Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Condi hides in Greece, NY Teens sue Rumsfeld, Wakeup Call, Jane Fonda

Good evening! Tuesday! Almost hump day. Three days to the weekend. Let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

Thousands Protest Condoleezza Rice in Greece
In Greece, thousands of demonstrators tried to march earlier today to the U.S. embassy in Athens to protest a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Police dressed in riot gear fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators. On Monday, protesters managed to hoist a giant poster reading "Condoleezza Rice Go Home" from the central Athens Music Hall, next to the U.S. embassy. Two years ago Rice's predecessor Colin Powell had to cancel a visit to Athens in order to avoid mass protests.

You know, you hear a story like that and it just warms your heart. Gives you hope in the world and humanity. This should happen all over the world including here in the United States. After Bully Boy's "greeting" last week, it just gets better and better, doesn't it? If you forgot, this is from yesterday's Democracy Now!:

Protesters At Stanford Univ. Block Bush Motorcade
In California, over 1,000 protesters greeted President Bush on Friday during his visit to Stanford University. Protesters blocked the only street to the site of the president's meeting at the Hoover Institution. This forced the White House to move the planned meeting to the residence of former Secretary of State and Hoover Fellow George Shultz on the outskirts of the campus. Over 100 police dressed in riot gear attempted to clear the street. Three students were arrested for blocking the road. On Saturday, another 2,000 protesters lined the streets of Sacramento where the president gave an Earth Day speech on fuel cell technology. 500 protesters also gathered in San Jose where Bush met with California governor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and high-tech leaders at Cisco Systems.

That's how they should always be greeted. Everyone in the administration. They are a disgrace to the country and we should never forget it. Or let them forget it. Now back to today's Democracy Now! :D

Report Criticizes U.S.-led Reconstruction of Iraq
A new report has determined the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq has largely been a failure. Nearly $60 billion has been spent but Iraq is still producing less oil, has less electricity and less water than before invasion. The authors of the report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the slow pace is largely due to bad planning and poor execution on the part of the Bush administration.

Read C.I.'s "NYT: Taking a look at the pipeline, ignoring other things" because it goes with this like salsa with chips. Dad was hollering this morning at me. I go running in wondering what's going on and thinking it's bad news and worrying about who? Nothing bad. Dad was just thrilled with C.I.'s post. He knows (I do to) that C.I. would prefer to avoid the "reporting" that paper (New York Times) that has to do with Iraq but C.I.'s so good at it. From the start of The Common Ills, there was never a buying into of the Operation Happy Talk propaganda. There was never hestitation in questioning the propaganda coming out from Dexter Filkins' "reporting." And Ma always points out how discouraged a lot of people were after the 2004 elections and how it TCI had a focus on the war while others were twisting their drawers in knots over 'vaules' voters. It's built and built because the community's never had to suffer through, "Oh, things are going good now!" because some mainstream report/lie was pushing the adminstration's spin. Today, the paper of misrecord focused on the 'tragedy' of the pipeline. It is awful that so much money was wasted (and it was wasted) but where's the coverage of the oil blaze and why are American troops being diverted to deal with that?

So go read it. Need more reasons? My new buddy who was a Bully Boy lover until recently said that it captured everything perfectly. People are waking up.

New York Teens Sue Rumsfeld Over Recruiting Database
Six New York teenagers have sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alleging that the Pentagon has illegally created a massive student database to help identify college and high school students as young as 16 to target for military recruiting. The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the six teenagers by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

If only "New York Times" had half the guts of New York Teens. Good for them. Dropping back to the mood after the 2004 elections, could you have imagined how many would be speaking out and fighting back? Bully Boy was lying about a "mandate" and the press was going along with it. Bit by bit, the peace movement builds and builds and I do think (even Jim does now) that C.I. was right to dub last summer the summer of protests. It just picks up momentum and builds and builds.

Here's some more on the lawsuit from the ACLU's website:

