Monday, June 11, 2007

Danny Schechter, Third Estate Sunday Review

Bah-dah, bah-da-dah, Monday, Monday. :D Well, it's Monday, I'm tired. How about you? I'm also trying to plan this weekend and need to head over to my grandfather's to make sure we're set on the time. But I'm blogging first because I'll probably end up hanging around and talking with him about other things.

I could just do The Third Estate Sunday Review but I saw this Saturday and almost got online to do a post but didn't have any time. It's a pretty important article and I'm afraid if I don't note some of it tonight, I'll forget by tomorrow. This is from Danny Schechter's "Is There a 'Foxification' Underway at Al Jazeera Television?:"

Sources inside Al Jazeera who are in a position to know what is going on now confirm to that there is an internal struggle underway that may dilute Al Jazeera’s independence and steer it in a more pro-western, pro-US direction.
"There is already a change of tone and focus in the news," a veteran insider reveals. He blames the shift on a reorganization of the network's governing structure a month ago that has put a former Ambassador from Qatar to the USA in a commanding position.
Al Jazeera broadcasts from a state of the art facility in Doha, the capital of Qatar, a wealthy independent state run by an Emir who has, until this point, remained close friends with the US while allowing Al Jazeera its independence.
"Nobody is talking about it publicly and nothing is quite clear yet but it looks like there is new pressure from the government of Qatar [the oil and natural gas rich Gulf state that bankrolled Al Jazeera], as well as a political battle over how to manage the channel inside its government with the US and its supporters, including the editor of the Arabic edition of Newsweek, lobbying in the shadows."
The United States is a major trading partner with Qatar and maintains a vast military facility there. The high profile Coalition Media (ie.propaganda) Center was based in the country, and the Pentagon has used the base airfield to supply the war effort in Iraq. Lebanese sources report that US planes airlifted cluster bombs from that base to Israel for use in its recent war against Hezbollah. Israel's relations with Qatar are said to be close.
Washington and London were never happy with Al Jazeera's political independence. Its offices in Afghanistan and Iraq were bombed in the early days of the war, and more recently there have been reports that President Bush considered bombing Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, but was only stopped by a strong dissent by Britain's Tony Blair. Al Jazeera has been denied access by the British government to documents that would confirm this widely reported (and believed) story that has also been officially dismissed.
"You don't need to bomb Al Jazeera to change its direction," said my source. "There is a softer way to influence its direction by taking it over from within and it can happen quietly almost as if in slow motion. You 'broaden' some programs, announce new 'guidelines,' issue new edicts reinforcing top-down control, purge some professionals you don't like, and then give more positive unchallenged airtime to backers of US foreign policy. Washington would not be open about any behind the scenes role it is playing in all this for fear of triggering a very negative public reaction."

And that's how they do it, that's how they take control. All of our media gets dumbed down, all around the world, it's not specific to this country, it's all around the world. Again, I think that's a really important article and I hope you read it.

Now here's new content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week -- this is about Our Modern Day Carrie Nations. It's a strong statement and we all loved it.

Truest statement of the week II -- a lot of people e-mailed in asking for this and my dad also wanted it. It wouldn't have happened if we weren't so short for time and some of the stuff we'd worked on hadn't made it online. But we were short on time and everyone was nodding off so Dona told C.I. (it's C.I.'s statement) that we either note it, or we all have to write another piece. C.I. said "Fine, go with it."

A Note to Our Readers -- Jim's note and I think it's really good. He'd told me that I'd win this week because he was tired and was just going to toss out a few sentences. He didn't do that. The note is Jim's forum and I think it's one of the most underrated features. Even before I was helping out, even before I was blogging!, when I didn't know any of them other than reading online, I would look forward to Ava and C.I.'s TV reviews and Jim's note.

Editorial: The Thrice Screwed Adam Kokesh -- This is one of my favorite editorials. I think we did a really good job on this.

TV: Creature Crap -- OMG. I hadn't seen the show. I have my TV on while I'm writing and this show is just awful (Creature Comforts). Ava and C.I. captured it perfectly. How did that crap ever make it to TV? It's so not funny. But Ava and C.I.'s review is so be sure to read it.

Liam Madden -- This is another thing I'm really proud of. And Wally, Ty, C.I. and me could write from eye witness accounts. We almost didn't make it there. And some guy was doing an introduction (finishing it) when we finally got near the conference. But I'm really proud of this and glad we did it. I think this was a strong edition. I'm reading over it as I write and I knew Ava and C.I. had another strong TV commentary but I wasn't sure what the rest was like. I know when we lost some pieces, we were all feeling the edition was going to be thin but it really does hold up and I think it's really strong. This article is one reason.

