Friday, April 06, 2007

Narco News, global warming

Friday! The weekend! :D It'll be gone before we know it! So enjoy it while you can can or, like one of Dad's favorite songs says, "Get it while you can." (That's Janis Joplin.)

Today's was a busy and fun day. Tony and I did the intro for the speech in class. And the speaker? C.I. That was so cool. C.I. had already been speaking today and goes, "I am so sorry, I don't know what I'm supposed to talk about." :D I did e-mail the topic Wednesday! :D So I go it's "Why We Speak Out" and C.I. goes, no problem. And me and Tony had to signal the time so C.I. would know the pace. It really went over well, I mean really well. For someone who said they didn't know what they were going to talk about, that was really suprising. It was funny and it was serious. The last three minutes were about reaching out both to local groups and about to the people around you. "Affirmation and information" are important and you can do that and should do that (this is a paraphrase) with your friends but you also need to be reaching out to those who aren't involved yet. Nina, Tony and me got a plug for our group (which is tonight) and how it started (there wasn't enough coverage of Iraq so we started the real Iraq Study Group in 2005) and it was just a really great speech. Then it was like pile on the questions for the rest of the hour. Or that's what people in class thought. :D I knew what was coming which was not just answer a question and next, but getting the people asking to talk about what they're seeing, doing and feeling. It was really great. C.I. had to do two speeches right after but -- yeah, I begged -- now is here and will be taking part in our study group tonight. So I'm rushing.

Rebecca's not sure how much there will be on Gonzales tonight so I told her we could team up and pick two things from Democracy Now! and discuss them quickly. So check out her site for what she thinks of what we picked out.

"UN Warns Poor Will Suffer Most Because of Climate Change"
A new United Nations report on climate change warns that global warming could cause more shortages of food in Africa, more severe weather events in Europe and the United States, the decimation of coral reefs and the disappearance of the ice caps. The report is being released today at a major conference on global warming in Brussels. Experts said the poorest people in the world will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change.
Australian scientist Roger Jones: "The two biggest areas of risk for impacts, are the biodiversity and water. And amongst that, we see lots of other vulnerabilities. Some low-lying areas are vulnerable to sea level rise and to extreme events of course. And in particular, drought and fire, I think, are some of the two biggest risks that we see."The report was written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which groups the work of 2,500 scientists from the around the world.
UN Under-Secretary General Achim Steiner: "I think we today know that the series of impacts that are associated with climate change can not be isolated in terms of one phenomenon or another. A warmer winter may be one phenomenon that we will observe, but in fact, also in the richer countries in Europe and North America, we will see other effects that are associated with this. More extreme weather events, floods... These are all impacts that are part of the reality of living with climate change."

So if your my age, put yourself 40 or 50 years into the future and think about what that's going to look like and how people our age are going to be watching us and thinking, "You screwed it up for everyone." They're not going to be blaming the ones who are already dead and gone. They're going to be blaming the older ones still around like us.

Is that the kind of world you want? People fighting over water, hurricanes and tornadoes all over the place, food shortages? That's what's coming if we stay on this road.

"Report: AP Fires Correspondent Covering Oaxaca Uprising"
The Associated Press has reportedly fired a Mexican correspondent named Rebeca Romero due to her pro-government bias in her coverage of last year's populist uprising in Oaxaca. This
according to a report on the website Narco News. In January, Narco News revealed that Romero had violated the AP's code of ethics by accepting payments from the Oaxacan state government for advertisements on her personal website. Before her stint at the Associated Press, Romero had worked as a press secretary for the Mexican federal attorney general. For much of the conflict in Oaxaca U.S. newspapers relied solely on Associated Press articles written by Romero. A review of Romero's coverage by Narco News showed a consistent pattern of sensationalizing protester violence while sanitizing state violence through misreporting. Romero never published a single article that attempted to explain the protesters" motivations.

You know what I think of? After the fact that Narco News does good work, I think, "Gee, there's no Democrat in that story." Which probably means most of the so-called left will ignore it. It's not about a campaign. It's not the media beating up on some Democrat. It's about the very real corrupt system of journalism but 1/2 the online 'left' seem to think the only press problems are when Bill Clinton is made fun of.

This is something Tony passed me from Richard W. Behan's "The Complicity of Congress in a Criminal War:"

The US Congress has gone beyond compliance with George Bush's illegal war, and is now technically an accomplice-it is assisting with full knowledge in the perpetration of a crime. Congress has attained this status through two grave errors, one of omission and one of commission.
The Error of Commission
The Iraq Accountability Act passed the House as H.R. 1591 and slightly differently as S. 965 in the Senate. The versions await reconciliation in conference committee. Both bills set deadlines for troop withdrawal, both appropriate the money the President requested for prosecuting his war, and both require the Iraqi Parliament to pass its "hydrocarbon law," to enable the sharing of oil revenues among the Iraqi people.
Revenue sharing surfaced publicly when President Bush announced his troop surge initiative on January 10. It was one in a series of mandatory “benchmarks” he established for the Iraqi government to meet. "To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy," Mr. Bush said, "Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis." On the surface that is a benign, compassionate thing to do for a war-torn people.
As usual, it seems, Mr. Bush was consciously deceiving us. He failed to tell us the whole truth. The Iraqi hydrocarbon law also privatizes 81% of Iraq’s currently nationalized petroleum resources, opening them to "investment" by Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, and two British oil companies, BP/Amoco and Royal Dutch/Shell. (For further details, see Joshua Holland, "
Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil.") These companies expect to sign the rarely used and notoriously profitable contracts called "production sharing agreements" which guarantee them extraordinarily high profit margins: they might capture more than half of the oil revenues for the first 15-30 years of the contracts' lifespan, and deny Iraq any income at all until their infrastructure "investments" have been recovered.
So the Iraqi people will share among themselves all the revenue from 1/5th of their country’s oil reserves. But they will get only a fraction from the remaining 4/5ths, where the American and British oil companies expect to generate immense profits. (Read more in Crude Designs, Greg Muttitt, ed., a report by the UK’s Platform Group.)

It's a strong article and Congress is now an accomplice. There's a lot of people pretending and cheerleading, but it's an accomplice. That's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, lies of war get exposed but Cheney continues to lie, the US military aids a terrorist group (designated as such by the US State Department) in Iraq -- aids and escorts, and airstrikes hit the Diwaniya province.

Starting with war resistance, approximately 40 US war resisters have self-checked out, moved to Canada and filed paperwork to be legally granted asylumn in Canada. (Approximately 40 have filed papers, hundreds have gone to Canada and are not attempting to go through the legal process.)
Reuben Apple (Eye Weekly) notes that war resisters appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board to argue their case are prevented from saying "We think this killing is unlawful" and they "are asking our Federal Court of Appeal for the right to say" those six words. Apple notes that attorney Jeffry House -- who represents many war resisters -- is a Canadian citizen today because of the country's policies during an earlier illegal war (Vietnam) when a real prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, didn't cower before Tricky Dick Nixon but instead declared, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." Tricky Dick's response to that statement and policy was to call the Canadian prime minister an "asshole" and Trudeau's comeback was that he'd "been called worse things by better people."

