Friday, March 24, 2006

Iraq, Iraq, Iraq

It's Friday at last! The weekend! And grab whatever you can because it will be over before you know it. First off, let's note a breaking news story about how the phone calls of attornies and doctors could have been captured in the illegal spying program of the Bully Boy's. From Katherine Shrader's "Doctors Calls Could Have Been Captured:"

Lawmakers also asked whether federal judges on a secretive intelligence court objected to the program and, if so, how the administration responded.
The department wouldn't answer, citing the need to protect classified information. "We assure you, however, that the department keeps the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court fully informed regarding information that is relevant to the FISA process," the response said.
The department also avoided questions on whether the administration believes it is legal to wiretap purely domestic calls without a warrant, when al-Qaida activity is suspected. The department wouldn't say specifically that it hasn't been done.
"Interception of the content of domestic communications would present a different legal question," the department said.

How do you like that? Starting to get more concerned? You should be. They won't answer questions clearly. They're still hiding, still covering up. Hands in the cookie jar and all they want to do is act like it isn't.

Now let's do Democracy Now!

Iraq Death Toll Tops 80 Over Past Two Days
In other news from Iraq, at least 80 people have died over the past two days in a series of drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and executions. In one of the deadliest attacks, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the major crimes unit of the Interior Ministry killing 25.

This must be some of that news Bully Boy's worried will give people the wrong idea and make them think things aren't a cakewalk. We should all act like we didn't hear about the stuff above. Things are going wonderfully. We're in year four because it's so much fun! There is no bad news from Iraq, only good news. Look at it the way Donald Rumsfeld would: In a nation of millions, only 80 people died in the last two days! Doesn't that make you feel better?

U.S. Rounds Up All Adult Males in Iraqi Village
Meanwhile to the west of Baghdad, over 1,000 U.S. troops have surrounded a village near Abu Ghraib. After the town was cordoned off, U.S. soldiers conducted house-to-house searches and rounded up the entire adult male population of the town. Soldiers handcuffed and then interrogated every man in the village. After questioning, each man was marked with an X on the back of their necks. One U.S. colonel defended the operation saying "What we're doing is building a Michelin guide to the area."

And this is just more good news if you know how to look at it. Yes, adult males were marked, but adult women weren't! Or here's another way to look at the above, in a country with lots of towns and villages, only one was targeted! That's pretty good, right?

Bully Boy knows the news coming out of Iraq isn't good and he can blame everyone but himself for as long as he wants but that's not reality. He needs to start dealing with reality. The country needs to start facing reality: Impeachment.

I gave a speech today and big thanks to C.I. who stayed on the phone with me last night listening to me and offering tips. I think it went pretty good. The way it went is that we divided up into teams, one group against the war, one for it. And we did our research and then one person on each team gave a speech.

I spoke out in favor of the war. PSYCHE! :D

It was pretty cool actually and not I wasn't nervous like I thought I would be. I was nervous before I spoke. After about the third word, I forgot about being nervous and just focused on making the case. This was a thing that came about because I'm not quiet about being against the war and all my friends are against it too. So this pro-group wanted to do a little debate. (I say "little" because I really think we were their trial balloon before they do a really big debate next month.)

I'd love to tell you that when I got done everybody was going, "Yeah!" Especially the ones who were for the war. That didn't happen but there were a few people who came up after, war supporters, who said they hadn't heard some point before or some example and it made them think.

I helped with the research but it was done by all of us and I'll thank Tony and Nina by name. I'll thank the rest by name if they want but I forgot to ask anyone after. I was floating on a cloud because I really thought I was going to crash and burn.

C.I. helped so much with that. I don't want to give out "trade secrets" but I'll say that one thing, one tip was about how you had to use what you had and accept it. Like if you have a bad speaking voice, you're stuck with it. That wasn't my concern. My concern was being nervous and also repeating myself. I don't mean making the same point over and over but I do have something. Maybe it's a stammer? When I'm nervous, every now and then I'll repeat the same sentence. Not over and over. It happened like twice in the speech where I said a sentence and then repeated it right after. When it happened, I did like C.I. said and acted like I meant to do it. When I caught myself both times, I slowed it down like I had meant to really emphasize the point and that's why I was repeating it.

Tony knows I'll do that sometimes when I'm nervous but he didn't even think that while he was listening. He was going, "I really liked how you emphasized those two points." I told him why I did that and he wouldn't believe me for the longest. I showed him my speech, because I wrote it out and memorized it. I didn't want to be reading it but I wanted it in front of me in case I got nervous and forgot.

It went really good but I don't know how people do it all the time. Like Amy Goodman, I don't know how she does it, going all over the country and speaking. I really had to psyche myself up to get to a place where I wasn't completely freaking out before hand. I bet she doesn't get to do that. She probably doesn't need to but if she did or wanted to, she probably can't because everyone's probably, "Oh look!" and "Amy Goodman! I'm so glad to see you and I want to pass on . . ."

What else? My parents are having a house party tomorrow night. We did the protests last weekend and they want to follow that up this weekend. That's why Elaine and me have been emphasizing Iraq. That's a question Suzzanne asked in an e-mail. She wanted to know why it's "all" we talk about. I don't think it's "all" but I do know we're emphasizing it.

