Saturday, August 25, 2007

Black Bean Dip in the Kitchen

Suzette e-mailed with a "PLEASE NOTE THIS RECIPE!" This is her favorite dip and we'll get to importance of it after the recipe.

Black Bean Dip
2 cans black beans (15 ounces)
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspon cumin
dash of black pepper
dash of salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
slice of lime squeezed over bowl

If you have a food processor, this is a simple recipe. Just put all the hard ingredients (non spices) into the food processor and chop. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender on "chop" setting. If you don't have access to either, you're going to cook. Put the beans, the garlic (chopped), the tomato (chopped) and the cilantro (chopped) into a pan and heat. You are not bringing to a boil and you'll need to stir over a medium heat for about three minutes. Use a potato masher or a large spoon to mash the contents in the pan. Transfer into a bowl. Add the spices (red pepper, salt, pepper, cumin) and squeeze the lime slice over. Then place in the fridge for at least a half hour.

You serve with chips and Suzette says tortilla corn chips are the best.

Suzette wants to remind everyone that people nibble. Labor Day's coming up and people will have geatherings and cookouts. Her younger sister had a July 4th cookout and it was the first. Previously, their mother had been in charge "but she announced she'd served her time and other than Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was time for the others to take over." So Suzette's sister grabbed July 4th and had a variety of meats, vegetables, and salads. But she forgot anything to nibble on while the meats were cooking.

"What ended up happening? People started nibbling on the vegetables and the salads. By the time the chicken and ribs were ready, the spread she'd laid out was destroyed and most people were full," Suzette writes.

It seems like an obvious thing but there's nothing obvious when it's your first time. You learn with each attempt. A neighbor when we first moved into our house (she passed away a few years ago) shared a similar story to me about her first Thanksgiving. In that case, the woman didn't realize how long it would take the turky to cook (she hadn't thawed ahead) and ended up having to start the meal without the turkey. By the time the turkey was done, many had filled up and a few had left.

When you're pulling together a spread like Suzette's sister did for the first time, you're going over the big items and thinking how great everything will be. So it is very easy to forget that people aren't arriving and immediately sitting down to eat. These days, with so many of us used to fast food, that's probably even a more common mistake but it's been made even in the 'old days'. So remember that people will be there for at least an hour before it's time to eat the meal. Most people are not going to 'snack up' before a gathering. They will be hungry as they smell food cooking. Dips are an easy thing to provide. You can provide chips and dips and vegetables and dips. Along with a dip like Suzette e-mailed, you can also put some salad dressings in a bowl for people to use with fresh vegetables like celery, carrots, etc.

Over the airwaves and online, WBAI will broadcast the following on Sunday and Monday (Eastern Time Zone):

Sunday, August 26, 11am-noon
A panel of satirists discuss humorous impulses from inception to delivery. With Paul Krassner, Will Durst and David Dozer. Moderated by Janet Coleman.

Monday, August 27, 2-3pm
Actor/playwright/Fulbright scholar Dan Hoyle on "Tings Dey Happen," a one-man show on his investigations into oil politics in Nigeria; composer and jazz trombonist Craig S. Harris on the debut of "TriHarLenium: A Sound Portrait of Harlem 1976-2006" at Lincoln Center Out of Doors; and Catherine Cappelero and Andrew Rhone on their new musical "Walmart-opia," a futuristic look at a certain corporation running the world. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

And if you've never heard Cat Radio Cafe, Elaine wrote about it this week in ""Sunsara Taylor, Cat Radio Cafe."

Dennis Kucinich's website has been updated. You can visit it and find out various stands on the issues, read bills Kucinich has sponsored and other things. YouTube users can click here for Kucinich.

Hopefully, more things will be added shortly. It's a huge improvement and I want to be clear on that. There was supposed to be a piece on how Kucinich was cropped out (by ABC) in a photo from the debate and how ABC dropped their online poll when Dennis was the clear winner. I couldn't find it.

I had planned to note that. Since I can't find it, I'll just note that Dennis Kucinich's stand is more in common with Democratic voters than any other declared candidate for the presidential nomination. If people knew his programs, knew his statements, they would overwhelmingly be behind him. People who find out about him are. So when the media wastes everyone's time with fluff and refuses to cover Kucinich's campaign seriously, it not only hurts the campaign, it hurts our democracy.

I thought C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" Monday addressed the 'debate' very well:

Turning to politics in the United States, yesterday at Drake University, the candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination . . . met. Couldn't really call it a debate, couldn't call it a discussion since George Stephanopoulos has no idea how to moderate. For instance, a knowledgeable moderator wouldn't wait to well after the third way mark to finally get to the topic of Iraq while, at the same time, noting "I want to move on to another issue we're hearing about a lot from the voters from Iowa in the poll. More voters wrote in questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue." Again, Steph got to that well after a third of the debate was over, close to the half-way mark.
If the point's not clear, voters wanted to hear about Iraq but Steph wasted everyone's time wondering about Obama and what was said about Obama and blah blah blah useless blah. Does he have a secret crush on Obama? In the Iraq section, Bill Richardson had a question for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and there's little Steph saying he wants "Obama on that question." Does Obama need that much hand holding just to make it through public appearances?
Bill Richardson declared: "Here's my plan: My plan is that, to end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them. Our kids are dying. Our troops have become targets. My plan has diplomacy, a tri-partite entity within Iraq, a reconciliation among the three groups. I would have a division of oil revenues. I'd have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, headed by the United Nations, a donor conference. But none of this peace and peace building can begin until all of our troops are out. We have different positions here. I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen. And it's important. And it's critically important that we do this with an orderly timetable. But what is key is all of the troops out -- no residual forces. You leave residual forces behind, the peace cannot begin."
This was in opposition to Joe Biden and Richardson replied, "Well, Anthony Cordesman from ABC News, a distinguished military expert, many generals agree with me that we can complete this withdrawal within six to eight months."
Biden wants to partition Iraq into three regions. Apparently he's running for the role of God. Steph wanted to lunch time poll in the midst of a debate and the results were as stupid as his efforts. Hillary Clinton wanted to make something clear. What? Who knows. Speaking of what needs to be done, by her plan, to get troops out of Iraq, she declared "this is going to be very dangerous and very difficult. A lot of people don't like to hear that." And since she thinks they don't want to hear it, she doesn't follow up on it changing the topic to equipment. Hillary Clinton stumbled around and the point is she's not for bringing all troops home -- not before the election, not if she's sworn in January 2009. The same is true of Barack Obama. A lot of people do NOT like to hear that. Not in the Democratic Party.
Chris Dodd was left out of the discussion -- apparently Steph has no crush on him. Edwards stated that he felt there was an "orderly way [to] bring our troops out over the next nine or 10 months." Instead of following that with an explanation, running with it to demonstrate a distinct reason why anyone should support him, he instead wasted the rest of his spot playing cheerleader for other candidates. Steph then all but served the question to Hillary's clone/twin Barack Obama who gave non-answers as well but -- as usual -- made a point of whining that in 2002 he was against the illegal war. In 2002, Obama was against the illegal war. In 2004, he was for continuing the illegal war and against bringing the troops home. Once sworn into the Senate in Januray 2005, he voted for every proposal to continue the illegal war until this past summer. But in 2002, America take note, in 2002 Barack Obama was against the war -- which appears to be all his campaign has to offer.
After Steph tossed to to Obama, Dennis Kucinich declared, "We can talk about George Bush driving a bus into a ditch, but let's not forget there was a Democratic Senate in charge that OK'ed the war. And those senators who are up on this stage helped to authorize that war and they have to take responsibility for that. Likewise, they have to take responsibility for funding the war. You say you're opposed to it, but you keep funding it. I think the American people have to look at that and ask, What's going on? Now, I've had a plan on the table for four years to get out of Iraq, and Democrats in Congress have to stand up to the pledge they made in 2006 to take us out of that war. They have to tell the president now, 'Bring the troops home. We're not going to give you any more money for that war.' The American people have a right to expect that we're going to take a new direction. But, frankly, you cannot expect a new direction with the same kind of thinking that took us into war in the first place. We cannot leave more troops there. We cannot privatize Iraq's oil. We cannot partition that country and expect there's going to be peace. We need a president who understands that, one who's been right from the start, and one who has shown the judgment, the wisdom, and the maturity to take the right stand at the time that it counted most, when the American people needed someone to stand up. And I'm the one who did that."
And that was pretty much it. Less than a third of the debate was spent on the issue of Iraq. Steph declared, before Chris Dodd could even weigh in, "Let's move on now. We've got a question -- we've got an e-mail question from Seth Ford of South Jordan, Utah." Seth wanted to know about prayer. Apparently he thought ABC was seeking input on the 20/20 'news' special "A Presidential Confidant." And too much reality makes Steph's do drip so it was off to nonsense. But remember what Steph said at the start of the tiny Iraq section: "I want to move on to another issue we're hearing about a lot from the voters from Iowa in the poll. More voters wrote in questions for us on the issue of Iraq than any other single issue. They all wanted to know what your plans were to get out of Iraq, and to get out safely from Iraq."