Apple notes war resisters Ryan Johnson ("wake up and get involved with something, nuclear disarmament, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, anything, because it's the people that can end this"), Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key: "Two weeks ago, three big men in trench coats, claiming to be 'Toronto police,' came with questions to the home of Winnie Ng, a campaigner who once hosted Key. According to Toronto Star reports of the incident, it seems American military authorities would like to speak with Key. If they want to discuss The Deserter's Tale with its author, they can go to his next talk, or they can call his lawyer, Jeffrey House. Key has legal status in Canada as a refugee claimant, and officials should tell the American government that our police, if those men were our police, are not their messengers."

Earlier this week, Monday, on Canada's
Gorilla Radio, host Chris Cook interviewed the War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky on the topic of US war resisters in Canada. Zaslofsky spoke of what was known and what wasn't known -- such as Kyle Snyder was detained by Canadian police (and that was on the US military's orders though Zaslofsky didn't note that) but he was not deported. During this "mistaken arrest," Snyder was told he was being deported. (He legally cannot be deported.) Cook noted that when a war resister appears before the Refugee and Immigration Board, they are not appearing before a group of people, the board has one person designated to hear that case. Like attorney Jeffry House, Zaslofsky came to Canada during Vietnam as a war resister. Zaslofsky noted that Synder's status in Canada has changed as a result of the fact that he is now married. (That would be to Maleah Friesen, whom Zaslofsky didn't note.) As Friesen's spouse, Snyder has more avenues available to Canadian citizenship. March 19th, Zaslofsky noted, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were before the Federarl Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision which, if necesarry, Zasolfsky states, "We'll appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Snyder, Key, Hinzman and Hughey are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, 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.

From war resistance to reality as we dig into some of the lies of the illegal war. From yesterday's

Robert Knight: Also in Iraq, a spokesperson for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is today denying reports that Sistani rejected a new draft law that would allow former members of the Baath party to retain or regain government employment. Sistani's Beriut based representive, Hamed al-Kafaf said, "What some news agencies said, quoting who they described as an aide to al-Sistani about his position on the de-Baathification law was not true." Recent reports that Sistani was against the draft law can be traced to a meeting earlier this week between Sistani and the prevaracating US intelligence asset Ahmed Chalabi who heads the so-called de-Baathification commission and who remains dead set against an easment of the anti-Baath legislation imposed by the occupation forces. Sistani's representative added, "We are surprised by attempts trying to get the Shia clerical establisment involved in a case which is the speciality of constitutional organizations."
And in other news, the overnight release of 15 British sailors by the Iranian government has generated mixed signals in what some say was a quid pro quo that in regard to the 5 Iranian diplomats who were seized last Janurary by American forces in Iraq. Iranian media reported overnight that an Iranian diplomatic official would be allowed to meet with the five diplomatic detainees. But Secreatary of Defense Robert Gates said today that the Bush administration was not planning to release the five who were abducted in a raid on the Iranian consulate's office in the northern Iraqi city of Ibril.
And in a related note, a captain among the detained British sailors who were released was revealed to have admitted that there mission the Shaw al abray waterway between Ira1 and Iran, unsurprisingly did indeed involve elements of intelligence gathering Britain' s Murdoch owned Sky News is reporting today that Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested and just five days
before the crisis began, in an interview recorded the Thursday before the seizure that happened two weeks ago, Captain Air stated to the interviewer that his crew's assignment was "To gather intelligence. If they do not have any information because they're there for days at a time, the people on the boats can share it with us. Whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area obviously we're right by the bufferzone with Iran." And that's some of the news of this Thursday April 5, 2007. From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today that "British Defense Secretary Des Browne defended the intelligence operation. Browne said it was important to gather intelligence to 'keep our people safe'." Goodman also noted that Sky News sat on the story "until the release of the sailors."

Turning to other lies of war,
R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) reports today that a US Defense Department report (declassifired yesterday and written by Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble) states the obvious -- in 2002 the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency both knew the claims that Saddam Hussein had a links to al Qaeda were incorrect. Smith notes the report was released yesterday, "on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq 'before we ever launched' the war". Dick Cheney's remarks are not merely 'incorrect,' they are lies. Peter Speigel (Los Angeles Times) reports that "The Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA each 'published reports that disavowed any "mature, symbiotic" cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' the inspector general's report found." AP notes that US Senator Carl Levin "requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble. In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate." Strangely in the face of Cheney's lies about terrorism, Michael Ware (CNN) reports that the US military is currently protecting a non al Qaeda group in Iraq that the US State Department has "labeled a terrorist organization" -- Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) -- and that "[t]he U.S. military . . . regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf." Why? MEK is an anti-Iranian group. Ware reports that the Iraqis government wants the group out and quotes Iraq's National Security Minister Shirwan al-Wa'eli stating, "We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross. And presumably our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land."

Returning to the topic of the lies that led to war, they were lies in real time -- scary lies to some -- they're sad lies now. Another popular lie is "if only we knew then . . ."
US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Chris Dodd tells that sweet little lie: "Had we known before the war what we know today -- that there were no weapons of mass destruction; that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; that there was no imminent threat from Iraq to America's security or vital interests -- Congress would never have considered, let alone voted to authorize, the use of force in Iraq." A comforting lie to some, but a lie nonetheless. In October 2002, (PDF format warning) US House Rep Dennis Kucinich provided an analysis of the US administration's false claims and noted, among other things: "There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States. A 'continuing' threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war. The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11." The analysis makes the point repeatedly: "There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida. . . . There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11." 125 Democrats in Congress voted against the Iraq war resolution. Kucinich, who is running for President, was among the 125.

To suggest that 'we were all wrong' is to replace one lie with another. Professor Francis Boyle was interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner for the March 28, 2007 broadcast of
KPFA's Guns and Butter and he shared the experience, from March 13, 2003, of joining former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for a meeting with Congressional Democrats where the subject was impeachment of the Bully Boy and how impeachment could stop the war. Though there was strong interest in that, an appearance by John Podesta deralied it as he screeched that doing so would hurt the Democrats 2004 election chances. As Kat notes of that interview, Boyle and Clark "were both getting their cabs" after and Boyle asked Clark what had happened? Clark explained that Democratic leadership wanted the illegal war. Boyle also discussed the meeting with Dori Smith for Talk Nation Radio in May 2006 (link takes you to audio and transcript via Information Clearing House) where he noted: "The main objection" to impeachment "was political expedience and in particular John Podesta was there. He had been [Bill] Clinton's White House chief of staff. He stated he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Commitee and that as far as the DNC was concerned it was going to hurt their ability to get whoever their candidate was going to be in 2004 elected President if we put in these bills of impeachment. I found that argument completely disingenuous when the Democrats had no idea who their candidate was going to be in 2004 as of March 2003."

From Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (
City Lights Press), pp. 199-200:

Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war nor trust Bush and his administration, and evidence of official deception has become old news, we might ask: why were so many people so easily fooled?
The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans -- members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen -- rushed to declare their support as the president was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the UN Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech that may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with adminiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."
The truth was that a small army of UN inspectors could not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A large army of 100,000 soldiers marauding through the country could not find them. But back in February 2003 the White House said: "We know for a fact that there are weapons there." Vice President Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press: "[W]e believe Saddam has in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." On March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld said on ABC TV: "We know where they are." And Bush said on Polish TV: "We've found the weapons of mass destruction."
The only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq turned out to be ours: bombs and missiles raining down by the thousands, cluster bombs spewing out deadly pellets, the arsenal of the greatest military power on earth visiting destruction on yet another country.
Self-determination for the Iraqis becomes an ironic claim as the new officialdom, headed by wealthy exiles, is flown by U.S. planes into Iraq and positions of power. In Vietnam there was a similar claim as Ngo Dinh Diem was flown into Saigon to rule South Vietnam in the interest of U.S. hegemony in Southeast Asia.

