Good evening. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!
Sami Al-Arian Sentenced to 18 More Months in Jail
In Florida, a federal judge has sentenced the Palestinian professor and activist Sami Al Arian to another 18 months in prison. Al-Arian has been at the center of one of the most closely watched -- and controversial -- post 9/11 prosecutions. He was arrested over three years ago and accused of being a leader of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. In December a jury acquitted him of eight of the 17 federal charges against him and the jury deadlocked on the rest. The verdict was a major defeat for Bush administration prosecutors. Last month Al-Arian signed a plea agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser version of one of the charges and be deported.
Elaine's got a really interesting take on this. I think she's got some good points so I'll just toss to her on it. Check out Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts. By the way, if you noticed this went up late, it did. That's because we really wanted to note Betty's "Thomas Friedman's Trash Dump Psuedo Politics." That's her latest chapter so be sure and read it! :D
The other reason I'm late is because Cedric and me are talking about WBAI's Law and Disorder and wanted to go over it together. Also Ava put up a heads up to The Charlie Rose Show (PBS) tonight because one of the guests is Katrina vanden Heuvel. Ava noted that Tracey and some woman named Trina were among the KvH fans. Who's this Trina?
(I'm joking. That's my ma. Who took Saturday off, by the way. C.I. really asked everyone to take time for themselves because we were already doing the protest and march and we'd packed in fun Friday night.)
Bush: Iraq At A Turning Point (Again)
Meanwhile President Bush announced on Monday that the formation of a new Iraqi government marks a turning point in the war. His comments came three years to the day after he proclaimed that major combat operations were over while standing under a banner that read Mission Accomplished. On Monday he spoke briefly on the White Hose lawn while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom had just returned from Iraq. "We believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens and it's a new chapter in our partnership," Bush said. "The secretaries began building this new partnership during their trip. In other words, the Iraqi leaders saw that we are committed to helping them succeed." This doesn't mark the first time the president has declared Iraq has reached a turning point. He did so back in June 2004 when the occupying U.S. forces announced they would transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. Bush also said the 2005 election in Iraq would mark a turning point.
Bully Boy loves his non-existant turning points. I think he still believes the country has trust in him. He's lost too many people for his silly spin to work. At least I hope that's the case.
Over 1.5 Million March in MayDay Immigration Protests
Over 1.5 million people took part in May Day demonstrations to support immigrant rights in one of the largest days of protest in the country’s history. Across the nation immigrants refused to go to work or school in what was dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." Major demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country. In Chicago organizers said up to 700,000 people took to the streets. Over a half million marched in Los Angeles. In Denver, at least 75,000 people -- about one-sixth of the city’s population -- participated in a march on the state capitol. 50,000 people gathered in a series of protests in Florida. In New York City, over 100,000 marched from Union Square down Broadway. Thousands of businesses closed for at least part of the day in solidarity. Students walked out of classes across the country. In Los Angeles about one in every four students was absent. In Chicago as many as one-third of students didn't go to school. The Associated Press reported at least 1.1 million people took part in the protests but that estimate was based solely on police accounts. Organizers in several cities said the turnout would have been even larger but many undocumented immigrants were afraid to come out following recent immigration raids.
Now I put that item last. I talked it about yesterday but it's still newsworthy. Reason it's last is I want to use it to segue into MayDay talk. WBAI's Law and Disorder Monday did a really interesting discussion on MayDay. One guest was 96 y.o. and Cedric really enjoyed her. She was a great guest and he's going to write about her (Annette Rubenstein) so head over to Cedric's Big Mix to hear about that. In fact, he's already probably got his post up or is about to.
So what was MayDay? It was a worker's holiday. A real holiday. Like Thanksgiving because you celebrate Thanksgiving the way you want. Think about it because Fourth of July, you're supposed to do this or that, go see fireworks, set some off. Memorial Day, you're supposed to think about those who lost their lives. Easter and Christmas (if you celeberate) are about Jesus.
Thanksgiving? It's you doing what you want. You get together with your family if that's your thing (and that can be friends -- friends can make up your family) or you say, "I'm sleeping in and just going to sit in front of the TV, eat a TV dinner" or whatever your thing is. Even people who complain about their families and about visiting them, they don't have to visit. They can think of a good lie to get out of it. I have a brother who always gets out of it. And no one ever believes the lie. He'll come over around five and spend the evening hanging out and all. But we all know he's just doing his own thing and making excuses. It's cool.
"Wait, we got Labor Day!"
Labor Day was created to steal attention from MayDay. MayDay was the workers' holiday where they talked about what they wanted, celeberated the way they wanted. MayDay still is a holiday, all over the world, just not here. (But we could change that.) Instead of MayDay, the government tried to invent Law Day. Then they came up with Labor Day. Like it was a gift.
Populists and progressives and communists andd socialists and other workers could just come together for this day. It was too much of a threat so they tried to distract everybody with Law Day and tried to smear everyone for being a communist or a socialist (whether they were or not, but I don't think there was any law against being a communist).
