that his grandmother used. This is Lemon & Rice Soup.

6 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg yolk
6 grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cooked rice

If you're using boil-in-bag rice, you can just cook one bag of it.

Heat the chicken broth (heat, not boil).

In a bowl, mix the egg yolk (yellow part, discard the egg white or use it for another dish), the cheese and the lemon juice. Add the contents to the broth slowly, stirring repeatedly. Add the rice (already cooked) and allow the mixture to simmer for four to five minutes. Simmer, not boil.

I need to thank my mother for the above because I had no idea what Kyle was writing about. I had never had that soup before or even heard of it. It is a tasty soup and I think most of you will enjoy it. I also think we can never have enough soup recipes during the winter.

Okay, I'm going to note this commentary from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" on Tuesday:

Starting with US war resister Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war. Last Thursday, at the Fort Lewis Army, a military pretrial, presided over by Lt. Col. John Head, heard arguments to outline the scope of the scheduled February 5th court-martial.
Today, the supposedly educated (if not enlightened)
members of The Seattle Times editorial board issued their own journalistic ruling -- one that they apparently hammered out with bully clubs. Representing the finest of mob mentalities, if not journalism or democracy, The Seattle Times argues that Ehren Watada should be convicted on both counts (missing deployment and conduct unbecoming an officer) because . . . well the system just won't survive otherwise. Having killed the invidual to "save" what they see as a weak and dottering system (otherwise Watada wouldn't have to be convicted -- if they had any faith in the strength and resiliency of the American system, the Nervous Nels wouldn't have argued for his conviction for the good of the system), they embrace a long history of knuckle draggers who chose expediency over true democracy because there's nothing like a moral imperative to have the most closed minded reaching for the white sheets and rope.
For the system to struggle on, the editorial board argues, the individual must be stamped out and the accusers of Socrates couldn't have said it better in ancient times. If they've learned anything from their (limited) education, the only evidence is that, while calling for a judicial death, they stop short of imprisoment because they fear a martyr who could galvanize a public.
So, by their rudimentary and flawed logic,
Ehren Watada must be found guilty to give pause to any other service member that might follow in his footsteps thereby defending the "good Nazi" argument overruled in the Nuremberg Trials which found that following orders was not a valid excuse and that each soldier is an individual agent responsible for his or her own actions.
The Seattle Times sees service members as worker bees and one wonders how far they'd be willing to carry out their flawed logic. Were it The Berlin Times in the immediate aftermath of WWII would they editorialize in favor of Nazis sending Jews, gypsies and gays to the gas chambers? Doubtful because the only basis for their stand today is that the individual must be stamped out at all costs due to the board's own deluded belief in the weakness of the American system. (Possibly they'd term it "the American experiment"?). In an apparent correction to Max Weber (and a dismissal of Robert K. Merton's work on Universalism), the editorial board argues that the state must not only use military might as they see fit but also narrowly define "justice" when it suits their own purposes.
In a decade of journalistic cowardice, the editorial echoes many of the themes that saw the punishment of those journalists who, in real time, called out the Bully Boy for his Bunny-Fu-Fu hop around the continental United States on September 11th for what it was (cowardice), and saw a rush to pass off press releases as investigative journalism. The system will survive, it always does, it's modern day journalism that has decayed.
In the real world, where a spine is required to stand erect,
Ehren Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military and The Seattle Times hoped for guilty verdict hasn't stopped the movement which includes people such as Watada, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

I enjoyed that. My husband printed it up, made copies and distributed it at work. In the now lost post, I went into this at length and tied in the Iraq study group we have on Friday evenings. I am going to do that but I'm going to do that much briefer because, although I did have the time at 8:00 to spend an hour on a post, I don't now.

Elaine's "How The Nation isn't cutting it" really gets to the point of the problems with media and, in that case, independent media. The Nation isn't cutting it. You haven't read about Ivan Brobeck on its pages, or Darrell Anderson, or Ricky Clousing, or Kyle Snyder, or . . . They may get credit from some for finally covering Watada in the magazine. He's a sidebar, he's not a story. And before you get to the sidebar, you have to first face a page where he's called a coward. That's what passes for bravery, I'm guessing.

It's not cutting it. Watada needs support. He's not getting the support he needs. The Seattle Times editorial is idotic but they could argue that they at least covered him. The Nation can't make the same case.

Rebecca's been missing the group and won't be rejoining it until next month (she's pregnant and staying close to home on doctor's orders). Mike carried a card to her this weekend that the group had signed noting we were happy for her and that we missed her. She asked me if I would write about the meeting.

That's what I spent an hour on in the last post and don't intend to spend another hour on it.

The discussion in group last night revolved around two main things.

First, there was the Bully Boy's speech. The biggest point there was how there was what he said (the speech itself) and then there was how it was covered. As was repeatedly noted, no mistakes were cited and that one sentence was nothing but a 'get out of jail' card. He's a habitual liar and at this point who expects him to change?

Some only read the speech because they can't stand to hear or watch him lie. I can understand that sentiment. My husband was talking back to the TV for the entire speech. The way I see it is he's the kid in any class who always lies. He gets caught, he swears it won't happen again. Seconds later, he's off on a new lie.

I wasn't expecting much from his speech because he's been lying to the American people since, at least, his presidential campaign (the first one). I don't expect truth from him because I don't think he's capable of it. I don't think he's capable of much, to be honest, and share my son
Mike's firm belief that Bully Boy should be impeached.

But the point we kept coming back to, about the speech, was that he still wants the people to take his word on it. A known liar still feels no need to provide proof. Which is why he cites something discovered that the American people have never heard of and, of course, no one's going to believe the perpetual liar.

The second point I was making was how popular the "Iraq snapshots" are with the group. I know they take C.I. a lot of work, but they are important. They were cited repeatedly in last night's meeting. A woman from my church (we're the same age and went to school together) talked about how she gets hope from them. In our area, we don't have, for instance, a KPFA broadcasting over the airwaves. We get a 'debate' on the war on our TV and radio airwaves by having two war supporters 'debate' the war. She loves the lengthy quotes from discussions she doesn't get to hear because (a) they inform her and (b) it proves that there are discussions going on somewhere in this country. (She's visiting San Francisco this summer, family vacation, and one of the things she says she's looking to is seeing the Golden Gate Bridge while the other thing is listening to KPFA.)

