Friday, May 05, 2006

Take a moment to note the passing of Damu Smith

It's still Friday, so no complaints. Elaine and I are blogging and I don't know who else is. We'll get to that. Right now, Democracy Now!

Damu Smith, 1952-2006
And finally, legendary peace activist Damu Smith died earlier this morning. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Damu spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the south. He was a key leader in the anti-Apartheid movement and fought police brutality in Washington, DC and around the country. Damu was diagnosed with colon cancer last year while on a peace mission in the Occupied Territories. He then not only fought for his life, but against racial disparities in the health care system. Damu is survived by his daughter Aisha and his legacy lives on in all those who fight for justice.

There was a lot in the headlines today but Elaine made the point that this is one of the obits that Democracy Now! will cover and a lot of others will ignore. That's true. I remember seeing him on the show as a guest and he was talking about how he was sick. Then he talked like he was getting better. Elaine said he could have thought he was or he might have been putting on a brave face is he knew the end was near. (The second appearance doesn't seem like it was that long ago.) I never thought much about that, how when you're sick, you really don't want to hear about it all the time. "How are you doing?" sounds a lot different when you're sick.

So Damu Smith fought the good fight and made his life about making a difference. That deserves to be noted. In my book, he's heroic for fighting in a world where so many just lay down or roll over. The world could use more Damu Smiths and a lot less Donald Rumsfelds.

Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
In Somalia, the Bush administration is being accused of fermenting unrest through the support of warlords fighting Islamic militants in Mogadishu. A Somali government spokesperson said the US government's backing is helping fuel a civil war that has led to many civilian deaths. Some 90 people were killed during the fighting in March -- the worst violence Somalia has seen in years.

Why does Bully Boy get to hold hands with warlords? Because we let him. Bushwhacked? Bully Boy whacked.

Tony got the new Pearl Jam (they did a song called "Bush Leaguer" a few years ago) and slid it on over to me today. That's the title by the way, Pearl Jam. (Same as the group's name.) Everybody's talking about "World Wide Suicide" and I like that song too but "Life Wasted" is pretty good. Here's the first of the lyrics on that:

You're always saying that there's something wrong, . . .
I'm starting to belive it's your plan all along . . .
Death came around, forced to hear its song . . .
And know tomorrow can't be depended on.

So what's going on? We had to do a call to talk about The Third Estate Sunday Review. (Read Cedric's "Coming up at Third" for what was intended.) Jim thinks the issue of dumb ass comic needs to be addressed and was pushing for Ava and C.I. to do that. As they pointed out, that means phone calls and more. (They do research.) Jim said he didn't care what it took because he thought it would be crazy to ignore it since everyone keeps applauding dumb ass.

C.I. said, "I thought the plan was that we'd all have an easy weekend. All doesn't include Ava and I? Do you know how many calls we'll have to make on that? And at the last minute."

I can understand why the article's needed. But it's true that it was supposed to be an easy weekend. In fact, tonight's call was supposed to be us doing a little work on this edition. The didn't happen. Mainly because a radio program felt the need to broadcast the dumb ass. (Ruth's writing about that so I won't step on her territory.)

I don't think either of them was happy. (I don't blame them if they're not. They had a review sketched out and now have to scrap that at the last minute and start calling up people who were at the DC press thing Sunday. It's a lot of work to shove onto people at the last minute and you've also got the fact that C.I. bailed on the call to go give a speech. When C.I. bailed, Ava said she was going too.) I know it will turn out as a piece of strong writing but I told Jim I thought it was asking a lot. Dona said that if the issue was needed, it could be addressed in a quick roundtable and told Jim (this is put in here with everyone's permission) that this was another example of how things are sailing along smoothly and he needs a "stop the presses!" feel just to have it. I'm not trying to pick on Jim, but I did tell him that it was asking a whole lot.

I'd help out if I could but Ava and C.I. will be calling their friends and that's not really anything I can help with. Jess was upset and Kat and Ty were like, "Are we scrapping everything?" Dona said no. She said everything else we were going to try to get to. It may turn out wonderful but I know everyone's worried. (Ava and C.I. are also concerned, this was the point they made, that if they write the feature, which they apparently are going to, it will overshadow the other things in the edition.) So who knows. I asked for permission to quote people at the start of the call when Jim brought up the "new feature!"

So that's why I'm so late in getting started.

I'll close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Yesterday, KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien's newsbreaks, covered the developing story of the US attack on Ramadi. Austalia's ABC notes that at least 13 people died in that attack.
CNN reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry has announced that "army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif was gunned down in the western Yarmouk neighborhood as he drove to work." (That occurred Thursday.)
On Monday, we noted: " FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th)." Today, Reuters reports that Denmark has decided to make no reduction, they will switch some to "U.N. duties" ("a small net reduction in the force of 530 of 10 to 40"). Later today, AP reported that Denmark was indeed going to reduce their troops (by 80). Reuters also reports that the issue of Polish troops in Iraq is something Andrzej Lepper (deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture) intends to address: "We are still against out military presence there and if it comes to a vote in parliament, we will oppose (extending the stay)," he said. Meanwhile, Australia plans to send 460 additional troops to Iraq.
Corpses continue to surface in Iraq. China's Xinhua reports that five corpses ("riddled with bullets"; "signs of torture") were discovered in Ramadi. The Associated Press notes the discovery of five more corpses with "four in Baghdad and one on the outskirts of the city."
Explosions also continued in Iraq. The Associated Press reports the death of three American troops in Babil -- resulting from a roadside bombing. In Mosel, KUNA reports, a bomb wounded an Iraqi soldier. In Baghdad, gunfire claimed the life of Maj. Ali Hamid (Iraqi police officer).
On this issue of Iraqi soldiers, John Berman reported for ABC news on the "graduation ceremony for 978 recruits" which quickly dropped to half that figure as "[t]hey began taking off their uniforms when they learned they would not be stationed in their hometowns."
Near Kirkuk (where no one wants to report from -- see oil "blaze" last week), Reuters reports the kidnapping of "six oil engineers for Iraq's Northern Oil company."
Bad news for two blood lusters: Tony Blair's having to juggle his cabinet and Bully Boy's got another poll (AP-Ipsos) to try to spin (poll found only 33% feel he's doing a good job). (Bully Boy will have to juggle as well with Porter Goss stepping down from the CIA.)