Like today there were plenty of strong items in Democracy Now!'s headlines but we went with those two because the fourth year is starting and we wanted to be sure that we didn't just go to the protests last weekend and then go "Okay, we're moving on."

We'll keep talking about Iraq but we will talk about other stuff (and we do already).

Or like C.I. Take the indymedia roundup. It could be on a number of things and there are things C.I. will cover in the column for the gina & krista round-robin but on the indymedia, it's focused lately on the war. Last night's was pretty cool so check out "And the war drags on (Indymedia roundup)." What else should you check out?

How about the joint entry that Wally and Cedric did today? (Links take you to the post at each of their sights and it's pretty funny so check it out.)

And you know you gotta check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. Nina's reading this over my shoulder and goes to check out C.I.'s "NYT: Edward Wong: fluffer or stand up comedian?" because it will explain why a focus on Iraq is needed.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We started late tonight, Elaine and me. Nina and I wanted to go see V is for Vengence and knew there was a chance that we wouldn't be able to if we didn't go to the first show this evening. Elaine said that was perfect with her, us picking out our stuff on the phone after the movie because she really wanted to just go home for a change and relax as opposed to rushing to boot up the computer and log on.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraq, Puerto Rico, Chalmers Johnson and Richard Pryor

Good evening. Kicking things off with Democracy Now! and remember tomorrow the weekend begins!

Army Dog Handler Sentenced to Six Months For Abu Ghraib Abuse
An Army dog handler has been sentenced to six months in prison for abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. The sergeant, Michael Smith, was photographed using un-muzzled dogs to terrify detainees. He could have been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison but he was given a far shorter sentence. Smith is the 10th low-ranking soldier convicted of taking part in the widespread abuse at Abu Ghraib. To date no high-ranking officer or anyone in civilian command has been held accountable for what happened at the prison.

Only the low ranking get trials. Everybody else gets a pass in the nonaccountable Bully Boy administration. Does anyone remember when he was running in 2000 and it was being touted as a CEO presidency? That was before all the corporate scandals and the stock market bust. But he has ran the nation like Tycco or Enron or any other belly up company. He's made sure the people around him pocketed as much cash as possible and the investors in this soceity got screwed.

There's another point to make too. I hope everybody read C.I.'s "NYT: When everyone below him is derelict in their duty, the Bully Boy is as well" this morning. Though no one wants to tackle torture, what has been tackled is that one person after another, from low ranking on up, has been found to be derelict in some manner (including Rumsfeld) and that goes right up the chain. He really can be charged with that in an impeachment and, if we're lucky, he will be.

Court Rejects Giving Puerto Ricans Right to Vote for President
In Washington the Supreme Court has rejected an effort to give residents of Puerto Rico the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections. "No territory of the United States has ever been able to participate in the presidential elections of the United States of America," Puerto Rican political analyst Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua. "That fact only serves to underscore that Puerto Rico is now in the thinking of the United States Supreme Court a miserable colony of the United States."

So they can't have independence and they also can't vote? That's a recipe for disaster. As a colony, I'm assuming that they pay taxes to the United States and I'm remembering the third grade lesson about the Revolutionary War and the cry from what was then the British colonies of "No taxation without representation!" They can't get statehood and they can't get independence. How's this going to end? Who didn't pay attention to history?

Now Cedric and me picked out items today (and he's got an extra one) so be sure to check out Cedric's Big Mix. Elaine's off tonight but be sure you read "Musings" from last night.

Tony found a pretty amazing interview with Chalmers Johnson. This is from Tom Englehardt's "Whatever Happened to Congress?" that CounterPunch has up at their site:

The government isn't working right. There's no proper supervision. The founders, the authors of the Constitution, regarded the supreme organ to be Congress. The mystery to me--more than the huge expansion of executive branch powers we've seen since the neoconservatives and George Bush came to power--is: Why has Congress failed us so completely? Why are they no longer interested in the way the money is spent? Why does a Pentagon budget like this one produce so little interest? Is it that people have a vested interest in it, that it's going to produce more jobs for them?
I wrote an article well before Cunningham confessed called "The Military-Industrial Man" in which I identified a lot of what he was doing, but said unfortunately I didn't know how to get rid of him in such a safe district. After it appeared on the Los Angeles Times op-ed page, the paper got a couple of letters to the editor from the 34th district in downtown LA saying, I wish he was my congressman. If he'd bring good jobs here, I wouldn't mind making something that just gets blown up or sunk in the ground like missile defense in Alaska. I mean, we've already spent $100 billion on what amounts to a massive high-tech scarecrow. It couldn't hit a thing. The aiming devices aren't there. The tests fail. It doesn't work. It's certainly a cover for something much more ominous--the expansion of the Air Force into outer space or "full spectrum dominance," as they like to put it.
We need to concentrate on this, and not from a partisan point of view either. There's no reason to believe the Democrats would do a better job. They never have. They've expanded the armed forces just as fast as the Republicans.
This is the beast we're trying to analyze, to understand, and it seems to me today unstoppable. Put it this way: James Madison, the author of our Constitution, said the right that controls all other rights is the right to get information. If you don't have this, the others don't matter. The Bill of Rights doesn't work if you can't find out what's going on. Secrecy has been going crazy in this country for a long time, but it's become worse by orders of magnitude under the present administration. When John Ashcroft became attorney general, he issued orders that access to the Freedom of Information Act should be made as difficult as possible.