Discussions are going on and our groups is proof of that but we all got her point because it does affirm our beliefs that the media could be doing a better job. It's also true, as some pointed out, that not everyone can listen. Your computer might not be able to stream without freezing or constant 'buffering.' You may not have speakers or earphones. You may, as is the case for several parents my age, have only one computer in the home and sharing that with your kids. If you've got 20 minutes of online time, as my husband pointed out, you don't have time to listen or go surfing. The snapshot keeps him informed and he agreed the quotes, he cited Howard Zinn in Friday's snapshot, are important.

He talked about how the snapshot combats the notion that we are a country in support of the illegal war. You might have to live in area, like we do, where there is no discussion on the media to grasp that. But I don't think our area (Boston) is that uncommon from most areas. I think, sadly, this is how it is in most places of the country. If the people have any 'victory,' it's been in getting their opinion mentioned in the headlines noting a new poll. Otherwise, anti-war voices are still shut out. It's rather amazing, when you consider that the majority of Americans want the troops withdrawn from Iraq, that those voices are still be shut out.

So I do think independent media wastes my time and everyone else's when they're acting like their chief function is to report on political horseraces. There was more than enough of that in 2006 and if 2007 is going to be all about the gearing up for the 2008 elections, I won't be buying or subscribing to many of the periodicals we have been. It's not just that I'm not interested in reading about that, it's also that I think that junk prolongs the war.

Betty's "The Force Majora Friedman" just went up and I intend to read it as soon as I post this.
In "Ruth's Report," Ruth mentioned me and that was very kind but I think she made her points strongly (all of which I agreed with) and don't see what she found in my post last week to build on. But thank you, Ruth. Let me wind down by urging you to read Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carly Simon, Into the Real," about Carly Simon's Into White. And let me close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, January 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; after the Bully Boy's Wednesday speech offering no 'benchmarks,' US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reveleals the 'plan' also offers no timetable;
Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn talk the importance of withdrawal and combat the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk; US war resister Ehren Watada prepares for a public speech this weekend; and Antoni Juhasz addresses what an escalation means for US troops.
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis spoke with Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn about Iraq and comparisons to Bully Boy's dreamed of escalation in Iraq to Vietnam. Zinn felt it was very important to note that the Iraqi people do not want US forces in their country. On the 'new' 'plan' and it's talk up as well as the way Iraq is addressed, Howard Zinn pointed out:

When they talk about making a difference, they keep using the words 'victory' and 'success' and how do we 'win'? It seems to me this is missing a very, very critical point, Iraq is not our country to 'win' -- to be successful in, to be victorious in. We simply don't belong there. And Bush's 'surge' is exactly the opposite of what we need to do. Well Anthony's book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal lays out the argument for the simple statement that I'm making now, that instead of surging in Iraq, we should be withdrawing as fast as we can from Iraq. And not only that, we should be questioning the larger principle involved and that is should the United States be sending troops anywhere in the world -- whether it's Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else -- should we think we could solve any problems with military solutions? And, in fact, is this the motive of the administration to solve problems for the people of these other countries? Iraqis don't want us in Iraq, that's clear. The American people don't want us in Iraq. Even the Iraqi government, which was really put in in a kind of fake election with American control excercise, even the Iraqi government is very embarrassed by the idea of having more American troops in Iraq. So what Bush is proposing is a violation not only of self-determination of Iraqis and the will of the American people and world opinion, it's a continution of the whole idea of US military dominace in the world which we should do everything we can to bring to an end.

Andrea Lewis asked about the statements that if the US pulls out it will lead to chaos in Iraq.

Anthony Arnove: I think we have to acknowledge that people who raise that point raise it two different ways. The cynical group of people who make that argument, pundits, politicans, to say we can never pull out, to justify the US remaining as an occupying power in Iraq for years to come, to justify setting up military bases, permanent bases, in Iraq, to justify the role that the United States wants to play in Iraq projecting its power in the entire Middle East and globally, as Howard mentioned. But then there's also decent people who have a concern for the consequences of the Iraqi people. And I think we have to acknowledge their fears and their concerns for what would happen to Iraq? And we're not saying abandon the Iraqi people -- "This is some kind of isolationist position, we don't care what happens to them." We're saying the opposite. Our point is that every day that the United States continues in Iraq as an unwanted, foreign, occupying power, it makes the situation worse for ordinary Iraqis. It's not ending sectarian conflict in Iraq, it's actually fueling sectarian conflict. It's not ending violence, it's actually fueling violence. The United States occupation is the greatest source of instability in the country. And after every benchmark that we've been told would change the situation there --elections, the constitution, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the execution of Saddam Hussein -- things just get worse. Iraq right now is the world's largest refugee crises in the world. Inflation has skyrocketed, unemployment has skyrocketed, there's less electricty, less safe drinking water, less security for Iraqis which is why poll after poll shows that that they say their life is getting worse and they want the United States to leave and so if we claim that we're bringing democracy well democracy would dictate that we let the Iraqi people determine their own future. But we should support them. We should pay reperations. We owe them a tremends debt, not just for the harm caused by the occupation, but all of the years before that the United States imposed sanctions on the country and, before that, supported Saddam Hussein as he carried out his worst crimes.

Zinn discussed how the same arguments for the US remaining in Iraq were the ones his book Vietnam: The Logic for Withdrawal were "greeted with the same claims that are made today" -- e.g. chaos, violence, civil war in Vietnam. "The truth is that we were creating the chaos," observed Zinn. Anthony Arnove's book, Iraq: The Logic for Withdrawal, has just been released in paperback and he will be appearing on the following dates:

January 17, 7 pm,
New York, NY (with Michael Schwartz)
16 Beaver
January 20, 7 pm,
Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt)
University of Illinois-Chicago
Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
January 27, 5 pm,
Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty)
Busboys and Poets
February 1, 7:30 pm,
Pasadena, CA
Voices of a People's History of the United States
with Mark Ruffalo, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Benjamin Bratt, Marisa Tomei, Josh Brolin, and Alfre Woodard.
All Saints Episcopal Church

Appearing as part of a panel discussion yesterday on Kris Welch's program,
KPFA's Living Room , Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted two points regarding the US troops in Iraq. First, she noted, "On this issue of the troops increase . . . Bush wanted significantly more troops but the military said we don't have anywhere to get them for you, there aren't anymore troops. So the troops that are the addition of the 20,000 is simply going to be extending the tours of troops that are there speeding up the redeployment of troops that have already served. We have to be really clear about who the soldiers are that are part of this increase."
She then spoke of what their role would be and what is wanted from Iraq.