That is the nonsense ABC offered, prayer. One guy writes in about prayer but many write in about Iraq. And all the candidates are not allowed to speak (Dodd didn't speak at all, Gravel was cut off) and the moderator keeps tossing to Obama throughout. Watching, I wondered if Obama needed babying?

Dennis Kucinich was up on that stage speaking for the majority of Americans but ABC doesn't appear interested in what most Americans want.

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

Friday, August 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military reports another death, a US helicopter attack leaves many Iraqis dead, war resistance gets covered on PBS, activist, author, feminist, peace advocate Grace Paley passed away Wednesday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. This week's
NOW with David Brancaccio (PBS, begins airing in most markets Friday nights) takes a look at war resistance:Choosing to go to war is both a government's decision and one made by individual enlistees. But changing your mind once you're in the army is a risky decision with serious consequences. On Friday, August 24 (checkyour local listings), we talk to two soldiers who went AWOL and eventually left the Army, but who took very different paths. NOW captures the moment when one man turns himself in, and when another applies for refugee status in Canada, becoming one of the 20,000 soldiers who have deserted the army since the War in Iraq began. Each describes what drove him to follow his conscience over his call to duty, and what penalties and criticism were endured as a result. "I see things differently having lived through the experience," former army medic Agustin Aguayo tells NOW. "When I returned from Iraq, after much reflection I knew deep within me I could never go back."The NOW website at will offer more insight into the case made by conscientious objectors, as well as more stories of desertion in the ranks.In addition to the broadcast, a preview of the show is posted at YouTube. And the show will be available in various forms (audio, video, text -- though maybe not in full) at the NOW with David Brancaccio site.

Camilo Mejia is the new chair of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. The decision of the new board members of IVAW were made last weekend. Tony Pecinovsky (People's Weekly World) reports on the Veterans for Peace conference and quotes Mejia explaining, "There is no greater argument against war than the experience of war itself. In the military you're not free to decide for yourself what is right and wrong. The fog of war is very real. Your main concern is staying alive" and explaining his decision to self-checkout, "I couldn't return knowing that we are committing war crimes. This war is criminal. But I'm no longer a prisoner of fear. I have hope that we can end this war." IVAW is gearing up for their big Truth in Recruting campaign. Adam Kokesh, who is co-chair of IVAW, is currently doing workshops (tonight at St. Bede's at the corner of St. Francis and San Mateo 7-9 pm PST). And Camilo Mejia tells his story in his own story of resistance in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.

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

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

Turning to the jibber-jabber. The NIE was released yesterday. It is a much kinder and less explicit version of Peter W. Galbraith's "
Iraq: The Way to Go" (The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2007). In the essay, Galbraith writes, "The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the President nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat." If that stance is still not clear, Alex Spillius (Telegraph of London) reports: "Frontline generals in Iraq spoke openly yesterday of the need to have a government that could function and guarantee security above all else, including democratic legitimacy. Brig Gen John Bednarek, who commands forces in Diyala province, told CNN that 'democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future'." As all the lies are dropped, the reality of the crimes being committed may be grasped. Maybe not.
Michael Ware and Thomas Evans (CNN) report that "officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security." Yesterday, White House flack Gordon Johndroe declared (in Crawford, TX) that "we know that there are significant challenges ahead, especially in the political area. I would say that the strategy laid out by the President on January 10th was a strategy that provided for security first, so that there would be space for political reconciliation. The surge did not get fully operational until mid-summer. It is not surprising -- it is frustrating, but it's not surprising that the political reconciliation is lagging behind the security improvements. I think that is the way the strategy was laid out." The 'improved' security is a lie. Repeating, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting earlier this month that the US military claims of 'progress' were based on numbers they would not release and that McClatchy Newspapers' figures do not track with the findings the US military has trumpeted: "U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim." But clearly the generals, the officials and the White House are all on the same page regarding the 'problems' with democracy -- pure chance, of course.

Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times) summarizes the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "Despite some military progress, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is unable to govern his country effecitvely and the political situation is likely to become even more precarious in the next six to 12 months, the nation's intelligence agencies concluded in a new assessment released Thursday. The document, an update of a National Intelligence Estimate delivered in January, represents the view of all 16 U.S. spy agencies."

'Democracy' on hold or out the window . . . what to do, what to do? Bring in a 'strong man' dictator?
Reuters reports that 3 "secularist ministers . . . will formally quit" the cabinet of Nour al-Maliki today and that three are from Iyad Allawi's party. Yesterday Democracy Now! noted Allawyi is working with "Republican lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers" in an effort to become the new prime minister of Iraq (Allawi was previously interim prime minister). CIA asset Allawi was still working with the CIA in 2003, as Jim Lobe (Foreign Policy in Focus) noted, in attempted "Iraqification" which was a popular thing in late 2003 as the White House and hand maidens of the press attempted to treat "Iraqification" as a process which would put Iraqis in control. The policy was at odds with much of the White House's aims and never got off the ground. Had it, it still wouldn't have allowed for Iraqi control. Allawi was interim Prime Minister following the start of the illegal war and, during that time, he made his 'mark' early on. Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald via Common Dreams, July 2004) reported in July 2004: "Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security center, in the city's south-western suburbs."

Never having been handed democracy, Iraqis now face the very likely prospect that the puppet (al-Maliki) will be replaced with a dictator/strong man. It's not about what the Iraqis want or desire on the US government's end, it's just more of the same. A point driven home by
the announcement that Abdel-Salam Aref has died in Jordan. In 2004, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "The US-installed regime in Iraq said last night it would pay a monthly pension to a former president overthrown more than 35 years ago in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein's Baath party to power. The Iraqi Governing Council says it will pay Abdel-Rahman Aref $1,000 a month and allocate $5,000 to cover his medical bills in Jordan. Aref rose to prominence in 1963 when he was appointed army chief of staff by his elder brother, then President Abdel-Salam Aref. He was overthrown in July of 1968 in a coup that was aided by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA also gave the Baath Party the names of some 5,000 Iraqi Communists who were then hunted down and killed or imprisoned. Following the coup, Baath party leader Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became president, with Saddam as his right hand man."

Peter W. Galbraith explains, there was no democracy following the start of the illegal war, not in what was imposed by the US (and the US shut out the UN). What exists is a system where the Shi'ites and Sunnis are two major groups (Sunnis the smaller of the two) and the system imposed has left one group shut out (elections would change that only to a small degree -- but they aren't happening) and the third most populous segment, the Kurds, are ready for their own country (Kurdistan). The system imposed on Iraq by the US was fatally flawed from the beginning so, it can be argued, ignorance wasn't the issue. Considering past history, a failed system that could be tossed aside quickly. Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes the the NIE's "best-case scenario" would be "Iraq's security will improve modestly over the next six to 12 months, but violence across the country will remain high. The U.S.-backed central government will grow more fragile and remain unable to govern. Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue their bitter feuding. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure. In Iraq, best-case scenarios have rarely, if ever, come to pass."

Andrew Stephen (New Statesman) wonders if the Bully Boy is imploding and notes, "The conundrum, of course, is that it was precisely that dark art which got Bush into the White House in the first place. The poisonous divisiveness that gradually festered around him as a result now allows the state department, to take just one example reported in the Washington Post, to think nothing of simply ignoring an order from the president. Yet I suspect that the extent to which the Bush administration has become so shambolic will not come home to many Americans until the country returns to work on 4 September. Bush is now a truly rudderless president, with no realistic agenda left for the next 513 or so days, other than to tread water and hope for the best."

Is Bully Boy imploding? His laughable attempting to rewrite history this week indicates something strange.
Robert Parry (Consortium News) evaluates the latest lunacy, "It is often said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But a much worse fate may await countries whose leaders distort and falsify history. Such countries are doomed to experience even bloodier miscalculations. That was the case with Germany after World War I when Adolf Hitler's Nazis built a political movement based in part on the myth that weak politicians in Berlin had stabbed brave German troops in the back when they were on the verge of victory. And it appears to be the case again today as President George W. Bush presents the history of the Vietnam War as a Rambo movie with the heroic narrative that if only the U.S. military had stuck it out, the war would have been won. Or, more likely, the black wall of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial would stretch most of the way to the U.S. Capitol." And Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times), who has gotten nothing but hisses in these snapshots, tackles the Bully Boy's nonsense, "Some might quibble with Bush's understanding of historical causation. Yes, many innocent civilians suffered in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam -- but it's more accurate to attribute their suffering to the prolongation of the war itself, rather than to the U.S. withdrawal as such. It's hard to be precise (as is the case in Iraq today, no one kept careful count of Vietnamese civilian casualties, and all sides in the conflict had an incentive to fudge the true figures), but somewhere between 1 million and 4 million civilians died as the war needlessly dragged on, many killed by U.S. weapons. Millions more were displaced. But those are details.
Bush went on to assert that 'another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam' was the rise of 'the enemy we face in today's struggle, those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens' on 9/11. Yup -- it's so obvious! The U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam caused the rise of Al Qaeda -- and, by extension, 'our withdrawal from Vietnam' ultimately turned Iraq into 'the central front' in 'the war on terror'." At a time when many left voices played dumb, stayed silent, Rosa Brooks addressed Bully Boy's nonsense, challenged it and put into perspective.
More willing to do that would go along way towards ending the illegal war.

