Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One Event, Two Different News Reports - Which Is The Truth?

A rural area north of Balad, Iraq, where U.S.-led forces conducted a raid Wednesday against suspected insurgents. Eleven people were killed, including five children, four women and two men, Iraqi police said. But the U.S. military provided a lower casualty count, saying an insurgent, two women and a child were killed.

CNN reports:
A U.S.-led raid on a suspected site of terror network al Qaeda in Iraq killed 11 civilians -- including five children -- according to Iraqi police, but the U.S. military said the death toll from the strike north of Balad was four.

In addition to the children, the youngest of whom was 6 months old, the dead included four women and two men, police said.

A U.S. military spokesman said a suspected insurgent, two women and a child were killed in the raid on a building about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Balad.

U.S.-led forces came under fire as they raided the building, said Maj. Tim O'Keefe. Air support fired on the site, and the targeted building and a vehicle were destroyed, O'Keefe said.

A man suspected of being a "foreign fighter facilitator" was taken into coalition custody and is being questioned.

Police Capt. Laith Mohammed told The Associated Press that U.S. warplanes and armor were involved in the strike, which flattened a house and killed the 11 people inside.

An AP reporter at the scene said the roof of the house collapsed, three cars were destroyed and two cows killed.

AP photographs showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered bodies arriving at a hospital in Tikrit accompanied by grieving relatives.

Blankets swaddle the bodies of young children reportedly killed in the U.S.-led raid. The children were taken to a hospital in Tikrit, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Police said five children were among the 11 killed in the raid. American-led forces came under fire as they approached the building north of Balad, according to U.S. Maj. Tim O'Keefe.

An unidentified man mourns over the bodies of family members killed in the U.S.-led raid as they arrive at a hospital in Tikrit. The raid, targeted at suspected members of terrorist network al Qaeda in Iraq, netted one "foreign fighter facilitator," who was taken into custody for questioning, the U.S. military said.

Reuters, however, reports something else entirely:
Reuters reports:
Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house.

A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military.

Television footage showed the bodies in the Tikrit morgue -- five children, two men and four women. Their wounds were not clear though one infant had a gaping head wound.

A freelance photographer later saw them being buried by weeping men in Ishaqi, the town 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad where the raid took place.

The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi early on Wednesday to capture a "foreign fighter facilitator for the al Qaeda in Iraq network".

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.

"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."

Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.


Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children.

"After they left the house they blew it up," he said.

Another policeman, Colonel Farouq Hussein, said autopsies had been carried out at Tikrit hospital and found "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head".

The bodies, their hands bound, had been dumped in one room before the house was destroyed, Hussein said. Police had found spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble.

"It's a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.

Police in Salahaddin province, a heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the home region of Saddam Hussein, have frequently criticised U.S. military tactics in the area.

Police officers said the U.S. military had asked for a meeting with local tribal leaders. The Joint Co-ordination Centre in Tikrit which coordinates between U.S. and Iraqi security forces said later the meeting would happen on Friday.

Ishaqi's town administrator, Rasheed Shather, said the town was shocked: "Everyone went to the funeral. We want the Americans to give us an explanation for this horrible crime."

Photographs of the funeral showed men crying as five children, who all looked under the age of five, were wrapped in blankets and then lined up in a row. One man who described himself as a relative said one was just seven months old.

"They killed these innocent children. Are these considered terrorists? Is a seven-month-old child a terrorist?" he said angrily, speaking close to the remains of the house.

Local teacher Faeq Nsaef was also outraged: ""An entire family was killed. It's a barbarian act."

In January a U.S. air strike on a house in Baiji, further north, killed several members of a family. In December U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village, also in the region, killing 10 people. The U.S. military said the people targeted had been suspected of planting roadside bombs. (Additional reporting by Ghazwan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)

Warning: Extremely graphic images here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Globalization & the Media

This film explores how the media is involved in shaping public opinion during the "War on Terrorism" and Globalization

Globalization and the Media:
A documentary exploring how the mass media shape public opinion on the "War on Terror" and economic Globalization. Offers a wide range of viewpoints from broadcasters, journalists, alternative media activists, and news editors. We investigate the bias of Television news during the protest blockades of the IMF and the G8 summits.

