Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Iraq coverage and where's the coverage?

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts, "Song of the Bully Boy." That was a big song, the one Isaiah's basing Bully Boy's on. It was a commercial jingle, Dad said for Coke. It went: "I'd like to teach the world to sing/ In perfect harmony/ I'd like to buy the world a Coke/ And keep it company . . ." What the comic reminds me of is System of the Down's "Hypnotize."

Let's kick things off. C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

More deaths in Iraq today, the UN issues a body count for Iraqi civilians, questions emerge in the inquiry into the death of Australian soldier Jake Kovco, and news on war resisters and peace demonstrators.
Reuters reports that 59 people died after a bomber drove "his minivan into a busy market on Tuesday, lured labourers onboard with the promise of jobs and then blew himself" and those gathered up. The attack took place in Kufa and police "were pelted with rocks by angry crowds, many of whom demanded that militias loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take over security". The Associated Press skips that but does note that the explosion took place "across the street from Kufa's gold-dome mosque". Reuters reports that some chants at the police included: "You are traitors!", "Your are not doing your job!" and "American agents!"
When even violence as the sort that took place in Kufa this morning can't get attention, one wonders how many are registering Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Don't Forget the Bloodletting in Iraq" (Editor's Cut, The Nation)? Will we grow used to that violence? Will only larger numbers register in the future? As Howard Zinn wrote (in Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal) "The only way we can stop the mass killing of civilians -- of women and children -- is to stop the war itself."

Good news, the war doesn't register in NYC. WBAI gave you "some of the news" in their thirty minutes newscast and never once mentioned Iraq. How do you do that? How do you have a half hour of commercial free broadcast time and just ignore Iraq?

I have listened to KPFA's Evening News before and they always manage to mention the war. They may cover it in terms of the events that day in Iraq or they may cover protests or something else but usually it's more than one thing.

I guess Iraq doesn't really matter to New Yorkers?

Don't forget the bloodbath? I don't think WBAI even knows there's a war on in their news department. You got New Orleans, so don't think it's because they're so busy covering New Jersey and the EPA. I thought Pacifica was the peace network?

I made a point to listen tonight to see how they'd handle it when I saw C.I.'s point (and Katrina vanden Heuvel's) because I know KPFA covers the war, C.I.'s always mentioning it. But does WBAI? Did I just catch them on a bad evening?

Can you have that as an excuse? I don't know. I listened once. I have no desire to listen again. Deepa's show (Wakeup Call) does a better job with their ten minutes at the top of the hour then WBAI did with a half hour.

If that seems "mean," too bad. The US invaded Iraq. It's been over three years. It's past time for people to get damn serious about this. Stop your clowning, stop your fooling or just admit: "I don't give a damn how long we're in Iraq."

I once asked Ruth, who listens to WBAI and KPFA, if I listened to an evening newscast, which should I listen to? I understand now why she said KPFA. Tonight was so bad, I expected to get a 'crime' report where they tell you, "X number of people were shot today, X number were stabbed and now we go to . . ."

That was honestly embarrassing. This is a half-hour news show coming out of NYC, the media city of the country. And that's what they churn out? Their big story, about three people in New Orleans being arrested for allegedly killing patients, they never even gave you the three names or told you "The names haven't been released." (Which is hard to believe because an arrest is public record unless the person arrested is a minor -- since doctors and nurses have to have degrees, I guess the three must be Doogy Howsers?) Hold on now, I just went to NPR and here are the names of the three: "Dr. Anna Pou (left) and nurses Cheri Landry (center) and Lori Budo." When NPR can do a better job on one of their news magazines (All Things Considered) than you can on your commercial free newscast, that's really sad. Rebecca's talked to me about the crap Robert Knight (contributor to KPFA's Flashpoints) has to put up with at WBAI -- people going through his desk, people going through his notes, just all this kiddie bullshit -- well bullshit seems to be the key word for their 'news' if the evening news was any indication. They did everything but give the traffic report.

