Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dave Zirin on reilgious Rockies, Iraq and more

In "My interview with Kat," we discussed Isaiah's art and Kat mentioned this one but I forgot to provide a link:

Mike: You cover music and Isaiah's the illustrator for the community. I was wondering what you think of his work?
Kat: I love it. He's actually working through several different techniques. If he's doing, for instance, a children's send up, he does it so that it looks like a coloring book and I always wonder if that's ever noted so I'm really glad you asked that question. "A Bug's Lie" was one example of that. Sometimes, he's going for more of a realistic mood and sometimes it's more of a sketch. I could talk about his work for days. He's really talented. When we were all in DC for the September protests, I got to talk to him about this. He was surprised that I had noticed so many things. I also love his bravery. Condi Rice in the blood fur, Bully Boy in the blood box. Those are accurate and funny. But I don't know a lot of places that you could find comics like that. Or what about his comic capturing the year 2005? Bully Boy, bare assed, without a care in the world, the bones of the fallen all around him. That perfectly captured 2005. I loved that.And I printed up "Celibacy in the City," took it to a photo shop and had it enlarged. It's a poster in my living room. I felt it perfectly captured the Conservative, Republican Woman's idea of being single in DC. The work wives Harrie and Condi with 'single gal' Mary. I love his work. I don't tell him that anymore because that actually creates a ton of pressure for him. If someone loves, loves a comic, his first thought is "There's no way I can live up to that" and it becomes really hard for him to follow up. He also got slammed, as we all know. I don't know that going to a website where you 'create' your own illustration gives you any idea of the work that those comics take or doing them every Sunday. It is a lot of pressure. I think he's very talented. His Michael Hayden comic was perfect. The face was realistic and Michael Hayden as a turtle worked perfectly.
Mike: You're a big fan of his.
Kat: I really am. Drawing wasn't really my thing. I can do it. But my interests lay elsewhere. studying it. Photography, sculpture, murals and crafts were things I was better at.

I've been meaning to note but always forget. So that's taken care of, not let's get to Democracy Now!

Bush Pushes Same Sex Marriage Ban Again
In Washington, President Bush called on Monday for Congress to ban same sex marriage.
President Bush: "An amendment to the Constitution is necessary because activist courts have left our nation with no other choice. When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution, the only law a court cannot overturn."
President Bush spoke before lawmakers and members of several groups from the religious right, including Exodus International which promotes what it calls "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." The group claims it has helped hundreds of thousands of ex-gay men and lesbians become straight.

I wish had something really to the point and funny to say here but, as usual, my buddy Wally beats me to it. You gotta read his "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY CONTINUES TO SAY A BIG LOUD "NO" TO GAY MARRIAGE." Read it. You will laugh. :D

Hundreds Flee Ramadi Fearing U.S. Attack
In Iraq concern is growing that U.S.-backed forces may soon launch a major offensive in the Sunni city of Ramadi. On Monday, U.S. forces fired artillery at the city’s train station. Hospital officials said five civilians died and 15 others were wounded. The Red Crescent reports over 100 families have recently fled the city fearing that a large-scale military operation is imminent. Last week U.S. military officials announced it was moving 1,500 soldiers from Kuwait into the region surrounding the city. One Pentagon spokesperson declared Ramadi had become the most contentious city in Iraq. On Monday the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars warned the Iraqi government not to support any U.S. attacks on the city.

Will Ramadi be the next Falluja? Bad news, it looks like it's already started. (More on that in a bit.)

Jose Padilla Attorneys Ask Court to Throw Out Evidence
There is an update on the case of Jose Padilla -- the U.S. born man who was held in solitary confinement for three years before being charged with a crime. His layers are now alleging that the government's case against their client relied in part on statements made by a government witness who was tortured. Padilla's defense team has a filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements connected to a man who says that while in detention he was whipped, hung from the ceiling of his cell with leather straps and tortured with razors.