Get America Out Of Iraq -- This is another reason. I think we did a really good job here. This wasn't a planned feature but C.I. was back home and opening mail during the writing session. Everybody starts talking about the bumper sticker and we (Elaine, Rebecca, Cedric, Wally, Betty and me) are going "What?" (We're contributing by phone.) So they start describing it and someone, Dona I think, says we need to do a feature on this. So we're looking at the Democratic presidential candidates and what (if anything) they're offering on Iraq.

The Nation Stats -- Katrina vanden Heuvel: destroying women's rights one issue at a time.

Caged Tepid -- AlterPunky got busted. This is our humorous take on it. We were on the fence about whether or not to write the fiction edition this week or not. We went ahead and wrote this and then decided what to do? The fiction edition may be next week and, if not, it will be the week after.

Wait! Dahr's not Canadian! -- Another short piece and so great that it's already been ripped off. (I should say, "C.I.'s been ripped off" because it's mainly just C.I.'s snapshot from May 29th.)

Socialism 2007, Chicago, June 14-17th -- this is the thing we're taking my grandfather to this weekend.

Highlights -- Betty, Rebecca, Elaine, Cedric, Wally and me wrote this.

This is who worked on the edition above:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Be sure to read Kat's "Kat's Korner: Summertime Hammond" and "Ruth's Report" which are both amazing. Ari Hest was amazing and I'll write about that tomorrow.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, June 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more US service members, bridge bombings continue (and only one reporter notes the strategic importance behind the bombings), The Poetic Ravings of Puppet al-Maliki, and more.

Starting with war resistance. "In the current environment have you seen a lot of resistance to this war among enlisted men, among officers, among young people?" Michael Ratner asked on
WBAI's Law and Disorder today (the program streams online and also airs on other radio stations across the country). "It's interesting," Tod Ensign answered, "This is a good time to talk about it. Because until about a year ago, the Pentagon was claiming that there was not an uptake, there was not an increase in desertions, for example. If you accept their figures as, you know, somewhat accurate, that seemed to be the case -- that the three years before . . . we invaded Iraq had higher desertion rates than the three years after. However, this last year, there's been a pretty substantial increase in the number of desertions and I would say it's increased by at least fifty percent. So that would suggest that, you know, soldiers, to some extent, are voting with their feet. Now, of course, the military always says, 'You know a lot of deserters are driven by family problems or financial issues or they just can't stomach the military" which of course is true, in some cases. But I do think there is an increase in the attitude among soldiers, especially guys that have already served over there that this is an endless war and there's nothing to be gained by them going back again."

And demonstrating how right Ensign is, Nancy Montgomery filed two stories on this subject yesterday for Star and Stripes.
In her first article, Montgomery noted that the US army states 3,300 is the desertion figure for the last year and that "a news report in April citing Army statistics said more deserters were facing courts-martial than in previous years. But [Maj. Anne] Edgecomb said that of deserters outprocessed at Fort Knox, Ky., where many U.S. Army Europse soldiers who desert end up, 70 percent are administratively discharged."
In both articles, Montgomery notes the
Military Counseling Network in Germany which notes the following conditions usually prevent criminal charges: "they must not be on a deployment list; they must not have pending actions against them under the Uniform Code of Military Justice; they have to make it back to the U.S. before 30 days, when an arrest warrant is issued; and they should turn themselves in after 30 days when they've been dropped from their unit's rolls to one of two personnel control centers, Fort Knox or Fort Sill, Okla." In both article, Montgomery reports on 23-year-old Chris Capps who made the decision to self-checkout, "flew to the States and stayed in New York City until he knew he had been dropped from his unit's rolls. After that, Capps said, his commander had no authority over him. Capps turned himself in at Fort Sill. In fewer than four days, he was out of the Army, with an other-than-honorable discharge." Capps explains to Montgomery that he didn't try for Conscientious Objector status because he isn't opposed to all wars and because he "knew a soldier in his battalion who sought and won CO status and didn't want to go through the process. 'The chain of command treated him like [crap],' Capps said." Montogmery's second article focuses more on CO status and includes Vincent La Volpa who was awarded CO status and discharged honorably "in 2005 with a Purple Heart earned during his Iraq tour" whose statements on his CO decision include: "I contemplated the cause and its value. Feeling that the means was not worth the sacrifice for the uncertain end. I felt that I had to make a decision. Am I for this or am I against it? I decided I am against it." In the second article, Montgomery notes MCN's Michael Sharp whoe explains that in 2006, they were dealing with "eight to 10 nes cases monthly" of enlisted needing advice about discharges and that has gone up to "15 to 20" a month.

