Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Studs Terkel

Tuesday. Three days left till the weekend! One of those weeks where I count the days until the weekend, I know. But partly because of plans for the weekend. And the week after is Thanksgiving. We're flying out on Tuesday.

This is from today's Democracy Now!:

"Veterans For Peace Activists Arrested at Boston Veteran's Day Parade"
In Boston, 15 members of Veterans for Peace and three supporters were arrested on Sunday after they were barred from holding anti-war signs or speaking during the city's Veterans Day Parade sponsored by the American Legion. They were charged with disturbing a public assembly.

When something like that happens in your own area, it's twice as awful. It's wrong and then on top of wrong you have this layer of embarrassment because you think your city's better than that.


Amy Goodman interviewed Studs Terkel today and this is from him talking on Democracy Now!:

But this one couple ignores me. Very handsome, he's -- and this is before the word "yuppy" came into being. Brooks Brothers, Gucci shoes, Wall Street Journal under his arm. And she is a looker, she's a stunner. Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Vanity Fair under her arm. And I want to make conversation. The bus is late in coming, so I say to them, "Labor Day is coming up." That's the worst thing I could say. He turns toward me. He's no coward. Flicking a bug off his cup, he says, "We despise unions." I say, "Oh. I got a pigeon here."
The bus is late, so I walk up to them, and I say -- I’m now the ancient mariner. I’m fixing him with my glittering eye. I say, "How many hours a day do you work?" He says, "Eight." "How come you don't work eighteen hours a day, like your great-great-grandparents did? You know why you work eight hours a day? Because in Chicago, four guys got hanged fighting for the eight-hour day for you."
I'm talking about the Haymarket case back in 1886, of which they know nothing. It was a time of a gathering, fighting for the eight-hour day. There were speakers there, anarchists and Americans. And then there was a rain, and the speakers went home, and that's when somebody threw a bomb -- nobody knows who -- and several cops were killed, as well as civilians. And the papers were hysterical: "Get 'em!" But in the meantime, they have this trial, and four guys, including someone named Albert Parsons, an old American Civil War soldier, were about to be hanged.
And there was a group of Chicago industrialists who were very enlightened -- Lyman Gage, others -- listened to the cries of the world: Bernard Shaw, John Ruskin, Tolstoy, all these people. And so, they said, "Commute the sentence." But it was Marshall Field I, with that mustache turned upward, who said, "Hang the bastards!" And they did.
And so, "They did it for you, these guys!" I got them pinned against the mailbox now. This old nut. The train is -- the bus is still late. When Christmas time comes around, I thought remember that guy. And so, I say, "How many days a week do you work?" And they say, "Forty," and they want to get away from me now, and they hop on the bus. "You know why you work forty? Because the New Deal days, of which you know nothing, and you should." The workers for the forty-hour day [sic].
And to this day, I'm sure, they live in a condominium, way upscale, that faces the bus stop. And from the fifteenth floor, or whatever floor it is, she's looking out every morning, and he says, "Is that old nut still down there?" I'm not blaming him. What do we know about our history? We don't. It's been denied, and that’s what James Baldwin meant, too, when he spoke of our past is with us. And "with us" means, as it was during the American Revolution, bottom -- never spokesmen, of course, because it was bottom-up, because half the country was Tory anyway.

Ruth recommended the interview. She also called me and asked me to note it. She said she didn't think she could write about the interview at length without getting "silly." She didn't mean making jokes, she meant getting emotional. It's a really good interview. I can understand why she'd worry about that because he's this great man who is over 90 years old and it always seems like the voices we need die and the ones we don't (and the ones who do real damage) hang around forever.

I chose that section because he's right, people don't know that stuff. Howard Zinn's books are really important and A People's History is a million seller but even with that, there are a lot of people who don't know about it. That's older people and people my age. We were talking in a class about Bully Boy's attack on the work week in his first term and how he allowed 'managers' (who weren't managers) to go over 40 hours a week and all this nonsense. Without overtime. I think if we realized what a fight it was to get that 40 hour work week, we'd appreciate it more. There was this big debate in class, and I'd read Zinn so I was able to get in the middle of it, but no one was saying that THEY wanted to work over 40 at straight time (no overtime) but they felt that maybe OTHERS should. And this one woman just wouldn't let it go. She was a bit older than most students. And finally Nina asked her something like, "Who are these people you're talking about?" And she goes, "Well I plan to be in management." So what she really meant was that she felt the people under her should work over 40 hours at straight time. And what she really meant by that was she didn't have any respect for them. The fight for respect was a fight. And we could lose it real quick. So I picked that section from the interview because I think if we all knew what it took to get the 40 hour work week, we'd be a lot more protective of it. Not just for ourselves but for everybody.