Which brings us back to the points Robert Knight was making earlier about Chalabi. On Tuesday,
Edward Wong (New York Times) reported that Ahmad Chalabi was stating that al-Sistani was opposed to allowing former members of the Baath party to rejoin the government (Wong notes that Chalabi heads up the commission and that it was "set up L. Paul Bremer III, the American pro-consul who governed Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004. Mr. Bermere's very first order was to purge former Baathists from the government, a task that Mr. Chalabi's commission pasisonately carried out"). On Wednesday, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported that: "An official spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani distanced the ayatollah from reports published Monday and Tuesday saying that the marjiay, the most senior Shiite clerics, disagreed with the plan, which was proposed jointly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talbani." Which begs the question why any serious outlet would take a word from Chalabi's mouth seriously? The exile who helped sell the war is attempting to position himself back to the top of the puppet regime. But, as Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes today, Chalabi's got competition from another US backed exile: "Some politicians say they believe the talk of a new parliamentary alliance is a cover for an attempt by Allawi to take another run at ruling Iraq. Allawi was installed as interim prime minister in mid-2004 by the U.S.-led government in Iraq, but he was swept from office by the groundswell of support for religious parties in January 2005." That's Iyad Allawi a one time prime minister of Iraq who was then and is now also a citizen of Britain. Allawi and Chalabi aren't only exiles (heavily funded before the illegal war with US tax dollars), they're also related. The current puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki (emphasis on "current") is another exile who returned to Iraq only after the US invaded. Which must mean that around kitchen tables across Iraq, children are being told, "Clean your plate, spend some time in exile, and some day you can grow up to be Prime Minister."


Most attemtnion is on Ramadi today where a bombing has claimed multiple lives.
CBS and AP report the death toll at "at least 27" and many more are wounded from "A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas [who] crashed into a police checkpoint in western Ramadi". CNN notes at least 30 wounded and that two police officers are among the dead. AFP calls it "the biggest chemical attack by insurgents in Iraq since the invasion" and notes that it took place "next to a market and residential buildings".

Reuters notes a Hawija bombing that left four police officers wounded, two Kirkuk bombings that left six people wounded and mortar attacks in Baghdad which killed three and left five wounded.

Al Jazeera reports that "in the city of Diwaniya, Iraqi and US forces clashed on Friday with fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader in a major operation. . . . Residents and an Iraqi security source in Diwaniya said a curfew had been imposed and that troops were blocking streets and conducting house-to-house searches." DPA notes "at least 30 men were killed and many others wounded" and that "US military aircraft flew over the city and all roads were sealed off . . . The local authorities also imposed a curfew all over the city." Steven R. Hurst (AP) reports: "Dr. Hameed Jaafi, the director of Diwaniyah Health Directorate, said an American helicopter fired on a house in the Askari neighborhood, seriously wounding 12 people as the assault began." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A man named Jassim, from Sadr's Diwaniyah office, said that U.S. troops had entered the city before dawn from three locations with tanks and helicopters flying overhead, taunting the Mahdi army fighters. . . . He claimed that two civilians had been killed by snipers as they tried to go to work" which the US military denies. AFP notes at least one dead and that "Polish aircraft dropped leaflets over the city ordering local police officers to stay home, warning that anyone who went out with a weapon will be considered a target, a military spokesman confirmed."


Reuters reports Sheikh Ghazi al-Hanash was shot dead in Mosul, three police officers were wouned by gunfire in Baghdad, Sheikh Karim Omran al-Shafi was injured in an attack in Hilla, and two people were shot dead "in the Amil District in southwestern Baghdad."


Reuters notes four corpses discovered in Tal Afar. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the corpse of Khamail Khalaf was discovered yesterday. Bloomberg News reports: "An Iraqi reporter for a U.S.-backed radio station has been found dead in Baghdad after going missing two days ago. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on its Web site that the body of Khamail Khalaf was found with bullet holes in her head and wounds on her body" and the article notes she had worked for RFE "since 2004." This was noted yesterday but she has been reported as a TV journalist -- which she was until the start of the war.

Finally, on Thursday,
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the latest developments in governmental spying "a secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain and question a group of protesters in a downtwon parking garage in April 2002. Some of the protesters were interrogated on videotape about their political and religious beliefs." Excerpt:

Amy Goodman: We're also joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of Partnership for Civil Justice. Mara, talk about the significance of this, of the years of denial that the FBI were involved.

Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, as Nat said, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department have steadfastly held that it didn't happen. We believe our clients. We know that this happens. We have evidence in other cases of FBI involvement in intelligence gathering on political protesters. And in discovery request after discovery request, in sworn responses in hearings before the court, over and over again, the FBI, the MPD have done everything they can to suggest that this is somehow complete fabrication. And we have sought for years, as well, to get a particular document, the document that now places the FBI squarely at the scene of the arrests and doing intelligence gathering. And that's the running resume. It's a document that indicates, line by line, what the MPD and federal police and other law enforcement agencies are doing during protests. We've been able to obtain them in virtually every protest case we're litigating in D.C. And in this case, they actually told us it didn't exist, and they swore it didn't exist -- and now we know why. This document says very clearly FBI intelligence is on the scene and the protesters are being questioned. And the only way this finally came up is they gave it to us the one business day before a deposition we were taking of one of the MPD members who's responsible for developing this document.

Juan Gonzalez: And what has been the response of the law enforcement officials who kept saying that they didn't have any records of this?

Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, we want a response. We have filed a motion for sanctions with the court. As well, the FBI has filed a motion to dismiss themselves from the case. We don't see that there can be any basis for their dismissal -- and this situation is really important, because we think it's sort of the tip of the iceberg. We think it's one tentacle coming up that's quite visible of a larger operation. The questions that they were asking protesters, the questions about who were you with, what are your political beliefs, where are you staying -- associational, political questions -- that's programmatic questioning. It's not random questioning. It's the kind of information you collect when you're building a database, an associational database and a network database of information. And it's all purely political. It's all First Amendment-protected political activity, political association.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Law and Disorder

Thursday! Almost the weekend and Leigh Ann and Beau both wrote to say that time moved so fast for them too. Leigh Ann's got a cousin she's close to who always complains about how slow everything's going and he doesn't follow the war (she does drag him to protests and started that this year -- her resolution for the year was show up with more than just herself). So she said she thinks my grandfather's right. (He'll love hearing that and he may read it here before I get time to tell him.)

Okay, it's time to talk Classic Disco like I try to do once a week.

Classic Disco?

Mike, you've never talked Classic Disco! Bump bump bump, do the hustle!


"Classic Disco" is the name of WBAI's Law and Disorder.

I thought that was a one time thing and it keeps happening. I asked C.I.'s friend (who burns each week's episode for me) if he was putting it on there. He said he wasn't. But when I put it in my computer drive and the player matches the CD with information, it shows up as Classic Disco. :D That always cracks me up. Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith are the hosts. Did I spell Dalia's name wrong recently? If so, my bad. I was probably copying that from a snapshot C.I. dictated to a friend who spelled it that way.

