Friday, February 17, 2006

Iraq, Dave Zirin and Danny Schechter

Good morning. It's past midnight here. Cedric phoned and said, "Mike do not get online this evening. Take some time with Nina, have some fun, get something to eat, see a movie or something." I said, "Cedric, I didn't post anything about posting late." And Cedric said, "It's Thursday, you can tell your readers, 'Cedric always posts on Thursdays, you should have checked there. Maybe next time you will.'" :D

So if you did check, you saw that. I did have a lot of fun tonight. And then I got back here and read Cedric's entry and thought, "You said it all, buddy!" He really did so check it out. I did a lot of research for the post I intended and I think I may take it over to The Third Estate Sunday Review and maybe we can do a parody this week or next with it but Cedric said all that can be said factually. Tip of the hat to Ced.

So let's get started with Democracy Now!

UN Investigators Call on U.S. to Close Guantanamo
In other news, United Nations investigators have called on the Bush administration to immediately close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. The UN report urges the US government to "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The report goes on to state "In the case of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, the U.S. executive operates as judge, as prosecutor, and as defense council: this constitutes serious violations of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial before an independent tribunal." About 500 men are being held at the site. Charges have never been filed against most of them. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the report. He said the U.N. information was based on "hearsay."

I was intending to write a ton about this because this is a big issue. Usually Elaine and C.I. cover this and the rest of us just follow in their footsteps at The Third Estate Sunday Review when the topic comes up. But I got back here and made some phone calls, checked my e-mails, and surfed. Rebecca's said it all and here's a part of it:

this is something you'll have to answer for. children in a generation or 2 will ask you, 'how were you able to just stay silent and look the other way?' so if that's your plan to keep on ignoring this, you might use that looking away time to come up with a good excuse. this is a sad thing, this is a tragedy.
being scared senseless immediately after 9-11 might have been understandable for some, goodness knows the bully boy was working overtime - the only time he ever works - to scare the nation. and you may have been grieving and felt like 'who cares?'
well it's past time to care. want to make money in afghanistan? kidnap some 1 and turn him over to the authorities telling them you've captured a terrorist.some of them were children. they've spent 4 years locked away. if they had any information, it was old long ago.
in the meantime, as many of the prisoners realize that they are never getting out, they go on a hunger strike. so we brutalize them. we force feed them in spite of the fact that every patient has the right to refuse treatment. but we can't have them dying on us, not while the world's condemning us even if our own press isn't paying attention. this is nonsense and it should have been addressed a long time ago. your children will study in this history classes, their children will study it. the matt dillon of the future will star in a film where he falls in love with 1 of the prisoners or the family of a prisoner (like golden gate).
it's a travesty and we willingly tossed aside our own principles to feel 'safe'. then we left our principles in the trash can because it was too messy to deal with.

U.S. Denies Entry To Iraqi Widows
In other Iraq news, the human rights group Global Exchange and anti-war group CodePink are criticizing the Bush administration for refusing to allow two Iraqi women into the United States. The women had been scheduled to take part in a speaking tour and to participate in the March 8th Women Say No to War march in Washington Both women are widows whose husbands and children were killed by U.S. troops. According to the groups the State Department rejected the visas because the women didn’t have enough family in Iraq to prove that they'll return to the country and not emigrate to the United States. Organizer Medea Benjamin said "It's appalling that the US military killed these women's families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq."

You gotta wonder what Bully Boy was thinking there? Was he thinking, "My God! They're going to join Cindy Sheehan and all camp out in front of my ranchette! I won't get any kind of a vacation!"? He had to be thinking something to turn them down, he had to be thinking something. Well, maybe not "thinking," it's the Bully Boy after all. Probably he just couldn't face the costs of the illegal war he led this country into.