When Congress passed the law in 1982 authorizing the agency to create a database of information about American high school students, the lawmakers intended to assist the Department in recruiting students for the military. But the law also set important limits to protect students' privacy, Lieberman said. The lawmakers specified that the Department must collect only basic contact and educational information, must refrain from collecting information about students under 17 years of age, must store the information for no more than three years and must keep the information private. But last year the Department announced that it had created a database that flouted these restrictions. The new recruitment database seeks to index a wide variety of private and personal information about every American high school student, including gender, ethnicity and Social Security Number. It includes information about 16-year-olds, in defiance of the mandate that it only include students 17 and older. The Department has also announced that it will keep the information for five years, rather than the three allowed by the statute, and that it will share the information widely with law enforcement and other agencies and individuals, rather than keeping it private.
The NYCLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of six 16- and 17-year-old high school students who object to the Department's inappropriate collection, maintenance and distribution of their personal and private information. "Our clients don't wish to join the military, and they don't want their genders, ethnicities and social security numbers collected and distributed by the private company that the DoD has charged with building and maintaining this database," said Corey Stoughton, an NYCLU Staff Attorney and lead counsel on the case. "We hope that this suit will bring the DoD into compliance with the rules that Congress put in place to protect the rights of high school students nationwide." Hope Reichbach, a senior at Hunter College High School in Manhattan, contacted the NYCLU and became a plaintiff in the lawsuit after trying and failing to have her name removed from the lists and databases that have subjected her to repeated phone calls from military recruiters. "I opted out to get my name off their lists, but they contacted me anyway," Reichbach said. "I got involved in this lawsuit because I want them to leave me and other students alone." The NYCLU filed the case, Hanson et al. v. Rumsfeld et al., in the Southern District of New York. Named defendants are Donald Rumsfeld in his official capacity as United States Secretary of Defense, and other Department personnel. NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn is co-counsel on the case.

On WBAI's Wakeup Call today I want to note, War Resisters which is a youth campaign in the United States. C.I. links to the War Resisters Support Campaign which focuses on Canada and this isn't the same organization. Steve Theberge was the guest who came on to talk about this. There was another organization but I heard it wrong or the site's not working. Yesterday, we got to hear Hazel House (Mohawk Nation) about the Six Nation Blockade. Today, they had Jacqueline House. This protest has been going on almost two months. Wakeup Call is on Monday through Friday in the morning. Deepa Fernandez is the host I've been hearing. I know she hosts tomorrow but I'm not sure if she does on Thursday (on Friday it's a guy, I haven't heard him yet). Tracey loves Deepa. She thinks Deepa's the ultimate in cool. If you listen to Wakeup Call, you'll get why she thinks that. Plug and props: Dave Zirin is a regular guest (I think tomorrow) so you should check that out (plug) and Tracey's working her butt off at her school keeping the war front and center. I hope you are too. Props to Tracey.

I want to point out something on Democracy Now! because this was a really awesome interview and you need to check it out. This is from "Antonia Juhasz on The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time:"

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the Bremer orders. You spend a lot of time in the book on them. Can you talk about Paul Bremer, Bremer's blueprint by BearingPoint, the orders themselves?
ANTONIA JUHASZ: Yeah. You know, in the report that you were quoting in the beginning of the hour, which said that the reconstruction failed because of poor planning, it’s a myth that there was not a post-war planning done by the Bush administration. The reason why it failed was because the interests it was serving were U.S. multinationals, not reconstruction in Iraq.
That plan was ready two months before the invasion. It was written by BearingPoint, Inc., a company based in Virginia that received a $250 million contract to rewrite the entire economy of Iraq. It drafted that new economy. That new economy was put into place systematically by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation government of Iraq for 14 months, who implemented exactly one hundred orders, basically all of which are still in place today. And everyone who is watching who is familiar with the policies of the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, the I.M.F., will understand the orders.
They implement some of the most radical corporate globalization ideas, such as free investment rules for multinational corporations. That means corporations can enter Iraq, and they essentially don't have to contribute at all to the economy of Iraq. The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction.

It's a really great interview. Tracey got C.I.'s copy (C.I. had it early) The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time while we were all out in California and she loves it. (Ruth's reading it right now and I'm next on the list.) I may drop back to this interview tomorrow, but I've got a lot to cover tonight so I'll move on.

So let's talk about Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson from Monday when he interviewed Jane Fonda. That was a really great interview. The part I'm going to talk about is how she spoke about when her eyes opened (for her, it came when she was pregnant with her first child and really looking at the world around her because she was bringing another life into it). She talked about how she started connecting the dots and seeing stuff she'd never noticed before and, like Denny Smithson said, her book My Life So Far is really the story of activism. It made me think about where I was two years ago compared to where I am now.

She said it was anger and then, with time, patience and understanding. I'm not there yet. I may stay stuck in the anger phase. :D And I'll be Cedric and jump off from that point to note the entry yesterday which had mainly favorable reactions but one person e-mailed that I had no idea what struggle was.

Maybe not. Maybe so. I'm working class. My parents had to struggle and a "quick buck" is never an easy buck. That's something that all of us got instilled in us. I've got it easier than my brothers and sisters (and my kid sister has it the easiest) because it's no longer eight of us. But my parents had to struggle. The economy sucks. (This was about the contractors.) But if you're going into a war zone by choice for a "quick buck," you're fooling yourself. That doesn't mean the guy got what was coming to him, it means that if you go on, you know the odds.

