Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wild Rice in the Kitchen

This is what's on Laura Flanders' Sunday:

This week on RadioNation: New McCarthyism, new Dodd enthusiasm.
In the wake of "Islamo Fascism Awareness Week" students join Nation writers ESTHER KAPLAN and LARRY COHLER-ESSES to talk about emerging neo "McCarthyism." Plus: the stiffening spine and rising approval ratings of CHRIS DODD. ROBERTO LOVATO lays out a new Latino Agenda for 2008, and SHARON LERNER sounds an alarm about child care. All that and literary editor JOHN PALATTELLA on a new book about Iraq based on oral histories from journalists who were there.

Kat just finished blogging and asked me if I'd note that because she forgot to check. Community member Martha passed that on. I have no idea when Laura comes on. I used to. When I started blogging, I'd blog on Saturday evening and be listening to Laura. Her program aired, then, Saturday and Sunday nights. It now airs Sunday afternoons. Use the link to find out what time. I'm usually at church and then catching up with some members of the church. When I get back here, we have lunch. If it's not football season, my husband goes along to church with me. Mike tends to go about once a month. That's not a complaint. We all go to midnight mass on Christmas and that may be enough for most of my family. (My oldest daughter goes regularly but she goes to a Catholic church closer to her neighborhood these days.)

A few weeks back, I tried to catch Laura online by going to the archives and when it was six hours a week live, they'd reduce it to an hour show that you'd just click on to begin playing. I believe now you have to subscribe to a podcast. I'm too old for that nonsense, sorry. I don't have the time to download when I'm ready to listen.

So, if like me you're an old dog not prone to new tricks, catch it on Sunday when it's on Air America Radio or face that you'll miss it. The six hours were probably my favorite broadcast during the weekend. I'm not much of a TV watcher and I really counted on Laura to keep me informed (which she did). News doesn't stop over the weekend. But now the show's been reduced to one hour, isn't live and airs at a time when I can't catch it.

The best meal is always one you don't have to cook.

I am serious. We had a long night, the Iraq study group, going out. When we got back, we were starving. C.I. had not been able to go with us because there were all these phone calls to return. C.I. was still on the phone and a number of us, who were hungry, were sitting at the table, promising that any second, we'd get up and fix something to eat.

We didn't. C.I. started a rice dish and we were all saying we'd get up from the table in a minute and add to that but we didn't. Mike, Kat, Ava and Elaine cleaned up the kitchen after so that truly was the best meal. I was tired and didn't have to cook or clean.

Here's the basic recipe for the rice dish.

Wild Rice with Almonds and Mushrooms
3 cups uncooked wild rice
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
3 cups fresh mushrooms, slice
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 tablespoons of melted butter
One onion chopped

Grease a baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Rinse and drain the rice. Add the almonds, mushrooms, onion, broth, water and butter. Cover the dish, place in a 325 degree oven and bake for an hour and a half.

C.I. did something to almonds. I have no idea what. You can toast them on a baking sheet in the oven but that wasn't what C.I. did. Maybe they were blanched? In a pinch, you can use canned mushrooms. You can also increase the chicken broth by one cup. I find it makes the rice soggier -- or you have to continue cooking past one and a half hours. I have a friend who makes this same recipe with white rice which means she gets less grains because the rice is processed (and "enriched" the bag always reads). I prefer wild rice to white rice. (I also prefer brown rice to white rice.) So when white rice is used, it just doesn't taste right to me but I suppose if you've only got white rice on hand you could make the dish with that as well.

Rebecca and I were discussing Dennis Kucinich earlier this week and what we thought had to happen for his campaign. We both agreed that he needs to really hit hard on the difference between himself and the press favorites who seem to get a write up just for waking up each morning while Kucinich has to work overtime to get even a small amount of press.

So when I saw this article, I was happy. This is from Beverley Wang's "Kucinich files for N.H. primary, touts anti-war stance" (Associated Press via Boston Globe):

Filing candidacy papers Friday for the New Hampshire presidential primary, Democrat Dennis Kucinich promised to be as constant as a star in his anti-war stance.
The Ohio congressman, whose campaign slogan is "Strength Through Peace," said his big-name rivals -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards -- haven't kept firm on Iraq and wondered whether, by extension, they could be trusted on Iran.
He noted Edwards and Clinton both voted to go to war in Iraq. While Edwards, a former senator, has said he's sorry for the vote, Clinton has not, and has voted to continue funding the war while criticizing the Bush administration's management of it. Kucinich noted also that though Obama was an early opponent of the war -- speaking out against it as an Illinois state senator -- he too voted in favor of funding the war after his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Mike Gravel's already being shoved to the side and left out of the upcoming debate. If they are able to get rid of former Senator Gravel, Kucinich will be the next one they go after. He's done a strong job in the debates when he's been able to speak. But he really needs to be pointing out why he is the best choice repeatedly.

He has done that and he's often gotten intendend laughs by doing that but my own opinion is that he needs to stop trying to be nice about it or humorous and just let it rip. I'm sure the press reaction would be mock shock and they'd ponder "What's Happened to Dennis!" They don't do that with Barack Obama who appears to have dropped his message of hope for good about a month ago. But if the alternative is press coverage that mocks him and press coverage that's shocked by him, I say go for the latter.

He's a serious candidate with serious stands. At this point, we all know that he can make a point with humor and get a crowd laughing but I wonder if that's one of the excuses the press seizes upon to ridicule him? (And most of the press is mocking of him.) I think letting it rip would garner some press attention. It wouldn't be positive, no question. But it would get people talking and hopefully remind everyone that though the press called this race long before it started, nothing has been decided yet.

He is addressing serious issues that matter to our lives and to our future. And I continue to be distressed over the manner in which the press portrays him. So those are my thoughts on that.

Kat's yawning and saying she's really going to bed now. But she did suggest I just swipe from The Third Estate Sunday Review's credits for my links and I'm tired enough to readily agree. As Kat says, I've mentioned the following in this post:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man (I didn't but check out her site, I loved, loved her last chapter!),
C.I. of
The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of
Mikey Likes It!,
and Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz

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

Friday, October 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey says it will wait for a bit more, the US military announces another death, IVAW gears up for more action, the Center for Constitutional Rights files suit against Donald Rumsfeld and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Agustin Aguayo will be taking part in an Impeach Bush and Cheney Meetup with Ann Wright and David Swanson on November 2nd (6:30 pm) at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Santa Barbara (112 West Cabrillo Boulevard). That's next Friday, November 2nd. In other war resister news, Ontario's OPIRG Brock notes that war resister Michael Espinal and his partner Jennifer Harrison spoke at Brock University on Tuesday: "Michael put a very real human face on the horrors that are being committed everyday in Iraq. He spent 14 months as an explosives expert doing house raids, disarming landmines, and other explosives. Michael was reprimanded for breaking military procedure for only placing enough explosives on the doors to open them, rather than blowing the entire door and frame in the houses. If you use the amount of explosives the military states you should in its procedurces, "anyone within 5 feet of the door would be killed instantly." According to Michael most of the intelligence they relied on was from other Iraqi's who told US forces of locations where 'bad' people were. Those informants were paid about $5.00 'In all the raids I found only two grenades, and a few guns . . . if you were a male over 5 feet you were bound and taken away.' Michael said. Bibles were regularly shoved in the pockets of Iraqi's as soldiers would taunt them and tell them their religion was wrong. We constantly hear on the news of deaths and injuries of Coalition Forces in Iraq due to roadside bombs. From Michael's experience 'Most of the IED's (Improvised Explosive Device), I found were unexploded US ordinance,' or US placed landmines. When convoys would drive near the ordinance sometimes the vibration of vehicles passing would be enough to detonate it. Regardless of the source of the explosive, it is always blamed on 'terrorists'."

Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking part in an event on Saturday, October 27th:

If you are a soldier or veteran who has served on active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard since 9/11, and your are frustrated and angry with the way our military has been used and abused to wage an occupation against the people of Iraq, then know that you are not alone. On October 27th, veterans, soldiers, and citizens will gather in 11 cities around this country in a national expression of the breadth and depth of antiwar sentiment in this nation. One of the biggest gatherings of IVAW members will be in Boston, where IVAW members from across the Northeast will come together for a fundraiser on Friday night, the march on Saturday, and a regional meeting immediately following the march. If you area aveteran or active duty person interested in meeting IVAW members in Boston, please e-mail newengland [at] or boston [at] The seattle chapter has also been integral in the planning of their regional march, please contact seattle [at] to connect with fellow veterans in the Northwest. For additional information on regions and chapters participating in the October 27 marches and demos, including those in NYC, LA, and Orlando, please contact the regional coordinator or chapter in your area, Check for directions to the events and addtional information.

