Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pizza in the Kitchen

Lynn wrote to explain she's on a strict budget to pay for summer camp for her kids (one's going to basketball camp, one's going to band camp and the youngest feels he should be able to go to camp too so he's going to summer camp). Traditionally, Saturday was pizza day and they'd order two large pizzas from Pizza Hut and have a salad ("which the kids largely ignored"). So to save money for the children's camps, she bought Jiffy pizza crust mix last weekend and it was a disaster.

She was wanting help. First, I have and do use Jiffy pizza crust. But I think the instructions (after the adding of water) are pretty much useless. So here's what you do (she tried this Thursday and it worked for her the same way it has for me), you mix the water and the mix as described on the box. You do not wait five minutes as the box instructs. You wait at least an hour. Put the bowl in the oven. You're not cooking it, you're just putting it in there so it will rise. I usually put a hand towel over the top of the bowl. You can leave it for an hour or more. I have a very large family and I can tell you that you can mix three boxes (add the equivalent water for three boxes) in one bowl with no problem. I'd usually whip up six boxes (two bowls). After you let it rise for at least an hour (I've forgotten and let it go three hours once with no problems at all), you need a work space that the box really doesn't explain. Here's what you do, use a large surface, such as a table or, I prefer, a large cutting board place in the sink. Flour the surface you are using. Empty the bowl onto the floured surface. Now knead it, punch it, roll it, twist it. I do this for about ten minutes then divide up the dough. If you're only using one box of mix, you don't need to divide it up. If you're using more than one, divide the dough by the number of boxes you've used.

Now after the dough rising, this is the hardest step. You need to pizza pans (and can get those at most grocery stores). In a pinch, you can use a square cookie sheet, but I don't know why you would. So, for me, using three boxes, I have three sections which I roll into a ball. I oil (olive oil) the pans. This isn't standing in grease. This is a light oil. I then put one bowl in the center of pan and use my hand to flatten it and spread it out. What will happen, during the early days especially, is as you spread the dough out to fit the round pan that you will be left with holes. Tears you piece together -- just grab two ends and press them together. But holes, you're going to have them until you get good at it. And you don't need to panic because we're going to take care of it.

You do not now begin making the pizza. You take the uncooked dough and cook it in a 425 degree oven for five minutes exactly. The box says two to three minutes. The box doesn't know what it's talking about. After five minutes (exactly), you remove it from the oven and set it on a stove burner (cold stove burner). This is when you will begin to assemble the pizza. The first thing you will notice is that the holes, as the crust baked, went away. That's why you don't need to worry about them. (I'm talking about holes the size of a nickle and smaller.)

The sauce. Lynn tried using tomato sauce (from a can) it didn't work. She tried using a brand sauce from a jar, it was too sweet. That's because most pizza sauce isn't sauce that goes on top of pasta. It's a tomato paste watered down. So I'd suggest you buy a small can of tomato paste (1 for each pizza) empty the contents into a bowl (you'll need to scrape it out), then add two cans of water. (An alternative will come up in a minute.) You can also add oregeno or "Italian seasonings" to it as well. Mix it. It will be runny. That's pizza sauce.

The trick here (unless someone prefers their pizza to be mainly sauce) is to now spread it on the cooked crust. This is not a thick coat. Do not worry when it's a thin coat. (To spread it, you can use a spatula or the back of a spoon.) Now it's cheese time. (If you're using cheese.) Mozarella is my favorite, it's what I always have on hand and what I use on pizza. If you want to experiment, go for it. But it is tomato sauce, cheese and then toppings.

Here's where Lynn is lucky. Though her kids mainly ignore salad they really don't care for meat on their pizza. If you (or your kids, or you girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife or . . . ) does, you can buy pepperoni (which doesn't need to be refrigerated as long as it is unopened) and Canadian bacon (which does need to go in the fridge) in the meat department at your local grocers (same aisle that the bacon and sandwich meat is on). If you're using meat, add it before vegetables. Unless you're making a meat lover's pizza, remember every inch isn't covered with meat. Those who skip meat and those who add meat are now at this step, non-meat toppings. Black olives and green olives can be bought in cans and jars. When I'm using black olives, I add the juice from the can to the tomato paste (for the sauce) instead of water. If you haven't bought these sliced, you'll need to. You can buy canned mushrooms that are sliced as well. You can also use fresh mushrooms. (You can use both on the same pizza.) Fresh bell peppers can be sliced up. Jalapeno peppers can be used (if I'm making six pizzas, they'll be on two because not everyone likes them). You can use any vegetable topping you enjoy but -- no fresh tomatoes. They will not cook in the time you have left for the oven. I don't care for sundried tomatoes on my pizza but if you're wanting tomatoes, use those instead.

You're pizza is now ready to be cooked. You've already cooked the crust for five minutes so ignore the box when it says 20 maximum. You're going to cook for 12 to 15 minutes. (Judge by the cheese.) After that, you're reading to cut the pizza and serve. (With children, you may want to let it cool a bit before serving.)

One more thing. I do love anchovies. Have you tried ordering an anchovy pizza lately? We generally use one of two places when we're ordering pizzas, or we used to. Back in December, my husband attempted to get anchovies on one pizza and was told no. They weren't going to open a can for one pizza. What? Well we don't order from them anymore (even when we're not getting an anchovy pizza). But if you like anchovies, you can buy them at the grocery store (in a tin, same aisle as the tuna). With those, same drill. Put the sauce on, put the cheese on, and then put the anchovies on.

Now the dough was fixed for Lynn Thursday. She's trying my sauce suggestion today and, fingers crossed, she's taken care of. Billy has e-mailed before that too many choices are too scary for him because he's new in the kitchen. If anyone needs less choices: put on the sauce, put on the cheese, put on slices of fresh bell pepper, sprinkle some semi-circles of white onions, and then sprinkle some black olives on. You're not attempting to cover every area of the pizza.

As Elaine noted, C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." is probably my favorite entry of the week. We both love it. Women need to use their voices to call out the illegal war. If they refuse to, they're not "women," they're little girls. Or they are women who want to look like little girls. As my son Mike's "The faux who are our foes" noted, the day of the vote, the day of the Democratic sell out, Katrina vanden Heuvel elected to write about . . . American Idol. Knock-knock, is there a grown up home? Judging by her post, no there's not. Just a little girl trying to look cool and failing because, as the Washington Post noted yesterday, American Idol had six million less viewers than the year before. Woops! It's as though she bought a pair of blue jeans to fit in only to find out that she bought the wrong brand! Maybe next time she can just try acting her age. I believe she'll be 48 this year. Is that not disgraceful? A 48-year-old woman who edits and publishes a political weekly, deciding to blog the day Congress votes on whether or not to continue funding the illegal war, and Katrina vanden Heuvel is off writing about American Idol. That's pretty disgusting. Maybe the Mud Flaps will grow up someday but, at 48, it's a little too late to hope that Katrina vanden Heuvel will grow up. And why didn't she mention Diana Ross? Certainly Diana Ross was bigger than Smokey Robinson in her lifetime. Smokey left the Miracles and had a long spotty patch where a hit would pop up only every few years. So reading her gush and include the womanizing Smokey Robinson really puzzled me. We're not talking a Lionel Richie here (someone more suited to vanden Heuvel's era) who raked up tons of big hits.

The Miracles were really over before the 70s began. "Tears of a Clown" (which is too ooom-pa-pa for my tastes) was a hit in 1970 but you can find it on a 1967 Miracles album. (That should be Make It Happen and if it's not, I'll hear about it from my husband.) That really covers their only important song from 1967 until Smokey leaves the band in 1972. Followed by two albums no one remembers (that had no hits) then two minor top 40 hits from A Quiet Storm (1975), followed by 4 flop albums (no hit singles) then, finally, the biggest hit of his solo career up to that point (1979's "Cruisin'). Flop album. Followed by another album with his biggest hit of his solo career "Being With You" (number two on the charts). Next album flops but has a minor top 40 hit ("Tell Me Tomorrow"). Three more albums, all flops, no hit singles. Then 1987's One Heartbeat which should be called two songs ("Just To See Her" -- big top ten hit and the title track less so -- Smokey got help on the songwriting for this album). Nonstop flops ever since and now he records gospel. But there was Katrina vanden Heuvel acting like she was a huge Smokey fan, remembered all the hits and the question is, "What hits?" She was ten in 1969 and the Miracles were really over by then. What she's remembering. Less than ten minor top forty hits spread out over the 70s and 80s? From the time she was 15 until she was 23, Diana Ross had three number one hits, huge number one hits: "Love Hangover," "Upside Down" and "Endless Love" (the last number one for nine weeks). In addition to that, during those years, Diana had other songs that were top 40 hits ("I'm Coming Out," "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," "Mirror Mirror" being only three examples that springs to mind -- my husband is going to love me for this post -- he talks like this whenever he drags out his vinyl). So it's more than a little surprising that Katrina vanden Heuvel wanted to pretend that she grew up on Smokey when she wasn't a teenager in the sixties (although, there again, Diana Ross was bigger in the sixties than was Smokey). But if seems strange that she'd gush over a bunch of males while ignoring the most popular female singles artist of the 20th century (Billboard magazine), you just need to remember that Katrina vanden Heuvel publishes a magazine that prefers male writing over females -- roughly four men for every woman published. So it's not that surprising that she completely omits Diana Ross while pretending she grew up loving Smokey. Again, he was a womanizer (he's supposedly found Christ and stopped that as well as cocaine), maybe Katrina vanden Heuvel considers that a plus?