If that knocked you off your seat, read the whole thing. It's pretty heavy.

And here's something else to check out that Nina found, Jason McGahan's "An Iconoclast Remembered: Richard Pryor:"

Redd Foxx used to say that Richard Pryor would have been banned from every nightclub in the country had he performed his act before the Black Revolution of the 1960s. Foxx, a friend and admirer of Malcolm X since his youth, was speaking from long and bitter experience. Years before he played Fred Sanford in the hit 1970s television program Sanford & Son, Foxx was a "blue" comedian known to Black audiences throughout the Midwestern Chitlin' Circuit of the '40s and '50s for his sexually and politically explicit humor. He catered his act to the sensibility of Black underclass audiences, which embarrassed many integration-minded Blacks and missed white audiences almost entirely.
Foxx's black-or-white dilemma illustrates what historian Mel Watkins, borrowing from W.E.B. DuBois, called the "twoness" of African-American humor. Slavery created for Blacks the necessity to manage both how they were perceived by whites and how they perceived themselves. A laugh from the master could mean averting punishment, while satire, mimicry, and mockery of the master in the company of slaves could help alleviate the pain and misery of bondage. To justify slavery to themselves, the slavers rewarded foolish joviality and naïveté, while no overt act of intelligence or irony went unpunished. The richness of Black humor was secluded from the view of whites for centuries. The gulf between authentic Black ethnic humor and crude racist representations persisted unabated for more than a century.
Richard Pryor wasn't the first Black comedian to draw humor from the bitterness of racism. He wasn’t the first to substitute dazzling wit and intelligence in place of "acting the fool" for white audiences. And his mordant political satire informed by racial otherness had long since become a staple of the Chitlin’ Circuit. What first and foremost made Richard Pryor a transcendent American comedian was that he removed the racial barrier separating working-class Black ethnic humor from the predominantly white mainstream of American culture.
Jim Crow segregation after the Civil War had the effect of providing Blacks with clubs and cabarets in which to develop the humor denied them in the whites-only theater and mass media. Richard Pryor, like Redd Foxx before him, began his career performing before almost exclusively Black audiences. And like Foxx, the divergence between the types of humor suited to Black as opposed to white audiences became a defining source of conflict in Pryor's development as a comedian. He was born into the racially segregated Black underclass of Peoria, Illinois. His father was a teenage boxing champ turned pimp and bar manager. His mother was a prostitute. He grew up in one of his grandmother’s brothels. His earliest memories were peopled with the winos, addicts, con-men, prostitutes, and gangsters occupying the lowest rung of Black society in Peoria. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in his best known stand-up comedy of the '70s and '80s. But earlier in his career, Pryor suppressed his vivid remembrances of the past, believing them a hindrance to his pursuit of the financial rewards of white mainstream approval.

Now go check out Kat's latest.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Hump day, hump day -- can't trust that day. (Swiping from the Mamas & the Papas "Monday, Monday.) If I heard it once, I heard it thirty times today, "Man, I wish it was Friday." Me too.
Let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

Bush Suggests Troops To Remain in Iraq Until At Least 2009
President Bush has indicated US troops are likely to stay in Iraq until at least 2009. Speaking at a White House press conference Tuesday -- his second this year -- Bush said whether US troops are withdrawn from Iraq will be up to future US presidents and Iraqi governments to decide. Bush also defended the job performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld amid growing calls for his resignation. But Bush left open the possibility for future changes, saying "I'm not going to announce it right now."

This is why you gotta speak out. Bully Boy's not going to stop the war. That's no surprise. But now he's on record saying that the war will go on until 2009. How many more Iraqis and troops are you going to let die by staying silent? You gotta use your voice. This war can drag on and on. It's March now. May's not that far away. What happens in May? High school students graduate. You want to know that you're staying silent helped some recruiter trick some poor high school kid? Maybe she or he had some plans but thought, "This recruiter is going to take care of me." So she or he signs up and goes straight to the killing factory that is Iraq.

"How am I responsible?" you might ask. If you're staying silent, you are responsible. If you're staying silent, this isn't just Bully Boy's war, it's your war too.

You grant permission when you can't find the voice to speak out. You may not mean to but you do. It's assumed that if you disagreed, you'd speak out. So if you don't agree, you need to start making your voice heard.

White House Steers Millions in Federal Grants to Conservative Groups
The Washington Post is reporting the Bush administration has funneled millions of dollars in federal grant money to conservative groups that support its social policies. Using faith-based programs and other government initiatives, the Bush administration has steered at least $157 million to groups that support the President's views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. According to the Post, most of the funding came through government programs enacted after the Bush administration took office. In scores of cases, small antiabortion centers have received federal funding that doubled or tripled their operating budgets. Democratic Congressmember Chet Edwards of Texas called the grant funding one of the largest patronage programs in American history.

And where does the money go? Wonder why high schoolers might be tempted by lies from some recruiter? Cause all the money goes elsewhere. You think colleges could have used the $157? How about public schools? How about Head Start? But where's it going? If you're okay with that, Bully Boy's the boy for you. So go to DC and worship him. Otherwise, get off your butt and speak out.