WBAI has some good programs. I like Law and Disorder and Wakeup Call, but the news programming really needs some work. I listened and ended up feeling like they'd robbed me of a half hour. I get local news programs on commercial TV that are more on the ball.

Well that's their business because that was my first time listening and it was so bad I'll never listen again. Makes me grasp how others (you know who I mean) can't figure out what is news either. Got a lot of e-mails saying, "Yeah, where was that interview with Suzanne Swift's grandfather?" There's one person who reads this that's still trying to follow that show and she wrote that Iraq was two itty, bitty headlines and that she got more from C.I. on Iraq in one entry than she got in those two "headlines."

She wanted to put something out here: "If you're not going to cover Iraq on your own show first and foremost, stop using it everytime you give a speech." I agree with that 110%. I'm sick of our 'brave' journalists who want to do nothing on their own but will turn around and whine about the mainstream coverage of Iraq.

Along with news of Kufa, other news took place as well. The BBC notes that "at least four members of a Shia militia" were killed by British troops. CBS and the AP note that, "near Hawija," a bombing took the lives of seven Iraqi police officers and left two wounded. The AFP reports "a gruesome incident, one sheep seller was killed in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, when a bomb hidden under a girl's severed head exploded as he lifted it". Reuters notes the following: in Baghdad, Abu Ali al-Garawi ("head of Badr in Diwaniya) was shot to death; in Mosul four people died and two were wounded in a bombing; in Habaniya an Iraqi soldier was killed by mortar rounds; in Falluja a "police major" was shot to death; and, in Haditha, three translators working for the US military were shot to death.

And that violence won't get noted either. Even though it's a direct cause of the illegal occupation.
It's a damn shame when our mainstream media provides more coverage than our supposed independent media -- especially when the independent media is attempting to raise funds. I hear Mitch on Deepa's show and my attitude is put Mitch in charge of the evening news. He knows what news is. (Deepa does too but Wakeup Call is a three hour program and she does it 4 times a week so I'm betting she's got more than enough on her plate. But if she wanted to do it and they turned it over to her, I would listen again -- and probably every evening.

In addition to the severed head noted above, Reuters reports that 14 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya ("blindfolded . . . shot at close range").
AFP reports that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq places the Iraqi civilian death toll at 5,818 for May and June alone (with most of the victims losing their lives in Baghdad).

That's almost six thousands civilians killed in two months. You think people might care, that they might start covering Iraq like it matters. But they've always got something to jerk off too.
Maybe it's a some standup clip they want to play and treat like it's news, maybe it's some "name guest" that they'll let trash everything the left stands for, maybe it's an election that they don't want to report on -- they want to advocate on ("You be angry! You do something! We're angry! We're doing something! Look at us, chatting! Listen to us as the Zapatista's get slammed!"), maybe it's just not knowing what to do and trying to do every damn thing so that nothing has any meaning, any weight, but they can go to bed at night saying, "I worked my checklist!"

Speaking today with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, Ruth Rosen discussed her recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." Rosen explained what led her to focus on the violence targeting Iraqi women and, in one example, explained: "And I also wanted to find out the story behind Abu Ghraib. We never heard. We heard many men sexually humilitaed but if they were humilitated it stood to reason that women would have been at least as humilitated if not more". Rosen and Lewis discussed many topics including women who were held in Abu Ghraib and tortured. Rosen explained, "It does appear that women have been on other bases held as prisoners."
(More on this topic can be found in CODEPINK's "Iraqi Women Under Siege" -- pdf. format.)

I read that and had to call Betty. Kat tapes The Morning Show for Betty and sends it to her every Friday, a week's worth of cassettes. Betty pops them in her boom box on Saturday morning and carries it around with her as she dusts and scrubs and cleans her house. Does she listen to ten hours? No, she usually goes by Kat's list saying, "This is one you'll love." If she was able, she'd listen to all ten hours but she usually grabs about six of the ten. By then, she's finished ironing and hanging the laundry and all of that. So I asked her on the phone tonight, "Are you going to miss the show?" She said C.I. was taping it for her while Kat was gone.