So Congress sold out this week. Some members didn't. An intro for this:

Don't miss hearing Dennis Kucinich on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! this weekend, May 26-27. Check here for local broadcast time in your area. You can also listen online.

Also this week, Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor to speak for one hour about the theft of Iraqi oil. I'm pulling from the end of the speech because I'll assume you've either read it all already or you read the first part. If you didn't read all the way through, here is the ending:

Mr. Speaker, the last 50 minutes that I have spent talking about the effort to try to privatize Iraq's oil, if you go to one of the search engines, you can find perhaps 1 million different citations relating to this. So it is impossible to cover this kind of a subject, even in a period of an hour. But it needs to be said that this administration has pushed the Congress to put language in funding bills for Iraq that would set the stage for the privatization of Iraq's oil.
I am going to quote from the first war supplemental, that the President shall make and transmit to Congress a determination, No. 2, whether the Government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydrocarbon law. Then under subsection (b), it says if the President fails to make this determination, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of our Armed Forces from Iraq.
In other words, privatize your oil, or we are leaving you without having a security and peacekeeping force to replace the United States Army.
In the second supplemental, the administration language promoted the President transmitting to Congress a report in classified and unclassified form, article 2, whether the Government of Iraq has enacted a broadly accepted hydrocarbon law that equitably shares revenues among all Iraqis.
Now again, they don't talk about what the real purpose of the Hydrocarbon Act has been. It is not about sharing revenues equitably; it is about a complex restructuring of Iraq's oil industry for the purpose of turning Iraq's oil over to private oil companies.
Finally, in the third supplemental that is before this Congress this week, there is an article from the Senate side that relates to Iraq oil, and I quote: "The United States strategy in Iraq shall hereafter be conditioned on the Iraqi Government meeting certain benchmarks." And one such benchmark, "enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq." And it goes on to pay homage to the issues of equity and ethnicity.
Madam Speaker, it is clear that the people of Iraq are under enormous pressure to give up control of their oil. When you consider that there was no cause to go to war against Iraq, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that Iraq had nothing to do with al Qaeda's role in 9/11, that the administration kept changing the reason why we went into Iraq, and here we are, years later, we are still in Iraq, and enormous pressure is being put on the Iraqi Government to privatize their oil.
I am here to say that there is another path that can be taken, and that path is part of
H.R. 1234, a bill that I have written that would enable the war to end by Congress determining that no more money will go for this war, telling the administration that it must open up diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran, and moving in a direction where we put together an international peacekeeping and security force that would move in as our troops leave. And then we set the stage for real reconciliation that cannot come with the U.S. serving as an occupying army.
We have a moral responsibility to the Iraqi people whose country we have ravaged with war to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of damage, whose people may have experienced the loss of perhaps as many as a million Iraqis during this conflict, innocent people, whose social bonds have been torn asunder. We have a moral responsibility to work to bring about a program of reconciliation between the Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds which can only come when we end the occupation. We have a moral responsibility to bring about an honest reconstruction program, absent the U.S. contractors who have been gouging the Iraqi people, and gouging the American taxpayers as well, but we have to make sure that the Iraqi people have control of their oil.
I would like to believe that this war has not been about oil. I would like to believe that there was some kind of a righteous cause connected to what we did; but I know better, and the proof is in this Hydrocarbon Act.
This Congress has an opportunity to finally take a stand and reject this Hydrocarbon Act. We can strip out this provision forcing Iraq to privatize its oil. We can strip that out of the legislation. Or we can simply defeat the legislation because that is in there, and then go back to the boards and tell the President, look, Mr. President, we are not going to give you any more money for this war, which is what I believe we should do. Tell the President, this war is over, Mr. President, and use the money that is in the pipeline to bring the troops home. Let's go and reach out to the international community. With the end of the occupation and the closing of bases, we will have people who will start listening to us internationally, and we will have some credibility.
But the morality which this country rests on, our heart and soul of who we are as Americans, is not reflected by this obscene attempt to steal the oil resources of Iraq. That is why I have chosen to take this time to come before the Congress, to lay these facts out for Members of Congress and for the American people so that you can see without question the relationship between war and this oil and the relationship between the pressure that is being put on the Iraq Government right now and privatization and the continuation of the war.
Let's end this war. Let's end the attempt to control Iraq's oil. Let's challenge the oil companies in this country as this House has done this morning. Let's take a stand for truth and justice. Let's take a stand for what is right. Let us not be seduced by this idea that somehow we have the military might, and we can, therefore, grab other people's resources. That is not what America is about.
America has a higher calling in the world. It is time we began a process of truth and reconciliation in our own country, in reaching out and creating the healing of America. But we must first begin with the truth, and the truth is what I have told this Congress today.
Madam Speaker, thank you.