Wally has discussed how he made his own support IVAW t-shirt to wear on campus. IVAW now has t-shirts that read "I SUPPORT IRAQ VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

From the National Lawyers Guild to the Center for Constitutional Rights. On October 11th,
CCR filed suit against Blackwater over the September 16th slaughter of civilians in Baghdad by Blackwater USA on behalf of the families of Himoud Saed Atban, Usama Fadhil Abbas and Oday Ismail Ibraheem (all three killed in the slaughter) and Talib Mutlaq Deewan who was wounded in the attack. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) broke the news that day and interviewed CCR's Susan Burke who explained, "We were approached by the families of three gentlemen who were shot and killed, as well as a gentleman who was very seriously injured. They came to us because they know of our work representing the torture victims at Abu Ghraib, and they asked us whether it would be possible to try to get some form of justice, some form of accountability, against this rogue corporation." CCR continues to pursue the issue of torture. Today Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed CCR president Michael Ratner and Jeanne Sulzer of the International Federation of Human Rights about the lawsuit filed by CCR and IFHR

JUAN GONZALEZ: Jeanne, I'd like to ask you, what happened this morning in France?

JEANNE SULZER: Well, the complaint was filed yesterday before the Paris prosecutor around 5:00 p.m. Paris time. This morning, Rumsfeld was present at the conference where he was scheduled. So what we are awaiting now is signs from the prosecutor to know whether an investigation has been opened or not. So what we needed here in France was to make sure that Rumsfeld was actually present on the French territory, which is the case. He's still here in Paris.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And now, was he actually served with any papers there, or what happened when he actually spoke?

JEANNE SULZER: Well, actually, the information we have is that the complaint has not been served on him. He has not been yet asked to account for the accusations in the complaint. So, as of now, again, we are waiting to see whether the prosecutor is still reviewing the complaint, and hopefully he will not wait too long, because our fears are that Rumsfeld will escape as soon as he can. So now the big issue is the pressure on the prosecutor and, of course, the higher-ups of the French authorities to take a decision on the complaint. But France has a very clear obligation to investigate and prosecute into this case under the torture convention, as Rumsfeld is present on the French territory.

Gonzalez noted that this is case number five against Rumsfeld.

MICHAEL RATNER: The big difference with this case and the other cases is Rumsfeld is actually in France. And when an alleged torturer goes into a country, but particularly France, the obligation on the prosecutor to begin an investigation is much stronger than in other cases of so-called universal jurisdiction. We brought two cases in Germany; one of those is still on appeal. There's a case in Argentina, and there's a case in Sweden.
I think the point of all of this is to really give Rumsfeld no place to hide. And the French case, really, because he is there, is extraordinary. I mean, that he was, in my -- in a sense, Juan, dumb enough to go to France, knowing that they have this kind of jurisdiction, is shocking. And, you know, I think one of the things that people can do right now is to put pressure on the French prosecutor to make sure he opens an investigation. We're going to have that fax number, etc., on our website, which the Center has a new website now:,, which in a couple of hours you can go to to fax materials. So this is a very, very exciting effort, and I think we're going to really pin Rumsfeld in in this.
I have a question, Jeanne: if they somehow don't open the prosecution and he leaves, do they still have an obligation to open the prosecution, even after he's gone?

JEANNE SULZER: In theory, there is, because what you need is, when the complaint is being filed, that the person, the alleged person, is present on the territory, and he was when the complaint was filed. So, yes, but they could, of course, say that now that he is not present on the territory anymore, there is no jurisdiction. But, yes, they should -- actually, the investigation should be opened now. If he escapes today, there is still basis for the French jurisdiction.

CCR notes that they and IFHR have joined with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the French League for Human Rights in the filing "charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. . . . The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture -- and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court -- it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case. In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases. . . . Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs' case on Rumsfeld's responsibility for the abuse of detainees."

Dorren Carvajal (International Herald Tribune) notes Karpinski "contended that the abuses started after the appearance of Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was sent as an emissary by Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators. Miller crticized the interrogators for 'being too nice to the prisoners,' she said, and promised more resources. In her statement, Karpinski said he summed up the new approach in two sentences: 'Look, you have to treat them like dogs. If they ever felt like anything more than dogs, you have effectively lost control of the interrogation.' Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement that the aim of the latest legal complaint was to demonstrate 'that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice'."

Karpinski (
PDF format warning) notes, "MG Miller was working almost exclusively with the military intelligence people and the military intelligence interrogators during the course of his visit. He was not interested in assisting with detention operations; rather he was focusing on interrogation operations and teaching interrogators harsher techniques as a means to obtain more actionable intelligence. MG Miller was spending almost all of his time with the Military Intelligence Officers (J2) BG Barbara Fast and the Commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade, Colonel Pappas. During his in-brief, his introduction when he first arrived there with his team, he responded to a military interrogator's question. . . . Then MG Miller said, 'My first observation is you are not in charge of the interrogations.' He said they were being too nice to the prsioners. MG Miller said they the interrogators were not being aggressive enough. He used an example from Guantanamo Bay." In addition, Karpinski notes the Rumsfeld Memo -- "a memo posted on a column just outside of their small administrative office. The memorandum was signed by the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and it discussed Authorized Interrogation techniques including use of loud music and prolonged standing postions, amongst several other techniques. It was one page. It mentioned stress positions, noise and light discipline, the use of music, disrupting sleep patterns, those types of techniques. There was also a handwritten note out to the side in the same ink and in the same script as the signature of the Secretary of Defense. The notation written in the margin said 'Make sure this happens!' And people understood it to be from Rumsfeld. This memorandum was a copy; a photocopy of the original, I would imagine. I thought it was unusual for an interrogation memorandum to be posted inside of a dtention cell block, because interrogations were not conducted in the cell block, at least to my understanding and knowledge."

Rumsfeld served as Secretary of the Defense under both Gerald Ford and the Bully Boy.
On May 7, 2004 Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee then examining the Abu Ghraib torture and declared, "Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, in recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib. These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility." Rumsfeld was replaced with Robert Gates on December 18, 2006. There was not and has not been any accountability. [FYI, Ratner is also a co-host -- along with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith -- of WBAI's Law and Disorder -- which also airs online and on other radio stations across the US.]

From Rumsfeld to more current violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk bombing that left two police officers injured. Reuters notes an Adhaim roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 6 truck drivers and injured five more, a Muqdadiya bombing that claimed 1 life and injured four, a Buhriz roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three others, a roadside bombing outside Kirkuk that left two police officers injured and a Dagghara roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 police officer and injured three more.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports nurse Fahima Hussein Mohammed was shot at her home in Hawija "and she died while moving her to the hospital."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Latifya.

Today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded when their unit was attacked with an explosively-formed penetrating device in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Oct. 25."

Turning to the continued tensions between northern Iraq and Turkey which have proved to be very beneficial to some. This morning, the
New York Times noted that oil topped $90 a barrel (90.46 ) and may hit $100 a barrel before the end of the year. Reuters tells you it's already gone above ninety and change: "Oil rallied to a fresh record high above $92 a barrel on Friday as the dollar tumbled to a record low, Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran and gunmen shut more oil production in Nigeria." From David R. Baker (San Francisco Chronicle) explains, "Crude prices are within easy striking distance of inflation-adjusted records set in 1981 after the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Direct comparisons are impossible, because the market for buying and selling oil has changed radically in the past 26 years. Estimates of the all-time high, however, range from roughly $92 per barrel to $104. . . . Speculators who use oil solely as an investment have been latching onto any news that could drive the price higher - such as Turkey's threats to attack Kurdish rebels inside oil-rich Iraq - and ignoring everything else."