Matthew Rothschild has an interesting thing on Bully Boy's press conference called "Press Conference Confessions:"

OK, Bush finally fessed up: U.S. troops are going to be in Iraq after he's out of the Oval Office, a day that can’t come soon enough.
At his press conference on Tuesday, Bush let slip that it’s going to be up to "future Presidents" to decide when all the troops can come home.
Hey, let the next one deal with it.
But I'm glad Mr. Mission Accomplished all but confessed that he'll never be able to accomplish the mission.
That should encourage more Americans to demand the withdrawal of our troops.
As he's done so many times before, Bush suggested that there's another turning point coming right up: this time, the formation of the so-called unity government.
But that'll be as effective a turning point as all the other ones: the capture of Saddam, the killing of his sons Uday and Qusay, the handing over of power by Paul Bremer, the formation of the provisional government, or the two elections the Iraqis have had.

I thought C.I. had a really good summary of reality re: Iraq war today:

Bully Boy's efforts at the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk (not surprisingly) didn't charm/fool this community. This as CBS announces that Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein will be tried April 5th. The CBS cameraman will stand trial (no charges announced) exactly one year after he was taken into military custody. This news comes as Samir Mohammed Noor is released (Reuters cameran) after being held for eight months without charges. And in Baghdad, a car bomb has taken the life of at least one person and injured at least three others. Also in Baghdad, at least two people have been killed and forty-two wounded as Iraqi Shi'ites were targeted on their return from a pilgrimage. Away from Iraq, Dr. Malcolm Kendall-Smith is now facing a court martial for refusing to deploy to Basra. The prosecution/persecution, sounding a lot like Bully Boy, said that the issue of the legality of the war was "irrelevant." This as "US Faces Charges of Two Massacres of Iraqi Civilians." That's a small snap-shot of where we are as year four of the illegal war of choice begins.

And Kat has a good thing worth reading. (If you're smart, you'll go buy Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun.)

There's not much to this post, I know. It's taken forever though. That's because Nina and I have been on the phone with Elaine. Elaine's got some strong points in her post for tonight and she reads it to us with "I don't know" and we're like, "You've got to post it." She better. And you better check out Like Maria Said Paz.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Protests continue, occupation continues and New York Times continues to spin for the Bully Boy

Good evening, lots to cover so let's get started with Democracy Now! and be glad Groan Day is already behind us.

Father of Slain Contractor Among 50 Arrested at Anti-War Protest
Back in the United States, anti-war protests continued to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Washington, hundreds of people marched on the Pentagon, carrying a mock coffin they intended to give to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The demonstrators were met with a steel barrier erected by police to bar their entry. About 50 people were arrested when they managed to cross the fence. Among them was Michael Berg, whose son Nicolas Berg was beheaded by Iraqi kidnappers in 2004. Before his arrest, Michael Berg said: "My son was killed out of revenge for the atrocities that Americans committed at the Abu Ghraib prison; murdering, raping, and torturing prisoners there. So for me to say look how horrible what they did to my son certainly I'm entitled to revenge well there are people who can say the same thing because there are people over there in Iraq who lost their sons and daughters in that prison and there are a 100,000 people in Iraq dead and think of all the families there that think they're entitled to revenge. I don't think revenge is justified under any circumstances. revenge is an endless cycle and it has to stop somewhere and it stops with me."

I'm glad the protests get coverage outside of corporate media because there's really been nothing on them at all.

C.I. noted this today:

The protests and demonstrations didn't end on Sunday. For instance . . .
In Los Angeles on Monday, eight people were arrested protesting the war at Dianne Feinstein's offices -- while in San Francisco, seventeen were arrested outside of Feinstein's offices there. Seventeen arrested protesting at Ron Wyden's office in Eugene, Oregon. And at the Pentagon yesterday, twenty were arrested as they protested the war and "hoisted" a "symbolic coffin . . . over the fence" representing those who have died in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice. The New York Timid couldn't find a protest. Which is perfectly in keeping with other news the paper of record misses. However, protests did go on across the country marking the third anniversary of the invasion.

The links go to indymedia and "arrested" takes you to some video so check them out.

27 Killed in Attack on Iraq Jail
In the latest violence from Iraq, 17 police officers were killed today when gunmen stormed a prison north of Baghdad. Almost three dozen prisoners were freed in the attack, which also left 10 of the gunmen dead. The prison was left in flames. The assaults came one day after at least 39 people were killed in violence around the country.

Violence just continues but Bully Boy is "optimistic." Of course he is, he's not over there dying. It's Iraqis and troops that suffer. Bully Boy? He's AWOL from reality just like he was AWOL from the National Guard. Guess who else is AWOL? The New York Times. C.I. already covered that this morning, noting that they have no time to cover the violence, just to offer you a lame non-trend story that they think is a trend (200 people in the whole country have bought 'terror insurance'). Like Bully Boy, they are "optimistic" and AWOL from reality. Well Bully Boy couldn't sell the illegal war without the corporate press and he can't continue the illegal occupation without their help. Obviously, the New York Times wants to sign up for another 'tour of lying.' Safe in their green zone.