If you haven't read it all, I urge you to. In a week of cowardice, Kucinich did stand up, one of the few.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Friday, May 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, 63% of Americans favor withdrawal from Iraq in the latest poll (even if the New York Times buries that fact), in Shreveport a self-check out is arrested (the fourth for the year), the US military announces more deaths of US service members with May already being the second highest month for American troops deaths, and more.Yesterday, both houses of the US Congress demonstrated how quickly they can act . . . when anything stands in the way of their own vacation. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "Congress has approved nearly $100 billion dollars in war spending through September without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq." Goodman notes the final House vote was 280 for and 142 against and the final Senate vote was 80 in favor and 14 against. In addition, Democracy Now! provided clips of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- who demonstrated that sneering at science and academics isn't solely a GOP thing as she used the ridiculously low figure of "over 100,000 Iraqis" dead when the study conducted by the British medical journal The Lancet placed the figure, last year, at over 655,000 -- and House Minority Leader John Boehner -- who demonstrated he could stay "on message" ("terrorists!") even while sobbing like a guest on the daytime TV circuit speaking of their 'personal' battle with an addiction -- Boehner apparently being addicted to illegal war, mass killing, and fantasy. Evelyn Pringle (CounterPunch) observes, "Congress has demonstrated its unconditional love for the Bush administration by handing the war profiteers another $100 billion worth of good reasons to keep the war in Iraq rolling along at full-throttle. [. . . ] And the statements in speeches made by members of Congress while debating the bills don't mean anything because 95% of Americans never hear those speeches. Honest politicians should be out screaming to any reporter who will listen to educate Americans about where the hundreds of billions of tax dollars have ended up. This war is 100 times worse than Viet Nam. At least with Viet Nam, the war profits were not being funneled over the backs of our dead soldiers in plain sight directly into the bank accounts of current and former members of the administrations in power at the time. Nor were they being funneled to the family bank accounts of the Presidents who were in office during the Viet Nam war." The BBC notes that, following the grandstanding of Congress and the Bully Boy, "Hours later, the US military reported the deaths of five soldiers in Iraq." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laughably announced of the bill that fully funds the illegal war and makes the Democrats equal partners in Bully Boy's illegal war, "The days of blank cheques and green lights for his failed policy are over." By which Reid appears to mean that the US Congress has instead handed Bully Boy a debit card and asked kindly that he please not visit the ATMs too often.The Democrats full bodied, naked embrace of the illegal war comes at a time when the American people turn ever more against the illegal war. The public began turning against the war in 2005 and, since then, the opinion has only hardened. A CBS poll this week found that 76% of Americans polled felt "the war is going badly" -- an increase of ten percent -- and 61% maintain that the US "should have stayed out" of Iraq. A CBS poll? Well the New York Times has finally agreed to allow their names back on the joint polling and somehow managed to avoid all the media critics who must have been sleeping while CBS issued one poll after another on Iraq the last few months while the paper of little record appeared to suddenly be poll shy. Though they weren't called out on that, they should have been. The poll is, indeed, a joint-poll by CBS and the New York Times -- as were the recent polls billed just as CBS polls because the paper really didn't want to cover the American public's ever growing opposition to the illegal war. But they've put their names back on the poll. And gladly run it . . . under the headline "Poll Shows View of Iraq War Is Most Negative Since Start" . . . on page A16 of today's paper. To no one's surprise at the paper, Janet Elder avoids it like a plague so it's left for Dalia Sussman to write it up. The paper hasn't been in the news business for over a century, it's in the management business and Sussman's happy to do her part. Which is how her ridiculous write up can avoid the issue of withdrawal which the poll found [PDF format warning for the link] 63% of Americans favor (32% wanted no timetable for withdrawal -- Bully Boy's approval rating was 30%). 63% of Americans favorite withdrawal from Iraq? Sounds like a front page headline. (Sussman doesn't even note it in her laughable write up until paragraph nine where it's noted for two sentences and then never built upon or mentioned again.)Not only isn't it a headline, the Times (again) buries the poll deep inside the paper. When they refused to run with the joint-polling over the previous months, questions should have been asked but possibly people don't actually read the Times anymore, they just visit links? Though this poll doesn't make the front page, another does, on immigration. (The Times is working overtime to sell the Congressional efforts to strip immigrants of their rights -- including immigrants that are American citizens because they were born in the United States.) 63% of Americans say a timetable needs to be set for Iraq withdrawal and the Times publishes that on the same day that the Congress votes to continue funding the illegal war and drops any mention of withdrawal. The poll's not news? 76% saying the illegal war is "going badly" and 61% say the US never should have invaded Iraq and Congress elects to do nothing but it's not news?Well why not? 3 American soldiers went missing two Saturdays ago -- in an attack that killed 4 others and 1 Iraqi translator, and the paper didn't front page that until seven days after it happened. One of the 3 has now been declared dead and the paper's not interested in front paging that either. (The search continues for the 2 still missing.) However, Michael Gordon's unsourced speculation that Moqtada al-Sadr was in Iran is front page news -- despite the fact that it has no named "American official" source to it, despite the fact that it doesn't include the news that al-Sadr spoke in Kufa today (calling for US troops to leave Iraq). Our Rona Barrett of the Grey Lady leaps to the front page with a story proclaiming al-Sadr has been in Iran despite the fact that, as the BBC noted today, "This was never confirmed."Exactly whom is Gordo working for because, for a reporter, he appears to miss a great deal? Last week, one of the world's oldest think tanks, Chatham House, issued another report. As expected, the same mainstream media that ignored the previous report (taking Tony Blair to task for getting in bed with the United States and becoming nothing but a lackey to the Bully Boy) foamed over the mouth on this one (including Gordo's own paper -- maybe he can't read?)
The PDF format report "
Accepting Realities in Iraq" included a heading entitled "Muqtada al-Sadr cannot be ignored" -- a position Gordo appears to share. However, Chatham House argued that due to his base, popularity and influence, al-Sadr cannot be ignored and strong efforts should be made to bring him into the political process. (Yesterday's news that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki was replacing the six ministers from al-Sadr's camp who had resigned would indicate that al-Maliki also hasn't read the report.) This at a time when Gareth Porter (IPS) reports that al-Sadr (a Shi'ite cleric) appears to have strong support from the Sunni resistance with the binding factor being their joint demand for US forces out of Iraq. Porter is offering an analysis and building on (and crediting) work done by Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) at the start of this week. Also at the start of the week, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) broke the news that in 2004, the US military attempted to assassinate al-Sadr in Najaf which, surprisingly?, never made it into the New York Times.But then, so much of the violence doesn't -- the real 'hidden violence' despite the Times' laughable claims last Saturday.Bombings?While the US military attempts to divide Baghdad by 'walls' (over the objections of the puppet of the occupation), some Iraqis attempt to divide the capital by bombing bridges. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the latest bombing -- "the bridge linking Al Adil and Al Khadraa neighborhoods in west Baghad" -- as well Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 4 people (15 wounded), and a Baghdad explosion that killed 1 person, a car bombing in Muqdadiyah that killed 4 police officers (6 civilians wounded).

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that three farmers were shot dead in "the orchards of Um Al Romman village". Reuters notes that a tribal sheik was shot dead in Falluja.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes two corpses were discovered in Latifiya.
Reuters also notes the following announced deaths of US service members in Iraq (all announced today): 2 US soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad (Thursday), 1 US soldier killed in Nineveh Province by a roadside bomb (Thursday), 1 US soldier killed by a Baghdad roadside bomb (Tuesday), 1 US soldier killed by in Salahaddin Province by a roadside bomb (Thursday), and 1 US Soldier killed by gunfire (Thursday) in Diyala Province. The six deaths add to a mounting count for the month which ICCC calculates to currently be 93 for the month thus far. Only April has had more US military fatalities with 104 and, of course, May still has six days left in it. ICCC's count for the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 3444.
Among the victims of violence are women though they remain the true hidden victims.
Kasia Anderson (TruthDig) interviews Yanar Mohammed (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq) and asks early on the obvious (though usually unasked) question, "How did the onset of the Iraq war change things for Iraqi women, specifically?" Mohammed replies, "Well, although people on this part of the world think that Iraqi women are liberated, actually, we have lost all of the achievements or all the status that we used to have. It is no longer safe to leave your house and get groceries. We're not speaking here about a young woman trying to reach the university, because that is beginning to get too difficult. We're not speaking here about women who are trying to go back and forth to work and even those of my friends who do that already because they have to--many of the police at work are being killed for sectarian reasons. So, you have to witness all sorts of atrocities just going back and forth to work, and if there is this new [policy] of Sunni and Shiite, checking all the IDs of people, you leave the house and you do not guarantee that you come back safe. [. . .] Well, the myth of democracy has killed already half a million Iraqis, and if it were giving us real democracy, where people are represented according to their political affiliations or their economic understanding or their social justice affiliations, that would have been understood. But the way Iraqis are represented is according to their religion and their ethnicities. It is as if the U.S. administration is trying to tell the whole world that Iraqis are not entitled to political understanding or political activity. The political formula that was forwarded to us is a total insult for a part of the world where the politics are very much thriving and all kinds of politics--with the dawn of the war, thousands of political parties have registered. And they all wanted to be competing, or let's say running into democracy, but who was empowered, who was supported? It's mostly the religious and mostly the ethnic groups, and the women's groups? The U.S. administration wasn't really interested to speak to, let's say, free women's groups. They preferred to bring decorative factors to the parliament, where they look like women, but they all voted for a constitution that is against women. And the constitution at this moment has imposed Shariah law upon us, when in the times before the war we had more of a secular constitution that respected women’s rights. So, it's one more thing lost for this war."
Yanar Mohammed mentioned university students.
On Tuesday, the Ibn Al Haitham college faced a mortar attack in Baghdad that left at least 4 students dead and at least 25 wounded while, same day, an attack, in Baghdad, on a mini-bus claimed the lives of 9 students (including two female students). On Wednesday, Baghdad's National Theater was attacked with mortarts leaving at least one person wounded. The theater is where college students and recent college graduates have mounted a new play, The Intensive Care Unit, which castmember Rita Casber described to Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) as "Our play is a miniature of our reality. It conveys the reality the people in Iraq are subjected to." Londono noted that Casber is the sole woman in the cast and late to the cast -- she joined only after death threats (over the 'crime' of wearing a tank top on stage) forced the original actress to leave the production.On the subject of schools, Alive in Baghdad intervews students at the girls' school in Baghdad, Safina Middle School. The link is not currently working, we'll quote the students next week. Last month, Alive in Baghdad interviewed Hameeda al-Bassam who works a private library in Baghdad and spoke of the difficulties she encounters traveling, in her wheelchair, through checkpoints and scenes of violence to arrive at work. She spoke of inside the library as one of the few places where the chaos and violence has yet to emerge and noted, with regret, that due to the violence she has had to curtail her work week. Please note that the videos have audio and an English translation at the bottom which can serve as closed captioning.Also on the subject of women in Iraq, the AP reported yesterday that Clenard M. Simmons was given a 30 year sentence after pleading guilty (April 5th) "to four counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of aggravated sexual abuse for five attacks from February 2004 to May 2005" which took place at Fort Hood as well as while he was stationed in Iraq and the victims were five female US service members. The AP noted that "Simmons attacked the soldiers in their barracks, groping and threatening them."Though frequently ignored and swept under the rug, women serving in Iraq are under very real attack from those serving with them. For more on this, see Jane Hoppen's "Women in the Military: Who's Got Your Back?," Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff's "The Rape of the 'Hadji Girl'," andAllison Tobey's "Serving in the Rape Zone" (Off Our Backs); Traci Hukill's "A Peculiar Version of Friendly Fire: Female Troops Face Double Danger" (The Progressive); and "Women and the military" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). And always look to what happened to Suzanne Swift. Swift went to Iraq wanting to serve her country (US) and quickly discovered that those above her expected her to serve them. Repeated attempts to stop the abuse and harassment resulted in no action (unless a course in how Swift could learn not to 'invite' harassment is considered 'action' -- anyone thinking it is should have their head examined). Swift self-checked out. As Sara Rich, Swift's mother, has noted, Swift wasn't against the illegal war. Swift wasn't saying, "I will not go back because I'm against the war." She checked out because when the military refuses to discipline their own, you have to take the situation into your own hands. To not do so would be 'inviting' harassment. There's not a (rational) woman alive who should be able to question Swift's decision to self-check out. She was abused, she was harassed, she was the victim of command rape, and the military did nothing. She went through channels and rather than disciplining the ones breaking the code of conduct (and exhibiting criminal behaviors) the military's 'answer' was to 'teach' Swift how not to 'invite' criminal acts upon her person. (Which is similar to the US military's refusal to punish those enlisted males who regularly attack women serving when the women go to take a shower. Instead of coming down hard and sending a strong message that the crime of rape is not tolerated in the US military, the military elects to caution women to 'buddy up' and never visit the latrines alone.) So Swift self-checked out, the smartest thing she could have done and no (rational) woman would say otherwise.Swift is now against the war and the treatment she experienced (laughably known as military 'justice') went a long way towards opening her eyes. In a climate that regularly rails against the military banning YouTube and blog postings, you might think the gag order imposed upon Swift would raise some righteous indignation but websites have largely been silent. Swift's mother, Sara Rich, is not gagged and Melissa Sanders (Socialst Alternative) interviews her -- Rich explains that her daughter's been extended in the military through January 2009 and, in response to a question about the "sexualized violence against female soldiers," rightly notes,"We're teaching guys about 18 to kill, and that killing's ok, before they are even allowed to legally drink. If you do that, I mean, who's going to tell them that raping isn't ok?"Along with Sanders' article, more information can be found at Suzanne Swift's website. (Which her mother runs and the military has no control over Sara Rich.)