Includes a shocking report on state suppression of alternative media in Europe. Discover how new technology, such as the internet and camcorders, is challenging the role of the traditional news gatherer.

Director, Paul O' Connor:
"The various United States administrations has spent the last 50 years constructing the present New World Order. Aided by its powerful military resources, alongside the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, the rules of global trade have been largely imposed to serve its own interests. This documentary explores the role of the media in this corporate led take over of the Planets natural resources."

Interviews and Contributions from:
Chris Cramer, President CNN International news
George Monbiot, Investigative reporter
Katharine Ainger, Editor New Internationalist
Mark Covell,
Rick Rowley, Big Noise Films (USA)
Sonali Fernadez, Media Workers against the War
Jesse Jackson, Black Civil Rights Activist
Danny Schecter, Director,
Emmanuel Goldstein, Editor of 2600 The Hackers Quarterly
Amy Goodman, Producer Democracy Now!

Molly Ivins Rocks!

What she said (and what I've been saying for months):
I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But best yet, Molly's got a message and a plan.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Take a Guess: How Many Are Homeless in Los Angeles?

How many are homeless in America? Go ahead, guess.

How many more are soon to join their ranks?

This week:
The percentage of Americans who were delinquent on their home loans rose to 4.7% in the fourth quarter, the highest level since mid-2003. Late mortgage payments soared in the hurricane-stricken states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

And homes going into foreclosure reached alarming levels in a handful of Midwest states - Ohio, Indiana and Michigan - that were once the backbone of industrial America but have seen an exodus of manufacturing jobs.

The number of foreclosures is expected to rise this year. The rates of new foreclosures in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Georgia are at their highest since 1979.

"This is evidence of a structural change - an economic chain reaction," Duncan said.

This is going to come back and bite the asses of all the DINOs in the House and in the Senate who voted for the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005. As it should.

Which Democrats in the Senate championed the cause of the rich and enabled Republicans to pass this abomination?:
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Not Voting
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea

In the House it was these Democrats:
Bishop (GA)
Davis (AL)
Davis (FL)
Davis (TN)
Ford, Harold
Green, Al
Larsen (WA)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Moore (KS)
Moran (VA)
Peterson (MN)
Price (NC)
Schwartz (PA)
Scott (GA)
Taylor (MS)
Thompson (CA)

Techpolitics has a table of the bankruptcy vote, which sorts the data by caucus, vote, party and Representative as well as by the median household income for the congressional district in the 2000 census

As Critical Montages wrote:
The most important vote, however, was taken on March 8, 2005, on the "Motion to Invoke Cloture on Bill S. 256," which passed 69-31. That was "the only vote that opponents of the bill had a chance of winning" in the words of Paul Krugman ("The $600 Billion Man," New York Times 15 Mar. 2005).

Remember the 14 Democratic Senators who voted Yea, to cut off the debate on the bankruptcy bill and make it impossible to filibuster it:
Biden (D-DE)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Is your representative to Congress on this list? What are you going to do to protect yourself from joining the ranks of the homeless due to their slavish devotion to their corporate masters, and not to you, whom they promised to serve? Working to oust Republicans from Congress and the White House is, of course, the goal. However, to allow Republicans who hide in Democratic clothing to remain in Congress defeats the purpose of electing honest representatives for the people of the United States who can undo the damage caused by these conservative policy-makers.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Our Soldiers Want To Come Home AND They Think They're in Iraq Because Saddam Was Behind 9/11

Do you remember that poll a few weeks back, in which 72% of our military in Iraq said that Bush should bring them home within the year?

Well, it seems that the media neglected to report the most troubling part of that poll:
The poll asked the troops to agree or disagree on a number of reasons the United States is in Iraq. Some 85 percent listed "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks" as the main reason or a major reason.