So the show opened with Dalia and Michael Ratner discussing the first military tribunal for a Guantanamo prisoner. Dalia said that it was "nothing short of horrorifying" and talked about how David Hicks' hair was "halfway down his back" to cover his eyes so he could sleep bcause "they keep the lights on his cell 24 -7 so he can't sleep." Now Rumsfeld was supposed to write up the rules and never did, remember that.

Hicks goes in with three lawyers and he points out all the lawyers the prosecution has and says his are going to need some help. The judge disagrees and strips him of one lawyer right there claiming that she's in the reserves and not on active duty (Michael called that crap -- in nicer words). Now remember the rules aren't written. Another lawyer brings that up and the Judge is all 'Oh, I know about this, I'll write the rules.' He just needs the lawyer to sign on to them and the lawyer says, besides the fact that Rumsfeld was supposed to write the rules, he can't agree to something that's not even written yet. The judge has now gotten rid of two attorneys. So Hicks is left with one lawyer (Morey) and that's among the things he was thinking about when he decided to plea. Michael Ratner pointed out that Hicks has been held since January 11, 2002. Five years and counting he has been a prisoner. He's Australian and he's got kids in Australia so if he hadn't pleaded and had been convicted, he could have gotten 20 or more years in prison and never seen them before. Michael thinks he'll serve a little time in Australia (it's supposed to be 9 months, I think) and get some credit for time served and then be set free.

Dalia pointed out that Hicks was being charged for his actions from December 2000 to December 2001 and that "the armed conflict did not begin . . . until October 2001. What is interesting about the military commissions is that they backdate the war on terror . . . so that offenses committed before October 1" can become charges.

She also wondered, "When did the CIA stop giving aid to the Taliban? . . . Can we backdate it to some of the" US officials who gave support to the Taliban?

Now I agree with Dalia but I should note that if The Nation was reviewing that statement they would call her 'emotional' as they did with the two women who wrote books about Afghanistan that dealt with the realities. The male reviewer loved the book by the guy who saw the fun and madness in the journey but the women were "emotional". The reviewer also bragged about going to a whorehouse in Afghanistan. That's the kind of crap you get in The Nation. And when that review ran this year, you need to remember that the editor and publisher was Katrina vanden Heuvel who apparently has no problem with a man doing that to two women (one was the NPR reporter who left NPR to try to help out in Afghanistan, the other was a writer The Nation often publishes and I forget both their names).

Dalia's right and I agree with her but I'm just offering that because maybe you're sick of The Nation (who isn't?) and if you are, you can listen to Law and Disorder and hear the stuff The Nation tries to cover up. Yes, the rag let the reviewer deny the CIA connection. Ava and C.I. steered the Christmas weekend edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review (and that was a strong edition) and led on "The Nation's Slap In The Face to women." Those of us who were working on the edition were talking about providing research and all on how this was a lie (that the CIA didn't fund the Taliban) but C.I. and Ava came up with using Gore Vidal because his two books that mention this were published by . . . Nation Books (the magazine's book imprint) and they remain the ONLY BESTSELLERS the imprint has had. Here's a taste of that piece:

Now we could go to Greg Palast or the BBC to show what a fool Peter Bergen is. But this garbage appears in The Nation. So maybe the better question is why did The Nation publish Gore Vidal's Dreaming War in 2002 (it remains one of the few bestsellers the imprint Nation Books has ever seen -- gag books and joke books don't generally have long shelf lives)?
If Bergen's correct then Gore Vidal's entire book is wrong. Not only did The Nation publish Vidal's book, it continues to sell the book -- without corrections.
So which is it? Is centrist and hack Bergen correct or is Gore Vidal? Is The Nation going to stand with a writer of merit (Vidal) or the personal friend of someone at the magazine?
The tawdry crap Bergen churns out doesn't belong in The Nation.
The long-winded, non-review also contains a familiar subtext: women's rights don't matter. Feminists engaged in the Afghanistan issue in the 90s, trying to get a non-responsive Congress and administration to pay attention, will remember that message. It's back today and Bergen's selling it. For some strange reason, Bergen's selected to review three books on Afghanistan.
Apparently, The Nation knows of no women qualified to address the topic of Afghanistan so they had to go with a self-proclaimed 'terror expert.' (Strange, in and of itself, when you consider that The Nation regularly tells readers the so-called war on terror is bunk.) For future reference, here's three women who can address the topic quite well (and much better than 'centrist' Bergen): Weeda Mansoor, Sunita Mehta and Fariba Nawa. That's just three, there are many others.

I love that feature. Same edition, Ava and C.I. started "The Nation Stats" which is a feature whenever an issue arrives that covers the fact that the left magazine (or "left") headed by a woman (Katrina vanden Heuvel) barely publishes women. (It's currently 3.8 men for every woman so you can round that up to 4 men for every woman.) Ava and C.I. get credit on that because they were in charge that issue (Jim, Dona, Jess and Ty took Christmas off), because a number of feminists started raising the issue of lack of representation for women at The Nation in the fall of 2006 and C.I. did a really hard hitting piece (for the gina & krista round-robin) covering the lack of women in 2006, and because everyone at Third (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) were in agreement that they needed to do this and follow it through the year so that we would have totals for the full year. Which is what we have going on now. By the way, I mentioned yesterday that we'd be addressing the crappy Nation article on the SDS at Third. We still will in some way but C.I. links to a great article in the snapshot (it'll be at the end of my post) and let me give credit that won't get credited otherwise. C.I. outlined a piece and the points Bernadine Dohrn makes were pretty much the same. That's not a surprise because Dohrn was in the Weather Underground and SDS (and she's written a great article). But now we're scrambling to figure out how to address it. But we will. That article was crap.

So back to Law and Disorder. Donna Lieberman was a guest and she is with the NYCLU. She was on discussing the 2004 police harassment, spying of peaceful protestors for the RNC convention in NYC. They even went out and interviewed/spied on people months before the convention. They were spying on Billionaires for Bush (which is a parody group) and on musicians who were taking part in concerts. And claiming that they weren't spying and if they did it was just on people who were 'dangerous types'. So that got exposed and she was on to discuss it. I like her as a guest. She's been on before. And they didn't just spy in this country, they went to Canada and more. This is the NYC police department. If Bloomberg wasn't a Republican, do you think they would have gotten away with it? I don't. They bent all the rules leading up to 2004 and by then they were willing to just break them. And they didn't just go around as police trying to intimidate people, they posed as activists and stuff. (If you're a community member, remember the two columns C.I. wrote on this. If you're not a member, somewhere at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we used one of those experiences for half a short story -- probably in the 2006 fiction edition which was probably in June. We're already gearing up for the fiction edition this week. And wait, it's the week after the fiction edition. Cedric had a great idea for a short story and nobody used it. So the week after, C.I. and Cedric roughed it out and the rest of us wrote it and it combined that and C.I.'s thing. But we are working on the edition some. Thinking about it to be ready. C.I.'s got an opening line for a short story and Ty had something happen, something he and C.I. observed, and that's going to be another short story. What happened in 2005, the first year they did a fiction edition, was that it was a last minute thing but they grabbed stuff they'd all done. They pulled stuff from old journals of C.I.'s and Dona's and stuff they'd written for other stuff and just expanded on it and had a great fiction issue. They did not like the 2006 fiction issue and that's why we're already supposed to be thinking about it so we're not struggling -- like we were -- on a Saturday night to suddenly come up with all these ideas.)