Turning to the issue of war resisters,
The Shreveport Times reports that Jackie Leroy Moore was arrested in Shreveport today for self-checking out and that he is the fourth self-check out to be arrested in Shreveport this year. Though the military continues to undercount the number of enlisted choosing to self-check out (undercounts for the press, they know the privately held number), this is part of the growing resistance within the military to the illegal war. "It now appears that if this war in Iraq is to end, it will be our soldiers who will have to bring it about," observes Albert Petraca (JuneauEmpire). "Nowadays, our soldiers also know this war is lost. Thankfully, soldiers have begun to take matters into their own hands. From U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's refusing deployment to Iraq, to the appeal for redress now circulating among active-duty personnel, to Iraq Veterans Against the War's recent decision to support resisters, we are seeing the initial stirrings of what will likely grow into a movement of soldiers in revolt. The Defense Department recently admitted that at least 3,196 troops deserted in 2006, with an 8 percent increase already in the first quarter of 2007. Plummeting enlistment standards are unlikely to fill this void. The life-altering decisions made by these brave men and women are, in many ways, even more difficult than those made by former resisters. Today's volunteer soldier, unlike Vietnam-era draftees, is too often callously scolded by the mostly comfortable for having freely signed a recruitment contract and, therefore, must suffer the consequences. This judgmental attitude reveals a profound disrespect for service men and women who answered their country's call based on a belief that their government spoke truthfully about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to 9/11. We now know that the pretense used to play on their genuine feelings of duty was little more than a pack of lies."
Watada is part of growing movement of resistance within the US military that also includes Joshua Key, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,
Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Heads up, the latest
Bill Moyers Journal begins airing in some markets tonight (PBS -- each station can determine when they air an episode) and features Maxine Hong-Kingston. (Transcripts and video will go up at Bill Moyers Journal.)

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, click here or e-mail"
June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at: by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at
Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and
Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Popcorn and Queso in the Kitchen

I had a nice e-mail from Pete on Tuesday. He was obviously young and wanted some help with recipes for next Friday night. I wrote back explaining I would like to help but I would need to know the kitchen set up and could he give me the e-mail address of his mother? When he did, Stacey, his mother, and I exchanged several e-mails.

Pete is nine-years-old and his sister's high school graduation is next week. While that's a very big deal, sometimes we can forget it's not easily apparent to everyone in the family. Pete was planning a get together with two friends who also have siblings who will be walking down the aisle next Friday. Stacey was surprised Pete was putting together a party but had no objections and think it will honestly allow them to make Friday a big day for all. "I just call it the 'Big day' right now," she wrote at the end of the week after we'd exchanged several e-mails.

She is comfortable with her son using the microwave and pleased he is wanting to prepare his own snacks so anything that could be microwaved was fine with her. All families will be eating a meal before the graduation so that leaves snacks after. (All graduates have their own plans for post-ceremony.)

Pete wanted cheese, he was very clear about that. So with that in mind and using the microwave, I have two recipes to suggest.

Parmesan Popcorn
Microwave popcorn
container of grated paremsan cheese

Pop popcorn in the microwave. Pour popcorn into a large plastic bowl. Sprinkle with paremsan cheese.

At first Pete felt cheated by that recipe. Then he tried some and he's on board with it now. Since cheese was a big ingredient for him and his friends, the big ingredient, I asked about chips and he said he loved queso. There are many queso recipes and I think a large number of us have started out with the tried and true one offered on the can of Rotel.

From the official ROTEL site, here is the recipe for ROTEL cheese dip.

1 lb. pasteurized processed cheese spread, (Velveeta), cut into 1" cubes
1 can (10 oz.) Diced or Whole RO*TEL Tomatoes & Green Chilies
Microwave: Place ingredients in a covered casserole. Microwave on HIGH until
cheese spread is melted, about 5 minutes, stirring once.

Pete was especially pleased with this recipe because it was "a real one" having appeared on the back of a can. Depending on how much and how quickly you eat it (they'll be watching DVDs during their party), it may need to be reheated. If reheating, use a spoon or fork to stir before reheating and pay attention to the edges of the dip so that those portions do not end up hardened and burned after cooking -- that will require more elbow energy when cleaning the dish. ROTEL makes mild, normal and spicy flavors. If their hot is not hot enough for you, you can add jalapeno peppers to the dish. You should use canned jalapeno peppers if you're not used to handling fresh. (If you use fresh, you know the seed issue -- they burn and, if handling fresh jalapenos, wash hands after and do not rub eyes while handling fresh jalapenos.) For more salsa taste, you can use two cans of ROTEL with the same amount of cheese.

Pete's mother was honestly surprised that her son was planning a party and planning to handle the food himself. Stacey wrote that graduations mark a passage of time but "obviously not just for the graduate." With 7 children already having walked down high school diploma aisle and my youngest finishing high school shortly, I will add that the younger kids, whether they act aware of it or not, are very aware of what's taking place.

They can also feel left out. Asking an 18-year-old to try to include their younger sibling(s) is a fight in futility. For most, this is "freedom." They've got their plans for the night post-graduation. Graduation day itself is running here and there and talking non-stop on the phone. Expecting that they're going to make time for or remember to (even if they want to) their younger siblings is like expecting a bride to greet all the guests before the wedding. It's not going to happen.

Nor should it. This is their day and they've been encouraged by us to get good grades, to study, to go to classes, etc. year after year so this is their light at the end of the tunnel. By mid-week after graduation, expect moping and confusion -- that's generally when it sinks in that the world didn't change. That's a natural response. As the parent, you can make that comedown easier by preventing nah-nah moments from the younger brothers and sisters. To do that, you should try to plan something for the younger ones. It might be something like the party Pete's having. It might be spending post-graduation with photos of your own graduation and sharing stories so the younger ones understand the process. But if you want the ingredients for household disaster:

Shower your graduate with non-stop attention prior to the ceremony
Ignore the younger siblings feelings
Repeatedly state, "This is ____'s big day"
Sprinkle generously with "You'll understand some day" without offering any explanations
Ask repeatedly, "What is your problem? Why can't you be happy for your sister/brother?"