The NIE is not the only report making the news. Another report, this time from an aid agency, also gives a grim picture.
James Glanz and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that the Bully Boy's escalation has led to an escalation in the amount of Iraqi refugees. Citing figures by the Iraqi Red Crescent, the reporters declare "the total number of internally displaced Iraqis has more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000, since the buildup [of troops -- the escalation] started in February."

Turning to some of today's violence,
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports a US helicopter attack on Iraqis in western Baghdad that resulted in the deaths of "at least 18" Iraqis, that the US is claiming the helicopter attack was prompted by an attack from 'insurgents' but eye witnesses note it's the same thing as usual -- due to the heat some people sleep on their roofs and that's what was going on during the "predawn" attack by the US -- and that between 2 and 4 women were killed in the attack. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The U.S. military said in a press release that after ground troops came under attack helicopters were brought and 18 'enemy combatants were killed'. The military later amended the release putting the death toll at only 8. The military said armed men on rooftops were spotted. A military spokesman said no civilians were killed."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (two more injured).


Reuters reports "two construction workers" were shot dead in Diwaniya, a barber was shot dead in in Hawija and 1 police officer was shot dead in Numaniya. CBS and AP report, "Sixty suspected al Qaeda in Iraq fighters hit national police facilities in a coordinated attack in Samarra, sparking two hours of fighting that saw three people killed and more than a dozen insurgents captured, Iraqi police said Friday. One policeman, a woman and an 11-year-old girl were killed in the fighting in the city 60 miles north of Baghdad, and nine others were injured. There were no details on insurgent casualties, but police arrested 14 suspects, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse discovered in Hawija. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Diwaniya..

Today the
US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier died Aug. 24 as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion earlier in the day while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Four Soldiers were also wounded and transported to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." The current numbers at ICCC are 3725 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 67 for the month thus far. Reuters' count is also 3725 and they note "Britain 168 [and] Other nations 129".

Finally, author and activist Grace Paley died Wednesday. In Sisterhood is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (ed.
Robin Morgan, 2003), Paley contributed "Why Peace is (More Than Ever) A Feminist Issue":

Today's wars are about oil. But alternate energies exist now -- solar, wind -- for every important energy-using activity in our lives. The only human work that cannot be done without oil is war.
So men lead us to war for enough oil to continue to go to war for oil.
I'm now sure that these men can't stop themselves anymore -- even those who say they want to. There are too many interesting weapons. Besides, theirs is a habit of centuries, eons. They will not break that habit themselves.
For ourselves, for our girl and boy children, women will have to organize as we have done before -- and also as we have never done before -- to break that habit for them, once and for all.

Peace is a feminist issue, still and always, even if one women's group chose to walk away from that reality in order to justify an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. As
Juan Gonzales (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Since the 1960s, Paley was very active in the antiwar, feminist, and anti-nuclear movements. She helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center in 1961. Eight years later she went on a peace mission to Hanoi. In 1974, she attended the World Peace Conference in Moscow. In 1980, she helped organize the Women's Pentagon Action. And in 1985, Paley visited Nicaragua and El Salvador, after having campaigned against the US government's policies towards those countries. She was also one of the 'White House Eleven,' who were arrested in 1978 for unfurling an anti-nuclear banner on the White House lawn." Feminist Wire Daily writes that "Paley was known as much for her political activism on behalf of peace and women's rights as her literary accomplishments. Paley was jailed several times for her opposition to the Vietnam War, and traveled to Hanoi on a peace mission to negotiate for the release of American prisoners in 1969. She helped found the Women's Pentagon Action and the Greenwich Village Peace Center. . . . Most recently, she actively opposed the war in Iraq." When Paley went to NYC for the "Women on War" event in April 2003, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed her and the program aired some of that interview today:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you were recently named the poet laureate of Vermont. It's very interesting. You're named by the governor, who is a Republican governor. Can you talk about how you relate to him in your meeting with him?
GRACE PALEY: Well, first of all, he really -- he didn't -- well, he had to sign the paper, but I was chosen by a group of other poets, a couple of whom had been laureates, like Galway Kinnell and Ellen Voigt, and a couple of other people who had to make a choice. I don't even think I was the best one, but that's beside the point. Still, there -- you know, there's time for others. And then I had to meet with him. He wanted to meet with me and talk to me, but before he really signed on. And I -- he knew a lot about me, and I said, well, I wasn't going to change very much, you know? I'd probably be the same person I was, no matter what. And we talked awhile about this fact. And he really -- and then he signed it. That's all.
AMY GOODMAN: Governor James Douglas?
GRACE PALEY: Yes. He's a Republican. He has a very mild manner, and I don't know whether that's the part of the Republicans of Vermont or what, but he's a Republican. I mean, there's no question about it.
AMY GOODMAN: But in terms of your poetry, more significantly, here he is naming you poet laureate, whether he chose you or not --
AMY GOODMAN: -- he is for the war, and you're opposed.
GRACE PALEY: Yeah, right. Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And you have been using your poetry a lot in the last few months to express that view.
GRACE PALEY: Well, I would do that, no matter what. I mean, this is what I'm about, and this is how I live my life. It's -- I don't even -- I wouldn't understand how to do otherwise.

Interviewed by Phyllis Exkhaus and Judith Mahoney Pasternak (War Resister League) at the start of this century, Paley reflected on what the peace movement accomplished: "Well, I think it did two things. It acted as an education in resistance and nonviolence. And probably the education in nonviolent direct action couldn't have been learned without a war. It had to take a war for people to learn that things could be defied and resisted. I think that was an important legacy of the peace movement."

Elaine Woo (Los Angeles Times) reports on Paley's work on the issue of draft resistance and notes "she also was an inveterate street-corner leafleteer and protest marcher who supported or helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center, the War Resisters League, Women's Pentagon Action and the Feminist Press." The Feminist Press published Here And Somewhere Else (Two By Two) in March of this year which paired Paley's work with Robert Nichols (her second and surviving husband).

In the December 1998 issue of
The Progressive, Anne-Marie Cusac noted a passage by Paely that stood out: "One of the things that art is about, for me, is justice. Now, that isn't a matter of opinion, really. That isn't to say, 'I'm going to show these people right or wrong' or whatever. But what art is about -- and this is what justice is about, although you'll have your own interpretations -- is the illumination of what isn't known, the lighting up of what is under a rock, of what has been hidden."

In 2002, she was among those signing "
Not In Our Name: A Statement Of Conscience Against War And Repression." Meredith Tax remembers Paley at Women's WORLD: "Grace and I became close during the PEN Congress of 1986, during which we organized a meeting to protest the inadequate number of women speakers, which took over the ballroom of the Essex House Hotel and led to the formation of a Women's Committee in PEN American Center. Grace and I were co chairs of that committee until she moved to Vermont, and she became founding Chair of Women's World in 1994. Grace was the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. This is unusual in a writer, especially one of her quality, because writers tend to husband their inner resources for their work, but Grace had so many inner resources that she could afford to be generous. She gave unstining love to her family and friends, took speaking engagements at any whistlestop, often without pay, organized antiwar and antinuclear and women's demonstrations, worked endlessly against nuclear armaments, did draft counseling, protested on behalf of the environment, free expression, and a just peace betwen Israel and Palestine."

In addition,
Matthew Rothschild interviewed Paley for Progressive Radio and Neda Ulaby (NPR) provides an audio overview of Paley's life and work. In terms of writing, "My Father Addresses Me On The Facts Of Old Age" (June 17, 2002) is available online at The New Yorker.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Radish Hot & Sour Soup in the Kitchen

Dot, who has shared humorous e-mails with me for about a year, e-mailed to say she understood because she has three grandchildren "but I'm going to get you back to cooking!" She sent various recipes she's used and some she found online. I read them and thought, "Maybe in the fall when things cool down." With one exception . . .

One recipe I had to try. And I had to try it right way. I ended making it twice last week.

Radish Hot & Sour Soup
5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground (dried) ginger
1 pound salad shrimp
6 oz. sliced radishes, about 1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, shredded
2/3 cups thinly sliced green onions

Serves 4-6

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring stock to a boil. Stir in vinegar, sugar, cayenne and ginger. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink and curl, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in radishes, spinach and green onions. Cover and let stand 2-3 minutes before serving.