Now after that, they had a bit of comedy before the last segment. I liked it. Dad did too but my sister said, "Tell the joke!" :D What was going on was Michael Ratner was reading funny court moments from a book that is called Disorder in the Court. And he would get to laughing so hard that he would need a laughing break to get it out. I thought that made it funnier. Dad did too. But Ratner should watch out for the angry teenager who is pissed because she is semi-grounded demographic! :D My sister's lost phone and other privl. She did something stupid (but not criminal) and Ma and Dad grounded her. Her whole attitude is "I'm too old for this!" My attitude is, "You are too old to do something that stupid!" :D So this week (she's ungrounded Friday night if she doesn't screw up before then) is all about her storming room to room and nothing's ever good enough for Goldilocks. :D That music isn't good. That TV show is lame. This doesn't taste right. People are making too much noise outside. She's got one complaint after another. She heard Dad and me laughing as we listened to the CD and stormed in determined to to make everyone as miserable as she is. (She hates it when I write about her but she wouldn't shut up while we were trying to listen and I go, "You know I blog about this, so you better be quiet or you're going to be in my post." She stomped out of the room screaming, "I DON'T CARE!" :D) So if Michael Ratner wants to win over that demographic he'll need to (a) laugh less and (b) agree to represent her in family court so she can fight her grounding sentence. :D

It really was funny, that segment. I hope they find a way to do something like that again and I would say they should do it just like it was this time. It's hard to tell you and make you laugh, probably. But it was questions asked in court during cross examination and like one thing was if the doctor was sure the victim was dead before the autopsy was performed? The lawyer was asking stuff like did you take a pulse and these other questions and the answer was always "no" and then at the end the lawyer asks how the doctor knew the victim was dead and the doctor says because the victim's brain was in a jar on a shelf. :D (That one resulted in my sister screaming, from the other room, "That is not funny! That person is dead! They do not have a brain!" :D)

Donna Lieberman was back for the last segment and Deborah Small of Break the Chain joined them. They were discussing the fact that people are being stopped on the streets of NYC. It's targeting minorities (Latinos and African-Americans) and increasing the number of arrests for minor things. Now not only is that wrong but they then put all this information in the NYC police database and it doesn't end there because then it's accessible all over the country by all these people in the government. So they're profiling (bad enough) and then creating these secret files. This is like the files that Hoover kept on "enemies" like John Lennon and other people and it also reminded me of their story they did a few weeks back (maybe last week) on the phone companies and how these files were being kept on people.

Now if it seems like the first segment got the most attention from me, that's because I was all eager to type! :D I loved all the segments but that was a strong one and, most importantly, I was writing about it first! So that's Law and Disorder and it airs on many stations but you can hear it Mondays at 10:00 a.m. on WBAI. Anytime at the Law and Disorder website. C.I.'s friend gets a big thank you from me for burning each week's episode for me. I was talking to C.I. about it and going on about how I would have my own Law and Disorder library! :D C.I. said, "If you don't loan them out." C.I. does (which is fine with C.I. -- attitude is, "If someone can use it in a paper or just for their own enjoyment and knowledge, great.") and there are probably 5 that C.I. has now from 2006. The others have gone off on their own life. That's why C.I.'s friend uses the discs that you can write over. :D He says that's great if someone's listening but if they're going to end up recording over it, forget it. :D

Three people e-mailed to say "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" by Judy Collins is a great recording. Susan also e-mailed about that. She's a big music lover in the community and she gave me her suggestion for CD to get but said if C.I. had a different suggestion, go with that "because C.I. knows you better than I do." True, but Susan and C.I. both suggested the same thing, Judy Collins' Forever. It's a double disc anthology and it has that on it and the Marat/Sade thing I love and Susan said "So Early, Early In The Spring" (which I did know because of Dad, but didn't know it was on that collection). C.I. said I had to hear "Pirate Jenny and "Bird On A Wire." And as soon as I post this, I'll be listening to that. I gave Tony money for it because he was running around doing errands and he's here now, we're going to eat a pizza and prepare for an into we have to do for tomorrow's class.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and read Bernadine Dorhn's article, it's great:

Thursday, April 5, 2007. Chaos and vionce continue in Iraq,the 15 British soldiers are returned to England but the Iranian diplomats remain held by the US military, a US helicopter is shot down, both the British and the US military announce the latest death tolls, and can a moment be seized?

BBC reports on the return to England of the 15 British soldiers who were captured by Iranian's when the British were in disputed waters off the coast of Iraq. Released after nearly two weeks, the five Iranian diplomats that the US kidnapped in a January raid on a diplomatic consulate (recognized as such by the Kurdish government -- and still recognized as diplomats by the Iraqi government) are still being held. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, stated, "It was not a clanestine operation. . . . They operated with the approval of the regional government and with the knowledge of the Iraqi government. We were in the process of formalizing that liaison office into a consulate." Wong also notes that 200 Kurdish soldiers attempted to prevent the five diplomats from being taken off by the US military back in January.

Turning to news of war resistance,
Ehren Watada has new legal representation. Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first to be court-martialed (in a court-martial Judge Toilet ruled a mistrial over the objection of the defense) is no longer represented by Eric Seitz. William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) quotes Seitz stating, "I think the way to put it is I'm not representing him anymore and he's found another firm" and Bob Watada (Ehren's father) stating, "I have the highest opinion of Eric Seitz. But it's Ehren's decision." Hawaii's KNDO notes that Watada's next court-martial is scheduled for July 16th. Whether it will go foward or not is up in the air because double-jeporady should have attached when Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. Head) declared a mistrial, over defense objection, in the midst of the trial. Cole notes Watada is now represented by Carney Badley Spellman in Seattle. Fort Lewis is in Seattle so that is one plus (Seitz resides in Hawaii). Another is the strong lawyers working for the firm such as Jim Lobsenz. AP notes "Watada is currently assigned to an administrative position at Fort Lewis." Earlier this week, Paul Rockwell (Berkeley Daily Planet) summarzies Watada's case thus far and notes that "Watada never volunteered -- no soldier volunteers -- to violate human rights, to violate American treaties, to destroy the sovereignty of nations, to participate in aggression. A contract to break the law has no legal standing."

Ehren Watada is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, 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 Iraq today, another helicopter has gone down.
The Times of London reports that the downing took place "this morning after coming under fire in a Sunni militrant stonghold south of baghdad, an Iraqi army officials said. AFP reports that "four personnel on board a US army helicopter were wounded and 'evacuated' when it crashed south of Baghdad. Five others on board were safe". CNN reports that an unnamed US military official has stated that the helicopter "appeared to be damaged by small-arms fire" and notes that 8 helicopters "have been shot down or forced to make hard landings" since January 20, 2007. Hard landings? Sweeter word for "crash." AP provides a list of 9 helicopter incidents (beginning on January 20th) leading up to today's which, they note, resulted from "an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun" according to an "Iraqi official."