Now younger teenagers are very good about nursing their petty grievances and devising their own "Someday" revenge plans so you may not need to worry about flare ups there. But even they can have the same lost feelings as younger children. What does graduation generally signal? Leaving home. It may mean they move out immediately, it may mean they go off to college. But something is changing and even young brothers and sisters are aware of that. So there are a lot of tensions you may not even notice.

I'd suggest you avoid statements like, "I know you're sad because you're thinking ___ is going to moving . . ." If you want to hear, "SO!" -- by all means say that. An easier way to address the issue is to bring it up in passing, and to describe it as your own feelings.

For the graduate? The comedown's going to happen. This is a happy and proud moment for a parent and you're going to enjoy it. So will they. But usually, mid-week post-graduation, they'll be a little on edge, a little moody, because it's sunk in that the entire world didn't change. There's not a lot you can do with that because that's something everyone has to realize. But you can spare yourself and them the nah-nah moment from younger siblings who have felt left out and been waiting for this "You're not all that!" moment.

Polling. Do you follow it? Do you fret over the ups and downs and try to figure out how to put your spin on it and deliver it in the pompous Tim Russert manner? If you're not interested in packing on forty-five pounds to really achieve that Russert "style," maybe you'd be interested in this from Dennis Kucinich:

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2005
BANDON, Oregon -- Dennis Kucinich was the winner in a straw poll of Coos County Democrats, following the county's annual Democratic Recognition Dinner May 12.
Kucinich gathered 26 percent of the votes to best the seven other Democratic presidential candidates, according to Matt Christensen, chair of the Coos County Democratic Central Committee.
Christensen said Kucinich led a tight top-tier race between himself and Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards, who scored 24 and 23 percent, respectively.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson placed fourth with 14 percent, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton (9 percent), former Sen. Mike Gravel (4 percent), and Sens. Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd, who each received less than one percent.
While Oregon is a primary state, Christensen said the party used a caucus model to select a winner in the non-binding vote. He said during the dinner there were displays for each of the candidates and candidate literature was available. Following the dinner, participants had an opportunity to speak on behalf of their favored candidate prior to public balloting.
Kucinich was represented at the event by Ellen King of Vancouver, Washington, a member of the Kucinich national campaign organization.

You might not have heard of that poll. Presumably, people attending that function are following issues as opposed to someone bothered, usually in the middle of dinner, by a ringing phone and a voice they've never heard of asking for a few minutes of their time?

I've received several e-mails from people saying that they'd support Dennis Kucinich if they thought he had a chance of winning. I can only tell you what he said in 2004, if you vote for him, he is electable. That's how it works. All the hot air from pundits doesn't mean a great deal. If you've never grasped the 'experts' are guessing. That's why, post-election, they are frequently so wrong.

If you're someone who agrees with Kucinich's stand on issues and talk of what this country should be focusing on, support him in the primary. I say that because Jonas wrote that he doesn't want to waste his vote. I don't think you can ever 'waste' a vote by using it on someone you believe in. But if you do, fine. In the general election in November 2008, vote 'safe' (however that ends up being defined) but there's no danger in using your primary vote to register your support for someone you believe in. If enough people use their primary votes that way, Kucinich would be our candidate.

If you really don't think he can win the primary (I do think he can), also consider the fact that the stronger his showing is, the more the other candidates are going to have to move away from being lackeys for Big Business and start addressing the issues he is raising. I don't think you can "waste" your vote -- in a primary or a general election. But if your fear is about "wasting," the primary is a very "safe" place to send a message. You can find out more about where Kucinich stands on the issues by visiting his website.

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

Friday, May 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, day 7 passes with no news of the whereabouts of the 3 missing US soldiers, the US miliarty announces more deaths, America's ABC announces the death of two of their journalists in Iraq . . .

US military announced that they were continuing the search "for three missing U.S. Soldiers who are believed to have been abducted . . . Saturday in Quarghuli Village". The soldiers remain missing. One identification that has been made is the fourth soldier killed on Saturday. CNN reports that he has been identified as Anthony J. Schober of Reno, NV.
CNN lists the three missing soldiers as being: Byron W. Fouty, Alex R. Jimenez and Joseph J. Anzack Jr. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes: "The manhunt has involved an extraordinary array of resources, including helicopters, drones, manned aircraft, forensic experts, FBI interrogators and dogs that can sniff for bombs and bobieds."
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, yesterday, "the wear was showing, not just on the soldiers obsessed with finding their comrades but also on the hamlets that dot the region southwest of Baghdad, which is blessed with groves of elegant date palms and riddled with pro-Al Qaeda insurgents. Hundreds of local men have been detained for questioning, leaving women, children and legions of ferociosly barking dogs in charge of Iraqi towns such as Rushdi Mullah, a community of 86 households under a virtual siege by troops looking for their buddies."

snapshot noted: ". . . protests take place in Baghdad, . . ." That was it (my apologies). The protests were described yesterday by Thomas Wagner (AP): "In northern Baghdad, about 200 Iraqis marched down a street in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Shaab, shouting slogans and carrying banners demanding that the thousands of US soldiers conducting a security crackdown in the capital stop creating forward operating bases in neighbourhoods and searching homes for suspected insurgents and militiamen." Thursday protest resulted from the tensions that Susman describes today. Today was day seven of the 3 US troops being missing and, only on day seven, did the New York Times decide it was front page news (Damien Cave's "Hunt for 3 G.I.'s in Iraq Slowed by False Trails"). Also in the paper is Paul von Zielbauer's report on the just revealed story (AP broke this yesterday) about the army's investigation of the June 2006 attack and kidnappings (2 US soldiers) and later deaths revealed that the dead "had been left for up to 36 hours without supervision or enough firepower or support to repel even a small group of enemy fighters." No one in the Times draws the obvious comparison from the June 2006 events and the attack last Saturday. This despite the fact that the report on the 2006 attack noted the 25 minute arrival by the "quick reaction force." Last Saturday's attack took one hour before other troops arrived. Or one hour until Wednesday when the US military changed their story and began insisting that it took 30 minutes. The report on the 2006 attack wasn't criticizing the responders -- it was noted that the distance plotted was too great -- a command issue, not an on the ground issue. The same thing appears to have happened with last Saturday's attack.

As the war drags on, some work to end it.
Judith Scherr (The Berkeley Daily Planet) reports US war resister Agustin Aguayo took part in "a gathering Tuesday morning outside City Hall sponsored by the city's Peace and Justice Commission, Courage to Resist and the Ehren Watada support committee. The event was to celebrate the city's first Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters Day, an event to be observed annually every May 15." Monday, pre-trial motions begin for Ehren Watada -- the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first officer to be court-martialed (in February, it ended in a mistrial and double jeopardy should prevent him from being court-martialed again). Also on Monday, airs Questioning War-Organizing Resistance from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST and will address the issue of war resistance with guests including Pablo Paredes, Michael Wong, Jeff Paterson and Camilo Mejia. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).

Camilo Mejia's just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) traces his journey. From pages 224-225:

Through media contacts from before I went underground, I had gotten the contact information for a man named Steve Robinson, a retired Special Forces veteran who led an organization called the National Gulf War Resource Center, which provides support to veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Steve in turn put me in touch with Tod Ensign, the director of the soldiers' rights organization called
Citizen Soldier.
Thus a couple of weeks after the end of my leave I found myself on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue outside the address that Tod had given me over the phone. Looking at the building from the street, I thought at first I had arrived at the fancy headquarters of a well-funded organization. Once inside, however, I found that the
Citizen Soldier offices were quite modest. Furthermore, far from the uptight, heartless image I'd always had of attorneys, Tod turned out to be a down-to-earth kind of guy, with a big smile and a physical resemblance to Christopher Walken -- a similarity only enhanced by his heavy New York City accent. As a young attorney in the sixties and seventies, Tod had been involved in the Vietnam GI resistance movement, and had helped underground soldiers living abroad with safe passage back to the United States, a legal defense, and the means to get their stories out to the media.
As soon as I spoke with Tod the door to a new world opend up before my eyes. I went from feeling powerless and alone to realizing that there was a whole network of people and groups, from women's rights organizations and antiwar veterans to military families and religious groups, who all felt as I did about the war.
Tod and I discussed how I was going to handle my absence from the military. We agreed that I should do everything I could to avoid getting arrested and then give myself up voluntarily while insisting in court on my right to be legally discharged from the service. This strategy of surrendering myself would defeat the charge of desertion, which is roughtly defined as unauthorized absence from the military with the intent to remain permanently away.