CBS and AP report that Turkey has decided to put on hold the decision of what to do about or not do "until the prime minister visits Washington in November before deciding on a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq, the country's top military commander said Friday." The decision (or announced 'decision') comes on the same day that Turkey sends even more troops to the border. Thomas Grove (Reuters) notes, "Turkish helicopters ferried more troops to the border with Iraq on Friday . . . Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border before a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000 guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who launch deadly attacks into Turkey from northern Iraq." Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) continues reporting on the PKK and noted early this morning that "PKK leaders do not feel themselves in much danger. The mountains and gorges have been a redoubt for guerrillas for thousands of years." On the situation the US has allowed to rage while repeatedly claiming to address, Vera Beaudin Saeedpour (Institute for Public Accuracy) declares:

"Ironic. The PKK is on the State Department's terrorist list; the U.S. claims it doesn't 'talk with terrorists.' But the U.S. -- and Israel -- aids and abets the PKK through local Iraqi Kurds. And why? The PKK arm, Pejak, attacks Iran. For services rendered, while the PKK attacks Turkey the administration winks and has kept the Turkish military from retaliating. ... For giving safe haven to the PKK/Pejak, for doing Washington's bidding in Baghdad, [Massoud] Barzani and [Jalal] Talabani have been more than amply rewarded. In 2003 the U.S. military facilitated their takeover of 'security' in Kirkuk and even in Mosul. Now, under the pretext of fighting al Qaeda, units of the U.S. military have been joining Kurdish fighting units (veiled as members of the 'Iraqi' military) in ethnically cleansing 'contested areas' of non-Kurds in advance of a referendum that will determine under whose jurisdiction these parts of Diyala and Nineveh provinces will fall. Perhaps it all depends on who's doing the cleansing. In 1992 Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh aided by the Republic of Armenia ethnically cleansed Red Kurdistan, the largest and oldest Kurdish community in the Caucasus -- 160,000 Kurds simply disappeared. With few exceptions, Kurds elsewhere said nothing. Kurdish Life did a detailed report on the issue and distributed it to members of Congress, not least Rep. Tom Lantos, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Joe Biden, all still in office. President Bill Clinton did nothing. Instead, Armenians were rewarded with direct U.S. foreign aid."In addition to the White House meetup next week, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice,
CNN notes, is planning to visit Ankara next Thursday to meet with the Turkish president and prime minister. Yesterday, Condi Rice met with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (one of the many committees she stonewalls). When confronted with charges and documents alleging that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki may be something than a prince, Condi hit the roof. John M. Broder (New York Times) reports she responded, "To assault the prime minister of Iraq or anyone else in Iraq with here-to-date unsubstantiated allegations or lack of corroboration in a setting that it would simply fuel those allegations, I think, would be deeply damaging, and frankly, I think it would be wrong." To address serious charges, to do her job, would be "deeply damaging?" Remember this is the person in charge of national security on 9-11, no-one-could-have-guessed Condi. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports, "Democrats focused on an April 1 memo from Maliki's office forbidding investigation of anyone in the government or cabinet without the prime minister's approval. The memo was turned over to the committee by Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, the former head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, who is seeking U.S. political asylum. Radhi testified to the committee early this month that his investigators had uncovered 'rampant' corruption in Iraqi ministries and that nearly four dozen anti-corruption employees or members of their families had been murdered." Condi's concern for al-Maliki and his potentially hurt feelings is all the more touching as Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias are funding their deadly activities by muscling in on Mafia-style rackets involving everything from real estate and oil to cement and soft drinks, U.S. commanders say." Zavis quotes Lt. Col. Eric Welsh declaring, "If you think that the majority of money is coming from outside the country to fund the insurgency, you'd be wrong." Don't say that around Condi, she might burst into tears despite the fact that "[a]n internal U.S. Embassy assessment leaked to the media in August said endemic corruption was crippling the government and providing a major source of funding to insurgent groups and sectarian militias."
Turning to peace news,
Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted today, "An American peace activist denied entry into Canada earlier this month has again been detained by Canadian authorities on her first attempt to return. Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and former diplomat, was scheduled to speak an anti-war news conference Thursday with Canadian lawmakers in the capitol of Ottawa. Wright and the CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin were denied entry earlier this month after their names appeared on an FBI criminal database that the Canadian government is using at its borders. Wright and Benjamin have nine convictions between them -- all involving civil disobedience while protesting the war in Iraq."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rice Krisphy Kugel via Audrey in the Kitchen

A wonderful recipe from a wonderful woman. Audrey e-mailed this and it's so easy you may feel guilty that it tastes so good.

Rice Krispy Kugel
3 cups rice krispies
3 eggs2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 package of onion soup mix
French fried onion rings to place on top

Mix all ingredients except onion rings in a large bowl. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with onion rings and bake about 45 minutes at 350°.

Audrey says that "once it's cooked, you'll never know about the rice krisipies" (and she's right) and that she found it online years ago.

I'm very lucky twice over. Once for Audrey's recipe which she was kind enough to allow me to share and second because Ruth is over tonight. Ruth and her granddaughter Tracey provided me with the prior kugel recipes and I wanted to get Ruth's opinion since she's been making kugel "since the sun started rising" -- she jokes. She was skeptical about the rice krisipies but she actually loved it when she tasted it and wrote down the recipe. She notes that it's very easy and very quick to make.

So you should try the recipe and another to try is Ruth's Report -- that's the website Ruth just started. Her "Ruth's Report" proper will still go up at The Common Ills. This will be a three time a week site where she just notes a radio program you should check out. She says it should be no more than three sentences and "on really good weeks I will have five posts for the week."

Why is Ruth here? Tracey went to a Tori Amos concert. Mike, Elaine, Kat, Rebecca, Jess, Ava and C.I. also went. So Ruth thought the easiest thing would be to hang out here and drive back with Tracey. I convinced her early on to just stay the night here. I knew it would be late when everyone got back (and it was) and no one needs to be out on the road driving a lengthy drive when they're tired.

Let's check in on the world of music. This is from Jessica Robertson's "Ani DiFranco Loads Her 'Canon' With Politics and Love" (Spinner):

In the 2004 election, you supported Dennis Kucinich. Are you doing the same for 2008?
Yeah, he's still as cool as he ever was. I can't tell you how many times I hear, over and over, "Well, he was the coolest. I watched the debate and he made the most sense but he's unelectable." Again, that disillusionment. People just don't even believe anymore that you can vote for a guy and he can be president. It's all about the money and the power. You have to believe something before you can make it so. I hate to see us progressives in this country shooting ourselves in the foot, just accepting the media celebrity game that they play with the supposedly electable people.

Ani DiFranco is an artist I didn't know. I don't think (remember, I'm old, just became a grandmother, and my husband is the music-phile in the family) I'd even heard of her before 2006. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" captured my attention and I actually bought the CD. That's a very rare thing. Most of the time, my husband buys CDs. He knows who I like and can spend hours going through CDs. So he usually comes home with seven or ten CDs once a month and at least one of them will be someone I like that he picked up for me. I may not have purchased a CD this decade before that unless I was buying it as a gift. I can't even remember the last time I purchased a CD (or a cassette tape -- if I thought really hard, I could probably remember the last vinyl album I bought). I really loved that CD. I also purchased the new one, a collection, after "Kat's Korner: Stills & DiFranco" went up. I don't have a history with Ani DiFranco (is it okay to call her just "Ani"?), I just have the one studio album and now the collection. I do wish "Half-Assed" were on the collection because that's such an amazing song; however, I enjoy the collection (Canon) and that probably proves Kat's point that long term fans will love disc one but newer ones won't be bothered by the selections on disc two.

So the excerpt from the interview allowed us to note Dennis Kucinich and to note music. I think Ani's right, this really is about lowered expectations. We're taught that people don't matter, money does. So when a candidate speaks to us, there's a tendancy to set aside the fact that he or she speaks to us and ask, "Well, what's the fundraising like? Is he or she a player?"

We can't even trust our own instincts, we've been so conditioned. Eurythmics. That's the last cassette I bought. Be Yourself Tonight. "Conditioned Soul" is a track on the album. But, as I was saying, we're so removed from the process (by the media) that we tend to need some external validation when the only thing that should matter is does the candidate speak to and for us?