Antonia Juhasz: This is . . . the critical moment to make our demands very, very clear to the Democrats and one of those demands has to explicity be that this is a war for oil that cannot be allowed to continue and that what the administration is hoping for is that it will suceed in its economic transformation of Iraq which at this point has nearly reached fruition -- which is a new law developed way before the war in the US State Department, then pushed by US corporations, pushed by the successive appointed governments of Iraq by the US government following the invasion -- for a new law that is now, the al-Maliki govenrmenet has now said that it will put this new law forward to the Iraqi parliament that creates an unprecedented oil victory in Iraq. So what it does is give the government of Iraq nominal control and ownership of their oil but every function of the oil industry would then be privatized and turned over to foreign companies and the foreign companies would get a form of contract called a Production Sharing Agreement which is not used anywhere in the Middle East not used anywhere in oil rich countries in fact that gives first 30 years, 30 year contract, and then according to the UK Independent, that the intial contract would give 75% of initial profits to the private companies leaving only 25% for the Iraqis. [. . .] Iraq can best be understood as a pimple of oil that has yet to be plucked. It has certainly the second largest oil reserves in the world possibly larger. It has 80 known oil fields but only 17 have even begun to be developed. It is those undeveloped oil fields which are all completely within the realm of the new law and then the debate, that the president mentioned in his speech, is over a constitutional amendment to address the existing fields, which are now divided between the Shia and the Kurds in the north and the south, and to bring the control of the existing fields back into the central gover of al-Maliki. And what I believe is that the Bush administration is going to hold onto the occupation and make it larger and make it as big as he can until the law passes and US companies sign contracts and then they have to get work. And they need a security force to do that and that is our troops.

While Juhasz addressed the realities of US troops in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, testifying before the US Senate Armed Service Committee, revealed a reality of his own. BBC reports that Gates, speaking of Bully Boy's new 'plan' for Iraq, stated that there was no timetable for the puppet government to achieve any of the non-defined benchmarks. Susan Cornwell and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) observe that Gates threw out the usual sop of troop withdrawal on the conditional 'if' (always the same 'if' -- if a corner is turned and it never is) and they write that "Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who heads a House panel overseeing defense spending, said he would try to attach restrictions to a $100 billion 'emergency' request for new war money that Bush will request in February. Those restrictions could include a prohibition on spending money for the additional troops, Murtha said. They could also include immediately closing Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and the Guantanamo Bay detention center at a U.S. base in Cuba."
Yesterday, US military forces stormed an Iranian diplomatic consulate and arrested six diplomatic staff. The Kurdish government in northern Iraq responded by insisting that diplomatic staff be released immediately (Iran has long had a consulate in Iraq's Kurdish territory). KUNA reports that the US, via White House flack Tony Snow, continues to dismiss concerns and attempt to downgrade a recognized diplomatic headquarters while the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, continues to state that it was a consulate and that, in addition, "U.S. forces tried to seize more people at the airport in Irbil, 220 miles north of Baghdad, prompting a confrontation with Kurdish troops guarding the facility that was resolved without casualties. " The BBC notes that the consulate has been "operating for years" and the Mikhail Kamyin ("Russing foreign ministry spokesman") declared, "It is absolutely unacceptable for troops to storm the consular offices of a foreign state on the territory of another state . . . It is also not clear how this fits in with American statements that Washington respects the sovereignty of Iraq."
In other Iraq news . . .
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, near Baquba, a mortar attack killed "one primary school teacher and one student," while a child was killed in Muqdadiyah by an IED and, in Baquba, an Iraqi soldier was killed by a bomb and three more wounded.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that in the Diyala Province, "American forces killed a woman and a child and injured another woman with another child (all from the same family)" while 4 Shi'ites were shot dead "near ARAB SHOKA area near hibhib area in khalis town" as well as their driver.
Reuters notes that 10 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, seven in Mosul, three in Basmaia.
Turning to news of war resistance,
Ehren Watada became the first officer (June 2006) to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and now faces a February 5th court-martial. He is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 NW Alexander ST., Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington at 1:00 pm. Also tomorrow, there will be a benefit performance for him Corvallis, OR when Crooked Kate and the Childers-Carson Duo take the stage of the Sunnyside-Up (116 N.W. Third St.) at six pm. In addition, later this month A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College to address the illegality of the war. In addition, Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging Camp Resistance in support of Watada. Writing at the blog they've set up for Camp Resistance, dockyne reports: The oldest public radio station in the states hosted IVAW Deployed and had Darrell [Anderson] and Dennis [Kyne] on Friday morning for one hour and a half. Discussing Darrell's experience in this illegal war and his 18 months in exile to Canada, as well as the fact that thousands of other soldiers are refusing to deploy to this illegal war. Hosted by Ani and Melody on their weekly progam (7:30-9 am) Absolutly revolting.
This interview was in covered the draft, the anti war movement, depleted uranium and allowed multiple callers to learn about the Gulf War, which the VA handbook of benefits states began on 2 Aug 1990 and will end on a date to be determined by congress. When will they end it? We discussed the court martials of
Suzanne Swift and Ehren Watada...and the support from Portland, Oregon is massive. Darrell stated, "this is the most radical community I have been too."

Dennis Kyne, writing at U.N. Observer, gives the details on Camp Resistance:

Please support this troops are gathering to support Ehren Watada in his stand against the lies that have gained our nation nothing more than death and despise. Purple Heart, 'Winner' Darrell Anderson returned from 18 months in hiding when he heard that Lt. Watada had refused to deploy. Darrell Anderson would have deployed to his third tour had he not gone north. Anderson asked me to get on the ( ) with him and get to Fort Lewis to open up Camp RESISTANCE!!!