That was only one incident of violence reported today.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five IED explosions throughout Baghdad that killed 3 people and left 7 injured, and two Baghdad mortar attacks left 4 people dead and 10 wounded. CBS and AP report a car bombing in western Baghdad that left "at least six guards" of "a Sunni Muslim television station" injured. This comes as Reporters Without Borders issues their statement condeming the kidnapping and beating of journalist Nabaz Goran who was kidnapped and assaulted by "five men in military uniforms" in the city of Ebril. On the attack on the Baghdad TV station, Reuters notes one person was killed and a total of 10 were wounded.Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "a young man" was shot dead and another wounded in Muqdadiya "near one of the internet cafes and playing centers" while an attempted kidnapping of a student in Baghdad left one security guard at Mustansiriyah University dead and 4 more injured. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports: "A three-year-old child was felled by a sniper's bullet as he sat in his grandather's lap in a car at a south Baghdad intersection, police said. A security guard at Yarmouk Hospital, which receives a steady stream of bloodied victims, said he broke down in tears when he saw the tiny body." AFP reports that seven Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul. Dean Yates and Ross Colvin (Reuters) cite an "army source" (presumably Iraqi army) who says that the soldiers had been surprised in their sleep. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) also notes a rocket attack "near a high school and police station in Kanan" which left 4 children wounded.


AFP reports that Khamael Muhsin's corpse was found today. Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports Khamel Muhsin was an "Iraqi radio announcer" who had last been seen "Wedensday in west Baghdad." Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Baquba and the corpses of two women were discovered "on the main road between Diyala and Wasit province". Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports eleven corpses discovered in Baghdad and that a total of 22 corpses were discovered in Baquba.

Now let's stop for a moment to note that Khamael Muhsin was found dead and two other women were found dead.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) adds to the body of reported violence against women by noting that two teachers (women) and their driver disappeared "three days ago" and Badra police were attempting to determine whether the two missing women were the corpses (heads only, according to Issa) discovered between Diyala and Wasit province. Issa also notes that "a principle of a primary school and her assistant were kidnapped by insurgents near one of the banks in Baquba before the eyes of a combined security patrol." Team all of that up with the three explosions Issa reports "in front of the Institute of Teachers for Girls" in Kirkuk. But let's all pretend that women aren't targeted simply due to their gender.

Today, the
US military announced: "A MND-B Soldier died when the patrol was attacked by small arms fire in the southern outskirts of Baghdad April 3. The unit was conducting a dismounted patrol when the attack occurred. One other Soldier was wounded in the attack."And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died April 3 when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a presence patrol in the area when the attack occurred." And they announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, two MND-B Soldiers died and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated in a southern section of the Iraqi capital April 4." And they announced: "While providing escort security for another unit, two MND-B Soldiers died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated north of the Iraqi capital April 4. In recent weeks, this unit has successfully found numerous weapons caches and detained several targeted insurgents within their area of responsibility. In a separate incident, an MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting an area reconnaissance mission when the attack occurred. No other Soldiers were wounded during the attack."
AFP puts the count of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 3261, Reuters puts it at 3,264 and ICCC puts it at 3265.

And the
UK Military annonced, ""It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that four British soldiers and a civilian interpreter have been killed in Iraq today, 5 April 2007. The five were killed in a roadside bomb attack against a Warrior patrol west of Basra this morning. Next of kin are being informed and no further details will be released until this process is complete. " Why the British government begins sentence number two with "The five were killed . . ."? Typo? One more they haven't reported yet? Who knows?
AFP count for British soldiers who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 140, Reuters also goes with 140, as does ICCC.

Al Jazeera reports that the attack also claimed the life of "a civilian translator". Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports, "British authorities were trying to determine the nationality of the interpreter who was killed. He was not an Iraqi, and contrary to news service news reports he did not appear to be from Kuwait".

Turning to the US Congress, Tuesday on
Free Speech Radio News, Leigh Ann Caldwell reported on the latest talk of a new Senate bill regarding the war: "Responding to Bush's veto threats to the $124 billion war supplemental, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Russ Feingold have come up with a backup plan, a plan that goes further. It would stop funding US combat missions on March 31st of next year. It's important to note though that troops would remain for security reasons and to fight al Qaeda in Iraq." (Thank you to Micah and another member who both transcribed Caldwell.) On the measures passed by the House and Senate previously, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch) observe, "Although nothing of any significance actually happened on March 32, to read liberal commentators one would think we'd witnessed some profound upheaval, courtsey of Nancy Pelosi's skillful uniting of the various Democratic factions. What she accomplished in practice was the neutering of the antiwar faction. . . . Will Congressional opposition to the war now get stronger, anchored by Pelosi's bill? Not likely. The window of opportunity for that flew open right after the election when antiwar forces roared in outrage after being snubbed by Pelosi and Reid, who omitted the war and the Patriot Act from their must-do agenda. Instead, the Democratic leadership chose merely to appear to oppose the war while continuing to fund it. This they have now achieved, amid the satisfied cheers of the progressive sector."

United for Peace and Justice is advising "We Must Seize the Moment:"

As people of the United States, taking action to right these terrible wrongs is our greatest responsibility. Join us in letting our elected representatives know that we want the war to end and the troops to come home now!
Congress is now on recess, giving us an opportunity to take our message directly to them in their homes offices: Start bringing the troops home from Iraq now, bring all the troops home in 2007, and no war in Iran! The House of Representatives will be on recess March 31-April 15, and the Senate from March 31-April 9. Now is the time to make our voices heard.
Click here for ways to take action.
Scheduled a meeting with your reps?
Please post it on our events calendar.
Suggested reading on the supplemental:
Are We Politicians or Citizens? by Howard Zinn
UFPJ Talking Points: Opposing the Iraq Supplemental & Iran Threats by Phyllis Bennis
CODEPINK is asking that we stop the purchase:

Don't Buy Bush's War! "CODEPINK believes that not one more dollar should be appropriated for continued war and occupation, and will continue to push the position that Congress should only fund the safe, orderly and rapid withdrawal of all troops by the end of this year." Read more of CODEPINK's response to the passing of the supplemental bill. We will continue our broad and exciting Don't Buy Bush's War Campaign. We need to flood the offices, halls, sidewalks and streets of Congress with people opposed to the war from now through this Fall. We're asking for your help to get people to Washington DC and to do similar actions locally. CALL CONGRESS: we're also asking you to call and email your member of Congress telling him or her to stop buying Bush's war. Watch the Washington Post's film about this campaign.

Those who don't see the urgency in ending the war quickly should read
Deborah Sontag's (New York Times) article on Iraq veteran Sam Ross who returned from Iraq blind and missing a portion of his left leg and was left to address mental and emotional issues arises from his time in Iraq and his injuries with no help or assistance from the government that so gladly sent him into an illegal war.

Finally, though the plan is still to address the idiotic article in The Nation (
noted last Friday), Bernadine Dohrn (writing at CounterPunch) has already done so: "Christopher Phelps has written a timely but ultimately disappointing article in The Nation about the vibrant and growing student movement. He transforms the tough challenges of movement-building into a set of tepid forumulas about what not to do. The new wave of student activism in American and around the world is a hopeful development worthy of our active participation and respect." As noted last week, for those not interested in musings from the faux set, check out Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS" (LeftTurn) about the SDS.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dave Zirin

Hump day! I can't believe how fast the week goes. I was thinking about that today and wondering if it was just me but it seems like the weeks turn into months turn into years before you know it. And things really seemed to speed up when I started my site. Not because of the blogging (though I love the e-mails) so much as because of all the stuff that's come with it. Like going to DC over and over, going to Mexico, going to NYC, California, Texas, it's been a really busy time. Marching and speaking and there's the Friday study group. It's all like a big blur or something. A lot of fun, so I'm not complaining, I just can't believe how fast it's all gone.