I think Kucinich speaks for the majority of Americans when it comes to the illegal war. It's equally true that his plan is the only health care plan that really meets the needs of Americans. A lot of candidates toss around the term "universal health care" but they're really not proposing universal health care. But I was going through my e-mail account (my own, not the one for this site) and found "Seven Nights For Equal Rights" from the Kucinich campaign and thought, here's another issue that other candidates really don't go out of their way to address:

Between October 7 and October 13, 2007, straight people across the nation will "come out" as supporters of equal rights for the gay and lesbian community in America.
From Seattle to Montgomery, Alabama; Phoenix to Augusta, Maine; Duluth to Houston, Texas, overnight vigils will light up American cities, providing support and visibility to heterosexual men and women who have the courage and conviction to stand up for their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors.
This movement, dubbed Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, was initiated by Soulforce and Atticus Circle, two Texas-based organizations with members across the nation. With their leadership, straight community leaders are organizing vigils in 30 or more communities around the country.
These courageous community leaders are telling their elected officials and the media that "equality is not a gay issue, not an urban elite issue, not an East Coast or a West Coast issue -- it's an American issue, and Seven Straight Nights is making Americans' support for lesbian and gay equality visible as never before."
We urge you to join this movement. Please go to and find a vigil near you. Plan to attend, and contact the organizers to find out how you can help.
As you know, our campaign unequivocally supports full marriage equality, and our health plan,
HR 676, will provide full AIDS treatment to all U.S. residents.
So please support these important vigils. Wear your T-shirts, bring your signs, and let the nation know that not only is the Kucinich campaign the campaign of civil and human rights, but the Kucinich campaign team is far ahead when it comes to standing strong with the LGBTQ community.
In peace, and justice,

Dennis and Elizabeth

So that's another example. Kucinich is not a single-issue candidate. If the press seriously covered him, a lot of people would be thinking, "He stands for what I stand for." So do yourself a favor and check out the Kucinich campaign site.

It's very, very late and I'm very, very, very tired. So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 19, 2007, Iraq Moratorium Day. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces two more deaths, Amy Goodman shines a light on the Iraqi wounded, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War resister Camilo Mejia speaks Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.
Janet Parker (The Capital Times) notes, "This weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, energy is building among student activists who are hosting a national event, Students Rising: The 5th Anniversary Summit of the Campus Antiwar Network. Their featured speaker will be brave conscientious objector to war, Camilo Mejia. In 2004 Staff Sgt. Mejia applied for a discharge from the Army. He was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His public talk will be in the Humanities Building, Room 3650, at 8 p.m. Saturday." Pablo Paredes is another war resister. On Wednesday, he was in Berkeley with CODEPINK and other activists to protest the recruiting center on Shattuck Ave. Henry K. Lee (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the right wing activists descending upon the area to demonstrate their support for recruiting centers to send more people off to die in an illegal war and points out one right winger made a fool out of himself. The right-winger's son died in Iraq (this isn't in the article) and -- the then under-age son was able to join the military only because he signed a waiver. Instead of addressing that, he elected to scream at Pablo Paredes, "Are you a soldier? They wouldn't let you looking like that!" A soldier? Paredes was in the navy and was a Petty Officer Third Class. Lee writes, "Paredes said later that he had served five years in the Navy and that people of color like himself bore the brunt of military service. 'I think the color of my skin shouldn't make me be on the front line,' Paredes said, adding that he left the Navy because he refused orders and opposed the war in Iraq." Along with Mejia, Stephen Funk and Aiden Delgado, Paredes is one of the early faces of war resistance and they -- and many others including Carl Webb -- demonstrated from the start that the movement was not "White" -- despite the mistaken claims of many.

Demonstrating further the diversity is the fact that one Iraq War resister is the first officer to publicy refuse to serve in the illegal war. That officer is
Ehren Watada. Today is Iraq Moratorium day and many participants will be showing their solidarity with Watada whose legal status is on hold as federal judge Benjamin Settle reviews issues arising from the first court-martial of Watada (in February) when Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial over defense objection which should have prevented any further court-martials due to the double-jeopardy clause in the US Constitution. In a letter to People's Weekly World entitled "Watada's Leadership," T. Kyoshi Nagano explains how Watada's refusal to engage in an illegal war was upholding the highest of military standards by juxtaposing Watada's statements with those of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Watada: "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our agression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America's laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today."

Gates: "For a real leader, the elements of personal virtue -- self-reliance, self-control, honor, truthfulness, morality -- are absolute. They are absolute even when doing what is right may bring embarrassment or bad publicy to your unit or the service or to you. Those are the moements that will truly test the leader withing you -- test whether you will take the hard parth or the easy path, the wrong path or the right path. The willingness always to take the right path, even if it is the hard path, is called character. In every aspect of your life, whether personal or professional, you must always maintain the courage of your convictions -- your personal integrity."

T, Kyoshi Nagano observes, "There is a tradition in the Japanese American community to act on personal belief from volunteer 442/Nisei Linguist (while their family and friends were in camps), the NoNo Boys and the Vietnam War resisters. There are words, yet actions speak loudly." While the federal court examines the issue of double-jeopardy, a stay has been issued through at least October 26th.

New war resisters pop up daily and some go public and some don't. One who has decided to go public is Michael Espinal who self-checked out and went to Canada after serving in Iraq.
Denis St. Pierre (The Sudbury Star) reports that Espinal "witnessed -- and participated in -- authorized missions that saw hundreds -- perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis killed, injured, imprisoned and humiliated, their homes destroyed, their families ripped apart. In Espinal's view, he and his colleagues committed numerous human rights abuses and criminal acts. When his first tour of duy in Iraq ended, he resolved not to return. . . . Espinal and his partner, Jennifer Harrison, who are expecting their first child in April, have been living in Sudbury for the last few weeks. They are the first Americans to attempt to settle in the city with the help from the War Resisters Support Campaign. War Resisters is a country-wide coalition of community, faith, labour and other organizations and individuals helping U.S. soldiers who seek asylum in Canada rather than fight in Iraq." [Note: They are posting video to go with the text. If you click on the link try later. There's also an excerpt of the article in this entry.]

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Each Wednesday,
CODEPINK protests at the military recruiting center in Berkeley. As Medea Benjamin explained to Kristin Bender (Alameda Times-Star), "Our message is very clear. We are peaceful people. We don't want to send our sons and daughters into this war. I think the sentiment of Berkeley is on this side of the street." Bender notes, "The Golden State in 2001 was the nation's largest source of new enlistees, with 23,503 residents joining the military in 2001. But in 2006, 2,400 fewer residents heeded the call, and today California ranks second behind Texas in recruitment." Aimee Allison and David Solnit address counter-recruiting in their book Army Of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World (published by Seven Stories Press and available at Courage to Resist). Speaking with Matthew Rothschild last week on The Progressive Radio, Allison noted, "One of the things that I think the military recruiters on the ground rely on are sustained access, regular access to high school kids in particular so they can develop relationships. For the recruiter, they become father or friend or guide and take students out to Burger King and, you know. But of all of the messages that they learn, that recruiters learn, through their hard sell and sustained selling techniques, they never mention the word 'kill.' And the reason why is because it's very deeply ingrained in human beings not to kill. And we've all had these kind of, someone makes us mad and there's a reason we don't act on that because our church, and our family and our society condition us against that kind of violence. So it's the center of the recruiters' message to tell them all the things they can do with their life without letting them know about what the military really is and that is an institution designed to train someone to kill on command and that was the most surprising thing for me in my own experiences." CODEPINK's actions (and the actions of many others throughout the US) are an attempt to break the myths and silence.

A backdoor draft currently exists and is more popularly known as "stop loss." In addition, the US government has set up the framework that would be utilized should the draft be reinstated -- including Selective Service boards.
Kyle Knight (University of Southern Indiana's The Shield) explores what would quickly happen if the draft were reinstated, "First, all 20 year-olds must report to their local draft board then 21, 22, and so on. Other aspects of the draft also differ from Vietnam. The S.S.S. states that no one can cite school as a possible deferment. At most, the student could postpone until the end of the semester and not until they finish their degree. The S.S.S. states 'beliefs which qualify a registrant for C.O. status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest.' To claim conscientious objector you must appear before your local draft board and present a written statement on the influence of your beliefs on your life and how you arrived at them. You can even include someone to speak on your behalf, then the Selective Service Appeal Board will either reject or accept your claim. If accepted you must engage in one of two alternative service choices."

yesterday's snapshot: "Reuters notes that 'three tribesmen, members of a local "Awakenings Council" aligned to U.S. forces' were whot dead in Dhuluiya. On Tuesday, Sheikh Saleh Fezea Shneitar, his son and nephew were killed outside of Falluja -- the sheikh was a member of "Anbar Awakenings Council," a group that works closely with the US military and whose members have been increasingly targeted for their collaboration. In a White House press conference today Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson denied that the resistance was 'getting more sophisticated in who they go after'." Today, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) explores the issue of collaborators zooming in on Abdul Sattar Abu Risha who was killed on September 13th, "It is no secret in Anbar province that Abu Risha's activities were not legal either before or after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. When the U.S. government began to support the 'Awakening of Anbar' led by Sattar Abu Risha, which operated under the flag of fighting al-Qaeda [in Iraq], some people did begin to think differently. 'Americans always choose the worst of their collaborators to be leaders of their campaigns,' Sheikh Ahmed Ali of the Muslim Scholars Association told IPS in Baghdad. 'Look at the governments and councils they choose to lead Iraq. This Sattar Abu Risha only provoked a division among the people of Anbar, and that was exactly what the Americans wanted'."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Baghdad mortar attack that left three wounded.