Unlike the paper of misrecord, Rebecca noted the reality yesterday. I don't think the paper of misrecord even cares about covering Iraq anymore. Probably doesn't help that their award winner is now pretty much thought to be a liar. If you read Amy Goodman and David Goodman's The Exception to the Rulers, you know this is nothing new for the New York Times. They also sold the nukes as good by lying about what happened at Hiroshima. They've always sold war for the government and they're quite comfortable presenting lies if it helps the government.

I wish I'd known about this Monday:

On Monday morning, March 20, at around 11:00am, 10 protesters gathered outside the Northeastern University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) office on Huntington Avenue to protest the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. "We wanted to make sure nobody forgets that both Iraqi civilians and American soldiers are dying everyday," said one protester. The protesters used colorful chalk to transform the sidewalk into a collage of messages such as "100,000 Dead for what?", "Military recruiters out of our schools," "Death zone," and "Recruiting the poor to die for the rich." Protesters also drew chalk body outlines to represent the dead, both Iraqi and American.

That's from "Anti-Recruitment Demonstrations Mark Third Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq" at Boston Indymedia and Tony showed it to me. (I called C.I. right after Tony showed it to me and thank you to C.I. for including it at The Common Ills.)

I think Bully Boy's a bigger idiot than any of us could have guessed if he thinks the American people are just going to go along with the occupation lasting four more years.

Nina wanted me to note The Third Estate Sunday Review's "One voice applauded, one not heard?" because she's wondering if part of the reason nobody noted what happened on ER had to do with the fact that it was a woman and a nonwhite woman at that? Here's part of that:

The one we expected everyone to catch occurred on Thursday's ER.'
Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra is married to a man serving in Iraq (Michael). Near the end of the episode, she met up with the spouses of others serving. In that gathering, as talk of Iraq floated around endlessly, Neela made it clear that she wasn't for the war in Iraq. She stated that she supported the troops but not the war. Much to the shock of some assembled. Attempts to press her into altering her statement only resulted in her firm statement that she was pacifist. Futhermore, she said she refused "to be brainwashed into falling in line with some psuedo-patrictic vision."
In the jingo-jingo land of corporate entertainment, very few voices of resistance break through. Thursday night, one did. But does it break through if no one notices?
Is that too much like "If a tree falls when no one's around . . ."?
Neela may not be "manly" but we found her voice more than strong enough. Especially at a time when war games and war continue to be the main meals served up the networks.

Let me note Ma's latest because Nina didn't think I could make it and I could and did. "Charro Beans in the Kitchen" went up Saturday night and Sunday evening Nina was over for dinner and saying I couldn't fix them. So I soaked the beans Sunday night and cooked it yesterday. It's really easy to cook. Ma wrote about how when I wasn't old enough, in her mind, to use the skillet, I started cooking bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet. (All by myself if I do trumpet my own horn.) I still cook it that way because since then I've added foil and you can just roll up the foil after instead of having to scrub and clean a skillet.

I didn't realize Dave Zirin had a new column up until Stephen e-mailed me about it. It's called
"A Whole New Ball Game:"

The World Baseball Classic, an unprecedented international tournament involving teams from sixteen nations, is looking both like an autopsy of the current state of Major League Baseball and a glimpse into an alternative future for Major League Baseball.
There's a lot to like about this competition: It gives fans a taste of real baseball weeks before opening day. Plus, it offers a new form of roots baseball, in which the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki plays for Team Japan, and Boston's David Ortiz plays for the Dominican Republic. Neverthless, before the first pitch was tossed March 3, we had to endure the passive-aggressive griping of George Steinbrenner, the canker sore who owns the New York Yankees. "It was [Commissioner Bud] Selig's idea and he wants to do it, so I suppose we're going to do it," he said. Then, in front of the Yankees spring-training complex in Florida, a passive-aggressive sign was erected that read: "The New York Yankess [yes, the sign was misspelled] did not vote to support this event. Any comments you have regarding the World Baseball Classic should be directed to either The Commissioner of Major League Baseball or The Major League Baseball Players Assoc."
Big George looked at the World Baseball Classic and saw an exercise in superfluous drivel. But Major League Baseball's aspirations for the heavily hyped tournament extend beyond The Boss's narrow perception. The official line from Selig's office is that the WBC intends to "promote grassroots development in traditional and non-traditional baseball nations. The tournament's primary objectives are to increase global interest and introduce new fans and players to the game."

I missed most of it because of protesting and working on The Third Estate Sunday Review but I did see some of it. Japan won, by the way. Forgot to put this in, check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Protests, US accused of killing Iraqi civilians, Michael Gordon the war pornographer

Good evening. We'll get things kick started with Democracy Now!

Anti-War Protests Worldwide as Occupation Enters Fourth Year
As Iraq entered its fourth year under US occupation Sunday, anti-war protests were held around the world. Tens of thousands of people took the streets in cities across the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia. In Iraq, protesters demonstrated in Basra and Baghdad to protest the ongoing U.S. occupation.

It's Groan Day -- when you wish the weekend had another day. But if you took part in the protests this weekend, you can feel like you accomplished something and be proud. I took part with Nina, my folks and my kid sister. And, right when we were getting ready to leave, my oldest sister Kelley shows up saying she wants to go too.