Did they ever have a case against Jose Padilla? If they did, they should have put it to a court immediately. But they didn't even arrest him at the start, they held him as a 'material witness.'
Then there were all these terrorism charges and accusations and then when it was time to do more than talk but to actually charge, they really didn't have much. In the meantime, he's lost four years of his life. Three of those years, he spent them in solitary confinement. Sounding like Wen Ho Lee?

On Wakeup Call today, one of the guests was George Christian, one of four librarians in CT who spoke out when he received a national security letter for patrons' records. Christian explained it like this: "a letter that can be issued by the FBI and can request that the recipients help the FBI secure information, to help the FBI in whatever investigation . . . [but] unlike a warrant, there's no judicial review." Christian said that they were issuing 30,000 a year. The ACLU are the attornies for the four librarians. Bully Boy has denied that national security letters were being used to get libarary patrons' records. He lied. (Again.) These letters don't make the FBI prove any reason to

In the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, they provided an exception for libraries . . . as long as they didn't have internet services. Christian made a comment about how he didn't know how long it had been since Congress has visited a library but that basically every library offers the internet now. So there's no real exception. That reminds me of what Dad was talking about, how Congress is so out of touch.

Deepa asked a question and he used as one example a woman who's concerned about breast cancer, concerned she might have it, and she goes to the library thinking that this was something private. It may not be. Melinda Tuhus talked about how this would effect people doing research. Christian said that it shouldn't but that was another example. He also said: "Libraries exist for the public to inform themselves."

There was a lot more on the show (and I only heard the first hour and a half) but that's what stood out to me. (Also a good montage of their New Orleans coverage.) Wakeup Call airs Mondays through Friday on WBAI from six to nine am.