That's true of missionaries, reporters and everyone else. I said yesterday that I hoped the guy felt he was going to be doing something good. I still hope that. But the profit motive appears to have been the main thing. "Quick money" is usually quick for a reason. I'm sorry that he's dead but it's not my issue. And like I said, Tony's brother can tell horror stories about all the times he and his friends had to put their lives on the line to escort contractors here or there in Iraq. And they weren't making the big bucks, not the soldiers. Tony drug me and Nina over to his brother's after classes this afternoon. His brother said he liked it. Sorry, if some didn't. (One hated it and four or five said they thought I needed to take another look at it.)

Tying in an e-mail from Lori (not about contractors, just had a question) because it fits with this (to me). She wondered why Nina tapes the shows? She said I should just get an Ipod. I'm working class. Cassette recorder is just fine with me. My folks brought that up at Christmas. A part of me felt greedy and thought, "Yes!" But the truth is, my sister's going to be in college in the blink of an eye. They've got their own bills. I'm a grown up and I don't need "Santa" going bust after Christmas to pamper my sorry butt. (I asked for a book. Which I got and loved.) I work and I go to school. I'd still be taking out loans if it weren't for someone (guess) who told me to send transcripts and I'd be matched up with some scholarship (and I was).

When I went to California, C.I. took care of that. (Which is why Ma said whether C.I. wanted a thank you or not, it needed to be noted here. I agree.) That was an amazing week and I had a blast but the reason my folks were going to take the week off from work (and classes) was because that was like an opportunity of a lifetime in my life.

I'm rich in friends and very lucky for that. But getting a new CD or taking Nina to the movies and to eat is a big deal to me. So I enjoy it whenever it happens. (And thanks to Kat, C.I., Jess, Ty and everyone else who passes on books and CDs. I borrowed some from C.I. on the vacation -- and me and Wally also got some because if C.I. gets a free one and likes it, C.I. will buy it to support it which leads to some duplicates. We were looking through the CDs, me and Wally, and C.I. goes, "Any dupes, you can have them." We were like, "Cool!")

But yeah, I could a whiny little brat and say, "Yes, Mommy and Daddy, I must have an Ipod, I won't be cool or liked without it! My whole life will end and no one will talk to me!" But did I need it? No. My sister's still in high school. Christmas should focus on her and stuff. If they were giving them away for free on campus, I'd grab one, sure. But just because I want one doesn't mean I should treat it like it's a necessity. It's not. Life goes on just fine without it. (I also got some cassettes from C.I. and Kat, by the way, thanks to them both for that. Kat's getting rid of her's -- she's keeping her vinyl but unless she doesn't have it on CD, she was getting rid of those.) And like when Fly Boy flew us to NYC for the World Can't Wait protest (thanks to Fly Boy and Rebecca) that was a big deal for me and it still is.

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush is a book that C.I. got for all of us so we could do something on it quickly at The Third Estate Sunday Review. That's a great book.

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

While Bully Boy uses current oil prices to push "the appearance of a gas shortage to push for the drilling" in ANWAR (as Sandra Lupien noted), chaos and violence continues in Iraq. Yesterday, in Baghdad, eight bombs went off and CNN puts the toll at "at least eight people died and 90 others were injured." Today? First, not a roadside bomb, but one inside a "minibus" exploded in Baghdad leading to at least two deaths and at least five wounded, according to Reuters. Also in Baghdad, the Associated Press notes that two more corpses have been found (with signs of torture). Reuters reports that Ibrahim al-Hindawi, "a senior judge in Baghdad," has been kidnapped by gunmen. Still in Baghdad, along with the bomb in the minibus, two roadsides bombs did go off -- at least three Iraqis were wounded. A "car bomb" in Baghdad resulted in at least four Iraqi police officers being wounded.
Police officers were targeted elsewhere as well. In Tal Qasir,
four were killed during an attack on a police station, and "near Kirkuk," two Iraqi soldiers and a police officer were killed. Another Iraqi soldier was killed on "the main road between Tikrit and Kirkuk" -- the oil blaze, for those following (obviously the New York Times isn't).
At least
three American soldiers were wounded when a roadside bobm went off in Haqlaniyah. And if you check the current tally, you'll see we're not that far away from another milestone: 2390 dead from the illegal 'cake walk.' This as Borzou Daraghi reports for the Los Angels Times that American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (the US ambassador to Iraq) has declared that America "must, perhaps reluctantly, accept" that US forces will continue to occupy Iraq for . . . "Long stay" is the the term that pops up in the headline. Permanent bases and the lust for the emerging markets would seem to indicate the need for a stronger term.

Go check out Like Maria Said Paz to get Elaine's take on the news.