Monday, June 12, 2006

Law and Disorder discussed Tasers plus some other stuff

It's Monday. The good news is, if we didn't have Mondays, we'd never appreciate the weekends! :D Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Three Guantanamo Detainees Commit Suicide
The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced it is sending a team to investigate conditions at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay following the suicide of three detainees on Saturday. The military reported the men hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes. They are the first reported deaths at Guantanamo. There had been 41 previous suicide attempts as well as widespread hunger strikes. Two of the men were Saudis, one was from Yemen. They had been held at the prison for up to four years and never charged with a crime. One of the men -- 21-year-old Yassar Talal al-Zahrani -- was first detained when he was a juvenile. One of the other men who committed suicide was due to be released -- but did not know it.

We did an editorial on this at The Third Estate Sunday Review called "Editorial: Administration attacks the American Way of Life." It's disgusting that Guantanamo Bay continues to hold prisoners who have never been tried. We all picked this as the "Truest Statement of Last Week:"

"We have got to wake up in America."-- Dalia Hashad of Amnesty International (expressing her own opinion and not necessarily those of the organization) on WBAI's Law and Disorder last Monday.

America does need to wake up. This is disgusting. The three who killed themselves were not a surprise if you think about how long they've been held, how there was no end in sight. (The administration now says one of the three was due to be released but was not aware he was going to be released. Some family members of the deceased have expressed doubts that it was suicide.)

Bush Considers Keeping 50,000 Troops In Iraq Indefinitely
In other news on Iraq, President Bush is planning to meet today at Camp David with top military and civilian advisers today to discuss the future role of the United States in Iraq. This comes as the New York Times reports that the Bush administration is considering keeping at least 50,000 troops in Iraq for years to come, possibly for decades -- just as it has in Korea.

So Bully Boy's thinking up new harm today and tomorrow? The entire administration should be in jail. For a much needed laugh, read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY TRIES TO KNUCKLE DOWN!"

GOP Lawmakers OK Permanent Military Bases in Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers appear to be giving the Pentagon the go-ahead to build permanent military bases in Iraq. Last week lawmakers quietly removed a provision that would have blocked the military from establishing permanent bases in Iraq. Congresswoman Barbara Lee criticized the move. She said "The perception that the U.S. intends to occupy Iraq indefinitely is fueling the insurgency and making our troops more vulnerable."

If we're going to stay forever, where do you think we're going to say? Permanent bases should make everyone think, even the Bully Boy lovers. This war is dragging on and on. It's not ending unless we demand it end.

If you know anything about Ricky Williams, you probably grinned a little at the news (I think it was two weeks ago that I read about it) even though sports writers (like in the New York Times) were trying to paint Canadian football teams as though they were a prison farm team. Here's something without the high strung melodrama, from Dave Zirin's "Ricky Williams Dreams of Canada:"

Most football fans in the United States think about the Canadian Football League about as often as George W. Bush ponders atheism. Even Canadians don't fret excessively about the CFL. In the Maple Leaf pantheon of sports, the CFL ranks somewhere below hockey, curling and flicking Celine Dion CDs for distance. But NFL executives are very aware of the world of Canadian Football. It is viewed, warily, like an outlaw brother-in-law crashing on your couch; something to resent and, in a back-handed way, envy--his freedom mocking your buttoned-down reality.
Lately, the CFL has made tremendous news with word that former Heisman trophy winner, Miami Dolphins All-Pro and ganja-smoking peacenik
Ricky Williams may sign to play with the Toronto Argonauts following his one-year suspension for failing his 420th NFL drug test. Williams, remember, quit the NFL two years ago because he was sick and tired of the violence, the injuries and not being able to chill out and smoke some weed when he damn well pleased.
For an NFL ownership that had just approached Jeb Bush about being its new commissioner, this was high treason. Its one thing if you beat your spouse, drive drunk or cave in a bouncer's face at a strip club. That sends tingles to the owners' extremities while confirming their own view that players are barely containable beasts. But decrying the very nature of the game was Williams's unpardonable sin. "I just don't want to be in this business anymore," Williams said in a 2004 interview. "I was never strong enough to not play football, but I'm strong enough now. I've considered everything about this. Everyone has thrown every possible scenario at me about why I shouldn't do this, but they're in denial. I'm happy with my decision."

On WBAI this morning, the latest (weekly) episode of Law and Disorder aired. Cedric and I checked with Ruth who said we didn't need to check with her and write about whatever points spoke to us. But we both don't want to step on her toes. I'm grabbing a segment, Cedric's grabbing one and Ruth will have the third on Saturday. Cedric wanted the torture segment on American prisons, which was cool with me because I wanted the taser segment (but would have let either of them grab it if they had strong feelings about it). I really enjoyed that segment. I think what I enjoyed most was the end of it when Michael Ratner weighed in with his opinion. The guest, Ed Jackson, was giving what was probably practical advice. Which was if the police ask you to do something, you should do it in most cases because, as his relatives had told him, they can beat the hell out of you if they're having a bad day. (His relatives were cops.) Michael Ratner did not like that suggestion. He explained why after the interview and I agree with him. Here's a reason I don't think he gave but he may have: if we just start going along with something because it's not going to kill us or harm us, it lowers the bar. Pretty soon it's not an issue of how dare a police officer do that but one of, "Well, so what if he doesn't have the right to ask you to hop around on one foot with your finger up your nose while he runs your plate, why didn't YOU go along?"