Mejia has been taking part in a speaking tour that wraps up today:

Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

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

Tod Ensign, who Camilo Mejia wrote of, also started up the
Different Drummer Cafe where a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke in March. Eric Ruder (ISR) provides a transcript and we'll note Matt Hrutkay today:

About a week and a half ago I was browsing through the VA Web site. They have a section in there devoted to PTSD. It has a guide for VA medical providers, doctors, psychologists, etc. that are dealing with people coming back from Iraq having these issues. And they have in there an encouragment to physicians to diagnose people with "adjustment disorder," "anxiety disorder," and "personality disorder." The reason they're doing that is so they can claim that there was a pre-existing condition before I joined the army and my issues have nothing to do with being blown up twenty-one times.
According to statistics, 18 percent of soldiers coming back from Iraq suffer some form, mild or severe, of PTSD. That's 18 percent according to an army physician at the VA. Of those, add to that people like me who have multiple symptoms of this but still get diagnosed as it being "my own problem." Add to that, people who are scared to go to mental health clinics because of their chain of command, because they're scared they won't get promoted. Because they're scared their buddies will make fun of them. I think you can then see how much prevalent that issue is and what the numbers are probably more likely to be. I'm not going to say what percentage really have PTSD coming back because it would be a guess. But I think it's clear from my own experience that this issue is probably the most prevalent issue facing returning soldiers and it's being compltely ignored.

CODEPINK is in DC for the summer of activism and Rae Abileah shares, "Today when I was at Congress for a meeting I stopped by the underground subway between the House buildings and the Capitol as many Congressmembers were walking through to vote on something. Though I didn't have a specific bill to ask them about, I did shake many of their hands, and to every one I asked the question, 'Have you done something today to staop the war in Iraq?' 'Help us bring our troops home!' Because it is possible to walk these halls of Congress and feel very distant from the mere idea of war, it felt very effective be a constant voice about the conflict outside the passageway to the Capitol. Imagine if every time there was any vote in Congress, every member going from their office to the Capitol was confronted with the message that it is time to bring our troops home and get out of Iraq.
Our Congresspeople are for the most part behind the times in terms of public opinion about the war. Not only do we have to 'push' them to do the right thing, support key legislation, stop the war... we have to 'pull' them, by leading them towards the right direction. I envision hundreds of people here on a daily basis helping to pull Congress away from the Bush Agenda and towards peace. To increase our numbers from a dozen to a hundred... we need YOU! Click on the links to the right to find out how to join us in DC! Or raise a ruckus at your Congressperson's nearest office!" The links she was referencing are:

Apply to Join Us in DC
DC Pink House Info
DC Sumer Trainings
CODEPINK Women for Peace
Cindy Sheehan and a number of other individuals and organizations are working to make this summer one of activism and volume so that Congress not only grasps that the people have turned on the illegal war but that it is time to end it.

United for Peace & Justice notes:

Peace activists are surging on Washington DC -- to bear witness as Congress again takes up Iraq War funding and the Pentagon budget, and continues to hold hearings on civil liberties, torture, and more.
Click here for the latest legislative information.
May 15-July 31: SWARM on Congress
June and July: CODEPINK DC Activist House
UFPJ hopes you will get the word out: There is plenty to do in Washington, and a steady flow of people into the nation's capital will have a tremendous impact in the coming months. UFPJ endorses these efforts, and encourages other creative actions and projects, both in DC and around the country. (If you are organizing an action,
please post it on our events calendar.)

Turning to Iraq, two journalists who worked for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) were killed in Iraq yesterday: Alaa Uldeen Aziz and Saif Laith Yousuf.
AFP reports they were "ambushed and killed as they returned hom from work at their Baghdad office" and notes: "At least 170 journalists and media professionals have been killed in the fighting that has gripped Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion, according to the watchdog Reporters without Borders." AP quotes Terry McCarthy (ABC correspondent in Baghdad) stating: "They are really our eyes and ears in Iraq. Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out. . . . . Without them, we are blind, we cannot see what's going on." ABC notes:

Aziz is survived by his wife, his two daughters and his mother. Yousuf leaves behind his fiancee, his mother and brothers and sisters. Mike Tuggle, an ABC News producer who worked with Aziz, remembers a game of pool they played on his first trip to Baghdad.
"I had some down time and got into a game of pool with Alaa. He beat me badly. Just before he hit the last ball in he looked up at me and said, 'My name is Alaa Uldeen, but you can call me Aladdin, because I have his magic on the pool table," Tuggle wrote in an e-mail message.
"The balls they just disappear," Tuggle continued, "And his face lit up with that big smile of his."

In Iraq today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack at Abu Dhaba killing one ("5 were injured including children"). Reuters reports: "A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at an Iraqi police checkpoint in the town of Mussayab, south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding four police said."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, that following an explosion in Baghdad's Al Hurriyah, two people were killed (6 wounded), two police officers were shot dead in Al Wajihiya (2 more wounded) and Bku Shukr Saber ("Kurdish Iraqi army officer") was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports five corpses discovered in the Babil province. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 15 corpses in Baquba.

Today the
US military announced: "While conducting operations two MND-B Soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in separate attacks in the southern section of the Iraqi capital May 17. Three soldiers have been returned to duty." And they announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province, Friday when an explosion occurred near their vehicle."

IRIN reports on the educational crisis in Iraq and quotes Baghdad University's Professor Fua'ad Abdel-Razak, "Violence and lack of resources have undermined the education sector in Iraq. No student will graduate this year with sufficient competence to perform his or her job, and pupils will end the year with less than 60 percent of the knowledge that was supposed to have been imparted to them."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pesto Potato Salad in the Kitchen

I have two recipes for you for Mother's Day.

Recipe one: cook, or book a reservation, for your mother. (Please read Elaine's "Ron Jacobs, Paual Rothenberg, feminism" which addresses why Mother's Day was started in this country: for peace.)

Me, I'd prefer to stay at home. Your mother may be different. (Mine is which is why we'll be taking her to dinner Sunday night.) Now if you're thinking, "I'm an awful cook" . . .

My favorite Mother's Day was when five of the kids fixed lunch. (Breakfast is out of the question for me because I go to Church Sunday mornings and I don't have time to linger in the morning's. A breakfast would be a rush job. That was especially true when the kids were little.)

My two oldest brought flowers and my youngest was too young. The five in the middle worked really hard. Two of the the dishes burned. So what? I wasn't doing the clean up. Mike had made peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. That was our main dish. The other three dishes that survived were desserts. Lunch ended up being the sandwiches, cake, pie and brownies and it is wonderful. That includes the two burned dishes which would have been a meatloaf and a potato casserole. Those two ambitious dishes were made by the two oldest still living at home at that point and there mistake was an oven war. The dishes called for two different temperatures but they thought they could cook them together at a middle temperature. One didn't think that was working out well and inflated the temperature -- with an eye on making up for time lost. Both dishes burned beyond eating. That they'd gone to trouble to try to fix the dishes counted for a lot.

My own mother is very big on getting dressed up (often with gloves and/or a hat) and enjoys the big moment out. If that's your mother, you're better off taking her anywhere than attempting to fix something for her.

If you feel like trying a dish, Rebecca has a recipe. She's got it at her house on an index card. We looked around online until we found something that Rebecca feels sounds close to it.

"Pesto Potato Salad" (
12 lbs. Washington long white potatoes
1 cup green onions, minced
2 oz. anchovy fillets, minced
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups prepared pesto
1 qt. celery, sliced
1/2 cup parsley, minced

1.Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered with lid tilted, 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain liquid, peel potatoes and slice 1/2inch thick.
2.Combine green onions, anchovies, sugar, salt, vinegar and oil in a small bowl; mix well. Add pesto and blend well.
3.Pour dressing over warm potato slices; mix gently and cool to room temperature. Add celery and parsley; mix gently. To serve, portion 1 cup in shallow bowl. Garnish with basil and celery leaves, if desired.