Also covering the topic yesterday was
Heather Wokusch (OpEdNews) who covers the cases of Kyle D. Huwer, Clifton F. Hicks and "John" (a psuedonym). John self-checked out and is back in the US avoiding his family ("avid Bush-supporters; his uncle works for a weapons manufacturer and his stepfather, for an oil company") but has some contact with his girlfriend "Sarah" who notes the difference between media in Germany and in the US, "Watching the news here [US] really makes me angry, people are so detached from reality. They increse the troop deployments from 12 to 15 months, and no one besides the military families recognizes it. They are sending back national guard people for multiple deployments, no one recognizes it. You hardly hear anything about what that puts on the families, emotionally and financially. I'm deeply mad and sad about that at the same time."
John explains to Wokusch the transformation he had while serving in Iraq and notes, "It was not what I was expecting at all. There are people in Iraq making HUGE sums of money profiting over poorly supervised and ill-run government contracts. When you hear about the cost of the war in Iraq, it's this kind of thing that's doing it, not the body armor, having to pay the soliders a couple of meager extra bucks, or armoring the humvees. It's paying KBP $90 for every time I turn in my laundry while paying poor Pakistani and Filipino workers who work long hours with no days off for years at a time (and handling thousands of bags of laundry) $15 a day." [Note:
Heather Wokusch's article also contains an audio-visual stream option.]

Clifton Hicks is now discharged and some may remember his story from
Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq. In the book Laufer recounts how Hicks father posted one his son's letters home (from Iraq) online and the military's response was "a Field Grade Article 15" (p. 185) which Hicks learned after his woke him up one morning kicking his cot and, pay attention easily shocked Heather Hollingsworth-types, cursing at him. "They were going to throw me in jail for treason." After he was demoted to private and fined $800, Hicks applied for CO status. Hicks told Laufer, "If I don't get it? I have other avenues of approach to get home. I've told them I am not going back to Iraq" and would rather go to prison but "[i]t won't come to that, though, because I think I'm too smart for that to happen to me. Civil disobedience is an option -- just refuse to put the uniform on. Maybe a hunger strike. There's all kinds of things you can do. It's looking like they'll approve it. But if they don't, I have Plan B, Plan C, all the way up to desertion" (p. 187). Laufer's chapter on Hicks ends with Hicks being told he will receive CO status and a discharge. [Reminder, Laufer now hosts a two hour program each Sunday morning on KPFA from 9:00 to 11:00 am PST. The program is not yet named -- though it is airing -- and Laufer's program airs in Larry Bensky's old time slot.]

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

On today's
Law and Disorder, Todd Ensign noted that Iraq Veterans Against the War has "a chapter up at Fort Drum which is where we have our coffee house [Different Drumer Cafe] and that's the first on base chapter of IVAW that I'm aware of." Dalia Hashad asked him where Fort Drum was and Ensign responded "about sixty miles straight north of Syracuse, almost to the Canadian border and most New Yorkers know it as a reserve base; however, under Reagan it was turned into an active infantry base. Now it's the most heavily deployed division in the US army. It's a very active combat infantry base."

Dalia Hashad: Can you explain for people who don't know what the coffee house is? Or how it came about?

Todd Ensign: Good question. During the Vietnam war, those of us who are older -- in the older generation recall there were over 20 coffee houses that were formed mostly by civilians initially at or near US military bases -- army and marine bases and navy and airforce too. And these were very important in building the GI movement and building the opposition to the war within the ranks. They had an enormous impact. There's a very fine documentary called
Sir! No Sir! that some of your listeners have probably seen that tells that story and it's really pretty amazing to realize that those coffeehouses were often largely run and staffed by soldiers, active duty soldiers".