The war drags on. Some, wisely, leave the so-called coaliton. Others get called back in. While Japan has withdrawn troops, the BBC reports that Scotland's The Black Watch will be deploying for Iraq for the third time since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to Australia, there are more developments in the case of Jake Kovco who died on April 21st while serving in Iraq. Conor Duffy discussed with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC) the fact that "the military officer is Sergeant Stephen Hession. . . . And he's told the board of inquiry that the pistol that show Private Kovco was in a different postion to what it was just before the room was sealed." Dan Box (The Australian) notes the testimony of two military police officers which revealed: "The room where Jake Kovco died was cleaned, stripped of equipment and repeatedly traisped through by fellow soldiers before inverstigators could gather evidence that might have proved crucial in determing the cause of his death." Belindea Tasker (The Courier-Mail) notes that, in addition to the above, "his clothes [were] destroyed before forensic experts could carry out any tests". Reporting on the program PM (Australia's ABC) Conor Duffy reported more events from the inquiry including the fact that including the fact that a letter from Jake Kovco's wife Shelley and two short stories by Jake Kovco were read to the board for "a glimpse into Private Kovco's state of mind". As noted yesterday, Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, want soldiers serving with their late son to be called to testify before the inquiry.

Do you know that I don't think "the war and peace report" has ever even mentioned Jake Kovco? C.I. told me CNN has covered it some. But I guess my question is why hasn't "the war and peace report"? They've got time to run after elections but no time to note this story? This hasn't been a one day story. He died in April and it's been an ongoing story. I know community members in Australia take it very seriously. Olive had a thing in Polly's Brew Sunday asking if America media would have covered it (she meant one program, we all know which one) if it had happened to an American soldier. With her permission and Polly's, I'll note two sentences: "They can cover contrators for hire who die but they can't cover the only Australian to die on the ground in Iraq despite the fact that the official story from the government has changed from one day to the next. This has been a huge story in my country and I can't believe how little the world outside seems to care."

I think he's a face to the community, where ever you live, because C.I.'s done a wonderful job covering this. The death, the family's statements, then the lost body, the government's always changing story, the funeral and now the inquiry into his death. Coverage matters.

On Monday's The KPFA Evening News, Wendell Harper reported on the peace movement. Demonstrators, CODEPINK activists, Daneil Ellsberg, labor activists and others came together in Oakland to make their voices heard, many taking part in the Troops Home Fast. What follows are some of the voices (selected by Zach, Marisa and myself) featured in Harper's report:
Protestor 1: "Ehren Watada needs support finacially, because of legal fees, and, of course, the rallies like we're having today."
Protestor 2: "If you're familiar with Suzanne Swift, she's the 21-year-old who just turned 22 on Saturday who was abused by her commanding officer in Iraq, came over here and then refused to go back when she found out she would have to go back to her old unit. She was arrested, put in the brig and is currently in the brig, and her mother is started a campaign to get an honorable discharge for her."
Labor activist: "Two-thirds of the American people say get the troops out now. 80% of the Iraqi people say get the troops out now. 72% of our troops in Iraq say they want to be home by the end of the year and 29% of those say: 'Out now.' What part of 'out now' doesn't this Congress understand."
"I'm Sara and I'm participating in a fast because I'm hoping that it will speak loud enough to people that it will stop this war and stop violence."
"I'm Jane Jackson and I'm hungry for peace."
"I'm Sam Joi and I'm with CODEPINK Women for Peace and we have to be determined that this war is going to end by the end of 2006 no matter what anybody says."
Kurdish-Iraqi woman: "I've been fasting in San Francisco actually for our homeless. These wars are causing refugess around the world. I personally know what it is to stay in refugee camp and not have a meal, to be infected with a meal, they give it to you. I have had that experience, my friends dying, because they gave them wrong food to eat."
Those were some of the voices featured in Wendell Harper's report. (Brian Edwards-Tiekert highlighted some of the voices on KPFA's The Morning Show second hour news break this morning.)