Reuters notes an attack on a Riyadh police chief that left two guards injured.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes two corpses were discovered in Muwailha.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and one other wounded when their unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in a southern section of the Iraqi capital Oct. 18." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier based in Salah ad Din province died as a result of a non-combat-related illness Wednesday after being evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany." ICCC's total for the month of October thus far is 26 dead with 3832 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started.

Turning to the topic of wounded US service members, yesterday on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with the Washington Post's Anne V. Hull and Dana Priest about the issue of medical care provided by the Veterans Affairs Dept. (for Hull and Priest's prior reporting at the Post on this issue click here).

Diane Rehm: What's extraordinary is that you say, Dana, the current Veterans Administration is pulled at the seams with some 800,000 cases of backlog.

Dana Priest: Yep. And it seems like it was just a surprise to them that this was going to happen. I don't know if anybody's tried to explain it away but certainly they haven't done a good job if they have. And not only do they have the case backlog, but they also are trying to merge the two disability systems. This is one of the recommendations -- the main recommendation -- of the Donna Shalala and Bob Dole panel that has just given the president
their recommendations. They want to merge these two systems and, and -uh, give the burden to the VA to rate, to determine the level of disability that each soldier has and what will be their benefit, their pension, their disability payment from then on. So it's probably a good idea -- a lot of people do think it is a good idea because the army is having such trouble doing it. But it will add a lot of people onto the VA -- into the VA system -- that is already overcrowded and one assumes that they will be getting a lot more funding and some other personnel to do that.

[. . .]

Anne Hull: . . . And the heart of what Bush sent to Congress is, as Dana said, and to let the military determine whether or not a soldier is fit for duty let the VA rate for disability. And that's a huge culture shift and that is going to require legislation. There's already a lot of pushback from veterans' organizations who do not want the disability compensation system tinkered with in any way, it's known as "the third rail." They're afraid that older veterans might lose out and the younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are obviously concerned about their generation. Secondly, it expands family leave. The spouse of a soldier can get up to six months of unpaid leave --

Diane Rehm: Unpaid leave.

Anne Hull: Unpaid leave, that's right. In a two year period. So this is basically to safe guard their job but not to provide them money while they're caring for the wounded.

Diane Rehm: But how do they -- how do they manage while they're taking the six-month unpaid leave?

Anne Hull: This is the big story. This is . . . You know, we had a story on Sunday, one
soldier's one year war becomes a wife's endless war. It is put upon the families to carry the burden of having a wounded soldier or marine in their life.

Dana Priest: And it's going to be awfully hard to monitor the getting the job back. I mean, it's already difficult for people who go away in the Guard and Reserve to make sure that they get the job that they had back as required by law and this is virtually unenforceable. The other recommendation they made had to do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. And that would -- it opens up the door to say, "You don't have to prove to us when you got it or why you got it. Come on in and get an evaluation if you think you need it."

On Monday,
Anne Hull participated in an online exchange at the Washington Post and it needs to be noted that the Turners (the subjects of the Sunday story) have received an outpouring of support from people (donations can be made care of the Washington Post, address at link) but where is the government, where is the VA? On the reporting she and Priest have been doing, Hull responds in the exchange as to how she and Priest have found their stories, "People have asked us this question over and over on the Walter Reed stories and the answer is quite simple: wounded soldiers and their families are frustrated and many feel abandoned by the country that they fought for. They don't feel heard. Many feel out of sight and forgotten, a long way from the bright parades of deployment. So they are okay about opening up and talking and letting us witness the small details of their lives, and almost to a person, the response is always this: 'As long as this will help other soldiers'." And, speaking to Rehm on Thursday, she noted that "we probably still get five calls, ten calls a day".

Staying on the topic of veterans,
The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz (IPS) covers the case of James Eggemeyer, a 25-year-old homeless veteran, "By December 2006, when James Eggemeyer filed a disability claim with the Veterans administration, he had already joined the ranks of the United State's burgeoning population of homeless veterans, and was living out of his girlfriend's Ford Explorer. So when the VA responded with a letter to his old address requesting that he come in for a physical examination, he missed the appointment. It's a vicious cycle so familiar to homeless people across the country. They need help from the government because they don't have a home, but can't receive mail because they don't have an address. . . . Since the start of the Iraq war, the backlog of unanswered disability claims has grown from 325,000 to more than 600,000. On average, a veteran must wait almost six months to have a claim heard. If a veteran loses and appeals a case, it usually takes at about three years. Veterans groups maintain that the backlog amounts to official negligence. Since the launch of the Iraq war more than four years ago, the number of people charged with reviewing and approving veteran's disability claims has actually dropped. According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 Veterans Service Representatives in June 2007 compared to 1,516 in January 2003." An earlier, audio report Glantz did on homeless veterans can be found here.

Turning to US politics,
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Reports) weighs in on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "Activists must keep protesting at her house and working for her defeat in the 2008 congressional elections. They must also cease cooperating with her. The farce must end before it is too late. Pelosi, like Bush, has no loyalty to her constitutionally based responsibilities. She must no longer be treated as though she is a friend when she has proven herself to to be an enemy. Civil liberties groups and antiwar groups must stop meeting with Pelosi or her staff. They must finally realize that they can only play a role in movement politics. It is said that insanity is defined as repeating the same action over and over yet expecting a different result. Progressives have waged many righteous battles in the last seven years, but they are about to go down in history as insane actors in a badly written play."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with Cole Miller (No More Victims) about his organizations work in raising awareness on the Iraqi wounded who noted "what was shocking was so many people in South Carolina seemed to be simply unaware that children were being hurt in Iraq. And that's, of course, a pretty profound criticism of the mainstream media." Amy Goodman then interviewed Salee Allawee a ten-year-old victim of a US air strike (precision, no doubt -- that is sarcasm) in which she lost both of her legs and Salee's father Hussein Allawee Feras:

AMY GOODMAN: Salee, you're wearing lots of jewelry. Can you talk about where you got it from?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] This is from Georgia, and this is from South Carolina. So they are both from South Carolina and Georgia.

AMY GOODMAN: So these are all from friends you have made here in the United States?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] These are her best friends, Ann and Cole.

AMY GOODMAN: From here. You have come here to America and have gotten new legs?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: How does it feel?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] It feels good. One of my legs just hurts so much, and so I think it's just infected. It hurts when I wear it.

AMY GOODMAN: Hussein, how has it been for you to come to the United States? Can you -- we just watched the video where you describe what happened to Salee. Can you describe what you felt when you were invited to America?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] Honestly, I want to start with -- I thank very much the good American people. It is a very late information that we learned that the American people are good people. Because the US military is so harsh, they didn't leave us any time to feel that there are still good people in the US, that we just felt that everyone in the US is like the American army. But honestly, when I came to the US, I just saw a lot of people who were very interested to help Salee and other than Salee. I couldn't believe it. A big difference. Alas, we had a very bad impression on the people in the US. The American soldiers, alas, are really harsh on us.

AMY GOODMAN: You lost -- well, your daughter lost her legs, her best friend. You lost your son?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: In that attack?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] Yes, the same incident.

AMY GOODMAN: And your other daughter?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] Yes. One of her legs has to be cut off.

AMY GOODMAN: Salee, what do you tell American children about what happened to you?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] I want to tell them thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you going back to Iraq, Salee? Are you afraid to go back?

SALEE ALLAWEE: [translated] No, I'm not afraid.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you feel about going back, Hussein?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] As you know, my body is here, but my soul is over there. And I don't think worse things are going to happen in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: What was your experience with the US military before the air attack?

HUSSEIN ALLAWEE FERAS: [translated] There is nothing good to tell. Two months after the incident where Salee was injured, again random shooting started to happen in the neighborhood. At 3:00 in the morning one night, a tank was firing at a house while people were sleeping inside, and I saw the roof of that house collapsing on the people inside. We spent eleven hours to dig through the wreckage, trying to find someone who's alive, because we heard someone's voice who was still alive. Seven people out of eight were killed in that attack. Only one baby, who was four months old, was alive, and we were able to get him outside. And he's still alive. And now he's in Fallujah. This is one of the hundreds of thousands of the incidents and miseries Iraqis face every day.