With the salad shrimp, they're already cooked but still do the 3-4 minutes. I made it with the salad shrimp at first. That's how Dot cooks it now. You can use the link and you'll find that the recipe called for fresh shrimp. The second time, Dot having explained her substitute, I made it with fresh shrimp. The difference isn't that noticeable, though the price is. (That's why Dot substituted salad shrimp instead which can be found in the freezer section of your grocer and are tiny shrimp, precooked.)

Other than Dot's wonderful recipe, I have mainly stuck to fixing vegetables and salads and popping in a prepared dish (such as frozen lasanga) into the oven.

Karen's e-mailed wondering if I was interested in a recipe for a salad using radishes? I love radishes. I've e-mailed her back and said send it on over. I'll try it out next week and hopefully be able to share it with you. My grandmother used to make glazed radishes all the time. (That's not what Karen's recipe is for, obviously.) And I think that's when I first started to really like them. As I got older (12?), I started to enjoy them by themselves.

Someone e-mailed to ask if, along with heavy cooking, I'd given up on Kucinich for the summer? No, I haven't given up Dennis Kucinich. I honestly don't care for his new website. I looked last week before I wrote and the only thing I could track down was a series of posts on different topics by people who signed up and blogged. You click on Action Center, which I would think would take you to position papers and/or speeches, and you get the message boards. It says "new website coming soon" but, honestly, don't start switching if you're not ready yet.

The new website is like the John Edwards site. (Or the current website.) The older website was more like a Congress member's website and, I'm guessing, not flashy enough. To me, that's Dennis Kucinich: the basics. Not a lot of flash, just dependable. If and when the "new website coming soon" comes along, I'll be happy to note things but, as it stands, you go to the current website and see if you can figure it out. It's been several weeks. I think it's a huge mistake and truly don't think he has these weeks to waste.

For instance, recently Matthew Rothschild and another writer (whom I forget now) have written about Kucinich being shut out of the coverage by the New York Times. Anyone reading those pieces might tell themselves, "I'm going to his website to find out about this guy the press won't tell me about." If they go to the website, I think they'll wonder why he is in the race because you won't find it at the current website. At the current website, you'll surf around and wonder why the hell the guy is even running?

At the old website, you could find text and video on issues like Iraq, health care, etc. When the press is marginalizing you, you really need a website that allows people to find out where you stand. The current website doesn't and it's been that way for several weeks (before my granddaughter was born).

The current website offers you "Action Center" or "Text Peace." I've already shared my thoughts on "Action Center." Regarding "Text Peace," maybe it appeals to the kids but I don't "text." With nothing else up, it makes Kucinich look like a very empty candidate and allows those making jokes about "Text Peace" (as several in the media are) to have a fully loaded gun. Either get your "new website coming soon" up already or go back to the old one because this over long tranistion phase is hurting the campaign.

I wasn't sure if I was going to write about that. I've felt that way for weeks now. However, a woman at my church had heard me talking about Kucinich (repeatedly) and called me Thursday saying she went to the site and didn't see any reason to vote for him. There is NO REASON to vote for him on that site.

I started thinking about how often I talk up Kucinich in the average day and how other people are probably doing that in their neighborhoods as well. Who knows how many people across the country are going to his website because they heard people talking about him.

They go to the website and get that nonsense. "Action Center" should not be a message board. It makes him look like a light weight -- which is how the mainstream press is portraying him. It makes him look like he has no issues he stands for and really allows those jokes about "Text Peace" (or jabs) to take hold.

Get it together. Yes, there is a link for the old website. But people are going to go there? You're new to Kucinich, you search him and click on the link for his 2008 presidential campaign and are greeted with nothing. You really think most people are going to say, "Oh, let's check out the old site." No. They went to a presidential candidate's website and their first impression is that his idea of 'leadership' is texting and that's all he's got to offer.

I was talking about this earlier this morning with C.I. and was told that when reporters are writing stories, they are visiting websites. C.I. said that probably explains some of the "Text Peace" jabs taking place currently. We (C.I. and I) both know the press would get in their jabs and marginalization regardless but the campaign shouldn't be helping them out.

If you can't have the promised new website up before next weekend, forget about it, ditch the current one and go back to the old one. Put up a banner that says "Back to Basics" or something. But that website is destroying his campaign. After we talked this morning, C.I. called one of the reporters who slammed Dennis Kucinich recently for "Text Peace." (C.I. knows the reporter.) C.I. said, "No, I'm not calling you to rag on you. I'm calling to find out if you went to the campaign website?" He had. Well that explains the jokes about "Text Peace." Dennis Kucinich is inviting those jokes by having his current website be so friviolous. That's what it is, friviolous.

When you were 'encouraged' last time to drop out (by Ted Koppel), you should have known that this time you'd have to hit harder on the issues than anyone. People new to you (and apparently reporters, I had no idea until C.I. told me this morning that reporters would access the candidate's websites, C.I. said in the old days they'd maintain campaign literature but these days it's all about what's online and e-mails and faxes) need to know what you stand for. Visiting the current website, the only thing Dennis Kucinich himself stands for is "Text Peace." That explains the jokes/jabs. And they will take hold because anyone thinking the jokes/jabs aren't fair and visiting the website will quickly see "Text Peace" and nothing else by the campaign (the message boards are not the campaign). The jokes/jabs take root.

He is wasting his campaign right now.

He gave a strong speech about the potential war with Iran that the administration wants. He gave that speech earlier this week. I could probably search the net and find a text version somewhere. But I went to the website again today because I hoped it would be up. It's not.

It should be. Anyone hearing of the speech and wanting to check it out should be able to. Either get the new website up or go back to using the old one. Not in terms of a link referral (as is done currently) but as the site that shows up when you search.

Kucinich has my support in the primary. If he didn't, I wouldn't be writing about this. The campaign needs to fix the website. Again, I had no idea that reporters visited the websites but it makes sense. They're doing a write up on his campaign or all campaigns and they go to it and get nothing. That doesn't explain the hatred towards him in the press (that hatred has to do with the fact that he stands for something) but that will allow the jokes/jabs to take hold with the public.

The new site tells you nothing except he's running for president. It offers no biography, it offers no issues. It reads like someone who's floating a test balloon. Kucinich is in the race and the website needs to demonstrate that.

Kat and I are both noting this (C.I. will as well), two programs airing on WBAI tomorrow and Monday, and the times are Eastern Time Zone, you can listen online:

Sunday, August 19, 11am-noon
Poet Hugh Seidman interviews poet Harvey Shapiro upon publication of Shapiro's "The Sights Along The Harbor: New and Collected Poems." (Re-broadcast of a program that originally aired April 16, 2006.)

Monday, August 20, 2-3pm
Political satirist Will Durst, just opened to rave reviews in "The All-American Sport of Bi-Partisan Bashing"; actor/musicians Preston Clark and Grant Vargas on their play "33 to Nothing," about an aging rock band; and author Leslie Garis on "House of Happy Endings," a family memoir involving her grandparents, the authors of The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and Uncle Wiggily. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

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

Friday, August 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, al-Maliki tries to save his ass via a Sunni shut out, the 4,000 mark for foreign fighters killed in Iraq has passed, a mosque is attacked in Iraq, A.N.S.W.E.R. is attacked in the US, IVAW & Vets for Peace & Military Families Speak Out and others gear up for a march in St. Louis this Sunday, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Melissa Fryer (The Nanmio News Bulletin).reports on war resister Timothy Richards who enlisted in the National Guard in 1999 and self-checked out and moved to Canada after he was stop-lossed: "In August 2005, just three months before his six-year contract expired, he was called up and moved from calvalry to infantry, and began training at Camp Shelby, Miss. for deployment to Iraq. . . . His contract was extended to 2031 without his permission, due to a clause that allows the U.S. government to extend military contracts at their discretion". Camilo Mejia, who tells his story in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, also found his 'contract' (legally binding only when it's in the military's favor) extended to 2031. Richard self-checked out during the Thanksgiving 2005 break and moved to Canada. Fyrer reports,
"Because his dad is Canadian, Richard was able to acquire Canadian citizenship, which allows him to work and go to school, and protects him from extradition to the U.S. to face desertion charges. . . . Other war resisters are not so fortunate. To support them, and to help repay the support he was shown when he landed in Nanaimo, Richard is using his singing talents to raise money for the Nanaimo War Resisters Support Group and St. Andrew's United Church" with "A Concert for Peace" scheduled to take place August 19th, starting at seven p.m. at St. Andrew's Church (ten dollars is the price for a ticket).

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th. (And, on the 19th, there will be a march led by, among others, war resister Darrell Anderson. See further details at later in the snapshot.)