We are here, in the mud. It is not warm here
...nor dry
.....however, you should stand with us support of a man who stands up against the military mahine and a nation of millions who don't have the foggiest notion that our troops do not want to serve in this war. Lt. Watada is speaking for thousands of enlisted soldiers like Darrell Anderson and myself, a fifteen year veteran of the Army. Watada is a true leader.....leading and doing
....he knows he should never ask enlisted soldiers to do things he would never do
....that is part of the requirement. NEVER ask nor order your troops to do things that you wouldn't do. There are more violators of this rule in the military now, than ever (or at least in my 15 years.) Lt. Watada is not one of them
...and with that, the soldiers, who have always followed good leaders
....will follow Lt. Watada.. Mike, Damon, Ethan and I, slept on the rig last night was night one of Camp RESISTANCE!!!There is a RESISTANCE!!! going on. Thousands of troops are refusing to deploy
....please let everyone know we are here
.....working from the wi fi hot spot, let them know they should stand here too. If not for a month as we will, than for a day or even an hour. We are at off ramp 119, gates of Fort Lewis.
We are meeting up at the gates of Fort lewis to support the Lt. Why? We have had enough
...we want the war to stop....we want the government to stop using the troops as pawns in their game. If you know of a veteran who is opposed to this war, please help them get here....if you are ok with the weather, please get here also.
I, personally, will always think it an honor and a privilege to have served the United States people
...I know Ehren does too. It is with that same pride and honor that I, personally, ask you to do something for this man

....who has, without question stood, with more integrity in his little pinky, than most of these Generals have in their entire skin. I am honored to know his family, they are a wonderful display of family values

...something we don't see a lot of.

To support him

.... ( ) you will find the news to follow the days up to the trial......

John Powell writes to the Capital Times to weigh in on the argument that Watada signed a contract and any responsibilities he had for war ended right there: "Perhaps Piek has never served in the military, but I remember the oath I took when I was inducted into the Army as a lowly buck private in 1968. The oath for soldiers is virtually the same as the oath taken by the president of the United States and every other official of every level of government in the country: an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing in that oath about obeying orders. In fact, the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code of Military Justice make it clear that a soldier's duty is to disobey illegal orders. Watada alleges that the Iraq war is unconstitutional and therefore illegal, and that he is duty-bound to refuse to serve in it. This should be the issue - not whether he refused to obey orders (clearly he did), but whether those orders were legal."
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson (noted abovein the Camp Resistance post), Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Finally, on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein provided military families with the opportunity to weigh in on Bully Boy's announced intent to escalate. This included a couple with five children and grandchildren serving in the military who ask that people write Congress and say "no" to the escalation. In addition to utilizing either previous link for an archived broadcast, Rebecca wrote about the broadcast yesterday.

ehren watada

living room


I lost my entire post. I am starting over but I know C.I. likes to note who is and has posted and I don't want to delay that. So wait, it will be up.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Egg Drop Soup in the Kitchen

Winter's really here now
And the blankets that I love
-- "Nightbird," written by Stevie Nicks and Sandy Stewart, from the CD Wild Heart.

I was reading Jade's e-mail and thought, "That's how Kat would start this post." Jade points out that is winter and lists the soups she loves. Soups are good for winter because they warm you up. Along with the soups Jade knows how to make (chicken noodle, tomato, French onion) she noted a soup she purchases at least once a week, Egg Drop Soup. She wondered if that was an easy soup to cook, one that she could cook herself at home?

Egg Drop Soup is a very easy soup to make at home both in terms of actually cooking as well as the ingredients that go into it. In fact, outside of tomato soup, right now, I'm not thinking of an easier soup to make. With, for instance French Onion soup, you're slicing a number of onions. With Egg Drop Soup, you only need one green onion (which has no tear factor when slicing).

It's also true that most of the screw ups you might encounter while cooking it do not lead to the soup needing to be dumped. It's very hard to screw this up. Even if you forget to stir, you're left with Egg Soup which can be eaten. This is a very simple recipe and other recipes call for ginger root, tofu, etc. So consider this the basic, bare minimum.

Basic Chinese Egg Drop Soup
Chicken broth
Dash of salt
Dash of white pepper
1 chopped green onion
2 eggs

Heat the chicken broth (medium heat). How much? I would use three cans. If you're concerned with sodium content, you can use 2 cans and use one can of water (for those using instant powder or their own stock, go for three cups of broth). Add a dash of salt (unless you're watching sodium count).

Add pepper. The beauty of this recipe is that many of you will have everything in the kitchen already. On a cold day when you don't want to go out, you can easily fix this. If you don't have white pepper in the kitchen, you can substitute black pepper.

My sister breaks the eggs and adds them straight into the hot water (hot, not boiling). She quickly begins stirring (with a fork) and manages it quite well. But I've always cracked the eggs in a bowl and stirred them with a fork while in the bowl. I then 'spoon' (I use a fork) them into the hot water a little at a time to get those strands/shreds that are the basic of Egg Drop Soup.

As you add the eggs, you'll need to stir with the fork. The first time you make this, add a little of the egg and begin stirring to get an idea of the basics.

If you're not as talented as my sister and you add all the eggs at once, you may easily end up with Egg Soup and not Egg Drop Soup. Once you've added all the eggs, add in the chopped green onions.

And now? You're done. It's a very simple recipe but, in case anyone's confused, you're using the egg white and egg yolk. You do not use the egg shell. An obvious point, it may seem, but I did have a question recently that made me wonder if some obvious points were less obvious to all.

(The question wasn't about eggs and I'm not making fun of it or the person who asked. Just noting that if you grew up watching someone cook, you're aware of much that we take for granted when giving out recipes. Not everyone is on the same page.)

If you haven't stirred enough, you'll have more of an Egg Soup, which you can still eat, and know that next time you need to stir more.

Hopefully, that will provide Jade and others with a simple, basic recipe.