Closing with TV. Sunday on
CBS' 60 Minutes, Valerie Plame shares her story with Katie Couric. On Friday, PBS's NOW with David Brancaccio looks at immigration in America and "catches up with two New Jersey mayors who have sharply different -- and politically surprising -- approaches to dealing with undocumented immigrants in their communities" -- Democrat Don Cresitello (Morristown) wants to use federal enforcement powers, Republican Bob Patten has created "Sanctuary City". (Friday on most PBS stations, check local listings).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Disasters in the Kitchen

At one point or another, unless you never cook, you will have a kitchen disaster. The smart thing to do is to toss it out. A woman e-mailed about her aunt who does not grasp that. Years ago, the aunt was making a pasta dish and appeared to think you made the sauce in boiling water -- the same boiling water you used to cook the pasta and you did that while cooking the pasta. It was a huge mistake.

Instead of tossing it out, she's turned it into a 'special dish' and no one in the family likes it. She's about to visit for a few weeks now that she's retired and everyone in the family is trying to figure out how to tell her they don't want her to make the dish.

Let's talk about how she 'fixed' it -- adding everything in the kitchen. She added potatoes to it, hominy to it, 7 different (noncomplimentary) spices and 2 eggs which she cooked in the mixture. Then she adds chicken stock.

Keep in mind this was all done because a tomato and onion based sauce -- cooked in boiling water with pasta -- did not taste well.

When something tastes bad, adding more to it will not make it taste cook; however, it may make it taste worse. As I looked at all the ingredients the woman was tossing in, I thought, "Why didn't she skip the hominy, toss out the past and sauce, and just make a simple soup?"

The niece writes that her children will not touch the dish and on the last visit were being highly vocal about it. She writes that she understands because she can barely eat it to begin with. But she and the rest of the family have for years to humor the aunt.

The aunt is apparently a very proud person and the fear is in embarrassing the woman and hurting her feelings. Since it's gone on for years (eating the dish -- or trying to), it probably would cause some hurt feelings and shame at this point. Here are some things I would consider trying.

* Aunt ___, back then people called it "spagetti" and it's not just called "pasta" now, there are different ways to cook it.

* Aunt ___, we've stopped eating hominy.

* Aunt ____, we want you to relax this trip and don't want to see you in the kitchen working unless you have the time to make some of your wonderful chocolate chip cookies.

* Aunt ____, we have concerns about sodium these days so we're not able to eat that dish.

I would probably go with the third one and the e-mail does brag about the chocolate chip cookies the woman makes.

This is now a huge issue for the family and I want everyone reading to grasp that because I doubt any of us want that to someday be a problem our families have with us.

I had a similar e-mail from a college student this week. He's moved in with two friends to get an apartment off campus. One of his friends has decided he knows how to make potato soup. He puts a potato into a bowl, puts the bowl into the microwave, bakes it, puts some butter on it after, then pours milk on top of it and mashes it up. Potato peel and all and the peel isn't washed before the potato is baked. The other roommates hate it but don't know how to tell him.

That's not potato soup and whatever the aunt thinks she's making isn't a dish.

Now there are things we'll make that only we like. So you really need a friend who will tell you honestly, "That really sucked." But you also need to be honest with yourself.

The aunt is loved by the family (and makes wonderful cookies) but instead of everyone thinking, "Aunt ____ is visiting!" they are all worried about the aunt making that disgusting dish.

When my husband and I were starting out our married life, I would toss anything. By the time of our fourth kid, I would try to fix it. So I do understand that sometimes you can't toss out everything. I've tried to nurse something along before. But if something tastes awful, adding more ingredients to it is not going to make it taste good. And the smart thing to do is to toss it out. (You could carry that over to politics, as well.)

The college student wanted to know what he could do? Here's what he can do, master a few recipes. Find something you really enjoy cooking and eating. Get that recipe under your belt. Don't think, "I'll learn 30 recipes this year!" If you're a new cook, the point is to cook well, not to cook a huge number of dishes that all taste fair to poor. How does that help him with his roommate? It might make his roommate decide to master an actual potato soup recipe and quit passing off baked potato with a glass of milk poured over it as potato soup.

If the college student (who is in his third year) masters just three recipes this year and had no other recipes, that would be three. If he mastered three next year, that would give him six. In ten years, he'd have thirty recipes. The point isn't to say, "I've cooked X dishes this year!" The point is to have a recipes you can cook well. Three is really a low goal and you might want to up that, but the point is that it's not a race.

That's not to say you don't try a recipe you come across that you like. But cooking it once isn't mastering it. It's sampling it. And you may decide you don't like it. That's fine and no time has been "wasted" because you've learned that's a recipe you don't care for.

I'll come back to the college student in a moment but there were seven e-mails complaining that liver isn't available in their local grocery stores. Apparently, we've all sworn off liver as a nation. If your store has a butcher, you can ask there (and you will be able to get some liver). If so or if not, Mandy e-mailed that she found liver in the frozen foods. So you can look there as well.

Back to the college student. He's looking for a cookbook. We've covered this before but it was over a year ago the last time. Cookbook buying is a pain. The packaging appears more important than the contents to the publishers. If you're in a bookstore, don't focus on the pictures. Look at the recipes. Would you actually cook this? Could you handle it? How much work is it? Those are the questions you need to ask otherwise you'll end up with a cookbook you'll never use.

Anyone looking for a first time cookbook to help them get started should check out Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills' Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen. I have given that cookbook to my own kids over and over. It has wonderful recipes and offers "Mom Tip"s throughout. (Nancy Mills is Kevin's mother.) If you're new to cooking, you can get lost. The joint collaboration allows a newer cook (Kevin) and an older one (Nancy) to work together and explain recipes in the most easy to understand manner. You may burn a dish in the book (not all require cooking) but that's it. You are walked through the recipes and those you can't master, you're just not ready for yet. We don't expect children to learn alegbra while they're learning 1+1=2. Cooking is about levels and this cookbook will provide you with many levels and give you recipes you can fix (and serve) with comfort. If you do enjoy cooking and are thinking of giving a cookbook to someone for Christmas, this is the book I'd suggest for beginning and new cooks.

Getting these basics under your belt will allow you to avoid the disasters that I read about each week. I'm not speaking of "I burned it!" or "I didn't have all the ingredients!" I'm referring to people cooking who don't know what they're doing. If the aunt had read the practical Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen, she would have grasped some time ago that her 'special dish' is not worth cooking, let alone serving.

Turning to Dennis Kucinich. Eli Sanders and Dan Kennedy have written a slam piece on Kucinich that will also appear in an upcoming book for Seven Stories Press. In it, they feel the need to quote The Toilet Scrubber saying Kucinich's change of position on abortion (2004) is unbelievable. Really? Like The Toilet Scrubber's flip from Reagan Republican, Bush Republican into voice of 'the left'? Now as I understand it, The Toilet Scrubber hails from a right-wing, rich Latin American family. So that alone calls into question his ability to evaluate the changes of others. You don't go from Henry Hyde cheerleader and supporter to 'left'.

Hunt Oil attempted to push through a deal with the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The deal has been called illegal by the Iraqi government. Ben Lando's "Analysis: Hunt, State talked on Iraq oil" (UPI) offers some background:

Ray Hunt is no ordinary Texan. He’s known as a maverick, the first foreigner to set up shop in Yemen, and now entering the unknown but highly prospective world of Iraqi Kurdistan oil. He’s donated $75,000 over the past two years to Republican Party fundraising committees and $35 million to the George W. Bush presidential library at Southern Methodist University.He also sits on the National Petroleum Council, an industry advisory board to the secretary of energy, and the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, whose members the president selects to advise him “concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities,” according to the White House Web site.
This connection has raised concerns of at least two members of Congress. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a candidate for his party’s presidential nod, decried the deal nearly immediately and called for an investigation.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers to a dozen questions, including:
“Are you concerned that the involvement of such a high-level adviser to the president in this contract will create the impression that the negation between Hunt and the Kurdish
government was sanctioned by you, or, indeed, by the president himself?”