I think I made a mistake there. I didn't put out invites to my family. I did to my friends and Tone and a lot of them showed up. But I'm the second youngest in my family and I always assume my brothers and sisters are too busy or off living their lives. Kelley's the pushiest and so she heard us all talking, like they all did, and decided for herself, "I'm going too." Which was way cool. But if I'd taken the time to invite, I bet more would have come. On Sunday, we were talking about that and they were like, "Oh, well, I thought it was your thing." Like I didn't want them showing up. So next protest, I'll invite. That's my lesson learned.

Did you learn a lesson this weekend?

I know some people couldn't go or didn't have stuff in their area so they were doing stuff on their own, inviting friends over and having House Parties and stuff. I hope that went well too. I hope everybody did something.

One protest alone doesn't stop the war. But I think each one adds something and keeps the fight going and makes it more visible.

US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians Near Balad
Meanwhile, Iraqi police have accused US troops of murdering 11 civilians in a raid just last week. According to an Iraqi police report obtained by the Knight Ridder news agency, the villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included two young children, a 6-month-old infant and an elderly woman. The report says the troops burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house. A local police commander said all the victims were found handcuffed with gunshot wounds to the head.

If the accustations are true, that's really disgusting. It's not surprising though and that's kind of sad. But when you occupy something, you start seeing the people who were there before you as less than people. That's why we need to get out now because things aren't going to get better. They can't while we occupy Iraq.

A lot of e-mails came in on The Third Estate Sunday Review and most of you are wondering what I'm most proud of?

That's a hard question because there's a lot of good stuff. That includes "TV Review: Don't call her Elaine" by Ava and C.I. -- and I didn't write a word of that. They did their TV review early and kept going, "Well post it" because there was some trouble with posting and some stuff getting lost. But Jim was going, "Not with that opening." Jim thinks opening's are real important and he thinks "TV Review: Don't call her Elaine" had a real strong opening.

Dona wanted us to have shorter stuff this time and be more creative but then we heard the newsbreak during RadioNation with Laura Flanders and that really ticked us off because Flanders does a good show and she doesn't need some anchor coming on and getting stuff wrong in the newsbreaks. So we wrote "Miles Cameron can't figure out what news is" and the idea of short and creative went out the window. I like all the stuff but I'll pick one for today and it's going to be "Why We March." I just really like that one.

But you know what I was most proud of all weekend? "NYT: Can't own up to mistakes, be it the paper or Michael Gordon." C.I. wrote that and I just think it's really great. Not just because I know it was written quickly but because it was written so well. It's about how the war pornographer Michael Gordon thought he could lie and hide what he did or try to act like Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez didn't know what they were talking about. They knew what they were talking about. If you missed that Friday on Democracy Now! go to "New York Times Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon Defends Pre-War Reporting on WMDs."

Here's C.I. talking about Gordon:

Over 2300 dead American troops because an illegal war was sold on lies and the best Gordon (who had a hand in selling it) can do is say, "That's a policy judgment"? [Note that the link for that goes to the first half of the broadcast. We're focused on the second half for most of the comments comments but for those who see a link and think "Oh, it's going to the same thing and I already read it" -- his "policy judgement" comes from the first half of the program.]
If that's his idea of neutrality or objectivity, it's a funny sort of understanding. He wasn't neutral or objective on journalists being targeted with bombs (he was for it at the time, though now he tries to rewrite reality). He wasn't neutral or objective when false claims were made before the invasion by the administration (he was pimping them like there was no tomorrow). But on the war he helped sell, it's a "policy judgement." On the war that's cost an unkown number of Iraqi lives, he's neutral.
Too bad he had no neutrality when he and his profession needed it.
Now? Now the little boy who cried wolf (more than once) wants to pin it all on big sis Judy. He wants to act as though it wasn't him, it was that older sister Judith Miller. Why, he played with Jimmy Risen and lots of other boys! He wasn't just spending all day inside playing WMD dress up with Judy. He was a tough boy.
Whatever he is, whatever he was, it wasn't a reporter.

I just love it because C.I. totally demolishes Gordon and you read it and nod but you also laugh. If you saw Amy Goodman and Juan Gozalez interviewing Gordon, you know he said stuff about also writing pieces with James Risen. So it's just so funny when C.I. writes about Gordon and "big sis Judy." And how he "played with Jimmy Risen and lots of other boys. He wasn't just spending all day inside playing WMD dress up with Judy. He was a tough boy." He really did act like that on Democracy Now! so I just couldn't stop laughing when I read C.I. Saturday morning.

Maria did the rundown of headlines and you should check those out. But I'm going to do tags first because Kat tried and tried on Saturday to get Technorati to read C.I.'s tags for that first entry but couldn't get it to read. She thinks "NYT: Can't own up to mistakes, be it the paper or Michael Gordon" may have been too long and by the time the tags show, it's too late. That's too bad if that's the reason because it's great and my prof passed it out in class today. People were reading it and you could tell some were getting into the seriousness of it, cause it's a pretty heavy entry, and then there would come a joke and you'd hear people laughing.

So let me do my tags and Maria's thing is right after. Go check out Like Maria Said Paz to get Elaine's take on things.

