Monday, April 24, 2006

Law and Disorder, Iraq and more (including Jane Fonda quote)

Good evening. Quite a day online judging by the e-mails. I got a lot "where is C.I.?" e-mails. I really think C.I. could take a day off and people would be cool with it. But C.I. didn't take a day off. There were problems with Blogger the program we all use. C.I. did entries, they just didn't show. They were up at the mirror site for The Common Ills. So you should have checked there nah-nah-nah :D. Seriously, they were up around one p.m. at the main site and it is a headache. Me, Jim and Dona are lobbying C.I. to put something from this morning up by itself because we think it's worth noting. Now let's kick off the week with Democracy Now!

Land Dispute on Mohawk Land in Ontario Intensifies
In Ontario, a standoff between Mohawks from the Six Nations Territory has entered its 56th day. On Thursday, Canadian police arrested 16 people in a pre-dawn raid. Over the weekend the Mohawks decided to maintain a blockade of a local highway and to keep occupying land that is being developed into a new housing subdivision. The Six Nations Confederacy has been called the oldest living participatory democracy on earth.

This hasn't had a lot of attention so Elaine and me decided we'd make it first on our items. WBAI's Wakeup Call did an interview this morning with Hazel Hill who is a Mohawk and one of the people saying no more. She talked about some of the leases and the belief that they were forged with "900" added to the "99" years of the lease to make it "999." She didn't think her ancestors would've signed anything away for 999 years. I have a hard time believing that too. We don't make treaties with that kind of date today and I can't imagine anyone doing that back then. And if they were fine with 999, why not make it an even 1,000? It just smells funny.

By the way Wakeup Call's the program I'm going to mention here every now and then. Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) loves it and always wants her grandmother to mention it but Ruth really wants to have notes on something to talk about it and Elijah (Ruth's infant grandson) is too active first thing in the morning (she watches him during the day) so there's no time for taking notes. I'd told Tracey Saturday I'd try to pick that up (that's the show I was talking about in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "About this edition") and she told me Dave Zirin's a guest each week so that will be cool. But I can't do everything that's on every show because I have work in the morning before I go to campus and there will be some mornings when I'll wake up late. But I will try to note it at least once a week. Ruth's got too much cover and, every weekend, she feels like she fails because she's missing so much. She's missing so much because she's attempting to cover two radio stations that broadcast programs 24/7. So we're all going to try to help out more so when the weekend rolls around she's not left to write an epic chapter.

Army Suicides Reach Highest Total Since 1993
In military news, the Pentagon has revealed 83 soldiers in the Army and National Guard committed suicide last year -- it marks the highest total since 1993.

Does that surprise anyone? How would you feel if you'd signed up and found yourself in an illegal war? Or if you were aware, like a lot of them are, that if it was Iraqis invading the US you'd be responding in the same violent way some respond to US troops? Or if you had to live with all the crap you see over there (stuff the corporate media never gets too worried about with their cheerleading coverage)?

Rumsfeld OKs Expansion of SpecialOps Forces Across Globe
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved plans to greatly expand the use of elite Special Operations forces to secretly take part in missions outside of war zones as part of the so-called war on terrorism. According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon has already dispatched teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to U.S. embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The secret forces are instructed to carry out clandestine military activities including hunting down wanted individuals, gathering intelligence, attacking sites believed to be terrorist training camps and partnering with foreign militaries. The secret operations will be run off the books and largely free from Congressional oversight and legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A.

Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts is perfect for this. I'm going to call C.I. and ask that this item and the comic be combined because they are perfect for each other. (I'm not putting it in here because I got a lot to do and Blogger's got a message posted that they're going to have an outtage this evening.)

Law and Disorder aired today on WBAI and the segment I'm grabbing was the one with Jeremy Scahill and the lawyer Marc Miles who is the attorney for Katy Helvenston whose son Scott Helvenston was killed in Iraq while he worked for Blackwater USA.

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian did the interview. I'm just going to talk my way through this. (And I'll note for C.I., "Demi" does not rhyme with "Demmy" -- pet peeve of C.I.'s.) I feel sorry for the mother that she lost her son. And I'm sad that anyone has died. If this lawsuit helps a lot of people, great. But this isn't my big issue. I understand that Iraqis may be helped by this. If this can go to trial and the "we're off limits" position of the contractors can be challenged (even better if it can be defeated -- but it is written into the Iraqi law thanks to Paul Bremer and others), great. But it's not my pressing issue.

I feel like kids get tricked into signing up today (I'm a kid, I know) and I feel like people who were already signed up got tricked. But the position I keep hearing on this guy that died was he needed to make money "quick" and who doesn't? But to go over there in 2004 when reality was pretty clear, I feel like -- no one deserves to die. And I think, or hope, he went there thinking he was going to help. I believe he was a Republican so I'll guess that he still believed the war wasn't based on lies. But with reality on the ground there, whether you realized the war was built on lies or not, you knew it was chaos. He was told he was going to be a bodyguard for Paul Bremer and apparently that was a good thing in his book.

It's not in mine. I'm sorry he's dead but, for me, there are other issues that I'll focus on.

I don't think the "I have kids to support" line makes it more sad. People are working here and all over the world trying to support their kids. I hope he thought he was helping and doing something worthwhile. I wouldn't have seen it that way but I'm not him.

But contractors are abusing Iraqis. (Not him, he was in Iraq like 48 hours before he was killed.)
I'm concerned about the Iraqis, I'm concerned about the troops. This guy seems like he was someone trying to help. So I'm sorry he's dead but it's not my issue.