That's an easy recipe. Rebecca's calls for red potatoes but we didn't find anything like that online. If you're not able to find prepared pesto in your supermarket, you can make your own. Pine nuts are ideal but you can use walnuts. Go to the backing section of the supermarket and get one of the 6 ounces package of walnuts (or pine nuts). Get some basil (fresh) and olive oil if you don't have any home. You need 2 cups worth of fresh basil, the package of walnuts and a 1/2 cup of olive oil. You will put them in a food processor or blender (on blender use chop) -- on either piece of equipment, use bursts of speed and not continuous. We'll go over a pesto recipe in greater detail in the future but you can just use those three ingrendients.

This is Rebecca's mother's favorite dish and one of the first ones Rebecca learned to prepare. If you'd like to prepare it for yourself or for your mother, it's a very easy recipe. The only cooking requires boiling potatoes. We are both blogging "late" or "early" depending upon how you look at it. She brought her baby with her and we ended up in my room with the baby on the bed between us. All three of us fell asleep several hours ago. The baby woke up and while Rebecca was feeding, she wondered about us both doing our posts now?

We're both noting Matthew Cardinale's "Four US Reps for Cheney Impeachment" (Atlanta Progressive News):

US Rep. Albert Russell Wynn (D-MD) has become the fourth total co-sponsor of US Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) bill to impeach Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. In addition to Kucinich, the other two Members of Congress who have signed on to H. Res 333 are US Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) and William Lacy Clay (D-MO).
"Vice President Dick Cheney is the architect of the Administration's deception about the war. Cheney persistently and deliberately deceived the Congress and the American people about the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and the attack on September 11th. There should be a serious dialogue about the conduct of this Administration. Cheney should be held accountable for purposely misleading the American people. Despite the obvious lack of success on the ground, Vice President Cheney continued a barrage of propaganda claiming that we were winning the war and successfully rebuilding Iraq which is patently false. His statements and representations about the situation in Iraq amount to malfeasance for which he should be taken to task," said Wynn in a press release prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

Three members of the House have signed on to Dennis Kucinich's bill of impeachment. Will we see more? If you feel the administration should be impeached (I do), you need to realize that the only one who's talking it is Dennis Kucinich who is not just a member of the House, he's also a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He is someone who is doing something.

Not at the last minute, the way Hillary Clinton attempts to buff her resume. He's also not one who needs to explain why he voted to authorize the illegal war because he never voted to authorize it. Nor is he someone who has to suddenly come up with a plan for ending the illegal war because he's been attempting to end it for some time now. This is a March 15, 2006 statement he made on the House floor, "Begin Effort to Bring Troops Home From Iraq:"

"Mr. Speaker, 3 years ago, this administration began a grim march of folly into Iraq. Today, our troops are bogged down in the middle of a civil war.
"Iraq has become an incubator of terrorism. Over 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed, tens of thousands more injured and perhaps 100,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed, with countless others injured.
"As both the Iraqi public and the American people demand the U.S. leave Iraq, this administration plans to send more troops. We must bring our troops home. We must vote against any additional appropriations that would be used to keep our troops there.
"Plans exist right now that would enable the United States to bring our troops home, to begin the effort to bring our troops home. Not a dime more for continuing this war; not a dime more for an illegal war that was based on lies about weapons of mass destruction."
H.J. RES. 55, Withdrawal of United States Armed Forces From Iraq Resolution of 2005--Homeward Bound

Over 2,300 US service members had died when Kucinich made that speech one year and two months ago. Right now it is 3387. Maybe had Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden been willing to join the call to end the illegal war then, 1387 US service members would still be alive (not to mention countless Iraqis). But they weren't. Now they make noises about being against the war in some form. It honestly reminds me of Hillary's laughable promise to provide healthcare for Americans (not universal healthcare). She says vote for her and she'll do it. Not in her first term, you understand, but by the middle of her second term. She's apparently new to the issue and has never given it thought before so she'll need six years. She won't need Bill Clinton's help because, as the New York Times reported Thursday, she sees him as an ambassador to the world. In fact it's late, but Rebecca said C.I.'s probably still up so I'm going to chance a call.

C.I. is up. C.I. says put "I believe" in front of the following, the article's by Patrick Healy, entitled "Bill Clinton Ponders a Role as First Gentleman" and appeared on A21. (Healy, C.I. says, has a book due out on Hillary, co-written with Jeff Gerth.) "I hope I will have enough saved by then," Bill Clinton siad (on CNN, quoted in the article) "if she is elected, that we can just, you know, pay our bills and -- I'd like to keep our two homes, our home in Washington, our home in Chappaqua." Oh, Bill Clinton, the frugal penny scraper. But the reality pointed out in the article was that he gets approximately $100,000 to 200,000 every time he gives a speech. He gives speeches "dozens" of times a year. At a minimum, that would mean he brings in 1.2 million a year. In addition, he gets at least $166,700 a year as his retirment pay (for being president), free Secret Service, free mail and office expenses (so the offices in Harlem are paid for by tax payers). That's 1.3 million plus on a bad year (and not taking into effect the various other jobs he has such as for the Yucaipa Companies). He reportedly received $12 million from the publisher to write My Life. As a senator, Hillary Clinton is paid $165,200. We're now at a joint income of 1.4 million annually. Hillary reportedly received $8 million for her book (I don't remember the title). So since 2,000, they've raked in a total of $20 million for writing books (before royalties -- if any -- came in for sales). They've spent all that?

If elected president, Hillary would recieve over $400,00 a year. You have to wonder whether it's a greed issue or if the two just can't manage their money? If Bill Clinton's on TV, after they made at least $38 million from 2000 to 2006, fretting about paying the bills if he stops working, the couple has some serious problems.

So if enough Americans vote for Hillary in 2008 and, again, in 2012, she'll put forward a health plan in 2014. That defies logic as much as poor boy Bill whining about expenses after they jointly raked in over $38 million.

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

Friday, May 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Cheney lies again while the press plays silent, more US service members are announced dead in Iraq, and a campus activism takes place as the Bully Boy prepares to mumble through another canned speech.
Yesterday in Iraq, Cheney spun like crazy. As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) pointed out, Dick Cheney quoted David H. Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, repeatedly, "General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric. . . . We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people." As pep talks go, not a lot of reality. Last week, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on a military study that found only 40% of US marines would be willing to "report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and the number of those in the army was 55 pecent. As Gregg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) observered: "At the Associated Press' annual meeting in New York on Tuesday, I sat in the audience observing Gen. Petraeus on a huge screen, via satellite from Baghdad, as he answered questions from two AP journalists. Asked about a U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq, released last week, which showed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants -- Petraeus replied, 'When I received that survey I was very concerned by the results. It showed a willingness of a fair number to not report the wrongdoing of their buddies.' That's true enough, but then he asserted that the survey showed that only a 'small number' admitted they may have mistreated "detainees" -- a profoundly misleading statement. Actually, the study found that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property. So much for the claims by President Bush, military leaders and conservative pundits that 99.9% of U.S. troops always behave honorably. Of course, that kind of record has never been achieved by any country in any war." Along with that reality, we have the first hand stories being told.

It was about two a.m., but I could see very well because there were streetlights on our road and because the American illumination rounds that kept the sky lit up all night.

Suddenly, I looked over to my left and saw the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis in their bloodied white robes, lying a few feet from a bullet-ridden pickup truck to the side of the road. Because I sat on top left of the vehicle, and because the bodies were on the left-hand side of the road, I had them in clear view. I assumed that someone had used a massive amount of gunfire to behead them.

"Sh*t," I said.

A few second later, our slow-moving APC came to a stop. Among the three APCs in our convoy, I was the only soldier immediately ordered down to the ground. As I slid down into the APC and then out the hatch, Sergeant Jones told me to look for brass casings, which would be signs that Iraqi fighers with AK-47s had been shooting at American soldiers in the area.

I saw no sign of brass casings, but I did see an American soldier shouting at the top of his lungs while two other soldiers stood quietly next to him."We f**king lost it, we just f**king lost it," the soldier was shouting. He was in a state of complete distress, but the soldiers next to him were not reacting. The distressed soldier stood about twenty yeards from me, and another forty or so yards from the four decapitated bodies.

Two other soldiers were laughing and kicking the heads of the decapitated Iraqis. It was clearly a moment of amusement for them. This was their twisted game of soccer.

I froze at the sight of it, and for a moment could not believe my eyes. But I saw what I saw, and was so revolted and horrified that I defied Sergeant Jones's orders and climbed right back into the APC.

[. . .]