I said that to Dad and he said sit down and dived into his vinyl collection so I knew I was in for something special. He played a song by Judy Collins called "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" and that's a really great song. I know some of her songs but I did not know that one. Dad said Sandy Denny recorded it first (and I think wrote it) and I'm all "Huh?" :D Sorry, I don't know Sandy Denny. I'm sure she was a great singer (she's dead now). But as great as she could be, I find it hard to believe that she could have done a better job than Judy Collins did. That was probably the combination of Collins voice and the production, the song's really something. It's like that freshness when the rain has stopped and the sun first comes out and it's not yet hot or humid. That really great moment where everything comes alive and holds promise.

Now maybe Sandy Denny's version had all that and good for her. But I don't see how anybody could top Judy Collins. That really was a find. Dad has it on a CD too and I burned the track so I can listen to it over and over. (I'll buy a copy at some point. C.I.'s on the road speaking. I'm waiting to find out which one to get from C.I. Dad says it's on lots of collections and I know C.I. will know which collection I'll enjoy most. So I left a message and when I find out which one to get, I'll go get it. Until then, I'll just listen to it on my burned CD.)

"Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" My grandfather was over tonight for dinner and because Ma was helping him finish his taxes. This was his theory, when you're working on something you really care about, time moves a lot faster. He was talking about stopping the war. He said that if you heard somebody griping about how time was moving so slow and nothing was happening, they probably weren't following what was going on in the world let alone trying to end the war.

I was talking on the phone with Elaine about this and she said, "Not tonight." :D She said she was going to be letting it rip tonight and she didn't need anything kindling the fire before hand or she'd be using some language she'd prefer not to. :D But she agreed that if you weren't working on something, the world was just passing you by "slowly."

So if you're out there and you're feeling bored, start using your voice and time to end the war. It'll give your life meaning. Even if you write for The Nation! :D (They do have about four good writers. The rest are as directionless as the magazine.) Oh, today, in my poli sci class, we were giving speeches and this woman came in with all these issues of The Nation and ripped it apart for it's silence on the war and for ignoring the peace movement and war resisters. She said it was "the biggest waste of time" and made a point of tossing all the issues into the trash at the end of her speech. I didn't just applaud, I stood up and applauded. Everybody loved the speech and was already clapping but other people started standing up with me and she got a well deserved and earned standing ovation.

After class, Tony and I were talking in the hall and she came up and said, "Thanks for leading the standing applause." I told her no problem, that I thought she gave an amazing speech. She starts going that she didn't even notice some of this stuff until she started reading about it online. Tony and I exchange a look and she goes, "What?" Tony goes where did she read it? She says The Common Ills, The Third Estate Sunday Review . . . Just lists all the site and Tony points to me and goes, "He does Mikey Likes It!" She had so many questions then. :D

She did ask if we were going to address "that piece of crap they did on SDS"? Yeah, we probably will. I don't think anyone had read it last weekend. C.I. noted it on Friday but that was based on what friends at the magazine had passed on and what two people who spoke to the idiot who wrote the article had told C.I. But one of the gang got their copy in the mail and they faxed that article today. (I don't even go to the rag's website.) I read it and saw why she was so pissed by the article. It really does suck. It's the sort of sneering crap we've all gotten used to from the effite Nation.

I had already asked Tony about if it seemed like things were moving so fast now so I went ahead and asked her and she said she can trace a time when "I had nothing but time on my hands" and today where she has no time at all because she's working to end the war. So that proves what my granddad said later. He's a really smart and cool guy.

So is Dave Zirin and this is from his "Picking Chicago's Pockets with the Olympics:"

ANYBODY GOT $500 million collecting dust under the couch? If you live in Chicago, take a second look between those cushions. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has let it be known that the people of the Windy City could pay out as much as $500 million if they are awarded the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago's Olympic Chairman Patrick Ryan harrumphed that there was no chance of this, since--by his logic--the Olympics don't lose money. They make money. He said that the Summer Games have never incurred debt, and "we would have to be the first really incompetents to do that."
Leaving aside Ryan's clear grudge against grammar, one has to wonder whether he learned Olympic history at the feet of Beavis and Butthead. The unassailable truth is that the Olympics treat cities like Dick Cheney treats hunting buddies. As Sports Illustrated's Michael Fish wrote, "You stage a two-week athletic carnival and, if things go well, pray the local municipality isn't sent into financial ruin."
Ryan doesn't have to believe this, but as the saying goes, he also doesn't have to believe in gravity to fall out of a plane. When the LA Olympics turned a profit in 1984, it was widely remarked how it was the first city to end in the black since 1932. Montreal, the host city for the 1976 games still swims in Olympic red. Athens, Greece, will be in debt from the 2004 spectacle until the resurrection of Zeus. Chicago's Big Boss Man, Mayor Richard Daley, has yipped repeatedly that the Olympics would not cost taxpayers a dime. Daley is either lying or high (or both?). During a recent USOC evaluation visit, an Olympic executive said the city's residents should expect to reach into their pockets and put some "skin in the game."
What a disturbing yet bizarrely apt metaphor. Any time someone asks you for some "skin," and you're not acting in a 1970s blaxploitation flick, it's probably wise to run the other way. But it's also apt. The Olympics always want their pound of flesh. Ryan eagerly leaped onto this metaphor like a vampire in a slaughterhouse. "You have to comply with what rules they establish, what they say it takes to win," he said with relish. "Now we know it takes city skin in the game to win!"

He's talked about this before, how big events and big stadiums usually end up hurting and ripping off the people. That's really shocking because the Olympics are supposed to stand for all this stuff, the best of sports, the best of competition. I think they screwed that up in front of everyone when they started letting professional atheletes compete (paid atheletes). But when you start hearing about what happens, you get how bad it is really is.

What would save it? I don't know. I don't think even building stadiums or just one where they HAD TO hold the Olympics all the time would make a difference because the cities would probably still round up their homeless and other people and jail them so life could look "pretty."

Now let me share a story about the worst speech given in class today. It was by a guy and he had nothing to say. It's a poli sci class and he was talking about . . . Did he even know? He seemed to be saying that he cared about a lot of stuff and was bored with everyone talking about Iraq. In the question part, he was asked what he cared about and he starts ticking off American Idol, You Tube, Fall Out Boy and I could tell even the prof was trying to not act shocked. He ended it with this dopey comment about how he 'makes a difference' by sitting on his couch and trusting that everything will work out on his own. Tony had him in another class and said the guy was a Bully Boy supporter until last fall. Figures, right?

I probably shouldn't have told that story. Katrina vanden Heuvel will read this and say, "Get me that guy! He's a cover story!" :D That is the sort of person they'd prefer to cover.

Okay, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court battle US war resister Robert Zabala won gets more attention, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates plays Psychic -- or Belated Psychic, and forty years ago today MLK gave his historic "Beyond Vietnam" speech.

Starting with war resisters, yesterday
Free Speech Radio News filed report on Robert Zabala by Aaron Glantz:

Aura Bogado: A federal judge in nothern California has over-ruled the military justice system, and ordered the Marine Corps discharge a soldier who says he wouldn't be able to kill. In his ruling, US District Court Judge James Ware of San Jose ruled reservists Robert Zabala whould be discharged from the military as a conscientious objector. It's extremely rare for civilian courts to over-rule military courts, but Zabala's attorney says it's at least the second time it's happened during the Iraq war.
FSRN's Aaron Glatnz reports.