There was a guest who came on after the discussion and wrote his name down, Stanley Aronowitz. He was really interesting. He and the Michaels (Ratner and Smith) talked about how different politicians co-opted movements into the Democratic Party. I remember JFK and that may be just because he's probably the only name I knew. :D But JFK, the only one I remember, actually didn't appear to co-opt so much as people wanted a change from what they said. But like others did co-opt. And Aronowitz made the point that people go along with the compromise but end up getting burned. There was a quote about how the Democratic Party was the second party of big business. (And I screwed that up. Want to know how bad? Go listen to Law and Disorder.) But I mean, that thing we highlighted at The Third Estate Sunday Review with Naomi Klein on Democracy Now! is something to really think about. Klein was saying that we need to push and press on and we didn't. We let John Kerry play safe and where did it get us? I'm with C.I., no one has a lock on vote. You want my vote, you better show me something. And it's an election year and I'm not seeing zilch.
I agree with Michael Ratner about the Democratic Party. They've really done nothing. He's talked about that before, how they were no help on the torture issue. They're so busy playing it safe and passing bankruptcy bills that hurt the average person that they're not serving anyone.
Hairs on the back of my neck will always go up when someone downs Ted Kennedy because he's one of my senators and he's stood up some over the years. I could have a lot worse. But even Ted Kennedy's been disappointing. But with him, probably cause I grew up knowing of him, he's a legend in my family (we're Irish-Catholics), I do cut him slack. Like he did speak out against the war and everyone in the Senate acted like he burped or farted or something and rushed to look the other way.
So listen to the show and see what it makes you think. They covered a lot of ground. (And you got the environment too.)
Need to think some more? Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
First, and important, 70 American troops did not die in the month of April. As Elaine (rightly) noted yesterday, the government sits on its figures (which are questioned by many as is). So the reports were that 70 died in the month of April. The reality, that the administration attempts to sneak out, is that 76 died for the month of April.
Today, starting in Australia, Jake Kovco was laid to rest. Australia's ABC notes that "mourners gathered at the Mechanic's Institute hall in his home town of Briagalong." Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that 25 year-old Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq and that over 500 people attended the funeral.
Among the family attending were his son Tyrie (age four) and his daughter Alana (11 months old). Among the music played, Murphy reports, were Nirvana's "Come As You Are" and James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." AFP notes that, in Baghdad, Australian troops held a pre-dawn service this morning. AFP also points out that the initial details emerging from the autopsy indicate that Kovco's death was not a suicide. Most reports are noting Shelley Kovco's statement, "He's just going to be in our hearts, but the SAS missed out on a bloody good soldier." Along with his wife (Shelley Kovco) an children, his parents (Martin and Judy), the funeral was also attended by Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. From Murphy's report: "Former classmates and teachers were at the funeral, standing alongside townsfolk, Vietnam veterans, WWII veterans and fellow 3RAR soldiers, many of whom cried openly as Blunt's song echoed down the main street."
In Iraq, the Hindustan Times reports that Sibi Kora had died from a landmine. Kora, from India, had been "working in Kuwait for the last eight months" as a truck driver. Reuters reports that three corpses have been found in Yusufiya ("tortured and shot"). Corpses were also found in Baghdad including four ("bullet holes in their heads") found by police and 65 that are at the Yarmouk hospital ("mostly died from gunshot wounds . . . others were beheaded. . . . [among the dead] three schoolteachers who were gunned down." AFP notes that two more corpses were found (in Tikrit and Kirkuk). The Associated Press notes that an additional four corpses were found in Suwayrah.
As the violence and chaos continues, in Buhriz, two civilians were kidnapped. In Ramadi, Maamoun Sami Rasheed's mortocade was attacked by a bomber leading to the death of at least three (with no word on Rasheed who is the "Anbar province governor"). In Baquba, an Iraq was "shot dead." This was a security guard and appears to be the same incident the AP reports "north of Baqouba," where a guard is killed and "the quarry owner's son" is kidnapped.
In Baghdad, drive by shootings have claimed the lives of at least two. The BBC notes that "a bomb planted inside a minibus" went of in a market and claimed the lives of at least two and wounded at least five. "South of Baghdad" was where a roadside bomb claimed the life of the first US solider to die in the month of May (Monday, 9:50 pm)..
At least three other roadside bombs have gone off in Baghdad today, claiming the lives of at least two and wounding at least four.Reuters reports that, in Baghdad, "U.S. private security contractors shot dead an Iraqi ambulance crewman." Though the Bremmer laws have led many to think there are no laws in Baghdad, Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" explains just what international laws, conventions and treaties do apply (regardless of the Bremmer laws). CNN reports that Reuters reports that another ambulance crew member said: "They opened fire and shot him in the heart. We are an ambulance crew, who help people when there are bombings. What did we do wrong?"
Yesterday, Barbara Starr reported for CNN on a military investigation into whether Iraqi civilians ("including women and children") were deliberatley murdered "by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November." And Ryan Lenz reports for the Associated Press on the increase in the need for donated blood on the battlefield in Iraq (which is, presumably, everywhere as defined by the US administration) -- demand "has grown 400 percent since the war in Iraq began."
Go read C.I.'s "NYT: Millions protest so the Times highlights Small Business and the Minutemen"; Rebecca's "stephen colbert spits on women (past and present) and the web and e&p don't see the problem" and "peace, participation & immigration rally"; and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY LAGGING!" (you will laugh! :D).
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