Remember more on Ramadi in a bit? You'll get it in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Does the lack of accountability as well?
Two weeks ago,
May 25th, we noted: "Meanwhile the BBC reports that, James Cook has been determined to be not guilty ("by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Cochester") in the death of Ahmed Jabber Kareem [Ali] -- three remain on trial." Today, the BBC reports that those three have now "been found not guilty of the manslaughter of an Iraqi boy, at a Colchester court martial." Ahmed Jabber Kareen Ali died, at the age of 15, in May 2003. The prosecution described the Basra drowning as resulting from the efforts of British troops to "teach him a lesson." Carle Selman, Joseph McCleary and Martin McGing have been found not guilty.
AFP is reporting that the Iraqi Islamic Party (the party of Iraq's vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi) has "acused US forces of murdering more than two dozen Iraqis in a series of incidents across the country in May." Omar al-Juburi, party spokesperson, alleged that 29 were murdered and cited two events on May 13: "US forces launched an air assualt on a civilian car in Latifiyah and killed six people inside the car" and "US forces attacked with aircraft the house of a civilian, Saadun Mohsen Hassan, and killed seven of his family members."
This after
Sunday's admission that in Hibhib on Friday, an "accident" resulted in the death of three, the wounding of three and six damaged homes from a "US artillery round" and the death of two women, Naibha Nisaif Jassim and Saliha Mohammad Hassan, at an American checkpoint last week. (Jassim was pregnant and the women, along with Jassim's brother, were headed to the hospital.) Free Speech Radio News covered the issue of accidental deaths yesterday with Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib taking a look at the culture of the illegal occupation. Reporting for CNN, Jamie McIntyre follows the Hamdaniya incident and notes a source who states that "some of the Marines in pretrial confinement have admitted the circumstances of the man's death was staged." This is the April 26th incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported last week "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman." McIntyre's report notes the unidentified officer stating, "They went after someone, not necessarily this person, but they set out to get someone."
Writing for Knight Ridder,
Nancy A. Youssef notes that the family's account of what happened to Hashim Ibrahim Awad is that "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."
CBS and AP note that "Pentagon officials tell CBS News that several Marines under investigation" in this incident "have made statements admitting they set out that night to kill an Iraqi."
noted by Amy Goodman today, concerns abound over Ramadi. Brian Conley reports for IPS that there are allegations "of civilians killed by snipers, and homes occupied with American snipers on their roof, while families were detained downstairs." One resident of Ramadi is quoted saying: "On the side of the main street you will find destroyed buildings, and military tents on the buildings for snipers. Be careful, if you hear any sound of fighting, hide in the side roads, park your car there and get in any house and hide, because snipers will kill anyone moves, even if the fighting is in another area." While another echoes that "American snipers don't make any distinction between civilians or fighters, anything that moves, he shoots immediately. This is a very dirty thing, they are killing lots of civilians who are not fighters."
As noted by Sandra Lupien on
KPFA's The Morning Show and by the AP, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation) has announced the release of 2,500 Iraqis imprisoned in US and Iraqi-run jails with the first 500 to be released tomorrow. Today, al-Maliki also vowed to 'curb' the violence. This as "nine severed heads" were found "in fruit boxes by the side of a road" (Telegraph of London). The AFP reports that "some of the heads are blindfolded and already decomposing, indicating the killings took place a few days ago." CNN notes Saturday's discovery of eight severed heads, in Hadid, which "also had been stuffed into fruit boxes." The Associated Press reports that, in Aziziyah today, a "decapitated body" was discovered. AFP reports the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad: "25-year-old woman, wearing an Islamic headscarf, who had been shot in the head."
AFP reports that Shaaban Abdel Kadhim was murdered in Baghdad "along with his two bodyguards." No word on the fifty-plus people kidnapped in Baghdad yesterday at bus stations; however, bus stations continued to be a key location for violence. In Nadha, CNN notes at least two civilians were killed and seven more wounded at an attack on a "bus facility." This as the AP notes that a woman died and three more people were wounded when a roadside bomb went off "near a busy bus station" in Baghdad. Also in Baghad, Reuters notes, that a woman and her husband were shot dead as was Thoaban Abdul Kathim, his aide and driver. Reuters also notes five people were killed at a funeral with twelve more wounded when a car bomb exploded.
In refugee news,
Brian Conley reports on Ruweishid, a camp between Jordan and Iraq where "[p]oisonous insects are rampant, while water and electricity are a scarce commodity."
Lastly, as
noted in the New York Times, Deidre Fitzsimons, sister of the late Margaret Hassan, spoke to the BBC on Monday. Not noted is the fact that Fitzsimons told the BBC that she "begged" Great Britain's Foreign Office for UK officials to interview the three men who were apprehended in her sister's death. Fitzsimons believes the men know where the body of her sister is: "These men know where my sister is buried and all we have left, all we want to do now, is to bring her home."

And we'll wind things up with Dave Zirin's "The Rockies Pitch Religion:"

In Colorado, there stands a holy shrine called Coors Field. On this site, named for the holiest of beers, a team plays that has been chosen by Jesus Christ himself to play .500 baseball in the National League West. And if you don't believe me, just ask the manager, the general manager and the team's owner.
In a remarkable article from Wednesday's USA Today, the Colorado Rockies
went public with the news that the organization has been explicitly looking for players with "character." And according to the Tribe of Coors, "character" means accepting Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior. "We're nervous, to be honest with you," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "It's the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs." When people are nervous that they will offend you with their beliefs, it's usually because their beliefs are offensive.
As Rockies chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort said, "We had to go to hell and back to know where the Holy Grail is. We went through a tough time and took a lot of arrows."
Club president Keli McGregor chimed in, "Who knows where we go from here? The ability to handle success will be a big part of the story, too. [Note to McGregor: You're in fourth place.] There will be distractions. There will be things that can change people. But we truly do have something going on here. And [God's] using us in a powerful way."
Well, someone is using somebody, but it ain't God. San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies, said, "You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs. Look, I pray every day. I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Be sure and check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and she's got two entries today.