Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lynne Stewart hosts a film festival May 4th 7:00PM 40 E. 35th Street, NYC

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Iraqi Ambulance Worker Killed By US Security Contractors
Meanwhile, an unidentified Iraqi ambulance worker was killed Tuesday when he was shot by a group of American security contractors. The worker's colleague, Abu Ali, described the attack: "We were driving here to deliver a case (to the hospital) when a bomb went off close to a passing convoy of Americans. They (the Americans) opened fire on him, shooting him in his heart. Their sniper shot him twice and one of them in his heart. What is his crime? We are ambulance drivers who help people during attacks. What have we done wrong?"

Who's going to answer that question for them? Occupation a good thing? Still think so? Still think that we need to leave this up to the "leaders"? C.I. can do that and everyone knows what's being talked about but in case anyone's thinking, "Mike, I know how awful this is!" I know you do. I'm not talking to you so much as I'm talking about an idiot supposedly on "our" side who justifies the war and makes idiotic comments that the people shouldn't decide the war, the leaders should. This is the idiot, for anyone who may be lost, that either lied or didn't know that Cindy Sheehan was against the war and wanted the troops home. When this was pointed out to the idiot in a comment on the idiot's blog, the idiot suddenly had no use for Cindy Sheehan and said that it wasn't Cindy Sheehan's right to make a call for the troops to come home because our "leaders" should decide this.

The idiot claims to be on "our" side. I mention that every now and then here because I think it's appalling that someone thinks the people don't have a voice. That on an issue like war, the idiot thinks we should all just sit on our butts and accept what ever our "leaders" decide. The idiot would probably do great in an authoritarian government, but has nothing to say about a democracy.

Didn't have anything to say about Dahr Jamail's reporting either. Why? Idiot wanted to be a pundent. I always am tempted to check what the idiot's writing about now but I don't want to do anything to provide "traffic." But I do wonder if the idiot's still saying that we need to 'stay the course.' That we have to 'finish' the job. That would be the slaughter, the illegal occupation.
Don't be an idiot (there are enough in this country), read Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation."

Lt. Gen. Sanchez Told Troops To "Go To Outer Limits" With Detainees
Back in the United States, the release of thousands of de-classified military documents is raising new questions about the role of senior army commanders in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. According to the ACLU, the documents show Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top U.S. military commander in Iraq, urged his troops to "go to the outer limits" to extract information from prisoners. Previously released documents have linked Sanchez to the use of army dogs during interrogations.

Rebecca just called and asked if I could note that if you want more on this, you need to listen to Dennis Bernstein's interview with Janis Karpinski on KPFA's Flashpoints. (I'm a slow typer so if this isn't up while it's on, you can go to the archives and hear it.)

Democracy Now! noted a Boston Globe article this week and I was going to try to look it up. There's an update there, so let's start with Charlie Savage's "Hearing vowed on Bush's powers: Senator questions bypassing of laws:"

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing the White House of a ''very blatant encroachment" on congressional authority, said yesterday he will hold an oversight hearing into President Bush's assertion that he has the power to bypass more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.
''There is some need for some oversight by Congress to assert its authority here," Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. ''What's the point of having a statute if . . . the president can cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn't like?"
Specter said he plans to hold the hearing in June. He said he intends to call administration officials to explain and defend the president's claims of authority, as well to invite constitutional scholars to testify on whether Bush has overstepped the boundaries of his power.
The senator emphasized that his goal is ''to bring some light on the subject." Legal scholars say that, when confronted by a president encroaching on their power, Congress's options are limited. Lawmakers can call for hearings or cut the funds of a targeted program to apply political pressure, or take the more politically charged steps of censure or impeachment.
Specter's announcement followed a report in the Sunday Globe that Bush has quietly asserted the authority to ignore provisions in 750 bills he has signed -- about 1 in 10.

The Sunday article? I didn't forget. Here it is,Charlie Savage's "Bush challenges hundreds of laws: President cites powers of his office:"