Bill Gallagher has a really good column but I can't figure out how to excerpt it. I just called Rebecca and she's going to grab it (she loathes Dianne Feinstein -- who doesn't beside the right wing?) so I'll just say read it.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, attacks in northern Iraq, IVAW announces an upcoming event, the myth of the 'returning home' in Iraq gets challenged and more.

Starting with war resistance. Today on
KPFK's Sojourner Truth, Margaret Prescod spoke with Kenneth Kagan about where things stood for Ehren Watada currently. Watada is the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Kagan, along with Jim Lobsenz, is Watada's civilian attorney and he explained Judge Benjamin Settle's ruling and what it means. Last Thursday, following the issuance of two stays in the US military's attempt to court-martial Watada a second time, Judge Settle ruled that no court-martial could take place until the double-jeopardy issue was resolved and that his opinion was Watada had strong standing on that issue and the courts would find in his favor. Kagan declared that it was highly unlikely that there would be futher court action this year. He also thinks it's doubtful the US military will be able to proceed with a court-martial period. (Following the rest of the year, Kagan ticked off 2008 and the next.) As Laura Flanders (Nation via Common Dreams) notes of Settle's ruling today, "In issuing a preliminary injunction, the Judge concluded that 'it is likely' that Watada will succeed in his claims that a second court-martial would violate constitutional protections against being tried twice for the same crimes. But army officials aren't giving up. In a statement, they said they will file briefs in U.S. District Court to try to prevent the injunction from becoming permanent. Now is the time for all moral men and women in uniform to stand up -- not just behind Lt. Watada, but at his side. So far, not one other officer has followed in the lieutenant's footstep." As Ruth noted, yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia declared this was a victory, "Here we have the first commissioned officer who at great risks to a public, personal stance on the war calling it illegal and refusing to deploy."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at
Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (the official opening night -- but performances are already taking place) and musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who appeared on Democracy Now! Friday addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

The Winter Soldier Investigation during Vietnam took place from January 31st to February 2nd (1971) and was held in Detroit. By holding theirs in DC, IVAW already has improved. That's not a slap at Detroit, that's noting the concentration of media.

Turning to Iraq.
CBS and AP file a story telling us things are good, real good, damn good. Great. No more Iraq snapshots! We get to shut down shop. Oh, wait. It's just another wave of Operation Happy Talk and it's a story so bad it took TWO outlets to write it. But they shouldn't feel that bad, the outlet with the most egg on their face today is Fars News Agency which ran the feel good story of the month yesterday, headlined, "Iraq-Turkey Border Problems Resolved." Oh really now? BBC: "Turkish military helicopters bombed suspected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq, Iraqi officials have said." AP quotes Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declaring, "This business needs to happen before winter conditions worsen. If we don't see concrete things from the other side an operation is near." Mark Bentley and Ali Berat Meric (Bloomberg News) report, "Turkey is gathering intelligence on the whereabouts of PKK positions in northern Iraq before starting the operation, Erdogan told party officials in Ankara late yesterday after talks with Ergin Saygun, deputy head of the Turkish military, according to a lawmaker who attended the meeting and rquested anonymity." CNN's Jomana Karadsheh quotes Jamal Abdullah, spokesperson for Iraq's KRG, stating that stun grenades were dropped from "two Turkish military aircrafts crossed into Iraqi border" Monday night. Yahya Barzanji (AP) reports Turkish helicopters firing today within Iraq which the Turkey government denies and Iraqi Col. Hussein Tamir states did take place -- both on the record and, in addition, an unnamed "Turkish government official" states that the attacks did take place. Al Jazeera notes that 4 Turkish soldiers are dead and two more wounded according to the Turkish military. Mark Bentley and Ali Berat Meric (Bloomberg News) note the US Pentagon continues to maintain they intend to share intelligence with Turkey.

In other reported violence . . .

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing this morning left four wounded while two Diyala bombings resulted in the deaths of 2 Iraqi soldiers, two Iraqi soldiers wounded and three civilians wounded. Reuters notes that a roadside bombing outside Baquba claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and left seven more wounded today while a Jurf Al-Sakhar roadisde bombing claimed 2 lives with two more wound while, also yesterday, Col. Samir Atrous was killed in a Samarra bombing that left two of his bodyguards wounded. And the air war continues as well. Reuters reports the US military is claiming 15 'terrorists' were killed in Adwaniya on Monday after they dropped two 500 pound bombs from the air on the area.

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer was shot dead and his wife injured in a Kirkuk shooting today while yesterday 2 sons, 2 daughters and a mother from the same family were killed. Reuters notes 1 police officer and 1 Iraqi soldier were shot dead in Hawija today while yesterday a man was shot dead in Kifl.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses in Baghdad and 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk.