This was really a great report. As soon as I bumped into Tony on campus, I said as soon as I got home, I was listening. Tony's got an iPod and he goes, "You can listen now." He'd downloaded it. That's because we're thirsty for this kind of coverage. I don't know how it played out with Brian Edwards-Tiekert because we were listening to Wendell Harper's report but I will say, "Mr. Harper, you did an incredible job and a needed one." We need more reports like this and it was a pleasure to listen to so if you missed it and can listen online, check it out.

Troops Home Fast reports that "4,117 people are engaging in solidarity fasts around the nation and in 22 other countries" today.

C.I.'s still on the fast. C.I. says at this point, might as well finish the month. You can eat avocado or banana slices every few hours and other than that, C.I.'s been on it since the clock struck midnight and July 3rd turned into July 4th. I had trouble just handling the Fourth. I was proud of myself for making it through that. But I'm really impressed with anyone who did it even one day and if they did it more than one day, I salute you. I told C.I., "You need to sign up!" And C.I. said, "Mike, who has the time?" I should have signed up so I could be recorded for fasting on the Fourth. I think like three members in the community who fasted actually went to the site and signed up. But that's cool. I know I was doing it to show my support and also to send a message to those around me. And people were talking about at the b-b-q. "Mike's not eating? Why isn't Mike eating? Mike, come eat. " At first, people thought they could tempt me and at the end of the b-b-q, people were really talking about the war. And that was the point of the fast. It's ongoing and you can do a day whenever. You should probably sign up if you remember to and have the time so that they can get an accurate count but if you're short on time and it's, "Okay do you want me to fast or do you want me to sign up because it make only take 2 minutes but I don't have time for everything" (C.I. quote) then go ahead and do the fast and explain to people about it, talk about it.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, KHNL reports a protest in support of Ehren Watada which drew "[a]bout two dozen people rallied in Honolulu" yesterday for 90 minutes on behalf of "a half dozen organizations and churches that believe the war in Iraq is illegal." Watada has refused to deploy to Iraq and engage in the illegal war. Watada has stated: "I felt that going into a war waged out of decption, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."
Another Hawaiian, Maui's Chris Magaoay, is interviewed by Ana Radelat (Gannett News Service) who takes a look at war resistors who leave the armed service. Magaoay enlisted in 2004 and "[l]ess than two years later, Magaoay became on of thousands of military deserters who have chosen a lifetime of exile or possible court-martial rather than fight in Iraq or Afghanistan." Magaoay, who went to Candad this year, tells Radelat, "It wasn't something I did on the spur of the moment. It took me a long time to realize what was going on. The war is illegal."
Turning to Canada, we noted war reister Patrick Hart for the first time on March 9th when Lewis steered us to Peter Koch's "Brave Hart." Koch has provided an update noting that, the first week of this month, Patrick & Jill Hart (along with their son Rian) appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. There has been no verdict yet but, as Koch notes, "everyone who has received a decision has been denied."

I didn't even know about Chris Magaoay. There are a lot of people we don't know about. Some of that's because not everyone's being open about resisting. And some of that's because media's not interested. Like Patrick Hart. I didn't know he had his hearing. I remember him and his wife Jill from when Lewis noted that first article. When people fall off the map or are buried, their actions have less impact. We need to raise awareness on the protestors and resisters.

That's it for me tonight. Be sure to check out Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts and we tried Cedric's idea of using the snapshot for our commentary. I don't know if we'll do that every night. I'll have to check with Elaine on how it went on her end. But it was a great idea and thanks to Cedric for thinking of it.