Let's see...

Bush has admitted that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11/01. The 9/11 Commission has stated that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks. Our soldiers have to be getting the idea somewhere. From their recruiter? During basic training?

Do you think the officers would respond the same way?

An Open Letter to the Red States

In the morning mail:
Dear Red States,

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California, and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of our new country, New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than that of the Christian Coalition, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that New California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at State dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we Lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Author Unknown in New California.

Happy Monday blogging.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bush to DOJ: "Will No One Rid Me of This Meddlesome Priest?"

Dana Priest. Of the Washington Post.

Bush is going after journalists like Ms. Priest, and James Risen of the NYT, for disclosing his secret criminal behavior. Like the CIA's kidnapping and detaining suspects on Bush's orders, in secret prisons around the world, torturing and murdering them without benefit of any legal authority, no due process. Or the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, and other illegal spying on Americans. Bush has directed the Justice department to investigate the criminal prosecution of journalists for reporting what your government is doing to people all over the world, in your name. Bush is targeting all journalists who report his administration's illegal behavior.

The White House has no problem with the media leaking classified information that Bush-Cheney want leaked. Like Valerie Plame's name. And Brewster-Jennings, the cover agency that the CIA created for her and other clandestine CIA operatives to work out of. But hypocrisy has always been a Republican strong suit.

This week, Republicans angrily broke with Bush over the U.A.E. ports' deal. If Republicans are angry with Bush about anything, it's that too many of his chickens are coming home to roost at one time and making it hard for them to face their constituents.

Make no mistake about it, Republicans in Congress have no intention of stopping Bush. They will do what they need to do to make what Bush is doing not illegal. They will turn Bush's actions into the law of the land, and damn the Constitution. But even Republicans are having a hard time convincing themselves that their rationalizations will fly.

The Republican committee chairs are stalling the hearings that Americans want and expect, but they have to do it before the news sinks in with most of America that this is only one of several invasive (and criminal) spying programs that the NSA has turned on U.S. citizens:
Specter said Monday that he wants Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to testify again before his committee about the legal rationale for the NSA program. Specter said he worried that Gonzales' subsequent written responses to the committee suggested that the administration was conducting other secret programs.

"The letter that he sent to clarify his testimony raises a lot more questions," Specter said. "There is a suggestion in his letter that there are other intelligence programs which are currently under way."

In the last few years, after some Bush-Cheney assault on Americans' civil liberties, I've seen Arlen Specter step up to the plate and I have had hope. Hope that I could relax and let our elected leaders do their jobs: To protect our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and then save us from the problems created by their legislative interventions. I could let my guard down and get on with my life. However, once my back was turned, Specter inevitably would cut some deal in the dark of night that gave Bush everything that he wanted. Specter would then deliver "the speech." About how no bill contains 100% of what anybody wants. About how life on the Hill is about compromise, and getting the best bill you can at the time.


The only people compromising in Washington are the Democrats, much to their constituents' displeasure.

Cooperative compromise by all parties may have been true in Congresses pre-Newt and pre-Christian Coalition. Back when Democrats, Republicans and Independents saw each other first and foremost as people and neighbors, Americans on the same side, with shared values and ethics. When civility reigned, and expressing the reasoning behind your beliefs and ideas wasn't risking ridicule, derision and shouting down. In the days before we learned civic conversation from Limbaugh and Hannity. Before Congressional Republican leaders arbitrarily and unilaterally changed the rules by which they make law, ruthlessly eliminating any and all opposition and alternative ideas before they are ever expressed. Threatening to trigger "nuclear options" if disobeyed.

Since World War II, whenever modern conservatives have gotten ahold of power, Republicans turn on everybody who doesn't share their strict and narrow views. They do not compromise and they do not yield. Opposition is not merely swept aside, it is to be annihilated. Conservatives have brooked no opposition, not even from within, from one of their own. Jim Jeffords learned that lesson that hard way.