I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head but she would not stop screaming.
"What are you doing this for?" she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

"We have done nothing to you," she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
"You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?"

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell facedown into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground. I pushed Hayes away."What are you doing, man?" I said to him. "You have a wife and two kids! Don't be hitting her like that."

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying those words, but he did not touch the woman again. I found this incident with Hayes particularly disturbing because during other times I had seen him in action in Iraq, Hayes had showed himself to be one of the most levelheaded and calm soldiers in my company. I had the sense that if he could lose it and hit a woman the way he had, any of us could lose it.

The above is from US war resister Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale -- the 'little' book that some expected to get a tiny flurry of attention the week of release and then quickly fade. Instead, it continues to get attention from across the political spectrum (and around the world), is stocked in bookstores across the country. ZNet runs the most recent review of it, by Derrick O'Keefe who found, "The Deserter's Tale is told in simple, compelling prose. Joshua Key's story may just be one perspective on the Iraq war, but in many ways the young war resister is also speaking on behalf of the voiceless thousands senselessly killed in this war. Relentlessly honest, and graphic, this book stands out as unique and significant amidst the shelves of books critiquing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It will surely stand up long after this war is over as a condemnation both of the pretensions of empire, and of the grotesque inequality that scars life in the United States itself."

Key is not the only war resister to tell his story in book form. The just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Camilo Mejia's account, an account he is also sharing currently on a speaking tour with other war resisters. That includes, as Courage to Resist noted yesterday, Agustin Aguayo:

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo stepped off of a plane today at Sacramento International Airport after being imprisoned by the U.S. Army and held in Germany for nine months. Agustin was convicted of missing movement and desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and publicly speaking out against the war.

Agustin's wife Helga and Courage to Resist supporters met him at the airport, give him a couple hours to relax from his 18-hour journey from Germany, and whisked him to his first speaking event in California’s capitol. From here, Agustin is beginning a multi-city tour covering much of Northern California. In the upcoming days, Agustin will be joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mej√≠a, Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, and Marine L/Cpl Robert Zabala.

The upcoming dates for the speaking out tour include:

Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Cheney made other laughable claims in Baghdad yesterday. Many in the press, including
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post), Alissa J. Rubin and basically anyone filing from Iraq, noted that Cheney declared, "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war. . . . The United States, also, has made a decision: As the prime target of a global war against terror, we will stay on the offensive. We will not sit back and wait to be hit again." If it sounds familiar, it's part of the scare lie that the US administration used to launch an illegal war. It's been disproven and discredited. Strangely, though major outlets found time to include the lie, there wasn't room to call it out. Now in the leadup to the illegal war this lie would be repeated over and over. It was a lie then but many in the mainstream ran with it (click here for one notable exception, McClatchy Newspapers -- then Knight-Ridder). After that and other lies were exposed -- after the US was involved in an illegal war -- some in the press would express shock that the discredited lie was believed by so many in the public. Why was that? Because despite mini-culpas there was no strong calling out of the lies and, even today, the lie can be jotted down and appear in print without a reporter feeling it is their duty (and it is their duty) to note that what Cheney uttered was a lie. One example, Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev's "Senate reports say Saddam rejected cooperating with terrorists" (McClatchy Newspapers) calling out the lie in September of last year:
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein rejected pleas for assistance from Osama bin Laden and tried to capture terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was in Iraq, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Friday found, casting further doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.
President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly cited Saddam's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion as one reason to take military action against Iraq.

Yes and Cheney continues to do so without being called out on it, so don't blame the public when the press fails at its own job.
A failure of the British press currently is the slobbering going over about Mr Tony. As
Tariq Ali noted at CounterPunch, "Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits." Speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today, Tariq Ali noted, "We had no real accounting of why he's leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he's leaving is, because he's hated. And the reason he's hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country [England] oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that's what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis. And you listen to Blair now and his successor, Brown, and they sound much worse than any Democrat in the Senate or the House, because they realize the war's unpopular. These guys carry on living in a tiny bubble, media bubble, which they construct. And I think the BBC's sycophancy, the way in which they portrayed him yesterday as if he was a sort of dead Princess Diana, doesn't do them proud. It was a low point in BBC journalism, with one of their political correspondents saying, 'Gosh, look at him. Isn't he a winner?' Well, he isn't a winner, which is why he's leaving. And a reluctant party is saying farewell to him, because they think they’ll lose the next election if he’s in charge. That's what's going on."

And what's going on Iraq today?


Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates (Reuters) report that Baghdad has seen truck bombing attacks on bridges today that have left at least 26 dead, at least 60 wounded and damanged bridges. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra explosion that left one civilian wounded. Reuters reports a bridge outside Taiji was bombed "main highway connecting the capital [Baghdad] with cities in the north" and that four Iraqi soldiers were killed in the explosion, a Zaafaraniya bombing that left two dead and four wounded.

Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Samara shooting death of "brigadier Amar Kareem Khlaf". Reuters reports a Kirkuk drive-by that left one person dead and the shooting death of Falluja's deputy mayor.

Reuters reports one corpses was discovered in Hawija.

Earlier today
Reuters reported the Baghdad death of a US soldier (two more wounded) from a Thursday roadside bombing, the Tikrit death of a US soldier (9 wounded) from a Thursday bombing, the Thursday death of a US soldier in Diwaniya from "small-arms fire" and the Thursday death of a US soldier in Baghdad also from "small-arms fire".

This as
AP reports that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani , in a speech delivered at Cambridge, declared, "I think that in one or two years we will be able to recruit our forces, to prepare our forces and say goodbye to our friends." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now 3386 -- that's 3386 'goodbyes' Talabani can say. Long after the four year mark has passed on the illegal war, everyone is supposed to buy that now (now!) it will only take one or two more years. And of course in one or two more years, no doubt, the message will still be "It'll just take a year or two more." How many deaths is it going to take? The next time someone -- in the US Congress, in the Iraqi Parliament, wherever -- wants to tell the world how much more X it will take for the illegal war to be 'won,' let's all ask them to drop the months or years and tell us how many more lives. How many more lives will this illegal war take? CBS and AP report: "The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, said he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad that has seen a rise in violence blamed largely on militants who fled the Baghdad security operation. Mixon also said Iraqi government officials are not moving fast enough to provide the 'most powerful weapon' against insurgents -- a government that works and supplies services for the people." For such a government to exist, it would have to be one put foward by the Iraqi people and not yet another puppet government installed by the US. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports this on CBS: "In media news, CBS has dismissed an Iraq war veteran over his involvement in an ad campaign criticizing the war. General John Batiste appears in an ad from the group VoteVets dot org. Batiste has been working as a CBS News consultant." Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on Sunday's Book TV (C-Span) (7:00 pm EST).

The US House of Representatives passed a measure today. It funds the Iraq war but by piecemeal. The Senate now takes up the vote. It's called going through the motions. Instead, we'll turn to campus activism where Bully Boy's speech today at St. Vincent college (in Penn.) has led to a huge outcry.
James Gerstenzang (LA Times) reports that "Students vigorously debated the invitation at a town-hall meeting last month. A former St. Vincent College president wrote a scathing newspaper essay saying Bush had no place on the campus. About a quarter of the tenure-rank faculty wrote an open letter to Bush challenging the Iraq war as contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine. Several dozen people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night protesting the visit. And for several Sundays, nuns protested on the edge of the campus. The discord, polite and reasoned as it may be, is emblematic of passions across the country as the war moves further into its fifth year, with increasing military deployments and mounting death tolls among Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops." Jennifer Loven (AP) reports a crowd of at least 150 protesting and quotes philosophy major Ronny Menzie "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him. I think it's a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college." and Iraq war vet Jonas Merrill who made a 90 minute drive to protest the Bully Boy's appearance, "We're fighting for the guys still over there." This campus response isn't a brand new development for the administration. David Nitkin (Baltimore Sun) observes, "Graduation visits by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials are galvanizing opponents at campuses across the country, sparking intense debates and frustrating White House hopes. A similar outcry greeted Bush last month at a South Florida community college. Protesters flocked to the campus even though it was considered to be an accommodating environment, with a large Cuban-American population." And Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds, "Other even more conservative campuses also have been touched by unrest over the war. Last month, a small group of students and faculty at Brigham Young University, the nation's premier Mormon school, objected to a commencement address by Vice President Dick Cheney."

iraq tariq ali agustin aguayo democracy now amy goodman the new york times alissa j. rubin the washington post joshua partlow