He also disputed the notion that it's the job of human rights organizations to help the police with the testing. I think it was Dalia Hashad but it could have been Heidi Boghosian (Nina and I listened in the car and I didn't take notes) who pointed out that extensive testing is required on an even a curling iron. Jackson seemed like a nice enough person and he had a lot to share but I disagreed with his suggestions and was glad to know I wasn't the only one disagreeing.

Nina was vocal during his suggestion and pointed out that he was speaking as a man and she couldn't imagine any woman telling other women, "Oh, just go along with it." She pointed out, just now about my jumping up and down example, that if she was jumping, the cop might not just be someone wanting to humiliate by making a person look stupid, he might want to watch her breasts go up and down. I didn't even think of that and I bet Jackson didn't either.

Nina was asking, "Why do they use two prongs with wires?" about tasers and I was explaining why I thought it was when Dalia Hashad started talking electronic circuits too. :D I was explaining it like the battery in a car. You have your two cables, positive and negative, and you need them connected to make the circuit. You have to have them both. I think that's what's going on with the Taser too.

Tasers are not safe. And like they all pointed out, this idea that they are has allowed them to be even more misused. Dalia brought up the African-American woman in Florida who was pulled over and when the cop approaches, she's on her cell phone explaining to someone what is happening. Democracy Now! showed that. (Showed, I remember it when I used to have time to watch. Now I listen.) The woman was not violent. But the Taser is "safe" (it isn't) so they used it on her. She was screaming. I don't remember if it was this example that they were talking about when they talked about the police officer saying something like, "Oh stop, I have been Tasered and it doesn't hurt that bad."

It's electricity. If you think of it like alcohol, it's probably going to hurt more (the same amount of electricity) based on weight and height. And like someone (Michael Smith?) pointed out, the cops know they're going to be Tasered when they're doing their training excercise and they also don't get it repeatedly the way some citizens have because it's considered "safe." Dalia pointed out that these are used with no knowledge of the victim's medical history (like do they have a heart condition or something).

I enjoyed all the segments but I enjoyed this one the most. Mainly because Dalia brought up electric circuits and because Michael shared his own thoughts at the end.

"I missed it!"

Well plan better, you big baby! :D Seriously, you can listen to it by going to Law and Disorder and maybe by going to WBAI's archives. Tony tried to listen to something there this weekend and all he got was this message about "Help keep free speech alive."

Also haul your butts over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's commentary (she's got a lot she wants to say tonight so I may beat her to posting). And check out Danny Schechter's "The 'Elimination' of Zargawi: A New Episode of the Media War" which says what really needs to be said. Now here's C.I.'s
"Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue as the BBC notes Bully Boy is at Camp David for a two-day retreat to explore the issue of Iraq today -- almost three years and three months after the illegal invasion was launched and eight US military fatatlies shy (official count) of 2,500 and after 17,869 US troops have been wounded. The BBC reports that Bully Boy's "talks are being held in a rare mood of optimism."
Not everyone is so optomistic as Reuters notes in "
Arab leaders reluctant to enthuse about new Iraq" noting various voices including Mohamed Lakeb who declares, "As long as the new Iraqi government is linked to the Americans it will have little chance to restore security and hope among its people. I understand that withdrawing now is problematic, but staying there will worsen the situation." An example of that may be a US air raid in Baquba on Monday which, AFP notes, the US military claims targeted terrorists. The US military claims they killed seven terrorists plus two children.The reality locals say is quite different. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, local residents are accusing the military of targeting civilians. Mohammed Abbas sketched it out to the AFP as follows: a local guard saw what he believed were 'insurgents' but "they turned out to be US troops on foot patrol." Shahin Abdullah backed that up noting that the local residents were used to the US military in "tanks and vehicles" but not on foot. After the locals mistook the US military for 'insurgents,' the US military apparently made the same mistake and called in air strikes. Locals gathered around the remains from the strike and, as the AP notes, one man "held up the charred body of a toddler whose head had been blown in half" from the US air strike. Reuters noted that "women wept and wailed." The "terrorist cell," according to locals, was actually a family of nine -- two adults and seven children. Speaking to C.S. Soong today on KPFA's Against the Grain, Aaron Glantz, journalist and author of How America Lost Iraq, on the subject of the cycle of violence, discussed how common place the violence is, "You pick up the phone now, you call someone in Iraq and they have a story like this that happened in their neighborhood." Glantz noted that unlike at the start of the war, "you don't have to do any digging" because the violence is so common place, the story comes to you.Such as the bombs exploding throughout Iraq.
Reuters notes the death in Tal Afar of at least six people and forty-wounded as a result of a car bomb. The Associated Press notes one in Baghdad that killed six and wounded at least ten. Gulf News notes that it wasn't one bomb, but three -- and that it is the victims were "workers to Iraq's industry ministry" and not, as reported, workers in the oil industry. A second bomb in Baghdad killed at least five and wounded at least thirteen. Reuters notes the death of one and the wounding of two in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb. In addition, RTE reports the death of four from mortar attacks in Baghdad.Corpses? Reuters reports nine were found ("including a 10-year-old boy") in Suwayra as well as one in Baiji.
Also today,
the second wave of people were released from prisons (under the orders of Nouri al-Maliki) and al Qaeda announced over the internet that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would be the designated replacement for Zarqawi.