Estados Unidos lanza mayor ataque aereo desde invasion a Irak (Democracy Now!)
Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Estados Unidos lanza mayor ataque aéreo desde invasión a Irak
Soldados estadounidenses e iraquíes lanzaron lo que las Fuerzas Armadas denominan el mayor ataque aéreo en los tres años desde que comenzó la invasión a Irak. En un comunicado de prensa, el ejército dijo que se desplegaron más de 1.500 soldados y 50 aviones en un "área donde se sospecha que opera la insurgencia" en el noreste de Samarra. Se espera que la operación "Enjambre" dure varios días. Hasta ahora no se han informado muertes.

Culpan a ataques estadounidenses de la muerte de integrantes de una familia iraquí
Mientras tanto, se responsabiliza a un ataque militar estadounidense a la localidad iraquí de Balad, de la muerte de por lo menos una docena de integrantes de una familia. Entre los muertos se encontraban cinco niños y seis mujeres. "Associated Press" informa que la casa de esta familia fue derribada por un ataque aéreo de un helicóptero estadounidense. Las víctimas fueron envueltas en mantas y llevadas al Hospital General de Tíkrit. Ahmed Khalaf, el hermano de una de las víctimas, dijo: "La familia asesinada no era parte de la resistencia, eran mujeres y niños. Los estadounidenses nos prometieron una vida mejor, pero sólo obtenemos muerte".

Nueva encuesta: 36 por ciento aprueba gestión de Bush, mientras que el 60 por ciento dice que la guerra va mal
Bush anunció durante un discurso que lanzó una nueva campaña de relaciones públicas para obtener más apoyo para la guerra en Irak y su presidencia. La última encuesta de "USA Today"/CNN indica que el índice de aprobación del presidente es de sólo el 36 por ciento. Y el 60 por ciento de la población del país dice que la guerra en Irak va mal.

Principal general estadounidense en Irak señala que bases militares podrían volverse permanentes
En otras noticias, el principal comandante militar estadounidense en Irak señaló que Estados Unidos podría tener intenciones de mantener varias bases militares que construyó en este país. El General John Abizaid, compareció el martes ante un subcomité del Congreso y dijo que Estados Unidos podría querer conservar su posición en Irak para apoyar a los "moderados" regionales y proteger los suministros de petróleo.

Informe: Ataques aéreos estadounidenses aumentan un 50 por ciento en Irak
En otras noticias sobre Irak, "Knight Ridder" informa que el gobierno estadounidense incrementó los ataques aéreos más de un 50 por ciento en los últimos cinco meses. Según las cifras militares, las fuerzas estadounidenses arrojaron al menos el doble de bombas en ciudades iraquíes que durante el mismo período el año pasado. Este año, los aviones de guerra estadounidenses atacaron por lo menos 18 ciudades distintas.

Nivel más bajo de generación eléctrica en Irak desde período posterior a la invasión
En otras noticias sobre Irak, "Associated Press" informa que la generación eléctrica alcanzó el nivel más bajo desde el período posterior a la invasión estadounidense a Irak, hace tres años. Algunos analistas creen que Irak podría tener que recurrir a su país vecino, Irán, para resolver la crisis energética, este mismo verano. El sistema eléctrico de Irak sufrió numerosos problemas desde que fue atacado en la invasión dirigida por Estados Unidos en 1991. Actualmente, es capaz de cubrir menos de la mitad de las necesidades de Irak. La preocupación de los iraquíes por la recuperación del sistema ha aumentando debido a la disminución de los fondos de reconstrucción provenientes de Estados Unidos. Según el inspector general para la reconstrucción de Irak, los fondos actuales son de 200 millones de dólares menos que los necesarios para cubrir las necesidades mínimas del sistema.

Soldado británico de élite se niega a luchar con Estados Unidos en Irak
En Gran Bretaña, un soldado de la élite SAS (Servicio Especial Aéreo) se niega a volver a luchar en Irak en lo que describe como una guerra de agresión moralmente incorrecta. Se cree que el soldado, Ben Griffin, es el primer soldado del SAS en negarse a luchar y en abandonar el ejército por motivos morales. Griffin dijo que se negaba a luchar junto con soldados estadounidenses porque veían a los iraquíes como "untermenschen", el término Nazi para denominar razas consideradas infrahumanas. También acusó a los soldados estadounidenses de cometer "docenas de actos ilegales" en Irak.

Más de 500 eventos planificados para conmemorar el tercer año de la guerra en Irak
Y mientras la invasión y ocupación de Irak cumplen su tercer año este domingo, los activistas están organizando eventos en contra de la guerra en todo el mundo. Tan sólo en Estados Unidos, se llevarán a cabo al menos 500 protestas durante el fin de semana. United for Peace and Justice (Unidos por la Paz y la Justicia) organizó actividades en los 50 estados. Algunas comenzaron a principios de esta semana. Una marcha de veteranos por la paz, que comenzó el martes en Alabama, terminará en Nueva Orleáns. Según "USA Today", una nueva encuesta indica que el 60 por ciento de los estadounidenses creen que la guerra no "valía la pena". En Londres, Stop the War Coalition llevará a cabo una protesta el sábado para exigir la retirada de los soldados estadounidenses y británicos de Irak. Manifestaciones similares se llevarán a cabo en ciudades de Irak, así como también en México, Japón, y en otras partes de Europa.