Earlier this month, when the United Nations Security Council voted to 'expand' the UN's role in Iraq,
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) wrote of the "fig leaf" nature of the UN 'mission' in Iraq observing that "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expects to send all of thirty more U.N. personnel to Iraq. But the staff union at the U.N. opposes this, and even wants those currently in Iraq to be withdrawn until the safety situation there improves" and also noted how it was "difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes 'the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capactiy building in Iraq's southeast'." Basra would be the site where the UK has seen many losses throughout the illegal war (the current number of UK soldiers killed in the illegal war is 168). So the "all of thirty more U.N. personnel [sent] to Iraq" is laughable and, indeed, a fig leaf.

Fig leafs are all that's left to cover the illegal war and the new one this week has been
the so-called 'alliance' Nouri al-Maliki has formed which shuts out the Sunnis. Always quick to parrot the US government's talking points, Damien Cave (New York Times) misses every bit of reality and promotes the 'alliance' as just another manuever while quoting an unnamed US official who declares its too soon to tell whether the alliance will be successful or not? Too soon to tell? The shut out of the Sunnis violates the White House endorsed, Congressionally mandate 'benchmarks' two and sixteen. Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports that the make up of the 'alliance' "effectively undermines the coalition's chances of breaking the political gridlock that has frustrated U.S. and Iraqi officials" and quotes Sunni Hachim al-Hassani declaring, "This is not the solution for Iraq's problems. The solution for Iraq's problems is for the real parties to get together and agree on an agenda to fix Iraq's
The Australian observes that the Sunni shut out in the 'alliance' "immediately raised questions about its legitimacy as a unifying force" and declares, "The key disappointment after days spent negotiating the pact's membership was the absence of Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, and his moderate Iraqi Islamic Party. That portends even deeper political divisions, but Mr. Maliki chose a more optimistic assessment." The Sunni shut out also comes after US efforts to arm and train some Sunnis alarmed many Shi'ites in the puppet government and the back-and-forth dance the US does with Sunnis and Shi'ites serves to throw everyone off balance (which is the point of it). al-Maliki, while trashing two 'benchmarks,' is already (once again) eager to spin happy about the chances to pass the theft of Iraqi oil, the privataziation of Iraqi oil opposed by most Iraqis but something the US administration wants. Sabah Jergest (AFP) reports "Leaders of Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab community on Friday slammed the new Shiite and Kurdish alliance formed to salvage Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government. The National Concord Front, the main Sunni Arab political bloc in the country's 275-member parliament, said the new tie-up between the two Shiite and two Kurdish parties was a 'futile' excercise."
David Hardaker (Australia's ABC) notes that "Sunni leader and Vice President Tariq Hashemi has severely criticised the government's record on security and human rights." And so has the mainstream press in recent months but the 'alliance' is a new chance to spin 'possibilities.'

Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitor) provides context: "With a mid-September deadline looming for the Bush administration to deliver its Iraq progress report to Congress, American diplomats in Baghdad are working overdrive to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government from total collapse -- something that could shatter all efforts to forge a long-elusive national reconciliation." Fig leaf. That's all the 'alliance' is. An effort by the US and al-Maliki to have something -- anything! -- worth spinning as the September 15th 'progress' report (to be delivered to Congress) looms. In light of this comes the 'alliance' and also talk of a crisis summit. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review observes of the latter, "How familiar is this dirge. The government is run by the Shiite majority, the Sunni minority feels put upon and many Kurds would just as soon go their own way." Among the Shi'ite militias Sunnis have called "death squads" is the Badr Brigade. Last week, the governor of the Qadasiyah province was assassinated. CBS News and AP report today that Sheik Hamid al-Khudhan, "secretary-general of the Badr Brigade" has just been elected the new govenor "by a narrow majority" of council members. With these and other actions, the puppet's cry of "We must unite" seems less like a slogan and more like a threat.

How familiar is this dirge? Tuesday multiple bombings in northern Iraq led to mass deaths. Today
BBC reports the death toll at 344 with four hundred wounded and that Abdul Rahim al-Shimari, mayor of Baaj, held a press confrence where he declared, "People are in shock. Hospitals here are running out of medicine. The pharmacies are empty. We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe." The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that they are "dispatching surgical and medical supplies to Telaafar General Hospital which is receiving an influx of casualties resulting from the four explosions that rocked the Sinjar district in the north west of Iraq late on Tuesday evening. Similar supplies for the treatment of over 400 wounded have also been dispatched to Sinjar General Hospital and Dohuk Emergency Hospital." While the Red Cross (and Red Crescent) provide aid, Damien Cave (New York Times) gets giddy that Nouri al-Maliki's puppet government has announced it will provide families with $1600 (US) for each family member killed. Ignoring all context and reality, this meager sum stands in stark contrast to to the puppet's July 2006 declaration that he would send $35 million (US) in aid to Lebanon.
Diamond Jim Brady al-Maliki has all the cash in the world to toss around . . . outside of Iraq but when Iraqi lives are to be compensated for, he sends the message that the lives are of much less value on the monetary scale.

Staying on the topic of money,
CNN reported yesterday on Iraqi women who have been forced into prostitution due to their losses from the illegal war as they attempt to support themselves and their children with some earning $8 (US) a day. Suha, not her real name, is 37-years-old, the mother of three children and she tells CNN, "People shouldn't criticize women, or talk badly about them. They all say we have lost our way, but they never ask why we had to take this path. I don't have money to take my kids to the doctor. I have to do anything that I can to preserve my child, because I am a mother." The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed explains to CNN that her group "pounds the streets of Baghdad looking for these victims often too humiliated to come forward," victims of the illegal war whom she points out have been forced into prostitution: "At this point there is a population of women who have to sell their bodies in order to keep their children alive. It's a taboo that no one is speaking out. There is a huge population of women who were the victims of war who had to sell their bodies, their souls and they lost it all."

On the anniversary of the fourth year of the illegal war, the
Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq released the following statement:

Women of Iraq have gradually let go of most of their 20th century gains and privileges in the last 4 years of occupation. Iraq turned from a modern country of educated and working women into a divided land of Islamic and ethnic warlords who compete in cancelling women from the social realm. Millions of women's destinies are wasted between the destructive US war machine and different kinds of Islamic rule who have have turned women into helpless black objects of no will or worth.
After 4 years of "democratizing" Iraq, systemic group rapes of detained women have become a routine procedure to be practiced in police staions and detainment camps. It has also become another ugly face of the atrocious sectarian war where assaulting females of
the other sect is considered a political victory and punishment.
Abeer, Sabrine and Wajidah's sufferings were known, heard, and ended but hundreds of unknown assaulted women still get beaten, raped and videotaped daily in the Iraqi ministries and around the American bases.

And yes, Virgil and Virginia, there is prostitution in Iraq and in Baghdad and it's been known throughout the illegal war though many outlets have worked overtime to officially ignore it (officially ignore).

CBS News' Lara Logan files an update on the Baghdad orphan horror story (back in June, US soldiers found an 'orphanage' that was practicing neglect and abuse and rescued the children) by noting that the US soldiers who saved the children have been awarded but she fails to mention the names of those receiving awards other than Osman Koroma. She also fails to mention how the situation (and others like it that remain unreported) came to be.
Congratulations to Koroma (and the others) for a well deserved medal but the facts remain -- and remain unreported in US media -- that the orphanage and others like it exist due to the illegal war. This was not a case of children made orphans, this was actually (though Logan doesn't note it) a special needs residential center. In the Arab media, parents of the children and of other children have been interviewed, have discussed how they placed their special needs children there because they hoped the children would have the best chance at safety in a war torn country. Parents have been vocal -- outside the US media -- about how the story CBS broke (and others picked up) have made them decide that bombs falling, shootings, barely enough food to survive on, be damned, they were going to pull the children from these institutions. CBS News continues to act as if an isolated center was found and what took place happened by mere chance. That is not reality. There are many others and 'care givers' know they can get away with it because the daily violence makes visits by parents near impossible (and, as one father revealed, many of these centers require the parents to make appointments to visit) and they thrive because Iraqi parents (or in some cases, an Iraqi parent since the illegal war has left many families with one parent -- some with none) see the daily violence from the illegal war and look for any sort of safety for their children. By all means, applaud Osman Koroma and the other US soldiers who made a huge difference by not just discovering the children but by rescuing them (up the chain commanders deserve no credit or applause for the individual actions of the soldiers) but don't ignore the fact that this center and others like it exist due to the illegal war.

yesterday a mark stood at 3999. The mark? The number of official military members who had died after foreign governments had sent them into Iraq to fight in the illegal war. The 4,000 mark has passed. Today the US military announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad. An investigation into the cause of death will be conducted." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy gunfire in Baghdad Province, Thursday." This took the total to 4001. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported earlier today, "In Iraq, the coalition death toll has now topped four thousand. The vast majority are American, with thirty-seven hundred and two U.S. troops killed. Forty-four U.S. service members have died this month."

But the number climbed still higher later in the day. Later today, the
US military announced: "One Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated during a patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Aug. 17." And they announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad." ICCC's total for the number of US service members who've died in the illegal war thus far this month is 48 and the total number who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 3706. The total number of foreign military members (US, UK and "Other") killed in the illegal war currently stands at 4003.

