Friday, April 27, 2007

Law and Disorder

Friday and, as usual, I'm running late. Partly because we ended up needing even more ice -- it's warm tonight. Usually we just need five bags for the Iraqi study group, but the ice was going fast so we ran out and got some more. I'm missing the start of it because I'm blogging right now. If I wait, I'll be tired and think of an excuse to skip noting Law and Disorder. I'll also miss Dad's music mix! :D He was talking at dinner about how he was dying to hear Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation and about a half a dozen other CDs. So, after the group, a lot of us will be banked out in the living room, listening to music.

This week's Law and Disorder featured Michael Smith, Michael Ratner and Dalia Hashad. Heidi Boghosian wasn't on. That's because, answering Mindy's question, they are practicing attorneys and they have cases and other things to work on. As long as Heidi's name is in the opening, she's with the show. (I like all the hosts, including Heidi but Mindy likes Heidi best and was wondering where she was?)

The Michaels opened the show with a segment where they just talked to each other and that was a nice opening. They covered a lot of things including the Pulitzers. I don't take those awards seriously (I doubt the Michaels do either) but, get this, the New York Daily News won for their reporting on the health hazards after 9-11 in NYC. But Juan Gonzalez (reporter for them and co-host of Democracy Now!) didn't get cited in the award. Juan Gonzalez covered this over and over for the paper and wrote a book about in 2002. The paper wasn't really thrilled he was covering it because it contradicted what Christy Todd Whitman and the administration was saying. So the Michaels pointed out that it really was disgraceful for the Pulitzer committee not to cite Juan Gonzalez when he was the reporter on this. Michael Smith talked about how his parrot got sick and how he ended up with esophagus problems himself and it was because (he couldn't swallow, that's why he went to the doctor) of all the health hazards and how the government was more concerned with opening back up Wall Street than it was in protecting the health of the citizens.

Michael Ratner had returned from Europe where he was working on the issues of torture and Guantanamo and a lot more. He and Michael Smith talked about what had been going on here while he was gone. C.I. noted this from Michael Ratner in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday on WBAI's Law and Disorder, co-host Michael Smith asked co-host Michael Ratner what it was like to be returning to the United States right now from Germany and France and Ratner responded, "First thing you read, 157 people were killed in Iraq. This is after the so-called escalation -- 'surge' as they call it. Things certainly don't seem to be getting better and, in fact, I think what we may see happening in Iraq is something like the Tet Offensive at some point that will eventually drive the United States out militarily and that just the American people will finally say 'We've had it.' We see the Democrats screwing around a timetable in their legislation but not linking that really to any funding, just putting it in Bush claiming to veto it and realize that people are being slaughtered every day in Iraq."

That was from the conversation they were having at the beginning of the show. They talked about the Supreme Court's attack on women's rights, about the Virginia Tech shootings and about what was going on with "tyranny abroad, tyranny at home."

Michael Ratner noted that everyone was working on their own issues but "as long as we're atomized, we're not going to win." And that reminded me of two things. First, something C.I. wrote:

In the sixties, for those old enough to remember (and whose minds are not so baked that they can't), there was excitement if you were a part of the peace movement. That excitement translated to awareness of upcoming events and they were as much social as they were anything else. (I'm not referring to what happened at the podium, I'm referring to the fact that there were groups of friends you were going with and you were generally -- or my friends and myself -- frequently saying something to the effect of, "You're not going? Oh come, you have to be there. You have to.")
At that time, there was already concern of the atomistic age. Words influence and science influences. The belief of some was that we'd learn to split everything up (and sometimes study it) but hadn't yet learned how to put it all together. Many, including Anais Nin, saw hope in integrated circuits and believed that would allow for closer connections (societal, personal, on every level). Did it?

That was first up and that's because of "atomized." When C.I. wrote about "the atomistic age," I had to call and ask, "What are you talking about?" :D I'm laughing at me but I think people assume we're all on the same page when we may not be. C.I. explained that the atomistic age was referring to the Atom Age which was the creation (and use of on Japan) of nuclear weapons and how dissecting and other practices were teaching us to take things apart (the atom bomb works on splitting an atom) but the hope was that integrated circuits would teach us to stop splitting and put things together. Integrated circuits? Yeah, that was my second question! :D

Integrated circuits are what computers work on. They are these programming loops and charts that allow the computers to work -- "If . . . then" commands like if I press a "y" then a "y" appears on screen, etc.

So when Michael Ratner says "as long as we're atomized" what he means is as long as we're all working on our issues -- important ones -- and doing so in isolation, we're split up and not working together. Which brings us to the second thing, that makes me feel even more that Stanley Abromawitz was right when he was on the show and talking about the need for a national paper that would cover the issues and explain and introduce them to people. I agreed then that we needed one and I agree even more strongly now.