Estados Unidos criticado por juzgar a prisionero detenido desde que tenía 15 años de edad
Esta noticia es sobre la Bahía de Guantánamo. Los abogados de derechos humanos le pedirán hoy a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos que suspenda el tribunal militar de un ciudadano canadiense que ha estado detenido en la prisión militar desde que tenía 15 años. Los abogados dijeron que Omar Khadr es la primer persona en la historia del mundo moderno en afrontar una comisión militar por presuntos delitos cometidos cuando era niño.

Sandra Day O'Connor advierte que Estados Unidos se está encaminando hacia la "dictadura"
La ex ministra de la Corte Suprema, Sandra Day O'Connor, advirtió la semana pasada que Estados Unidos corre peligro de encaminarse hacia una dictadura si los derechistas continúan atacando al Poder Judicial. En uno de sus primeros discursos públicos desde que abandonó su cargo, O'Connor, que fue postulada por Ronald Reagan, criticó severamente a los republicanos por utilizar tácticas para manipular al Poder Judicial. Según un informe de NPR, O'Connor dijo: "Un país debe degenerarse mucho antes de caer en la dictadura, pero para evitar terminar así, debemos evitar comenzar así".

Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are ten news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

US Launches Largest Air Assault Since Iraq Invasion
US and Iraqi troops have launched what the military is calling the largest air assault in the three years since the Iraq invasion. In a press release, the army said over fifteen hundred troops and fifty aircraft have been deployed in a "suspected insurgent operating area" northeast of Samarra. Operation "Swarmer" is expected to last for several days. No casualties have been reported so far.

US Strikes Blamed for Death of Iraqi Family Members
Meanwhile, a US military attack in the Iraqi town of Balad is being blamed for the deaths of at least a dozen members of the same family. The dead include five children and six women. The Associated Press is reporting the family's house was flattened by an airstrike from a US helicopter. The victims were wrapped in blankets and driven to the Tikrit General Hospital. Ahmed Khalaf, the brother of one of the victims, said: "The dead family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."

New Poll: 36% Approve Bush; 60% Say War is Going Badly
Bush made the announcement during a speech that launched a new public relations campaign to win greater support for the war in Iraq and his presidency. The latest USA Today/CNN poll shows the president's approval rating is at just 36 percent. And 60 percent of the country says the war in Iraq is going badly.

Top US General in Iraq Says Bases May Be Permanent
In other news, the top US military commander in Iraq has indicated the US may want to hold on to the several military bases it has built in the country. Appearing before a Congressional subcommittee Tuesday, General John Abizaid said the US may want to keep a foothold in Iraq to support regional "moderates" and protect oil supplies.

Report: US Airstrikes Up 50% in Iraq
In further Iraq news, Knight Ridder is reporting the US government has increased airstrikes by more than half in the last five months. According to military figures, US forces have dropped at least double the number of bombs on Iraqi cities than they did during the same period one year ago. This year, U.S. warplanes have struck at least 18 different cities.

Iraq Electricity Output At Lowest Point Since Invasion Aftermath
In other Iraq news, the Associated Press is reporting electricity output has reached its lowest point since the period right after the US invasion of Iraq three years ago. Some analysts believe Iraq may have to turn to neighboring Iran to solve its energy crisis -- as early as this summer. Iraq's electricity grid has suffered numerous problems since it was targeted in the US-led invasion in 1991. It is currently able to meet less than half of Iraq's needs. Iraqi concerns for the grid's recovery have been stoked by dwindling reconstruction funding from the US. According to the inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, current funding is over $200 million dollars short of meeting the grid's minimal needs.

Elite UK Soldier Refuses to Fight w/ U.S. in Iraq
In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as "untermenschen" -- the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing "dozens of illegal acts" in Iraq.

Over 500 Events Planned For Events Marking Third Year of Iraq War
And as the invasion and occupation of Iraq reaches the three-year mark this Sunday, activists are staging anti-war events around the world. At least 500 protests are being held in the US this weekend alone. United for Peace and Justice has organized actions in all 50 states. Some began earlier this week. A veterans march for peace, which began in Alabama Tuesday, will end in New Orleans. According to USA Today, a new poll shows 60 percent of Americans believe the war was not "worth it." In London, the Stop the War Coalition will stage a protest Saturday to demand the withdrawal of US and British troops from Iraq. Similar demonstrations are to be held in cities in Iraq, as well as in Mexico, Japan, and other parts of Europe.

U.S. Criticized for Trying Detainee Held Since He Was 15
In news from Guantanamo Bay, human rights lawyers will be asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today to suspend the military tribunal of a Canadian citizen who has been held at the military prison since he was 15 years old. Lawyers said Omar Khadr is the first person in modern world history to face a military commission for alleged crimes committed as a child

.Sandra Day O'Connor Warns About U.S. Edging Towards 'Dictatorship'
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor warned last week that the United States is in danger of edging towards a dictatorship if right-wingers continued to attack the judiciary. In one of her first public speeches since leaving the bench, O'Connor -- who was nominated by Ronald Reagan -- sharply criticized Republicans for strong-arming the judiciary. According to a report on NPR, O'Connor said "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."