As noted above a US soldier died of gun wounds on Thursday. The guns were fired from the roof of a mosque and have resulted in a mosque being the site of a battle.
AP reports the US fired missiles at Honest Mohammed Mosque (which was damaged) as worshippers fled.
CNN reports 14 Iraqis were killed by the US including a "boy." The US military states the mosque battle took place in Tarmiyah while glossing over Iraqi fatalities.

In other violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left three people wounded and 3 bombings that claimed 2 lives and left 8 people injured (four were Iraqi soldiers). KUNA reports a Kirkuk bombing wounded four civilians and five Iraqi police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two people wounded from gun fire when unknown assailants in five vehicles opened fre as they drove through Albu Faraj village. AP reports the airing today of a taped execution of Alaa Abboud Fartous Diab who had been an official at the Iraqi Defense Ministry and was "killed with two pistol shots to the back of the head."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Haditha ("gunshot wounds and signs of torture").

Yesterday, the media began reporting on US Army study that found a 15% increase in suicides among active duty members of the army which AP had. Today, Pauline Jelinek (AP) notes that "nearly a third of 99 [suicides] committed in 2006 were among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time of their deaths. Iraq accounted for the overwhelming number of those -- 27 of the 30." Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessing says, "This report only shows the tip of iceberg, as it does not cover those who took their lives after leaving active duty service. Until the war in Iraq is brought to an end, we think the tragic reality will only become worse" and notes the suicides of Brian Jason Rand and Jeffrey Lucey -- two of many suicides that were committed after the service members left active duty status and are not tracked in the heavily covered study.

This Sunday,
[PDF format warning] Military Families Speak Out and others including war resister Darrell Anderson will be conducting a march in St. Louis, MO called "The National March Through the Arch" which will begin at 10:45 a.m. with partipants encouraged to meet at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 9th and Cole streets.

Many organizations and individuals will also be taking part in an August 25th march in Maine.
Kennebunks Peace Department announces the August 25th Rally and March for Peace which will include Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Melida and Carlos Arredondo, David Rovics, Indigo Girls, Pat Scanlon & Band and others. Participants should "gather in the park outside the Kennebunkport Consolidated School on School Street at 10 a.m. for a morning of speeches and music. Then the group will march to the Bush family compound on Walker's Point. The march will be followed by another speaking and music program."

In other peace activisim news,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported yesterday that A.N.S.W.E.R. is being targeted for a demonstration next month, "In Washington D.C., city officials have threatened a ten thousand dollar fine to the anti-war group ANSWER unless it removes posters promoting an upcoming peace march. Several hundred yellow posters have been posted around the city announcing the September 15th event. The protest is timed to coincide with the release of a Pentagon report on the so-called troop surge in Iraq. D.C. officials say the posters are illegal because they don't meet city standards on adhesive use. ANSWER calls the fine threat a political move aimed at silencing the march."
A.N.S.W.E.R. maintains it "will not pay one penny to the government for our First Amendment rights or to stave off their threats against us. We are working with the expert constitutional rights attorneys at the Partnership for Civil Justice to determine our next steps for legal action against this government harrassment and attempted repression." They are asking for people to take action by calling the Director of Department of Public Workds, William O. Howland Jr. at 202-673-6833 and the DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty, at 202-724-8876 and/or to use this link to send or a letter or fax. And, to be sure everyone is clear, the march remains on.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad in the Kitchen

Noting my fondness for spinach, Elizabeth e-mailed two spinach recipes. The recipes look delicious but my son Mike is allergic to strawberries and has been since he was a child. (His father either developed the allery as an adult or it was minor in childhood because it was only in the last ten years that he'd break out in hives when eating strawberries.) One recipe called for fresh strawberries in the salad and the other for the dressing. To make either, I would have to carefully handle the strawberries and be sure to not just wash my hands after but wash clean any surface that the berries were on.

I e-mailed back thanking her for the recipes and explaining why they wouldn't work for me personally. She replied with another spinach salad recipe and we worked on it to simplify it. Originally it called for a lot more work than needed. For example, you had to use a knife on an orange and remove membrane, et al. You're only using the pulp and juice from the orange so that's extra work.

1 bunch of spinach (or 1 package of spinach fresh)
1 medium red onion thinly sliced (1 large if you enjoy red onions)
3 oranges
1 small package of almonds

For approximately 3 minutes, you will toast the almonds in a skillet. You don't need to put any oil into the skillet. You will need to stir throughout. (And mircowaving will not work.)
Peel the skin off the 3 oranges. Pull the oranges into slices. Cut each slice in half and then squeeze the contents (juices and pulp) into a bowl bowl. Using a slotted spoon (or regular spoon if you don't have a slotted one) pick up the pulp pieces while leaving the juices in the bowl. Transfer the pulp pieces into your salad bowl. In the salad bowl, toss the fresh spinach and pulp pieces (which will contain some juice even if you use a slotted spoon, that's fine).

The orange juice in the other bowl. Does the bowl have a cover? If not transfer it to a container with a cover for shaking. You will add 1 tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (it has to be balsamic -- regular vinegar will not work). Cover the container and shake repeatedly to mix. This is your vinagrette. (You can also add some freshly ground pepper to the mix before shaking. If so, it's season to taste, so don't overdue it.)

Place the salad on 4 to 6 plates, drizzle the vinagrette over each plate, spoon toasted almonds on top.

Thank you to Elizabeth for the recipe and also for being concerned (the point of her e-mails) about me. I just was tired of cooking main dishes, of the heat and wanting to spend time with my grandbaby. She's barely a month old and this is my first grandchild. I steamed a lot of vegetables this week but stuck to frozen main dishes. I also boiled corn on the cob three times this week due to the fact that it was on sale and everyone loves it. When we have good corn on the cob like that, my husband could make an entire meal out of it. He's like an addict when it comes to corn on the cob. I have a baked recipe that I do when I also serve baked salmon and I may share that if anyone's interested.

Last night (and I've not yet been to sleep), we had everyone over for the Iraq study group and C.I., Jim, Ty, Jess and Ava were visiting. C.I. actually cooked. There's a recipe that I love (I had it when we were all in DC) which is this wonderful, thick sauce with Italian sausage and peppers served with pasta. C.I. showed up with the ingredients (ingredients for everyone) and kept darting out of the meeting to check on the sauce. When we broke at ten, everyone chowed down. They cleaned up the kitchen but I would have gladly helped out. I know there were several huge pots of the sauce made (from scratch) and I'm sure the cleanup was a nightmare. But the meal was delicious. (We had loaves of garlic bread with it which was bought at the store and a green salad.) C.I. made me go last because the recipe tastes better the longer it simmers and C.I. felt the three hours the other pots simmered were rushing it. No one complained. But, honestly, it really does taste better after the three hour point. They'd finish off one stock pot and start cleaning that one so by the time it was down to the last stock pot, the kitchen was pretty much clean.

I don't know the exact recipe or I'd share it. I thought I did because I got it in DC (September 2006, I believe) and have made it repeatedly but cannot get it quite right. It tastes good but not as good. So I must be leaving out something. And before everyone thinks, "Trina, you have a lot of stock pots!" . . . I do not have enough to feed the forty or so people present. C.I. brought those too and noted, "I'm not flying on the plane with them so give them away or keep them." Just two weeks ago, I was thinking, "It's time to get a new stock pot." Now I have eight.
This week, I'll try to think, "It's time to get someone new in the Oval Office."

What is it about impeachment that so scares Congress? It's their duty at this point, considering all the crimes and lies of the Bully Boy. But Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, and pretty much the majority of Democrats in the House refuse to put it "on the table." "On the table," FYI, refers to Nancy Pelosi's statement that impeachment was off the table. To clarify on that, because a number of writers are getting it wrong, she made that statement last year to 60 Minutes. She did not make that statement this year. A number of writers attempting to provide cover for Conyers feel the need to claim that she made it after she was sworn in as Speaker of the House.

I don't believe in providing cover to anyone. I don't care what the gender is, I don't care what their race is, I don't care what their ethnicity is. If you're not signing on for impeachment and you are a member of Congress, you're not doing your job and you deserve to be called out. I'm reminded of when alleged 'progressives' rushed to defend David Obey (White) after he got nasty with Tina Richardson. I think we're seeing that now with John Conyers. A lot of writers who pretend they are independent are confronted with a personal hero who has feet of clay and they can't accept that fact. So they insist it's racism or racist to call out John Conyers when the actual racism is in staying silent because he's African-American. I think some of them will snap out of their current positions shortly.

It's really hard when you look up to someone not to rush in and defend them. Especially if they have any kind of a past record -- the way some felt Obey did and the way Conyers actually does. But what's past is past. We're living today. You're either working for change today or you are obstructing it. You can't rest on your laurels.