The Michaels spoke with David Borden of the Drug Reform Coordination Effort and addressed the 1998 Higher Education Act which denies loans to students that are convicted of drug possession, college loans. You can go into rehab to try to qualify again but that wipes out a minimum of one semester's time where you could be getting a student loan. There are no statistics on who's effected the most by race because the government doesn't release those statistics.

Before I get to the next section, I just remembered something. Mindy's favorite is Heidi and the pledge drive will be coming up soon (I'm not sure when). Heidi and Geoff Brady (the show's producer and I hope I got his name right) did a whole pledge drive by themselves and C.I. praises them for that. They apparently didn't even know that contributions were coming in -- no one was passing that on to them while they were on the microphone and they played some sections of the show but were largely winging it which is what they do during the pledge drive (everybody) but usually you're able to stop and say, "Thank you to __ from __ for donating" and that gives you a little more to talk about that and a lot less pressure. When Geoff and Heidi were doing it, they were doing it for like two hours and their pledge drive was almost over when they finally were told that donations had been coming in all along. Mindy'll like that story but if you don't get it, why it's worth noting, try to imagine you're on the radio for two hours fundraising and, as far as you know, not a single person has donated? You'd probably be freaking out and wondering, "Does anyone listen?" But C.I. says Heidi and Geoff just kept it going, "stayed loose and focused" and really did a great job (and raised money even though they didn't know that until the end). So Heidi wasn't on this week but there's a Heidi story for Mindy.

Dalia Hashad was on and she talked about how a new prison facility has opened on Guantanamo called Camp 6. Amnesty has "been monitoring. About 100 inmates have been transferred so far. I believe there are about 385 inmates left on Guantanamo." She talked about how it was built with high walls, no windows and the people are kept inside individual cells for 22 hours a day with only 2 hours of 'excercise.' She reminded everyone about David Hicks (they discussed him two or three weeks ago -- maybe longer -- the Australian who was held in Guantanamo until recently) and how he grew his hair real long just to have something to block out the lights because they keep the lights on at all times. It can get cold there and they don't adjust the thermostat but they do hand out thermals . . . which they take back as punishment.

This is from Karen J. Greenberg's "Can Guantanamo Be Closed?" and it addresses Guantanamo:

What a new president could do.
A surprising number of Americans of note are in agreement. Guantanamo should be closed.
The New York Times and the human rights community have, of course, called for it to be shut down, but so has the new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. So has President Bush. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given indications that she seconds Bush's call. Senator John McCain has said he would close the prison immediately upon becoming president.
On the Democratic side, while
John Edwards and Bill Richardson have both called for Guantanamo's closing, the larger field of Democratic candidates has remained curiously silent on the subject. Do they know something we don't? Admittedly, one Democratic Congressman, James Moran of Virginia, has mentioned the possibility of including funds to close Guantanamo in the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill, but the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls have as yet said very little about Guantanamo.
Perhaps they sense the Pandora's box of conundrums that would be unleashed in any genuine attempt to shut the place down. It's easy enough - almost a no-brainer - to say you want to close Guantanamo. After all, along with those photos from Abu Ghraib, the now-infamous extra-legal detention facility in Cuba has made the American government globally synonymous with the revocation of international law, the disregard of U.S. law, and the torture and abuse of prisoners or, as the Bush administration prefers to call them, "unlawful enemy combatants."
Actually closing Gitmo, however, is another matter entirely. The hard part is fleshing out the next thought: How exactly would you go about it? As
Secretary of State Rice said recently, "The president would close Guantánamo tomorrow if someone could answer the question: And what will you do with the dangerous people who are there?" Congressman John Murtha has made a similar point: Knowing how to shut down Guantanamo - given the set of nearly intractable legal knots the Bush administration has tied the prison complex and its detainees up in - is "not that easy."

Dalia pointed out that you're looking at 5 years imprisoned without a real trial for some of the 300 plus still at Guantanamo. Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights (which Michael Ratner is president of and which is an organization you should check out if you haven't already) joined them to discuss the issue. And the show ended with a woman I don't know performing one of my favorite songs: White Stripes' "Seven Army Nation." That's it for me tonight. I've got to go join the group. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another prisoner in Iraq dies in US custody, the death of 3 US service members are announced, Riverbend and her family decide it's time to leave Iraq, students continue their activism in the US, and more.