Each Saturday, C.I. highlights Margaret Kimberley's lastest "Freedom Rider" column and I always enjoy that. She, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon now do the Black Agenda Report and it comes out on Thursdays. I have it linked on my 'blog' roll but I wanted to be sure anyone who visited knew about it so I'm providing an excerpt to Stan Goff's "White Man's Iraq Burden: The 3,000 Milestone" as a reminder that the site is worth checking out:

Once we understand that one faction, led by one leader, who has consistently called for Iraqi national unity and the expulsion of the US military and US control over the development of Iraq's post-occupation foreign affairs orientation -- and that this same leader is harboring a militia that exceeds the size of the American occupation itself within the radius of Baghdad and environs, within a stone’s throw of the Green Zone -- the answer to the question becomes blazingly clear.
Neither Hakim nor Maliki can afford to appear too cozy with the American occupation or the Bush regime, without risking wide scale abandonment by their respective popular bases. Stating that
the American occupation is "unpopular" might be the understatement of the year. At the same time, neither Hakim nor Maliki has the power to control Baghdad, the symbolism and practical political value of which is inestimable, without the American occupation. (They are, in fact, unable to do it with the occupation’s assistance.) SCIRI has its main offices located in Iraqi Kurdistan (in the north), with its popular base in the south along the Iranian border. Ayatollah al Hakim, then, does not even have a safe haven for his militias co-located with his zone of greatest geographic influence. The only thing they are co-located with are the American armed forces.
It is not surprising that the Badr Army (Hakim's SCIRI militia), then, has largely operated jointly with Americans outside Shia areas (
against Sunnis) often using the same modi operandi as the former death squads of US proxies in Latin America. The facts on the ground, then, include that Muqtada al-Sadr now controls the only viably independent Iraqi armed force in Baghdad; and that force has popular support as well as massive home court advantages. It is, in a word, embedded.
What all Iraqi armed actors have in common is the relative inability to project their force far afield of their respective geographic bases. Sadr has no capacity to attack anyone in Samarra or Ramadi (though the Mehdi have ventured some distance from home in the south). The Da'wa has no capacity to leave the city limits of Nasiriya. SCIRI cannot move its troops without US escorts. The Sunni factions are limited to their areas of operations (and there are numerous reports that
Sunni nationalists are engaged in occasional heavy fighting against a small but stubborn number of foreign Wahabbists). The only force in Iraq that has the mobility required to do more than defend ones own zones of influence and project very limited offensive operations beyond that… are the Anglo-American occupiers. The only way to move long distances across the country as an armed unit passing through multiple militia "jurisdictions," is with helicopters, or heavily armed and armored convoys.
The current civil war is taking place not for Iraq, but
for Baghdad, and the catalyst remains the US occupation.
Poor Maliki, called to an audience with his
King George in Amman, is faced with Sadr’s threat to withdraw from the Parliamentary majority coalition with Da'wa if the meeting with the Occupier-in-Chief happens. The resistance is targeting Iraqi troops for collaboration, the Badr Army is fomenting a civil war with straightforward attacks on Sunnis and false flag operations against fellow Shias, and the US is demanding Iraqi troops assist them in attacking Sadr City.
One day, Maliki stands George Bush up to show his own people that he is not a puppet; the next, he has to go crawling back to Dubya, even as the infamous
Hadley memo calling Maliki a dolt is released and replayed in the media again, and again, and again.
Seeing this as purely power politics, the mistake that got the administration to where they are now -- disregarding the roles of the Iraqi masses themselves --
Bush then turns to Hakim, thinking he has now split Sadr off from Maliki. Hakim himself is now trapped, faced with the same specter that haunts the Green Zone, possibly tens of thousands of combatants, embedded deeply in their own community near the heart of the second largest city in Southwest Asia, and the capital of Iraq, led by a leader whose popularity is increasing with the "Iraqi street" with each passing day.

Stan Goff is a name I didn't know before The Common Ills. I've enjoyed his writing that's been highlighted and excerpted by members and chief among those was when he called out Mommy's Pantyhose (and Mommy's Pantyhose's war on CODEPINK) as well as called out the man I dub "The Parrot." I also wanted to note that one because it used the 3,000 milestone as a reflecting point and most media didn't. You could argue (strongly) that most media didn't even note the milestone and I would be the last to disagree with you.

I was honestly appalled to see how little attention the milestone (we hit it last Sunday) received.
We were having a small New Year's Eve Party here when Mike called with the news and, as I wrote, it was reality. If some felt it would 'spoil the mood,' well a lot of 'moods' get spoiled during a war and while you might need to worry about that during a children's birthday party, adults aren't supposed to get a pass from reality. It does appear that media, especially independent media, gave themselves a pass from reality, however.

Turning to the topic of music, Elaine's "Carly Simon, Matthew Rothschild, Jorge Mariscal, Iraq" and Rebecca's "chatty city" both noted Carly Simon's latest album Into White. I am in love with that CD and recommend that if you're a Carly fan or a fan of songs in their purest form, you get the CD. (My husband and I will be buying it shortly, we've kidnapped our son's copy.) It's just a beautiful CD. My favorite track right now, a difficult choice, is probably track ten which combines the Everly Brothers' "Devoted To You" (which was a hit remake for Carly and then-husband James Taylor in the seventies) and "All I Have To Do Is Dream." But it is a hard pick. I also love the new version of her own "Love Of My Life."

Betty's "'The First Factually Challenged Fool" is up and I had an e-mail from Joy wondering why I didn't note it last weekend? Betty and I are both once a week bloggers so I always try to note her latest. The time stamp on last week's "The truth emerges from his fat mouth" (which you really should read first to follow the plot) is Friday, but Betty didn't post it until late Saturday morning.