Photographs Depict Corpses, Torture, Naked Men
One photograph showed a man lying dead in the dirt with blood coming out of his head. Another showed a naked man hanging from a bed by his knees. Another prisoner is shown covered in feces. Naked men are also shown in sexually humiliating positions. Prisoners were photographed wearing hoods. Men were also photographed showing what appears to be burn and torture marks. And the outcry over the photos may only intensify. Earlier today published even more photographs from Abu Ghraib. The online publication obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation. The material includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents. According to some of the documents refer to CIA personnel as interrogators of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. To date, no CIA officers have been prosecuted for any crimes that occurred within the prison, despite the death of at least one Iraqi during a CIA interrogation there. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and other groups called for a truly independent investigation to look at all levels of the military chain of command, as well as involvement from other government agencies like the CIA and private military contractors who have been implicated in abuses.

I'm swiping from C.I. to get those links because I'm lazy tonight. You realize, right, that these aren't even what's supposed to be the worst of the photos? There's still more that haven't come out. C.I. addressed this in "And the war goes on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)." Forgot that was tonight or I wouldn't have called C.I. There's a ton of information in it.

I followed Cedric's advice and didn't bring up the Scold while I was on the phone with C.I. And reading the entry, it's obvious that C.I.'s just going to keep the nose to the grindstone and focus on what's important. I wish I was that noble. But C.I.'s always saying that people make the mistake of reading their own press so maybe that's how C.I. looks at the Scold? On the phone, C.I. was talking about the time the plane leaves tomorrow and wondering what time we were all getting on the phones for the latest Third Estate Sunday Review edition Saturday night. So I guess C.I. feels that the Scold and her opinion are unimportant. Until Cedric had reminded me, I hadn't remembered this was another week of go out on the road and speak to groups about the war and all the Bully Boy's wars actually. I get wiped out just from a trip to DC. Cedric's point to me on the phone (and he said I could blog about this) was that this person is nothing to C.I. and C.I.'s attitude will be, "There's work to be done, focus on that." It's that whole "high road" thing. But if you're a member who was outraged, I was too. I still am but am going to try to follow Cedric's recommendation and focus on what matters.
I'm tired so let's wind down by noting Dave Zirin's "The Value of a Number:"

When Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947, baseball ceased to be just a game. In the dark years of McCarthyism, as his biographer Arnold Rampersad wrote, "only Jackie Robinson insisted day in and day out on challenging America on questions of race and justice." As Martin Luther King said of Robinson, "He was a sit-inner before sit-ins. A freedom rider before freedom rides." In 1997, on the fiftieth anniversary of Robinson's rookie season, MLB commissioner Bud Selig took the unprecedented step of retiring Robinson's number, 42, from the league.
Now a new push is taking place to honor another legend in a similar way. An appeal has been made by Hispanics Across America (HAA) to
retire the number 21of Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente. A native of Puerto Rico, Clemente was not the game's first Latino but its first breakout star. Clemente was a regular season and World Series MVP with 3,000 career hits, but he is especially revered for his efforts to support Latin American communities in the United States and abroad. Clemente's almost Bolivarian reputation was cemented when he perished in a 1972 plane crash taking medical, food and clothing supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.
But the effort to honor Clemente has met resistance from a surprising source: Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon. In January, she said, "To my understanding, the purpose of retiring my father's number is that what he did changed all of baseball, not only for African-Americans but also for Latinos, so I think that purpose has been met. When you start retiring numbers across the board, for all different groups, you're kind of diluting the original purpose."

And here's a Jack Abramoff story you can sink your teeth into, Danny Schechter's "JACK ABRAMOFF'S WHITE MAN'S BURDEN: How the Sleazy Republican Lobbyist Boosted Apartheid:"

Abramoff has a pattern of first denying sleazy practices until forced to admit them. At first, he publicly denied South African financing. This past week the Mail & Guardian quotes one-time apartheid spy Craig Williamson as now admitting that the money came directly from the South African military:
"Among Abramoff's South African projects was the anti-communist film Red Scorpion, made in South African-occupied Namibia and, according to Williamson, funded by the South African military."
Why the military? The newspaper reveals: "The IFF was ostensibly founded as a conservative think-tank, but was in reality part of an elaborate South African military intelligence operation, code-named Operation Babushka. Established to combat sanctions and undermine the African National Congress, it also supported Jonas Savimbi and his rebel Angolan movement, Unita."
The movie was modeled romantically on Savimbi’s 'War for Freedom' but also riddled with stereotypes and crude propaganda.

Weekend's almost ready to begin.