Starting with war resisters,
Richard Brown (KXLY) profiles war resister Ryan Johnson who self-checked out in 2005 and went to Canada with his wife Jenny to seek asylum. Johnson states, "I decided that I didn't want to participate in what I preceived to be an illegal war. I have no problem serving my country. I love the United States. That's where I grew up, that's my home, that's where my family is." Death of the party Lizzie Knudson shows up to puff out her chest and strut like any macho b.s. artist while expressing her hate and rage by declaring that she hopes he's thrown in prison for life and that she knows people who have died in Iraq. Pass that rage on over to the Bully Boy, Lizzie, Ryan Johnson didn't send anyone into an illegal war to die. Had Brown spent less time offering Lizzie's rants, he might have been able to provide some actual information (and it would have pleased War Hawk Liz). He could have, for instance, noted that the Johnsons share a home in Canada with
Kyle Snyder and Maleah Friesen. The latter are now married. Of course their planned February wedding got put on hold when Canadian police -- taking orders from the US military -- showed up at the home to drag Snyder away in handcuffs (and in his boxers -- wouldn't even let him get dressed) with the intent to start immediate deportation on Snyder. That's a story that would have tickled War Hawk Lizzie even if it has Canadians outraged (whether they support war resisters or not) because (a) war resistance is not a deportable offense and (b) the Canadian police is not supposed to take orders from a foreign government. The US media continues its silence on that event and also avoids noting that US military crossed over into Canada on a search for war resister Joshua Key. Brown does note, "In the last seven years, nearly 22,500 member of the United States military have gone AWOL or deserted and every year the numbers rise."

And as the numbers rise, more and more go public and speak out. As
Courage to Resist reports war resisters Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala will be speking out from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will be Aguayo's first publicly speaking appearances since being released from the brig earlier this month (April 18th). The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

The are all part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.

From the topic of courage, we turn to craven -- taking us to the halls of Congress. As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The Senate has voted provide nearly one hundred billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a non-binding timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.". Non-bidning timetable remains one of the most left out aspects of the measure. Also usually left out is that Bully Boy can reclassify those serving in Iraq (as "military police," for example) and avoid the pleas for withdrawals. (Pleas because "calls" is too strong for what is now headed to the White House for a signature.) Marilyn Bechtel (People's Weekly World) reminds that "the Congressional Research Service said that nearly half the $94 billion earmarked in the supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would really be used for non-urgent items like sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, and funding a U.S.-established Arabic-language TV station. The CRS report also pointed out that the Pentagon has funds available to continue the war until June or July." The sense of urgency being pushed by both major parties is as much smoke and mirrors as what left Congress. Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web) tackles the realities, noting, "While media reports on the Congressional legislation routinely refers to it as a plan for the withdrawal of US troops from occupied Iraq and ending the war, the language of the bill makes clear that what is involved is a tactical 'redeployment' that would leave tens of thousands of US soldiers and marines in Iraq for years to come. . . . The bill includes a provision for keeping US armed forces in Iraq for three purposes: 'protecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure; training and equipping Iraqi forces and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operation.' This language would essentially allow the occupation and war to continue indefinitely, with US troops deployed to protect a massive new embassy being constructed in Baghdad to house a virtual colonial government and to guard 'American citizens' sent by the oil companies to reap massive profits off of Iraq's oil fields."

Yes, the topic of oil. In the supposed illegal war that had nothing to do with oil. The New York Times editorial board pimped the privatization of oil this week as did
War Pornographer Michael Gordon today where he noted, "American officials" were "pressing" the passage of the law and that it's apparently so important that even General David H. Petraeus has to stick his nose in (apparently commanding the US military in Iraq allows him much free time) to share that "he considered passage of the oil law, which would distribute revenues from oil production among Iraq's regions, a priority among the so-called benchmark items that the Americans would like to see become law." It does redistribute the monies -- redistributes them right out of Iraq and into the pockets of Big Oil which, under the proposed legislation, would receive over 70% of the profits in some cases.

In Iraq,
Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reports that her family has decided to leave Iraq which, despite the Operation Happy Talk operatives, never achieved 'liberation' or 'democracy' (but then those were never the Bully Boy's intended aims. Noting the issue of the very unpopular wall in Baghdad, Riverbend writes: "It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad - let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protects' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis. . . . The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently - Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacisiou and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer - like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of 'Shia areas' and Shia out of 'Sunni areas'."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded 2, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed 1 and left 1 wounded, a Kirkuk bombing that killed 4 police officers and left 5 more wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bomb that killed 1 person and left 3 wounded,


Reuters reports three people were shot dead in Mussayab and a "human rights activist was shot dead by gunmen near his home, 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Kirkuk".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad. and 3 corpses discovered in Kirkuk.