I was talking to C.I. this morning and mentioning yesterday's snapshot and Ehren Watada, when C.I. steered me to Jake Tapper's "Senate Regrets the Vote to Enter Iraq" (ABC News):

As the new Democrat-controlled House and Senate take power this month, the Iraq war will be the front-and-center issue.
And as President Bush prepares to announce his new strategy for Iraq, which may include a surge in troops, the attitude of the Senate towards the war — and whether its members regret their overwhelming 77-23 October 2002 vote to authorize the president to use force in Iraq -- is critically important.
ABC News decided to survey the views of the senators who served in 2002, most of whom remain in the Senate. The survey indicates that those senators say that if they knew then what they know now, President Bush would never have been given the authority to use force in Iraq.
It's impossible, of course, to recreate all of the factors, pressures and information that went into this momentous vote. But given that President Bush may next week request that an additional 20,000 or more troops be sent to Iraq — to fight a war 7 in 10 Americans think he isn't handling well -- we thought it might prove a significant indicator of the support for the war to see where these same senators from 2002 now stand. Regret, after all, may not be a valued commodity in politics, but it is not one that public officials express easily, even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. That said, a surprising number of senators who voted for the war were willing to say that they, and the Senate, made a mistake.
By ABC News' count, if the Senators knew then what they know now, only 43 -- at most -- would still vote to approve the use of force and the measure would be defeated. And at least 57 senators would vote against going to war, a number that combines those who already voted against the war resolution with those who told ABC News they would vote against going to war, or said that the pre-war intelligence has been proven so wrong the measure would lose or it would never even come to a vote.
For any Senate vote to switch from 77-23 in favor to essentially 57-43 against is quite remarkable, and far more so for a decision as significant as the one to go to war.

So the Senators wake up to the truth? Unlike the average citizen, their responsibilities were a bit greater since they had the power to okay war or not. But the senators have awakened. So have the American people. And in the snapshot, which I'll copy and paste in a minute, the point is made about Ehren Watada's own awakening. Kat's "Lizzie West, students, Iraq, etc." talks about a number of things including the speaking they were doing this week and she notes that C.I. was either composing Friday's snapshot before students or testing it out on them. I asked C.I. about that and was told, "I honestly hadn't thought about that but if you're looking for one answer it would probably be that the students on Friday and I wrote that together" over several speeches.

I think that's a wonderful answer. I also think it takes Ehren Watada's courageous stand from beyond the I-Could-Never-Do-That terrain into the, "That could have happened to me." It did happen to a lot of people. A lot of people believed out of fear or trust that the government would not lie and the media would call them out loudly if they did. That takes Ehren Watada's heroic stand and makes it very easy to relate to.

What he's on trial for, you can argue, is what's happened to the country (and the Senate), realizing that we had been lied into war. His trial matters for a number of reasons but when you think about the court-martial he faces on February 5th, realize that his awakening has been echoed by the country. He's not just on trial, we the people are.

Ehren Watada's story is also the story of how people increase their knowledge and understanding and, as C.I. points out, you'd think independent media would be running with his story because it does prove that independent voices speaking against a corporate media sold war can make a difference. You'd think independent media would realize that his awakening is part of their own success story. But that hasn't happened and I find that very sad.

From Friday, here's C.I.'s latest "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, January 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Ehren Watada's pretrial hearing began yesterday, Bully Boy shuffles the deck while an "I told you so" travels across the Atlantic from France, and Ahmed Hadi Naji, who worked for AP, is discovered dead.

Monday, February 5th, the US military attempts to court-martial
Ehren Watada. Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, at Fort Lewis in Washington, a pretrial hearing began that will determine what arguments are allowed in the court-martial and what arguments will be disallowed. The hearing was presided over by Lt. Col. John Head, the court-martial would have a jury made up of *a panel of officers*, and the AP reports that he will make his decision on "the parameters of the case" next week. Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that on Thursday: "Watada's parents sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing, his father at times leaning forward on the bench with his hands clasped in front of him." As Linton Weeks (Washington Post) noted, Carolyn Ho, Ehren's mother, is a high school counselor who went on leave to raise awareness about her son and is on leave for the pretrial and the court-martial. Bob Watada, Ehren's father, has also been engaged in speaking tours around the country to raise awareness about Ehren and, for any wondering, Bob Watada recently retired (and recently remarried, Rosa Sakanishi, Ehren's step-mother, has accompanied Bob Watada on his speaking tours).

The US military wants to reduce the court-martial to a "yes" or "no" -- Did you refuse to deploy to Iraq? They wish to prevent
Ehren Watada from explaining his decision -- in effect that are hoping to prevent him from making the best defense possible when he is facing six years in prison.

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported: "At a hearing Thursday at Fort Lewis, there was little dispute about the action taken by 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who last June refused to deploy with his brigade to Iraq. But defense and prosecutors sparred much of the afternoon about whether Watada's motives for opting out of the war should affect the outcome of a February court-martial trial that could result in a six-year prison term." If the military was interested in justice (and sure of their case), they wouldn't be attempting to shut down Watada's defense.

The prosecutor, Captain Dan Kuecker has stated, "
There is no rational doubt in this situation; . . . it's a lawful order." Were he as sure of himself as he pretends to the press, there would be no attempts to prevent Watada from explaining both his actions and the reasons behind them.

Watada explained the reasons most recently to Kevin Sites (Kevin Sites in The Hotzone): "I think that in March of 2003 when I joined up, I, like many Americans, believed the administration when they said the threat from Iraq was imminent -- that there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout Iraq; that there were stockpiles of it; and because of Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist acts, the threat was imminent and we needed to invade that country immediately in order to neutralize that threat. Since then I think I, as many, many Americans are realizing, that those justifications were intentionally falsified in order to fit a policy established long before 9/11 of just toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and setting up an American presence in Iraq. . . . I think the facts are out there, they're not difficult to find, they just take a little bit of willingness and interest on behalf of anyone who is willing to seek out the truth and find the facts. All of it is in the mainstream media. But it is quickly buried and it is quickly hidden by other events that come and go. And all it takes is a little bit of logical reasoning. The Iraq Survey Group came out and said there were no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and during 2003. The 9/11 Commission came out and said there were no ties with Iraq to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. The president himself came out and said nobody in his administration ever suggested that there was a link. And yet those ties to al-Qaeda and the weapons of mass destruction were strongly suggested. They said there was no doubt here were weapons of mass destruction all throughout 2002, 2003 and even 2004. So, they came out and they say this, and yet they say it was bad intelligence, not manipulated intelligence, that was the problem. And then you have veteran members of the CIA that come out and say, 'No. It was manipulated intelligence. We told them there was no WMD. We told them there were no tides to al-Qaeda. And they said that that's not what they wanted to hear'."