IRIN reports "[m]ale gynaecologists are being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq as they are accues of invading the privacy of women," that at least 22 have received threatening letters while there is a shortage on male gynaecologists and very few female ones left in Iraq.

In political news,
AP reports that Bahaa al-Araji, apparently speaking for all 30 members of the Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament, has called for the "parliament to be dissolved and new elections held." This takes place while puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet continues with empty spots after he refused to agree to the requests of Sunni ministers. Those who keep giving lip service to a "political solution" that really means a US imposed "political situation" must be hoping no one notices al-Maliki's puppet government is as chaotic as it was in May 2006 when he kept missing deadlines to announce his complete cabinet. The escalation Bully Boy dubbed the 'surge' is ending as it was always planned to. 3,000 US service members stationed in Diyala Province will begin returning to the United States. And what got accomplished in the 'surge'? Puppet al-Maliki traveled a great deal (as did Iraq's president) but nothing's been accomplished. Not even the theft of Iraqi oil -- the White House pushed, big business written bill that would open Iraqi oil fields to foreign corporations and allow them to keep as much as 70% of the profits -- has been pushed through and the year is almost over. The United Nations' Relief Web has a list of things that still show no improvement such as: "Only one in three Iraqi children under the age of five has access to safe drinking water, according to UNICEF(4)."

Turning to the myth of civilians returning to Iraq. One return can be verified, McClatchy Newspaper's Leila Fadel has returned to Iraq. Of course, she's a journalist and American but her return can be verified placing her in a minority. As Baghdad Observer,
she explains the checkpoints, the body searches, the delays (including stand-still traffic) and everything else it takes to move through the Green Zone for two scheduled meetings -- one with a US military general: "Two are body searches, two are just badge checks. At one checkpoint pedestrians are asked to walk through a spaceship looking X-ray machine. The elderly Iraqi woman in front of me starts to cry when she is asked to spread her legs and arms and step inside the machine.'I'm scared,' she says between sobs. When I'm done there a dog sniffs my camera, cell phone and recorder for explosive substances." Along with the body searches, "a woman gropes for anything illegal under my clothes and searches through my bag." Meanwhile on the much talked up in the press returns (that cannot be proven), organizations aren't continuing to be silent in the face of these false claims made by the puppet government and the US military. Australia's ABC reports the Red Crescent Society has released their report for September which found "almost 370,000 Iraqis fled their homes" and that "almost 2.3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the US-led invasion in 2003." uruk.net reports the Iraqi Red Crescent has stated the numbers being tossed around by the Iraqi government regarding the internally displace are not accurate and "were not related realities of the situation faced by the displaced," that they stood by their numbers and their methodology (remember, as we noted last week, this is the same nonsense that was pulled with The Lancet study, a push to discredit the science with numbers the US military and the Iraqi government refused to backup by making public their own alleged tabulations) and quotes their statement: "The real number of displaced persons by October (was) well over two million, three hundred thousand displaced inside the country." In addition, the United Nations Secretary General's office today released findings on displaced around the world and included this: "In Iraq, there are some 2.2 million internally displaced that we know of." As the Iraqi government's laughable claims get questioned, Reuters reports, "U.S. Catholic bishops on Tuesday described the situation in Iraq as 'unacceptable and unsustainable,' and urged the Bush administration to pull out American troops in a responsible way as quickly as possible."

Ali al-Fadhily (IPS via Common Dreams) reports, "Claims are going the rounds that sectarian violence in Iraq has fallen, and that the U.S. military 'surge' has succeeded in reducing attacks against civilians. Baghdad residents speak of the other side of the coint -- that they now live in a largely divided city that has brought this uneasy calm." And repeating 'political solution' hasn't happened. Waleed al-Ubaidy tells al-Fadhily, "All that has happened is a dramatic change in the demographic map of Iraq" and that, "Most of the honest journalists have left." While, reflecting Leila Fadel's report on moving through the Green Zone, Ahmad Ali tells al-Fadhily, "Baghdad has been torn into two cities and many towns and neighbourhoods. There is now the Shia Baghdad and the Sunni Baghdad to start with. Then, each is divided into little twon-like pieces of the hundreds of thousands who had to leave their homes."

Along with the human costs, there is the issue of the money.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "A new study by Congressional Democrats estimates the total economic costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now total approximately $1.5 trillion dollars. The study estimates the 'hidden costs' of the conflict including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars. The Washington Post reports this amount is nearly double the $800 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage the wars through 2008." Josh White (Washington Post) reports that the calculated cost for the Iraq invasion is "$15,900 for a [US] family of four".