In addition,
Reuters reports that a prisoner at the US military operated prison Camp Bucca died "after he was apparently assaulted by other prisoners." As Damien Cave (New York Times) noted this morning of the US military controlled Camp Cropper, "Several detainees there have died mysteriously in the past year, with the most recent death occurring April 4. The causes of death for these detainees are rarely divulged." The US military reports the figure of prisoners who have died in US custody in Iraq to be six "in the past year."

In other time lag news,
AP reports that the British helicopter crash in May of 2006 that resulted in the death of five British soldiers resulted from being "shot down by a surface-to-air missile, using a man-portable air defense system, fired from the ground." The US helicopters that crashed this year? Still under investigation.

Also today, the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Multi National Force West died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." Al Anbar Province is the region that, as Anna Badkhen (San Francisco Chronicle) noted, Michael Gordon's man crush, General David Petraeus hailed as an area of progress, a "breathtaking" area of progress. Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times), reporting on Petraeus' testimony to Congress Thursday, notes Petraues' claim to be "forthright" in September when it's time to evaluate the ongong escalation. The claim was all the more laughable considering that this was the week Congress took testimony on the lies the military spread about Pat Tilman's death in Afghanistan and Jessica Lynch testified to the lies told about her service in Iraq by the US military. The escalation is generally stated as having begun in February (the latest wave of the eternal crackdown), The idea that a judgement on it cannot be rendered until September goes unquestioned although few in the US are aware of jobs that come with an eight month probationary period.
On Wednesday, the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Corps, Iraq, died April 24, 2007 in a non-combat related incident." Today, (AP) reports that the soldier was Jeremy Maresh (24-years-old) and quotes Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver stating he "died from an apparent suicide." To be clear, there have been other deaths that were ruled suicides by the US military and families have strongly disagreed with the ruling.

US troops will leave Iraq. No matter how long Congress sits on its collective and ass and does nothing, US troops will leave. What happens then?
Phyllis Bennis and Robert Jensen (CounterPunch) address this issue: "The first step is, of course, crucial. When 78 percent of the Iraqi people oppose the presence of U.S. troops and 61 percent support attacks on those troops, it's clear that our presence in the country is causing -- not preventing -- much of the violence. Pulling out U.S. troops (including the 100,000-plus mercenaries who back the U.S. military) won't eliminate all Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, but it will remove the reasons many Iraqis are fighting. The would take away the protective umbrella that the widely supported anti-occupation violence currently gives the real terrorists -- those engaged in killing civilians for
political or sectarian reasons. Once U.S. forces are gone and the reason for the legitmate resistance to foreign occupation is eliminated, the ugly terrorist violence will be exposed for what it is and it will be possible for Iraqis themselves to isolate the terrorists and eliminate them as a fighting force. But what comes after a U.S. withdrawal? We clearly owe the Iraqi people massive reparations for the devastation our illegal invasion has brought. Only in the United States is that illegality questioned; in the rest of the world it's understood. Equally obvious around the world is that the decision to launch an aggressive war was rooted in the desire to expand U.S. military power in the strategically crucial-oil-rich region, and that as a result the war fails every test of moral legitimacy."

In news of student activism in the US,
Justin Horwath (Minnesota Daily) reports on Monday's meeting at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union where students who had formed a new chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) met with members gathered to organize and heard Dave Biking speak of what SDS had accomplished during the 60s (when Bicking was a member). Howarth notes that today's SDS "has 148 university chapters and 58 high school chapters nationwide." Kyle Johnson tells Howarth, "SDS gives us the legitimacy to work on other issues, but the war is the No. 1 issue nationally, period." Erika Zurawski states that the new chapter is about "the issues of the day" and that "[t]here's a lot of issues to work on."

Arnie Passman (Berkeley Daily Planet) traces the history and popularization of the peace symbol noting, "In its Golden Jubilee year (right behind last 9/11's 100th anniversary of Gandhi creating the pledge of satyagraha--soul force), the peace symbol has weathered numerous wars -- and the best marketing opportunities money can buy. Facing today's horrors of Asian wars, increased nuclear disfunction, global warming, racial injustice, the irreversible military-industrial complex?. . ., it still calls from great city protests and hamlets to all Earth's colors and creeds for nonviolent resistance (peace marches between the 7 or 8 Gandhi statues--from Boston to San Francisco?) and civil disobedience (sit-ins at the largest defense contracting congressional districts?). And all from the mind of one person that deep '50s, dead winter day in grimy ol' London Town--and the pioneering march through the English countryside to mad western science's Aldermaston." Gerlad Holtom was the designer of the peace symbol.

Finally, Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC),
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.

joshua key