And Rebecca asked me to note David Swanson's "Only One Congress Member Gets It" (OpEdNews):

For almost a year Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been saying that the Democratic leadership in Congress should end the occupation of Iraq by not bringing up for a vote any more bills to fund it. For all these months, he has been the only member of Congress willing to say this.
The closest position espoused by any of the other 534 members of the House and Senate is that Congress should pass a bill to fund only the withdrawal of the troops and mercenaries. Of course, they don't say mercenaries but "contractors," and instead of withdrawal they say (and often mean) "redeployment," and they're willing to fund another year or more of the occupation if the bill doing so "funds the redeployment" by January 2009. This is the position of the 88 congress members who have signed the Peace Pledge Letter that is finally attracting a little attention. Or, rather, it would be their position if you could believe them. Most of the 88 just voted billions more for the occupation in a Continuing Resolution.
But here's the chief problem with the "fund a withdrawal" idea. It keeps everyone talking in terms of passing a bill. And once that bill fails in the Senate or is vetoed, everyone will still be talking in terms of passing a bill, but they'll pass a bill that simply funds the occupation. The idea that the Pentagon needs money to withdraw the troops and mercenaries is absurd. That's pocket change for the Pentagon. Kucinich advocates requiring Bush to use money already appropriated.
A recent poll offered people a choice of spending another $200 billion without conditions (13 percent of the country supported this), spending $200 billion but requiring that all troops be home within a year (19 percent), spending $50 billion and requiring that all troops be home in six months (14 percent), or requiring Bush to use existing funds to bring all troops home in six months (40 percent). One congress member represents 40 percent of Americans.
On Wednesday, Kucinich released a statement demanding that the Democratic leadership require Bush to use existing funds to end the occupation. "If they don't, then they're just as responsible as the President for continuing this illegal and immoral war," said Kucinich, "and open to accusations of fraud upon the American people for promising during last year's elections that Democratic control of the Congress would mean an end to the war. Instead of ending the war, the leadership has knuckled under time and time again and given the President every dollar he's asked for to continue it."

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

Friday, October 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a new possible outbreak in Iraq, Democrats in Congress no longer just cave -- now they whine too, torture continues and women remain under attack.

Denise Winebrenner Edwards (People's Weekly World) notes, this was to be the week of the second court-martial of Ehren Watada until US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted a stay through at least October 26th. Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports on an October 8th San Francisco press conference held by Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee where Luke Hiken (of the National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force) explained, "Under our constitution, the military is under the judiciary of the United States. In other words, all federal court systems, up to the United States Supreme Court, have authority over the conduct of military personnel when appropriate. Accordingly, federal district courts, all the way up to the courts of appeal and U.S. Supreme Court, intervene when there are violations of U.S. military regulations or laws that contravene the U.S. Constitution. The trial council indicated that there was no jeopardy attached to the case, because the defense had not completed its entire presentation, which is nonsense. In (such a case) jeopardy is attached the second the first witness is called by the prosecution." Hiken is referring to the double-jeopardy issue. In February, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided. Opening arguments were presented. The prosecution called their witnesses. And their witnesses did a pretty good job of making the defense's case. That was day two. Day three was when Watada was supposed to testify. Instead, Judge Toilet was suddenly shocked by a stipulation he had read, he had agreed to, and he had explained to the jury. Despite his own involvement at all steps of the stipulation, suddenly Judge Toilet wanted to say Watada didn't understand it. This was the excuse Judge Toilet created to call a mistrial. He did so over defense objection. Because the trial had started, double-jeopardy had attached -- as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has pointed out since the start.

Through Thursday, November 1st, we'll be including, in the snapshots, this National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force announcement: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild
National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Watada is only one Iraq War resister.
Courage to Resist reports on James Circello Jr. who self-checked out in April of 2007 and writes about his experience in the poem "I saw kids turn into animals:"

I saw kids turn into animals.
Members of my own unit, who I will never speak negatively about,
doing things that one day I know
will haunt them.

I saw soldiers mistreating detained Iraqis.
Detained on nothing more than pure suspicion in some cases.
But why not, it was the Old West, anything goes and anything did go.

Questionable shootings.
Questionable decisions by superior commanders.
Nothing ever questioned by your superiors.
You as the Soldier were always in the right.

Courage to Resist also has an interview (transcript and audio) with war resister Mark Wilkerson conducted by The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz. At one point, Wilkerson explains, "I discussed many of these issues with a lot of other soldiers there [in Iraq]; a lot of them just didn't want to think about it at all. And then when I got back, to see the way the media portrayed the war and the way many people thought the war was going on, and then finally, after a few months, seeing some resisters coming on television -- I remember seeing Camilo Mejia in an interview and thinking, 'Wow, there are people out there like me, who are confused and angry and upset.' This 'conscientious objector' that I applied for, it was a very rough patch for me. It was a period of -- I ended up applying for conscientious objector in June. I took the rules fo conscientious objector home, and in the course of one night, I answered all the questions. I filled out my form. It was mostly seething. I was very angry, so I put all the emotion into what should be a very proper, very well thought-out document and application. I turned it in. I was told that I had a week to fill it out. And then over the next several months, I sometimes got in many arguments and heated debates with my chain of command -- my first sergeant, my platoon sergeant, some military chaplains, military investigators, military psychologists . . ." November 2005, he was denied CO status -- as most who apply are -- and decided to self-check out. He announced he was turning himself in August 2006 at Camp Casey and was eventually sentenced to imprisonment in Fort Still, OK.

in Corvallis, Oregon (a college town not far from Portland) Gerry Condon will speak at the Odd Fellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. at 7:00 pm. Gerry Condon is a war resister from the Vietnam era and he's very active in war resistance today. He can speak about war resisters in Canada -- not just Kyle Snyder, but he knows Snyder's case front to back -- and about the legal process in Canada which has thus far refused to grant any war resisters of this era refugee status. Along with a can't-miss-speech, those attending will also be able to see Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks -- a documentary about war resisters in Canada today. Paul Fattig (Mail Tribune) reports that Condon will also "give a talk about his work at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Earlier this week,
National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (at Truthout) addressed the issue of torture noting that the administration continues to deny it tortures when the reality is the White House has okayed torture for some time, "Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody." AP quoted former president Jimmy Carter declaring this week on CNN, "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime." Yesterday the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq released (PDF format warning) "Human Rights Report 1 April -- 30 June 2007" which found many human rights abuses but let's zoom in on the issues having to do with imprisonment. Those being held went from 17,565 in March to 21,112 by the end of June leading to overcrowding in holding facilities across Iraq, prolonged periods of waiting for something resembling justice to arrive, denial of "access to legal counsel and to family visits," and "reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those being held in pre-trial detention facitilities under Ministry of Interior facilities, including police stations. Several such cases were document during the reporting period, where UNAMI was able to interview and examine victims of physical abuse shortly following their release or following their conviction and transfer to a Ministry of Justice prison." So torture and abuse is alive and well in Iraq. For all the Bully Boy's grand words of creating a torture free Iraq, Abu Ghraib (and other earlier, less well known events) demonstrated that the US will torture so it's no surprise that the Iraqis placed in charge (by the US and its puppets) will as well. Dropping back to the snapshot on September 6th:

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security".

The US is as aware of what's going on as is the United Nations -- in fact the US is aware of their own tactics and, if the United Nations knows about the US tactics, it's doubtful they would report them.
Joshua Partlow and Column Lynch (Washington Post) report today that the UN report was ready months ago (August) "but release of the final version was delayed for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official." Of course, the delay was really to make sure nothing flashed a little reality while Crocker and David Petraeus were in the midst of Operation Happy Talk on Congress. But the reality is that, forget what the US itself does, torture being conducted by Iraqis placed in charge -- known torture -- reflects back to the US and turning a blind eye does not make it any less culpable of War Crimes charges for the torture.

Sticking with war crimes, yesterday
Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the mercenary company Blackwater USA. More information can be found here at CCR and in Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' "EXCLUSIVE - Family Members of Slain Iraqis Sue Blackwater USA for Deadly Baghdad Shooting" (Democracy Now!) from yesterday. The lawsuit is over the September 16th Baghdad slaughter where Blackwater employees killed as many as 17 Iraqi civilians. Anne Penketh (Independent of London) quotes Ivana Vuco ("the most senior UN human rights officer in Iraq") declaring, "For us, it's a human rights issue. We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed" and -- pay attention because this applies to torture as well -- there is a "responbility to investigate, supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing." "I don't recall" and "To the best of my memory" may have allowed the Reagan administration to avoid convictions but possibly Bully Boy should just stick with the classic "I am not a crook"?