In essence,
Ehren Watada is on trial for the media -- the media that sold the illegal war and the media that told the truth (eventually for some) about it. So it has been surprising to see nothing on Watada in the leading independent magazines in 2006. In 2007, The Nation discovered Watada on page 14 of the January 8 and 15th double issue in an article written by Marc Cooper (click here for Yahoo version -- subscribers only at The Nation website). Like many Americans, Watada believe the spin/lies from the US administration (repeated near word for word by most media outlets with little skepticism). Like many Americans, he's since come to see that reality and spin were two different things.

This new awareness is reflected not only in the civilian population but also, as
Rachel Ensign (Citizen Soldier) reminds us, within the military as well: "A new poll conducted by the Army Times newspaper at the end of 2006 found that a majority of soldiers polled now disapprove of how Bush has conducted the Iraq war to date. . . . Only 41% of soldiers polled today think that we should have invaded Iraq -- down from 65% in 2003. This closely mirrors sentiment among civilians; only 45% of whom now believe that the war was a good idea."

Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports that, based on comments and questions during the pretrial hearing, Lt. Col John Head "likely won't allow Lt. Ehren Watada to defend himself" by making the case for his actions and why he acted as he did and that Head declared, "At this point I'm not inclined to grant a hearing on the Nuremburg defense." The Nuremburg defense is in reference to the Nuremberg trials during which soldiers stating that they were only following orders were told that was not a legal excuse for their actions. As Ruth noted, following the August Article 32 hearing of Watada, "The message that Lieutenant Colonel Mark Keith appears to be endorsing is follow all orders but, if it later turns out that they were illegal, you are on your own and will take full responsibility. At best, like with Lieutenant Calley, the War Monger in the oval office may pardon you after you are convicted. What is the message? Why teach the obligation to follow only legal orders, why refute 'I was only following orders' as a defense and then punish Lieutenant Ehren Watada for doing just that while advising him that it is not his place to make such a determination when, in fact, the invididual who obeys the unlawful order is the one who will be held responsible by the military justice system?"

Why teach? Refer to
Ruth's Report where she goes over retired Col. Ann Wright's testimony at the Article 32 hearing on what she taught soldiers at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg while teaching the Law of Land Warfare. Taught is FM 27-10 (Law of Land Warfare):

509. Defense of Superior Orders
a. The fact that the law of war has been violated pursuant to an order of a superior authority, whether military or civil, does not deprive the act in question of its character of a war crime, nor does it constitute a defense in the trial of an accused individual, unless he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful. In all cases where the order is held not to constitute a defense to an allegation of war crime, the fact that the individual was acting pursuant to orders may be considered in mitigation of punishment.

Ehren Watada could be prosecuted for actions committed during war by the above; however, the US military does not want to allow him to use the same law to defend himself. Only a fool would call that "justice." This is what Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is noting when he told Linton Weeks, "The United States talks out of both sides of its mouth. We've prosecuted soldiers in other countries for following orders to commit war crimes. But God forbid you should use that refusal as a defense in this country."

Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, however, that the military prosecution may have outfoxed itself: "The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, told prosectors that he was not inclined to grant the evidentiary hearing, but 'they opened the door for him allowing it by prosecuting his statements'" thereby making it "relevant. Some of those statements have become relevant by the sheer nature of how the government has charged this case."

Head was not referring to the charge of missing deployment but the charge ("conduct unbecoming") based upon remarks Watada made about the war such as ""
The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible and moral injustice, but it's a contradiction to the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes." Remember: A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College.

Ehren Watada's awakening mirrors that of many Americans. It also has echoes
in the growing resistance within the military to the illegal war as many resisters vocalize sentiments similar to Watada's (usually noting the works of Howard Zinn). Others that a part of this growing resistance within the military include
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress this month.

While Watada faces court-martial for questioning the illegal war, France's president earns headlines for doing the same.
AFP reports that Jacques Chirac speech today revolved largely around the illegal war: "As France had forseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects . . . exacerbated the divisions between communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq. . . . It undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and independence." (Chirac's also getting attention for, in the same speech, calling for slashing corporate taxes.)

Before noting some of the violence today in Iraq, let's note December again.
Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) notes that the Iraq Interior Ministry's figure of 1,930 Iraqis dead for the month of December (an undercount) remains "a new high" for any month. Meanwhile, the count for US troop fatalities in Iraq for the month of December reached 115.


Reuters reports: "A roadside bomb struck a U.S. marine tank in the western city of Falluja on Friday", while a roadside bomb wounded four Iraqi soldiers and killed anohter in Baiji, and a roadside bomb in Kirkuk left two police officers wounded. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports
four Iraqis killed on the "outskirts" of Baghdad from mortar attacks.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in the Diyala Province. Reuters reports that "a former colonel" was shot dead in Mosul, as were a father and son in Iskandariya.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("2 sadr city, 2 dora, 2 amil, 2 jihad, 2 hurriyah, 1 kadhemiyah, 1 abu atsheer"). Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Iskandariya. And AP reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji, 28-years-old, "was found shot in the back of the head Friday, six days after he was last seen by his family leaving work". AP notes that he is "the second AP employee killed in less than a month" and that he is the fourth "to die violently" in the illegal war. They note that Ahmed Hadi Naji is survived by his wife, Sahba'a Mudhar Khalil, and his four-month-old twins, Zaid (male) and Rand (female). Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji had worked "for the AP for 2 1/2 years".

Aref Mohmmed (Reuters) reports that one "American civilian contractor and two Iraqi translators" were kidnapped in Basra today.

Changing focus . . .

So let's be really clear, torture in Iraq is rampant and that's because it's policy even though we have had a replacement of Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld who infamously told . . . general, retired, now retired, but at the time general, [Janis] Karpinski '
make sure this happens' regarding specific torture techniques that he wanted to begin using inside places like Abu Ghraib well that policy hasn't changed as I said, these people are still being tortured, they're just not letting people bring in their video cameras and their digital cameras so that the images can find themselves splashed across the screens of 60 Minutes II program, for example.