I'm more sympathetic to the ones defending Conyers than I was to those defending Obey because Conyers really did do great, liberal things in the past. But while I'm sympathetic to his defenders, I am less sympathetic to Conyers. He knows the importance of standing up more than most which is why he needs to stand up now. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, he wasn't born into money and didn't make a name for himself as a political fundraiser as a result. He has a very real history he can point to with pride. But if you don't act upon the wealth of wisdom you've gained from those years, you either relegate yourself to the past or your betray your own history.

So while I am sympathetic to his defenders, I am not sympathetic to him. He was born in 1929. Exactly how long does he intend to remain in Congress and is he at all concerned with leaving a legacy in his final years?

It's not as if he has to be convinced that impeachment is the right thing to do. He's spoken about it. He's campaigned on the need for it. He's edited a book on the topic. So he knows what needs to be done. His refusal to use every bit of power he has to make it move forward is a grave disappointment and taints his legacy.

I'm a grandmother now (by one month or so) and my granddaughter is my concern. I took part in the '60s' and I'm not sure that's enough. In fact, I know it isn't. It's not enough to have brought the country to one point (even when you forget all the erosions that have taken place since 1977). People have been born since and they're not impressed with tales of the old days, nor should they be. Past actions not used to press for actions today are just old memories.

We'll be going to DC again for the rally. We'll be taking even more with us this time. We've seen the Iraq study group (started by my son Mike, my godson Tony and Nina) go from one group to now five. The group was started to get serious about Iraq and we discuss it each Friday night. We cover the news, we cover the actions, we try to think of things we're not doing. It's not a bunch of people sitting around saying, "Let me tell you how it was when the US was attacking Vietnam."

Life goes on and you either engage in today's problems or you run from them. If you run from them, you're part of the problem. The war is the biggest problem today. It is not the only problem, but it is the biggest problem. It is an illegal war. It has destroyed Iraq and made life worse (in every measurable way) for Iraqis. For that reason alone, citizens of the United States have an obligation to end the illegal war. It is also true that the ilegal war has resulted in massive US deaths and we need to stop it for that reason as well. The monies being spent on the illegal war are huge debts that prevent and will prevent needed programs in this country. We are farming out a debt to future generations. It is also true that if we do not end this illegal war we are giving our government permission to start other illegal wars both in the immediate future and in the long term.

So the illegal war is the biggest problem today and until Bully Boy is held accountable for it (and his other crimes), we are saying we are okay with this being done in our names.

Before the study group(s) began, I had a circle of friends I would talk about the illegal war with. What the groups have done is demonstrated just how widespread the opposition to the illegal war is.

So those are my thoughts this early morning. I'm sleeping in. Rebecca and I are in the kitchen doing our posts and I believe everyone else is asleep. I'm sorry that I caused so many to panic last week and worry about me. I'm not in a phase or stage. But my first grandchild has really brought home to me the responsibilities those of us who are adults have to clean up this mess and not leave it for the young to deal with.

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

Friday, August 10, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military starts another whisper campaign about al-Sadr, a US helicopter goes down, Joe Biden comes out against the privatization of Iraqi oil, and the draft is in the (US) air again.

Starting with war resisters.
Agustin Aguayo served as a medic in Iraq and refused to load his weapon. He had applied for CO status but was told he'd have to wait until after deploying to Iraq to find out the status. His CO status was denied and he took the issue to the civilian courts. After serving one tour in Iraq and while his case was working through the courts, the military expected him to deploy a second time. Aguayo self-checked out and was gone for less than thirty days before turning himself in. Despite being gone less than thirty days (September 2nd through September 26th) and turning himself in, the US military prosecuted Aguayo for desertion (the general rule is that you have to be gone 30 or more days for desertion). Aguayo and his wife Helga Aguayo are now telling his story and how it effected their family. Rosalino Munoz (People's Weekly World) reports that Agustin and Helga are attempting to decide what to do with regards to the civilian case and must decide by September 5th whether or not to appeal to the Supreme court. Munoz notes, " At issue is whether a soldier's conscienctious objection to war can develop after enlistment and outside of an organized religion, as well as whether the Army can deny a soldier's claim to conscientious objection without a response to the soldier's arguments."

Were the military to follow their own stated policies, there would be no questions as to what qualifies for a CO but they don't, as Aguayo, John A. Rogowsky Jr. and many others have discovered. From the US military's "
Selective Service System: Fast Facts:" "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status. In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).

Munoz notes that Aguayo's attorneys believe he has a strong case but Aguayo wants to review the strengths with them before going further with the case due to a concern that a loss in the Supreme Court could reverse the gains that service members had made during Vietnam. Aguayo is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and another IVAW member, provides an update on war resister Marc Train. Adamo Kokesh (Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington) reports that Train has been charged "under Article 15 of the UCMJ for being AWOL for 114 days . . . They are now in the process of kicking him out under Chapter 12-14. . . . So a little soft time at Fort Stewart and he should be home free." Train self-checked out after taking part in the DC actions to end the illegal war in March of this year. Kokesh also reposts Eli Israel (the first service member to publicy refuse to continue serving in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq) story, told in Israel's own words. Sarah Olson (Political Affairs) reported on Train in June and quoted him stating, "Just because we volunteered, doesn't mean we volunteered to throw our lives away for nothing. You can only push human beings so far. Soldiers are going to Iraq multiple times. The reasons we're there are obviously lies. We're reaching a breaking point, and I believe you're going to see a lot more resistance inside the military." Tran is a member of IVAW (and was on his way to being discharged from the military -- by mutual agreement between him and the brass -- until he signed on to Appeal for Redress) and, like other IVAW members, has posted about his experiences and observations there. At the end of April, he wrote, "This Administartion has been emboldened by the lack of effective mass outrage. Now, what I mean by that is that our country as a whole has not effectively demonstrated its outrage about the policies of this Administration; the workers are still going to their jobs, the traffic is still flowing; products are still being consumed. As long as this is all functioning and every measure of control is in place, and as long as Congress continues to nervously shift about and take no determined action, the Administration does not feel threatened by the anger of its opposition."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Meanwhile, the
US military is trumpeting the news that the Army met its targeted recruitment goals for the month of July . . . while hoping no reporters note that the target was brought down some time ago both in terms of numbers and qualifications. And hoping no one notices how much money is being spent on a still non-existant draft in the US. In an indication of things being explored and floated, if not yet on the way, Bully Boy's assistant and deptuty National Security Director on Iraq and Afghanistan Lt. General Douglas Lute spoke with Michelle Norris on NPR's All Things Considered today where he pushed the draft
("a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michelle" -- note, "not yet reached") and declared of the draft, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another." While "one means or another" may be a nicer way of saying "by all means necessary," there's no denying that draft boards have been set up, that tax payer monies are being spent on them and that Bully Boy's assistant is now floating the option which -- pay attention, Nancy Pelosi -- unlike impeachment is not 'off the table.' Returning to the issue of the qualifications waived to meet the targets, Stephen D. Green, fingered as the ring leader by others who participated in the war crimes against 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and her family (Abeer was gang-raped while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in the next room, then she was murdered and her body set on fire to destroy any evidence) is an example of the lowering standards since he went from jail to the military via a 'moral waiver' that overlooked not only his most recent arrest but his prior arrests. In other military crime news,
Feminist Wire Daily reports that Cassandra Hernandez' rape by "three of her malecounterparts" in the US Air Force has led not to punishment for the alleged rapists, but instead to charges against Hernandez with the three alleged rapists being "granted immunity from the sexual assault charges" for agreeing to testify against Hernandez. This assault on Cassandra Hernandez is only a surprise to those who have looked the other way while the US military brass has regularly and repeatedly excused and ignored the assualts on women serving in the military. The assault by the brass on Suzanne Swift is only one of the more recent public disgraces. The US military brass has repeatedly and consistently refused to address the assaults on women (and on gay male victims of assualt) and Congress has repeatedly and consistently refused to excercise their oversight obligations.

On a related crime note,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "In other news on Iraq, the U.S. military has dropped all charges against two Marines connected to the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and Capt. Randy Stone with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report the civilian deaths. Five Marines still face charges for shooting dead two dozen unarmed men, women and children in Haditha on November 19, 2005."

Goodman also notes Joe Biden's nosies with regards to punishments for the Bully Boy (we'll get back to that) but that's not really the big news regarding US Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful
Joe Biden. Appearing yesterday on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, Biden discussed the upcoming September 'progress' reports to Congress and noted that there has been no military progress in Iraq though he understood why Gen. David Petraeus would attempt to finesse that bit of reality. Biden then went on to offer his take on the administration's political attempts (which have failed, as Biden noted) in Iraq and identified Dick Cheney as the one blocking progress. (I'm not endorsing that, or endorsing Biden's kind words for US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice, et al.) Rose questioned whether Cheney could really be against progress and Biden utilized the oil revenue sharing 'benchmark'. We've heard that utilized before by all Dem candidates for president except Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich in a manner that lumps the oil revenue sharing and the theft of Iraqi oil into one provision. Biden didn't lump them together -- a possible sign that other candidates may also join Kucinich and Gravel in calling out the theft of Iraqi oil. Biden delcared, "Look at what we keept trying to write into the law: privatization. Who are we to tell them to privatize?"