Aaron Glantz: University of California Santa Cruz student Robert Zabala received money for school because he joined the military. He entered the Marine Corps thinking it would be a place where he could find security after the death of his grandmother in 2003. But when he came to boot camp that June, Zabala said he had an ethical awakening that would not allow him to kill other people. Zabala was particularly appalled by boot camps' attempts to desensitize the recruits to violence.

Zabala: The response that all the recruits are supposed to say is "kill." So in unison you have, maybe 400 recruits, you know, "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" And after awhile that word almost becomes nothing to you. What does it mean? You say it so often that you don't really think of the consequences of what it means to say kill over and over as you're performing this, you know, deadly technique, a knife to the throat."

Glantz: In his ruling, Judge Ware noted Zabala's experiences with his first commander, Capt. Sanchez during basic training, Sanchez repeatedly gave speeches about blowing BLEEP up or kicking some BLEEP. In 2003 when a fellow recruit committed suicide on the shooting range Sanchez commented in front of the recruits BLEEP him, BLEEP his parents for raising him, and BLEEP the girl who dumped him. Another boot camp instructor showed recruits a motivational clip video showing Iraqi corpses, explosions and gun fights and rockets set to heavy metal songs that included the lyrics "Let the bodies hit the floor." Zabala he abhored the blood lust his commanders seemed to posses. Aaron Hughes served six years in the Illionis Guard, including one tour as a military truck driver in occupied Iraq. He says Robert Zabala's experiences are typical of basic training.

Hughes: It's a lot of competition and a lot of learning how to not see yourself as a person or others as human beings. It's just, you're a piece of property and that's the way it functions and that's your job is to function like an object under command. I mean, it's a really simple life though when you're under complete complete orders.

Glantz: Hughes says at the time he believed basic training helped capture manhood
he felt he lacked being raised by his mother but after being sent to Iraq, he changed his mind.

Hughes: I think it's wrong now looking back at it. How can you not be see it as a step away from your humanity? I mean basically you get in there and they -- you go -- you -- automatically start isolating you and they tell you how your girlfriend's not going to be there and she doesn't matter when you get home or your husband. Like don't trust anyone but the military. They really start fostering that as . . . your sole relationship in life.

Glantz: When Robert Zabala realized he couldn't kill another human being he submitted a written application to the reserves. He saw two chaplains and a clinical psychologist who all agreed his moral objections were legitimate and that he should be discharged from the Marine Corps. But his platoon commander . . . called Zabala insincere and recommended his petition be denied. So Zabala went to federal court. Geoff Millard is the Washington DC representative for
Iraq Veterans Against the War. He says Judge Ware's decision to force the military to discharge Zabala will make an impact.

Geoffrey Millard: Someone who's sitting back and thinking about c.o. and they really are very sincere, but they're not sure if their claim will make it, then this may give that person hope and will not have them violating their conscience. That's the reason why we have a c.o. process in military relgulations is so that you make sure that you don't ask people to violate their conscience.

Glantz: The Marine Corps has yet to say whether they will appeal Judge Ware's decision. For
Free Speech Radio News, I'm Aaron Glantz.

Todd Guild (Santa Cruz Sentinel) quotes Stephen Collier, Zabala's attorney, "This ruling is important because it lets other potential conscientious objectors know that there is hope." L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports, "Steve Collier, Zabala's attorney, hopes the ruling will make it easier to obtain conscientious objector status. And it is a victory for those who do not cite religious beliefs as the reason for appying for conscientious objector status. Judge Ware, who teaches federal jurisdiction at Golden Gate University, took the unusual step of holding the hearing here, so that students could attend. 'The judge thought it was an interesting case,' Collier said."

Zabala is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, 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.

CBS and AP report on Bully Boy's White House nonsense yesterday where he called the Democrats "irresponsible." Apparently, the man who convinced himself that WMDs were found has now convinced himself that someone else occupied the White House in 2003 when he illegally went to war on Iraq. Staying on topics of the unhinged, Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense has issued a predicition. Reuters reports that Gates announced today that "one real possibility" of the US withdrawing from Iraq is that it could cause "ethnic cleansing." After sharing that vision, Gates predicted the Indianapolis Colts to win the February 4, 2007 Superbowl and that the Democrats would gain Congressional seats in the November 2006 elections. Going into a deep fugue state, Gates advised that JFK would be shot in Dallas and that Time Warner would merge with AOL "sometime around January 2000" and would live to regret the merger but "I see a rebounding for the long maligned victrola."

In the real world,
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) observes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs. If this description seems harsh, it is only because our minds are crowded with false or outdates paradigms. First was the dream of Baghdad as an sexemplary democratic domino. Then the kumbaya notion of a unitary neo-liberal state with proportional representation and revenue-sharing among Shi'a, Kurds and Sunnis. All along, the US has described itself as a neutral arbiter among warring factions, a promoter of the rule of law and human rights in the Iraqi jungle. Even as former US ambassador Khalilzad left Baghdad, he was struggling to clinch deals over oil revenue-sharing, reversal of de-Baathification laws, and inclusion of Sunni interests in constitutional reform and local governance. The Shi'a, muttering that Khalilzad was a Sunni apologist, seemed uninterested in anything but window-dressing reforms. Whether by accident or design, the reality since 2006 is that the Shi'a, with Kurdish approval, are carrying out a sectarian war against the Sunni population with American dollars and trainers." Who are US tax dollars supporting?

Why is that lost in a fog of war? That's a very straightforward question that should, after four years and counting of an illegal war, be easily answered.

Also in the real world, today is the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence" speech.
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) note that the "TV ritual" of noting MLK's death doesn't include this speech given April 4, 1967 and observe "You haven't heard the 'Beyond Vietnam' speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 -- and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it 'demogogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.' The Washington Post patronized that 'King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people'." The historic speech can be read at Black Agenda Report, at CounterPunch and an excerpt can be read, or listened to -- video of archival footage can also be watched as you listen to the speech -- at Democracy Now! Excerpt:

If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

The speech big media would like to forget. The lessons hidden away. In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes a bombing in Mosul that "killed a police major and wounded a civilian" and another one that wounded two bodyguards of Major General Wathiq al-Hamadani. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports, "A suicide car bomber and a mortar attack also hit a police station being manned by U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite Sadr City enclave in Baghdad, wounding two policemen and two civilians, police said," a mortar attack in Khalis killed a woman, left 2 more "and a 4-year-old boy" wounded, while a mortar attack in Baghdad left five wounded.


CNN reports, "Gunmen killed 11 electricity plant workers in northern Iraq on Wednesday after stopping their vehicle and machine gunning them as they sat inside, Iraqi police and army said." Kim Gamel (AP) reports that it's six dead (with 34 reported deaths in Iraq today) and also notes 22 shepherds were kidnapped today. Most reports have the kidnapping taking place on Tuesday. (Reuters asserts 11 shot dead near Hawija and that 18 goat-herders ere kidnapped Tuesday.) Laura King (Los Angeles Times) also reports 11 were shot dead and that "Power plant workers said they would strike in protest of poor security in the area." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports four police officers were shot dead near Baquba and that six of the assailants were killed by police officers, a man traveling in his car through western Baghdad was shot dead, a man driving his car through Falluja was shot dead, and an attack "in the mainly Shiite Kobat area near Baquba" claimed one life and left 7 others injured ("most children").


Bushra Juhi (AP) reports a woman's corpse was discovered "west of Hillah" and two corpses (headless) were discovered not far from Suwayrah.