Mike notes Law and Disorder each week at his site and, here, we'll also probably pick up more from the interview later in the week. Attorneys (and activists) Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith host the one hour radio program.]

attempts to silence Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh, Cloy Richards and Liam Madden (as well as others) from speaking out continues. War resister Stephen Funk (who announced his refusal to deploy to Iraq in April 2003) writes (The Huffington Post) about Kokesh and observes, "If Sgt. Kokesh wanted to play it safe, he would have waited to protest until after June 18th, when he was scheduled to be discharged from the Individual Ready Reserve. At that point he would no longer be held accountable to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But the anniversary of the war happened to fall earlier in the year, and true patriots do not wait until it is convenient or safe to act upon their beliefs. That the military would charge someone so close to discharge with misconduct for such a minor indiscretion shows how desperate they are to contain the emerging antiwar voices among their ranks as discontent with the war continues to rise." Kokesh is specifically targeted for engaging in street theater, Operation First Casualty. [Language warning] Jeff Mullins (The Brooklyn Rail) takes a look at Operation First Casualty and notes that it "is modeled after the Vietnam-era protest action Operation Rapid American Withdrawal that took place in Pennsylvania during the summer of 1970. This variation came out of a brainstorming session among the Washington D.C. chapter of IVAW earlier this year. The vets felt 'tired of just being part of other people's protest,' explained Adam Kokesh, a member of the D.C. chapter. IVAW, a national veterans organization founded in July of 2004, performed the first Operation First Casualty in D.C. this past March." Michael Borkson (Boston IMC) has posted video and photos from Liam Madden's press conference last Thursday (covered in Friday's snapshot, text can also be found in this write up we did at The Third Estate Sunday Review).

While some try to end the illegal war, others are eager for it to continue and the US military is yet again attempting to sell a technique as a "plan."
John F. Burns and Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported this morning on what the US military wants to call the "Anbar model." The thinking is that al-Anbar Province has been a success and the 'plan' that has worked so well there can be exported to other areas. The technique involves attempting to bring Sunni fighters into the process. The reality is this is nonsense for several reasons. al-Anbar is not at peace (even with all the greased palms of tribal leaders by the US military), it was where 10% of last month's US service member fatalities took place, it is where chlorine bombs explode and it only looks like a 'success' because putting all the US military into Baghdad for the lastest version of the year-long-and-ongoing 'crackdown' didn't do a damn bit of good. By comparison to Baghdad, al-Anbar suddenly looks like a 'winner.' In other news from the land of crazy, John F. Burns (New York Times) reported Saturday on puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, who either fancies himself a reborn beat poet or needs to check his meds -- al-Maliki knows his enemies are all over (including Ayad Alawi) and describes them -- Woody Allen couldn't have written a bigger laugh getting line in Bananas -- as "a black ant on a black rock on a dark night."

While someone checks the puppet's dosage, violence continued across Iraq today. As noted many times, the bombings of the bridges is not accidental and it's rarely covered. There were two bridge bombings in the last 24 hours. The one near Mahmudiya resulted in the
US military releasing this statement: "Three Coalition Force Soldiers were killed and six were wounded when the checkpoint they were manning was struck by a suicide car bomb south of Baghdad near Mahmoudiya June 10. An interpreter was also wounded in the attack, which destroyed part of a highway overpass. All the wounded were evacuated to Coalition medical facilities for treatment." ICCC's current total for US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3512. Al Jazeera notes US military spokesperson Christopher Garver who says, "The checkpoint was damaged by the explosion, as was the bridge. The force of the explosion dropped part of the span but it did not fall on anybody." Oh really? CBS and AP note private contractor Donald Campbell stating that he and others "worked with a U.S. army quick reaction force for some 45 minutes to pull trapped men from the rubble, scrambling over the fallen concrete" and CBS and AP note: "At one point, a Bradley armored vehicle with a tow chain pulled a slab off a pinned victime to free him. Then a shot went up, 'Morphine! Morphine!' and a black T-shirt-clad Briton administered painkillers to the freed man" while one person was reportedly crushed by the falling 'span.'

That bombing took place late Sunday.
Reuters notes one today in the Diyala province where "a major bridge" was blown up. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) is the only one currently noting, "The bombing of this bridge will make the residents of the North eastern parts of the province take one route through the violent city of Baqouba to go to Baghdad, residents said." That is, after all the point, and has been. The bridge bombings have a point and a strategy.

In other violence today . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the heavily fortified Green Zone was again mortar attacked, while two other Baghdad mortar attacks left 7 Iraqis injured, a Baghdad explosion at Al Wathiq square left 3 wounded and a Diyala explosion claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (2 more wounded). Reuters reports a Samarra roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 police officers (three more wounded),


Reuters reports a home invasion in Mosul where 4 women and 1 man were shot dead, a Hawija drive-by shooting that killed 1 Iraq (2 wounded) and the central bank of Mosul's general director, Khaireddine Ahmed, was shot dead along with two bodyguards.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In other media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "
Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at: by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.