Biden's comments come as growing resistance mounts in the US (led by United Steel Workers) to the theft of Iraqi oil and as news of a poll gains traction.
Aaron Glantz (OneWorld via Common Dreams) reports on the Oil Change International poll of Iraqis that "found nearly two thirds od Iraqis oppose plans to open the country's oilfields to foreign companies. The poll found a majority of every Iraqi ethnic and religious group believe their oil should remain nationalized. Some 66 percent of Shi'ites and 62 percent of Sunnis support government control of the oil sector, along with 52 percent of Kurds." Glantz quotes Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) explaining, "We're talking about opening up the second largest oil reserves in the entire world to foreign investment. It costs about $75 a barrel -- and about 60 cents to get it out of the ground. Do the math."

Great Britain's Socialist Worker reports, "The pro-US Iraqi government has outlawed the country's oil workers' union under a law passed during the regime of Saddam Hussein. The order comes as opposition is mounting to a proposed oil law that would hand over the country's natural resource to foreign companies. The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has spearheaded opposition to the proposed law."

On February 23, 2007,
Antonia Juhasz spoke with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room
about the oil law and explained the basics:.

Antonia Juhasz: It's really American, and let me clarify that as Bush administration, propaganda that this law is the path towards stability in Iraq. It is absolutely propaganda. This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground -- they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about. What Iraqis are saying very clearly and have said to
Raed [Jarrar] and, in particular, to the loudest voices being the Iraqi oil unions is that the only people who want to see this law passed now are the Americans. There's no other reason to push that law through."

Turning to some of the violence on the ground in Iraq . . .

CBS and AP report a US helicopter that went down in Kirkuk, wounding two Americans on board, cite the Iraqi military as the source for the news that the helicopter hit an electric pole and note that on July 31st and July 3rd US helicopters were brought down "after coming under fire".

Reuters reports a Kirkuk car bombing that claimed 11 lives (with at least 45 more people wounded). CBS and AP report a Baquba roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 bus passengers and left at least four others wounded.


Reuters reports Wisam al-Maliki (the son of sheikh over puppet Nouri al-Maliki's tribe) was shot dead in Garna. CBS and AP report a man was shot dead in Baquba.


Reuters reports that three corpses were discovered in Rutba.

In other news,
Reuters reports that the UN Security Counsel has backed a proposal for a slightly more visible United Nations role in Iraq and denies charges that the US strong-armed the proposal in order to shift the responsibilites off on the UN; however, they do note that Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, has stated the obvious via a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that "prior consent" for any authorization having to do with Iraq needs to have the "prior consent" from Iraq's government. Iraqi's Parliament was rightly outraged when the US government got the UN to extend authorization for their role as 'peace keepers' in Iraq without either the US or the UN bothering to seek the input or authorization of the Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, as the government of US puppet Nouri al-Maliki is in disarray (while he visits Iran),
Sue Pleming (Reuters) reports that the US administration continues to (publicly) stress their support for al-Maliki while Olga Oliker (Rand Corporation) notes that replacing the puppet now would "backfire" on the administration and states, "To be a colonial puppet master you need a much stronger understanding and subtle knowled of the culture and history than the U.S. has demonstrated over the past few years in Iraq." In an apparent move to defocus attention from the US puppet government's many failures (security, electritcy, water, food, etc.), AFP reports that Col. John Castles is the point-person to restart the whisper campaign that Moqtada al-Sadr is in Iran. Though the allegations earlier this year were never proven, they did serve to distract for a number of weeks. No doubt that is again the hope with the latest whisper campaign.

In political news, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan officially announced her candidacy for California's 8th Congressional District in the 2008 election yesterday in San Francisco. Sheehan will be competing with other candidates including US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who currently holds the seat. Among those present for the announcement was whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg who endorses the run. Sheehan will be running as independent candidate and for more on this see
Rebecca's post from last night.

Sheehan declared last month that she would run for Congress if Pelosi refused to put impeachment back on the table by July 23rd after repeated (and rightful) anger over the Democratically controlled Congress' refusal to end the illegal war. As legal scholar
Francis A. Boyle (Dissident Voice) observes, ."Despite the massive, overwhelming repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush Jr. administration by the American people in the November 2006 national elections conjoined with their consequent installation of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party with a mandate to terminate the Iraq war, since its ascent to power in January 2007 the Democrats in Congress have taken no effective steps to stop, impede, or thwart the Bush Jr. administration's wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or anywhere else, including their long-standing threatened war against Iran. To the contrary, the new Democrat-controlled Congress decisively facilitated these serial Nuremberg crimes against peace on May 24, 2007 by enacting a $95 billion supplemental appropriation to fund war operations through September 30, 2007." Or as veteran DC correspondent Helen Thomas (Seattle Post-Intelligencer via Common Dreams) points out, "President Bush has the Democrats' number on Capitol Hill. All he has to do is play the fear card and invoke the war on terror and they will cave.What's more, the president has found out that he can break the law and the rubber stamp. Democratic Congress will give him a pass every time." Sheehan's announced candidacy comes as Matt Renner (Truthout) reports, "The Blue Dogs have apparently informed the Democratic leadership in the House that they support the ongoing occupation of Iraq. According to Mahoney, he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her 'The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism'." The Blue Dogs are War Hawks (and include Loretta Sanchez whose greedy hands would rather grabs billions in pork than end the illegal war) and centrists who have repeatedly stabbed the Democrats base in the back. The 2004 demise of Blue Doggie Martin Frost should have been a lesson -- a Republican-lite running against a Republican will lose every time. That's what happened to Texas' Frost who shortly before his political demise was toying challenging Pelosi for the House leadership post. Frost, like most Blue Dogs, runs from the Democratic Party while taking the national monies. Frost's campaigns were noted by Texas community members for their use of yard signs and campaign materials that never mentioned Frost was a Democrat and for slurs and slams against other Democrats perceived as liberal (such as Pelosi) to assure voters he wasn't one of those 'crazy Democrats'. Long term Congress member Frost went up against newbie incumbent Pete Sessions thanks to the illegal redistricting of Texas' congressional lines (assisted in the process by the US Homeland Security Dept. which spied on state Democrats). Voters presented with wishy washy Frost and proud-to-be-a-Republican Sessions chose Sessions. There's a moral in the story. There's a moral in the story of St. John Conyers as well as in some outlets rush to claim that racism is involved in expecting a senior member of Congress who has repeatedly advocated impeachment of the Bully Boy, who has written a book about the necessity to impeach the Bully Boy, and who shows up at various gatherings (such as the large peace rally in DC this year) to state the people can fire Bully Boy. St. Conyers wants all the applause and refuses to do anything. For some reason, some outlets see themselves as defenders not of the people or the Constitution but as St. Conyers' personal fan club. The reality is Conyers could move on impeachment and, by his public statements (which his office often later recants or distorts) but elects not to. Disgusing those realities by suggesting a racist attack is going on against Conyers is really pathetic and, interesting to note, that many suggesting that lie were no where to be found when Cynthia McKinney was twice ousted from the House of Representatives via racial slurs. As Betty, Cedric and Ty have noted: "As we said last week, he's old, he's tired, it's past time he gave up his seat and let some new blood in. The only disgrace has been what he has done to his own image." (Betty's seen the latest nonsense and notes that it will be addressed by her in Sunday's roundtable.) The topic of impeachment wasn't avoided on PBS where Bill Moyers examined it seriously last month. That one hour look (including guests such as John Nichols) at impeachment on Bill Moyers Journal is repeating and can also be viewed, listened to or read online currently. As a weak alternative to impeachment, Senator Joe Biden is floating 'later actions.' As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "Impeachment has been making headlines recently in the city of Kent, Ohio. Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden has suggested criminal charges could someday be filed against members of the Bush administration. In a recent interview with Newsweek, Biden said there are alternatives to the impeachment of President Bush. Biden said: 'I think we should be acquiring and accumulating all the data that is appropriate for possibly bringing criminal charges against members of this administration at a later date'." This 'later' nonsense has also been floated by St. Conyers is nothing but nonsense. The 1992 elections gave Democrats the control of Congress and the White House and they unwisely decided to put Iran-Contra behind them. The crimes of Reagan and Bush were swept under the rug and we're all paying for that today. By the same token, in January 2009, after Bully Boy leaves office, the DC conventional wisdom (that so many elected Dems are held hostage by) would be, "He's out of office, leave it alone." If impeachment does not take place, Bully Boy walks and anyone suggesting otherwise is taking an ahistorical view of the situation.

aaron glantz