What is that?
Dahr Jamail speaking with Nora Barrows-Friedman on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints (use either to listen to an archived broadcast -- Rebecca's "nora barrows-friedman interviewed dahr jamail on flashpoints" offers an overview of the interview).
For an hour, Nora Barrows-Friedman and
Dahr Jamail reviewed the year 2006 in Iraq, focusing on the death squads, women, children, attacks on civilians and much more.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Dahr, can you talk now about the permanent US military base structures this was being talked about openly and publicly in the spring of 2006. But how has that discussion progressed and what does a permananet US military base structure look like on the ground? How many are we talking here?

Dahr Jamail: We started out with over a hundred bases in Iraq and they are slowly consolidating this number down to, right now it's around, it was 53 last time I checked. So they're slowly consolidating them down and if people want an idea of what Iraq might look like in the next couple of years, well we just have to look at Afghanistan because that's where, kind of, this model started and there's a couple of years jump there. And if you look at Afghanistan, we've got, I believe, four major bases right around the area of where I believe the proposed pipeline's going to go. So we should expect something similar but more bases in Iraq. There's going to be, right now it looks like, between six and twelve, we're not real sure on the number, but between six and twelve of these permanent bases. The military and the corporate media won't call them permanent because they don't have to, because they just made sure that they would have permanent access into particular areas in Iraq and so there was nothing in the so-called constitutional referendum that took place on October 15 a year ago that banned access from a foreign country, that's why there was a lot of wrangling along that constitutional referendum and why even someone in the UN that I spoke with, I quoted him as saying there was 'undue, inappropriate, US influence on this constitution' and it was around Iraq's oil and it was also around permanent access. So as a result we have between six and twelves of these bases. Just to give you an example of what these bases look like there's one called Camp Anaconda which is actually an air field in Balad, just north of Baghdad, and Camp Anaconda is a base that has 250 of its own aircraft. Air Force officials there claim that it was the second busiest runway on earth. There are 20,000 soldiers on this base less than a thousand of whom ever leave whatsoever. There's a base exchange there where they sell televisions, iPods, CDs, DVDs, TVs, there's a first run movie theater, . . . very elaborate meals served by Kellog Brown & Root employing third country nationals which is kind of the way these people are referred to in Iraq by the contractors but really if we're going to call them what they are, they're slaves. They're people from places like India and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working for slave wages serving these very elaborate meals because with the cost plus fix fee contract that means that when Halliburton is serving these very elaborate meals the more money they spend in Iraq, the more money they make. So that's what's being served in a huge base like that. Soldiers actually gain weight and if they don't of course want any of that food or if they get burnt out on it like say you would at a college, for example, at a college dorm, well then they can go to the 24 hour Burger King, they can go to the Popeye's Fried Chicken, they can go to the Subway sandwich shop, and then wash it down with a latte from Starbucks. So that's just one of these bases to give you an idea, there's also AT&T phone home centers, there's also a Hertz rental car which I find kind of amusing because it's not like they're going to leave the base and go for a little drive in Al-Anbar Province but there it is, Hertz-Rent-A-Car, . . . I like to specifically name these companies so people can take note of that. So that's what these bases look like in Iraq and to contextualize that a little bit, it sounds a lot like some of these bases we have in Germany now, doesn't it, which have been there, what are we talking now, a little over sixty years, so just to give people an idea of what the situation is on the ground regarding the bases, we talk about the US' so-called embassy in Baghdad that's being built as we speak. This was a $572 million contract that was awarded to a very corrupt . . . Kuwaiti construction firm with very direct ties to the Bush administration and this is an embassy that's going to have room for between 3 and 8,000 government employees, it has its own school . . . so I don't think we should expect any Iraqi kids at this school, it has the largest swimming pool in the country, yoga studios, barbershops, beauty shops, its own water plant, it's own electricity plant, it has apartment buildings. And when it's complete, it will be, it's 21 buildings and the area will be the size of the Vatican City. So that's the so-called embassy that's being built in Iraq so if we talk about when are we going to withdraw troops and why aren't the Democrats talking about withdrawal, this sort of thing, instead why is there talk of a 'surge'? It's because we . . . just need look no further than the physical evidence on the ground, augmented by the US policy like the National Security Strategy and the Quadrennial Defense Review Report -- all of these signs point towards permanent occupation of Iraq just like we have in Germany.

But never fear, Democrats are in power in the US Congress which translates as . . . a strongly worded letter.
CNN reports that "leaders of the new Democratic Congress" sent an open letter to the Bully Boy which "said increasing troop levels in Iraq would be a 'serious mistake'." That's telling him! (And shades of the letter Carolyn Ho got from Congress.) AFP reports that the letter states "it is time to bring the war to a close." And no doubt, this wouldn't have even happened were it not for the activists on Wednesday (sse Thursday's snapshot). Cindy Sheehan, who handled the press conference Yawn Emmanuel and other Congress members fled from, today on Democracy Now!, addressed the realities too many elected Democrats want to avoid: that the war is costing the US 10 million dollars every hour, that plans and programs will cost money and defunding the war needs to be placed 'back on the table,' that the people want the war ended and the Democratic Party was voted into office not to wait around for another laughable 'plan' from the Bully Boy, to get the United States out of the illegal war.

Meanwhile, in shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic,
AFP reports that Bully Boy nominated the now former US director of national intelligence John Negroponte to be the Deputy Secretary of State -- second to Condi -- while he "announced that he had chosen vice adminiral Michael McConnell, a former head of the National Security Agency, to replace Negroponte at the head of all 16 US spy agencies". And as Christopher Torchia (AP) notes,
generals John P. Abizaid and George Casey will be replaced shortly.

Returning to news of war resisters, earlier this week,
Mary Ambrose (New American Media) took a look at war resisters who seek asylum in Canada and noted the stories of Chris and Stephanie Teske -- Chris decided to self-checkout while stationed in Germany but US troops do not "have access to their passports" so, after deciding on Canada, Stephanie: "I cried a lot and told them we'd spent $3,000 on these tickets and my parents were waiting for us and frankly, we just got lucky."