As a moderate, Jeffords found himself in a continual headlock with his party's leadership when trying to best represent his constituents. Jeffords switched political parties thereby denying Republicans the majority. Hell hath no fury like a Republican scorned.

Arlen Specter delivered that same tired speech again after the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill passed several days ago. This time, however, the reason for his "yes" vote came with the tortured logic understood only by those who work as professional dissemblers:
Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., was in the odd position Tuesday of urging his colleagues to pass a bill so flawed that he planned new legislation and hearings to fix it.

"The issue is not concluded," said Specter, R-Pa. He said he plans more legislation and hearings on restoring House-rejected curbs on government power.

His bill would make the government satisfy a higher threshold for warrantless wiretaps and would set a four-year expiration date for the use of National Security Letters in terrorism investigations.

However appetizing to Specter's colleagues in the Senate, the new bill contains items House Republicans flatly rejected during talks last year.

Sensenbrenner has insisted that once the House approves the renewal and sends it to Bush, his chamber is done with the issue for the year.

Many years ago (I think it was in during the Carter administration), Max and I had an argument about the Holocaust: Could it ever happen again?

Max said it couldn't because it had happened. It was fathomable, and the world was alerted to the possibilities of human nature in a time of modern civilization. Not some remote period in human history, not B.C. but A.D. Not in the Dark or Middle Ages, but in our own recent memory, during our lifetime.

I argued that that was the very reason that it could happen again. Because people wouldn't believe that it was possible, in one lifetime, for so many millions of people to follow blindly a mad and evil regime. It would take the careful management of certain people and groups (or the breaking of the triangle, as Peter Daou terms it), stripping particular groups and institutions of their influence. The media.

Those that can't be bought outright (corporate media), pay them individually for favorable articles (Armstrong Williams). Embed the media with the troops so that they won't write anything critical, because they've become "one of the gang" whose lives depend on the soldiers that they're traveling with. Journalists should never become beholden to the subjects of their stories. Or vice versa.

Journalists aren't supposed to be schmoozing with the people they're covering, but these days we see them 'cavooting' with the very people that they're supposed to be reporting objectively on to the public.

In a way, the imprisonment (or threat) to today's media is long overdue. But for dereliction of duty. For giving this White House, and Republicans, and the rightwing a free pass for so many years. Today's media deserves being raked over the coals for not scrutinizing the Bush administration as it did the Clinton administration. The media deserves condemnation for abdicating their vital role as the fourth estate of this democratic republic. However, it leaves us, The People, in an awful mess.

"Then they came for the journalists"

This story and Bush's tactics have come full circle. It began with the media as willing accomplices in Bush's intimidation scheme to subvert the democratic republic (Bob Novak/Judy Miller/Bob Woodward/Valerie Plame/WMD/Iraq) to, hopefully, recognizing that Bush and Republicans are only too happy to eat their own young. It remains to be seen whether journalists realize that their only protection is to break with their tradition of cowardly appeasement, investigate and expose the Bush administration's criminal enterprises. And quickly. For everyone's sake.

Huckabee & Harris are out to "Reclaim America for Christ!"

The fundamentalist Christians are hard at work already on this November's election, with a grassroots training conference this month featuring Katherine Harris and Arkansas Governor (and Presidential hopeful) Mike Huckabee.

The Coral Ridge Ministries ("Glorifying God, Proclaiming Truth, Reclaiming America), run by Dr. D. James Kennedy, is behind this latest assault on the country:

"We live in a time when America absolutely cannot decide whether Scouting or sodomy is evil. But there are even more reasons to be diligent about reclaiming America for Christ. Find out what they are, on Truths That Transform, with Dr. D. James Kennedy."

As Huckabee makes his "Road to the White House" tour in the coming months, the media should be pressing him on his connections and promises to the fundamentalist Christian rightwingers as they never did with George W. Bush.

This time I demand to know about Republican candidates' ties to the Christian Coalition and their beliefs about "end times" and "the rapture."