Stayin with the UN report and human rights issues, one of the key areas to emerge in the report is Kurdistan which -- despite the p.r. hype -- has never been 'safe.' Human rights organizations have long been documenting the problems in the northern region. The new UN report (
PDF warning) notes the 'peaceful region':The human rights situation in the Kurdistan region remains of concern in a number of areas, including continuing incidents involving violence against women, the abuse of detainees and the prolonged detention without charge or trial of hundreds of detainees held on suspicion of terror-related offences. UNAMI is encouraged, however, by sveral measures adopted by the KRG authorities in recent months in an effort to address some of these concerns, including the review of long-standing detention practices followed by the regional authorities' security forces. UNAMI hopes that such measures, if seriously followed up, would pave the way for greater accountability for government officials suspected or known to have abused their authority.Along with the targeting of journalists (and the Kurdish response that 646 licenses have been given to news outlets -- and how that has nothing to do with the targeting -- arrests and detentions -- of journalists) and the persecution of Assyrians and Turkoman, the region has an 18% increase in violence against women ("15 deaths caused by blunt objects, 87 deaths by burning and 15 deaths by shooting for the first quarter of 2007; for the second quarter, there were 8 deaths caused by blunt objects, 108 deaths by burning and 21 deaths by shooting"), a serious lack of punishments for these deaths (both in arrests and -- when the rare arrest is made -- in sentencing). The situation for women throughout Iraq is awful. Earlier this week, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Article 41 in the still unfinalized constitution which "women's rights activists and legal scholars" argue "opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, 'I divorce you,' three times" while Basra is demonstrating "signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month" -- over "what the women wear or because they are using makeup." It smells like 'freedom' to Bully Boy and Laura Bush. To the rest of the world, it smells like something else.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .


AFP reports, "Iraqi civilians bore the brunt Friday of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr, as a US air raid killed 15 women and children, and a sinister suicide attack on a playground shocked a northern town." This is the attack noted in yesterday's snapshot. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes this is "one of the highest civilian death tolls acknowledged by the military since the March 2003 invasion" and also notes the playground attack which claimed the lives of 2 children with seveteen wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (Iraqi police officers) and left fifteen more injured and a Salahuddin bombing ("inside a bag of flour on a handcart") in which "[a] woman was killed and 16 people most of them children".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in an attack in Qadisiyah. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead and his wife injured in a home invasion in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Mahaweel.

Torture, bombings, lack of potable water, cholera, what else?
Reuters reports the latest issue, "The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or ogans of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency."

Turning to US politics. As
Cedric and Wally noted yesterday US Senator Barack Obama who would like to be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president has a new "trust me" campaign. Having repeatedly run on the fact that he was against the illegal war in 2002 but unable to vote because he wasn't in the Congress, he's now taking Senator Hillary Clinton -- who would also like to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee -- to task for voting for what some see as an authorization for war on Iraqn. Obama is highly offended by Clinton's recent vote in the Senate. So offended that some might wonder how he voted? Answer: He didn't vote. He's taking her to task for what is a bad vote but he didn't care enough about the issue to be present to vote. That's leadership?

Leadership? Let's turn to other non-leaders. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday,
David Swanson (AfterDowningSt) noted Pelosi's latest bits of insanity including her despair that people would protest outside her mansion ("If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering!" hissed our modern day Marie) and how people like her weren't "advocates. We are leaders." Rebecca noted in her post to Pelosi, "poor nancy. oh the horror! in her botox mansion with americans outside! she might have been so troubled by the sight that her frozen face almost registered emotion. the horror! 'they are advocates,' sputters the cowardly trash, 'we are leaders!' well where the hell are you leading the country, princess crap?" Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan notes (at CounterPunch) that Pelosi's attitude "is truly the problem with what was once a Representative Republic and now is a country run by 'elected' officials who believe that they, indvidually and collectively, are above any accountability and are not answerable to their constituents. Our public servants erroneously believe that they are leaders! . . . No, Ms. Pelosi, you are not a leader. You have proven time and again in what you laughably believe is a 'mistake' free run as Speaker of a Democratic House that you will do anything to protect an Imperial Presidency to the detriment of this Nation and the world, particularly the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This Democratic Congress supported BushCo's disastrous and deadly surge; handed him over billions of their constituent's tax dollars to wage this murder; have by their silence and votes countenanced an invasion of another country; approved more restrictions on the rights of the citizenry to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure; Ms. Pelosi does not even know if 'torture' (which violates international law and the 8th Amendment in our Bill of Rights) is an impeachable offense; and worst of all the impeachment clauses were taken 'off the table' in an ongoing partnership with BushCo to make the office of the presidency a Congressionally protected crime conglomerate that is rapidly sending this Nation down a crap-hold of fascism."

Meanwhile the Dems in leadership are crying.
David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) notes that there is "tension between Democratic lawmakers and their base" and provides the opportunity for Dems to once again blame the voters as opposed to taking a look at their own actions. The Republican base gets frustrated with their leadership all the time. And Republicans generally respond to that. They don't blame the base, they don't whine about the base, they don't publicly insult the base. But, taking the lead from Pelosi, Democrats in Congress have no problem hectoring and trashing the voters who put them in power. When you have to make non-stop excuses for your actions, then the problem is probably you and not the base. When you're so ineffectual that you continue to cite the minimum wage nonsense as your point of pride (blood money because Dems snuck it into an Iraq bill), you've got nothing to be proud of. Instead of whining at and blaming the base, Democrats in Congress need to grow up real damn quick and grasp that the 2008 elections that they feel are the end-all-be-all are not going to benefit from the repeated trashing of Democratic voters. Leadership needs to take some accountability and Pelosi especially needs to stop trashing Democratic voters publicly.

And for those who don't get how weak Congressional Dems have been, note
this from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (Democracy Now!):

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about wiretapping, the controversy now, the frustration that people have with the Democrats, supposedly the opposition party, going along with the Republicans.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, the background is that after 9/11, as we all know now, Bush gave the military the authority to wiretap phone calls without warrants, in defiance of a 1978 law that required warrants for that situation. And he used a very aggressive legal theory about the President's powers as commander-in-chief to bypass laws at his own discretion. Because that program was only legal if that theory were true, that meant that the fact that they did this set a precedent that says that theory is true, and future presidents will be able to cite that precedent when they want to evade any other law that restricts their own authority.
So now, going forward, one of the ways this agenda has been able to be so successfully implemented was that there was no resistance from Congress. At the very moment there was this stronger push coming out of the Vice President's office to expand the presidential power as an end to itself in any way possible, because of one-party rule for six years and because of the atmosphere of crisis after 9/11, there was no push back. And that's how the ball was moved so far down the field.
And one of the things that's been very interesting about the last year is now we have split control of government again, and so the question was, how is that going to change things? And what we've seen from the Protect America Act in August and the dynamic going forward is that even with split control of government, the dynamic is still there. Congress is just as it was for the first twenty or thirty years of the Cold War, when the original imperial presidency was growing under presidents of both parties, by the way. Congress is again unwilling to push back against the White House's assertion that it needs ever more authority, and checks and balances will result in bloodshed. And so, I think, going forward, that you can see that this dynamic is going to be with us. And, of course, two years from now, we may have one-party control of government again, the other party, but that will just sort of hurl us further down this path, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of the President seeking to protect those in the corporate world who go along with his policies -- well, first of all, obviously, there was the retroactive immunity to the airline companies after 9/11 for their failure to act to provide a kind of security on their planes, giving them immunity from any possible lawsuits, and now this effort by the administration to try to provide retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that went along with his surveillance program.

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, and what this is, is because Congress has demonstrated that it's really not going to do anything about the basic fact that the President asserted he could bypass a law and then he acted on that assertion, and, you know, that established he can do that, or whoever else is president at any given moment from now on can do that, that the one sort of last place where critics of this sort of extraordinary development could still have some traction was the lawsuit against the companies, which had also evidently broken privacy laws by going along with this. So, by seeking retroactive immunity, it's sort of the last place closing off the possibility of accountability.

Meanwhile the
Illinois Green Party holds a fall membership meeting Crystal Lake, IL October 13th and 14th at the McHenry County College.

Candidates in attendance will hold a press conference Saturday from 1 to 2 pm at McHenry County College and they include:Kent Mesplay (Presidential)Jerome Pohlen (U.S. Congress, 3rd District)Moe Shanfield (U.S. Congress, 9th District)Dave Kalbfleisch (U.S. Congress, 10th District)Rodger Jennings ( U.S. Congress, 12th District)Steve Alesch (U.S. Congress, 13th District)Tony Cox (State Representative, 9th District)Kevin O'Connor (State Representative, 41st District)Sandy Lezon (State Representative, 50th District) Charlie Howe (State Representative, 115th District) James Geocaris (McHenry County Board, 3rd District)

On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets,
NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.