I think you put what's on your plate, even overpile the thing, but there comes a time when nothing else fits. I can feel sorry for him and if he's someone's issue, cool, but I'm more concerned with the Iraqis and the troops.

Other contractors' actions probably play into it. And, let me repeat, he was only in the country for 48 hours and didn't abuse anyone. But a lot of others have and they were also out of control, same company, in New Orleans.

It's kind of like with South Park. It's not a show I watch and I'll hear, "Oh, you gotta watch it and support free speech." Supporting free speech doesn't mean that I have to watch the show.

I can be sympathetic to the guy and if a contrator's kidnapped, I'd probably talk about that. But the contractors aren't my concern. And Tony's brother got out last year and his stories probably have a lot to do with it because I heard all about how soldiers were getting less money, way less money, than the contractors and having to escort their caravans and a lot of other stuff.
It's just not an issue on my plate.

Nina was listening to a program (and taping, I'll listen later tonight) while I listened to the tape she made for me of Law and Disorder and she wants me to put this in here. She says the question was about how LBJ refused to run for a second term and Nixon left the White House in disgrace but the Bully Boy doesn't seem like someone who could make the decision to do that.

"It's never up to an administration . . . It all depends upon what people force them to do." Jane Fonda on KPFA's Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson today.

Pretty cool quote. I was hoping to hear it live but then I saw the note on Blogger going down for maintance and realized I was going to have to rush to get this done. I'll listen to the tape Nina made. I hope you listened because Jane Fonda's cool and Nina says it was a great interview. We'll probably listen to the show next week because Nina thinks Denny Smithson has a "really good interview style."

Now two quick highlights. First, here's C.I.'s Iraq snapshot for today:

Associated Press notes that on Sunday "at least three U.S. soldiers and 31 Iraqis were killed, including seven who died when mortars hit just outside the heavily guarded Green Zone." The Chicago Tribune reports that private contractors in Iraq have been confiscating passports from labor brought in (from outside Iraq) and that General George Casey has ordered that all passports must be returned by May 1st. Reuters notes that Iraqi firefighters are fighting "a large blaze" at an oil center between Kirkuk and Baiji. Australia's ABC notes that John Howard, that country's prime minister who is saying the illegal war is not "a disaster," stated today that the prospect of US troops was conditional (and didn't appear optimistic it would happen). Ian Bruce, with the UK Herald, reports that Carle Selman, James Cooke, Joseph McCleary and Martin McGing will stand trial (court martial) in Colchester, Essex for their actions in the death of Iraqi Ahmed Jabber Kareem. Seventeen-year-old Kareem was beaten along with three others and then ordered "into the Shatt al Basra waterway." Kareem, who could not swim, drowned. Bruce notes that an estimated 30 British soldiers "have either been convicted, are awaiting court-marital, or are being investigate" for their actions in Iraq. China's People's Daily Online reports that the costs of the (illegal) Iraq war are rising to one trillion in US dollars. Meanwhile, New York Daily News notes that costs for Iraq and Afghanistan will hit $117.9 billion and that the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is predicting the cost could reach 660 billion dollars by the year 2016.
In Tikrit, four Iraqi police officers were killed during a gun battle and two more were killed after the attack on the police station. In Mosul, Sandra Lupien noted, three corpses were found and
Al Jazeera notes that at least seven car bombs have gone off in Baghdad ("two of them at a Baghdad university"), CNN reports eight (a more recent report). The Los Angeles Times (going with the figure of seven) reports the death of at least 14 civilians and the wouding of at least 139 -- Sandra Lupien noted that the 139 included "a ten-year-old boy."
Seventeen corpses were found in Iraq today, the
Associated Press reports. Sandra Lupien (a more recent report) noted at least 20 from secratarian violence with many, if not all, showing signs of torture.
Sandra Lupien does newsbreaks on
KPFA in the early half of the day, including during one of Ruth's favorite programs: The Morning Show. Please note audio reports whenever one stands out -- not all members have the same abilities -- and Lupien has four news breaks in the now archived broadcast of The Morning Show, click on the links in the previous paragraphs and you'll be taken to today's two hour broadcast -- Lupien comes in on the hour and half hour. Lloyd has reminded me to add a radio show to the permalinks -- added last night. It's not showing up. But as I dictate this, nothing is showing up. Hopefully members are using the mirror site where this morning's entries (thanks to Jess) are up and VISIBLE.

By the way I'm begging C.I. to do a repost of "NYT: Tavernise is lost in Iraq and Weisman just lost period" because I think it really needs to be noted and with all the Blogger problems today, I'm afraid it won't be. Second highlight is Robert Parry's "Bush Brandishes Jail Time at Critics:"

Instead, what appears most keenly at stake in the escalating political rhetoric is the Bush administration's determination to stop its political fall by branding its critics -- even U.S. generals and CIA officers -- as unpatriotic and then silencing them with threats of imprisonment.
Bush is trying to mark the boundaries of permissible political debate. He also wants total control of classified information so he can leak the information that helps him -- as he did in summer 2003 to shore up his claims about Iraq's WMD -- while keeping a lid on secrets that might make him look bad.
The firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy and the threats of criminal charges against various dissenters are just the latest skirmishes in the political war over who will decide what Americans get to see and hear.
The other signal to Bush's critics, however, is this: If they ever thought he and his administration would accept accountability for their alleged abuses of power without a nasty fight, those critics are very mistaken.

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