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

More reality comes in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continues.
Corpses turned up throughout the day in Baghdad. The Associated Press began the day noting the discovery of fifteen bodies. Mark Willacy, with Australia's ABC, noted 34 corpses. The number would climb further, reaching 36 corpses, as noted by AFP. Jim Muir of the BBC noted that the first 14 corpses (found "blindfolded, bound and showed signs of torture") bore the "hallmarks . . . of a sectarian attack." Al Jazeera notes the '[h]undreds of bodies . . . discovered across Iraq in recent months, apparently part of a wave of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims that has ripped through the country since the bombing of a Shia shrine in February." In Nibai, three corpses were found Tuesday ("tortured and shot"). Today, in Tikrit, "[a] roadside bomb exploded near an elementary school for girls."
Also updated since this morning is the death toll from the suicide bombing in Falluja. Reuters reports that the number killed has now reached at least 18. Reuters notes Dr. Bilal Mahmoud who says that twenty additional people were wounded and "most" remain in "critical condition." In Baquba, CNN notes, the death of one police officer and another left wounded from gunfire. Reuters notes that as well as another death of a police officer with three more officers wounded while attempting to disarm a bomb.
Australia's ABC notes the death of four college students in Baghdad. "[I]nsurgents . . . set up a checkpoint and stopped a bus full of college students . . . then dragged four students off the bus and shot them in the head by the side of the road." Also in Baghdad, college professor Riyadh Hadi was shot "oustide the University of Mustansiriya." Iraqi police reported the death (by gunshot) of Jawad Kadom -- "the No. 3 official in Iraq's electricity ministry." Finally in Baghdad, "[t]he driver and two escorrts of the deputy speaker of Parliment, Khalid al-Attiya" were shot by . . . Iraqi sodliers who maintain the vehicle refused to stop at their checkpoint.
In Najaf, families of the 15 missing police officers demonstrated demanding answers.
AFP notes that the freeing of Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, the two German hostages freed yesterday, has led to reports in the German press "that money had been paid to secure their release." CNN notes that: "The Foreign Ministry would not disclose details of their release, citing standard policy." The men were kidnapped on January 24th.
Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier killed in Iraq. In news from Australia, Paul Pardoel, the first Australian pilot killed in Iraq, suffered a death that could have been prevented, "British pilots say", "if the plane had been fitted with a safety device." The Sydney Morning Herald reports: In a statement, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) acknowledged that the RAF board of inquiry into the crash had found the lack of a fuel tank inerting system had been among the contributing factors.
Finally, Ewen MacAskill is reporting "US forces are switching tactics in Iraq to take a less confrontational approach to civilians in response to criticism from British military commanders that they have been too tough" (Guardian of London).

Leigh Ann wrote to say that she really enjoys the Iraq snapshot. I do too. I think it's great work pulling everything together and giving that snapshot. (I know it's hard work too.) I'll keep noting them here. I think they're important. Prof turned on another professor to The Common Ills thanks to the snapshots. Now he's reading the snapshot to his classes. "He" is the new guy.

Prof stopped me to tell me that and to tell me to tell C.I. that C.I.'s causing problems. How? Strong entries this week! Prof thought he would go with either "NYT: Grey Lady, check the slip, your bias may be showing" or "NARAL advocates the rest cure" but now there's so much more. :D On those two, C.I. did them one after another early, early Saturday morning despite being exhausted. (The rest of us were trying to toss something up there just to get a post. And I fell asleep before C.I. finished the second one.) I didn't get to really enjoy them until Sunday. When I did, I asked Wally (who did work on his, sorry, forgot that), "How did C.I. do those?" Because we were all wiped out.

I'm going to highlight the bias thing here, by the way, because it's on the New York Times' coverage of Ireland. But I had a lot to do tonight.

Anyway, Prof goes that C.I.'s done an incredible job with the immigration commentaries this week (I agree!) and each day, he's thought, "This is the one" but then something else goes up.
"NYT: Stolberg's turn to slime immigrants" is the one that went up this morning and Prof's current favorite.

Did you hear about Condi's new beau? They deserve each other. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DOES CONDI HEAR BELLS?" and also don't miss Rebecca's "goldie's (and marlene's) house party last weekend to end the war."

On WBAI's Wakeup Call this morning, Deepa Fernandes interviewed Lynne Stewart. She's the attorney that the government railroaded. They couldn't get her on a crime so they get her on a "guideline." She's over sixty, a woman who's represented anyone who needed representation, not just the "good" people but whoever needed her. Now the government wants to put her behind bars. She's a grandmother and she's got breast cancer.

Can anyone explain what's going on there? Where's the outrage over what the government's doing? We're talking about a grandmother with cancer who's only "crime" is representing her clients. Doesn't the government have anything better to do?

No, because they want to scare lawyers and try to whip them into line the way they have the corporate press. Listen to the interview if her name's new to you. And if you're in NYC tomorrow, from Lynne Stewart's website:

May 4
At 7 p.m. the LSDC is holding a movie night at the Community Church of New York (40 East 35th Street, NYC) followed by a wine and light food reception. We will be showing:
Point of Attack: A film by Kathleen Foster released shortly after 9/11 -- it includes Lynne Stewart in the film.
Point of Attack is a critically acclaimed, timely documentary that chronicles the post-9/11 racial profiling, large scale round-ups, detentions and mass deportations of Arab, Muslim and South Asian men as part of the government's "War on Terrorism."
Point of Attack highlights the collective efforts of immigration lawyers, students and community activists to provide legal and financial help to the imprisoned men and their families while mobilizing resistance to the growing attack on civil liberties.
Also showing:
The Struggle Continues A short 18 minutes produced by Emily and Sarah Kunstler -- interviews with Lynne Stewart, her family, attorneys and former clients. Used as an organizing DVD at speaking engagements talking about Lynne's case.
Poetics Meets Politics A short 17.30 minute, untitled video on Lynne Stewart and her Conviction, the Law and Poetry.

C.I. has seen the first two and says everyone should. Also told me to put in that Emily and Sarah Kunstler are the daughters of William Kunstler (Deepa and Lynne Stewart did mention that) and the nieces of Michael Ratner of WBAI's Law and Disorder which might make some people pay a little more attention. Last thing, C.I. said Michael Ratner is a guest on KPFA's The Morning Show tomorrow. That's on at like ten a.m. here but I'm on the east coast. The Pacific time is seven a.m. and every other time zone will have to do some math. Deepa interviews Lynne Stewart every Tuesday, by the way, she's a regular guest.

Go check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts (and I'm excited about Sunday too!).