Friday, April 21, 2006

Nurse wrongfully accused, Military spending and more

Good evening. It's the weekend! Let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

New Mexico VA Hospital Admits Nurse Wrongfully Accused
This update on a story we've been following: In New Mexico, Albuquerque's Veterans Affairs Medical Center has publicly admitted it wrongly accused one of its nurses of sedition. In September, the nurse, Laura Berg, wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Her employers responded by confiscating her computer. Shortly after she was informed she was being investigated. Up until this week, the hospital had given Berg a private apology, but had resisted calls to publicly admit that its allegations were false.

So I hear that and the first thing that stands out is that she got a private apology but the hospital didn't want to make a public one. Like the Bully Boy, they wanted to do what they did and they wanted to do it in private. If they could have Guantanamo-ized her, kept her from the public, she wouldn't have gotten an apology.

I'm adding this here because I was about to post when Wally called. I told him to call Elaine too. He's got his latest up "THIS JUST IN! FREE SPEECH DIED TODAY!" and had trouble with it today because he couldn't find any news that he could comment on. He'll make you laugh but he also chose a topic you should think about so go read it. (He called C.I. earlier and C.I. told him it was Friday and some news would come out so just relax, get some dinner, get away from the computer and check the news after.) So read "THIS JUST IN! FREE SPEECH DIED TODAY!" because you'll laugh and it will make you think.

I'm moving this up. I had it down lower but it's on this topic. Leigh Ann wrote to say she did enjoy Wally's stuff (and Betty's too but she's doing chapters and he's doing "jots"). she said she usually checks The Daily Jot in the evening when she's tired or has too much of the bad news. She said some of her girlfriends like it but not like when it comes to the guys. She can show it to some women and they might like it, she shows it to a guy and he's laughing. She wondered if it was more of a "guy thing"? She said she grew up with brothers and can watch Moe, Larry and Curly and she just laughs. She said she hoped Wally stayed the same.

He will. He's had a lot of success with the new focus of The Daily Jot. And he has fun with it too. And he's not going to have to appeal to everyone. Like Ma's site, Trina's Kitchen, she's offering some political thoughts and a recipe each weekend. She can bring in a new type of reader. Someone interested in cooking will go there and get a little politics too. Someone interested in humor will go to Wally's site and get a little humor there. We're all members of The Common Ills community and members are really great about checking out all the sites. But like, Wally or Ma or Betty or any of us could bring in someone that might not be into The Common Ills. Some might think, "Oh, politics. No thanks." So there are different ways to reach people and if you're speaking in your voice, you're going to reach some. Like Rebecca, she reaches a lot of high school students. They really respond to her. So every site brings something and if we're trying to get the word out and all, we need to go about it from lots of angles. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, Ava and C.I.'s TV reviews have brought in this loyal following. People hang around for other features and editorials and that's great but it's that feminist critique (with lots of humor) that Ava and C.I. offer that is the calling card for that site.

Leigh Ann wrote that she really loves Zoolander and can watch it over and over. Uh, earth to Leigh Ann. :D (They say "Earth to Brent" and stuff like that early in the movie.) I love that movie too. But like, say Wally's site is like Zoolander (he loves the movie). You go to see Wally on the big screen and you see some previews for other attractions. You might check out one of those. So that's like why C.I. always tells people they need to speak in their own voices. You're not going to get anyone interested if you try to write like everyone. Write like yourself and you'll get somebody to read it.

Monthly Spending on Iraq, Afghan Occupations Nears $10B
In other news, a new report from the Congressional Research Service says the US is now spending close to $10 billion dollars a month on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan -- an increase of nearly $8 billion dollars from one year ago.

Think that will turn anyone off to the war? Maybe the last hold outs will see that amount of money and think, "Why?" I wonder about the ones who still support the war, the holdouts. What's it going to take to reach them? Maybe they're fiscal conservatives and they'll read that and think, "Woah! Dude! Not on board!" Bully Boy's refused to put the cost of the war in a yearly budget. He does increments instead because it makes the number seem smaller.

We got a lot of money to toss around on war, don't we? Take this item and wonder how much we're paying people to do this -- "People sit on draft boards just in case:"

Right now, nearly eleven-thousand people sit on draft boards. They keep up on rules for granting postponements, deferments, exemptions and conscientious objector status. They also learn how to hold meetings, judge evidence and elicit testimony.

If we go to war with Iran or others, we'll need that draft. Bully Boy's done a lot of "work" on the draft boards. If Bully Boy "works" panics. Here an article with some statistics/figures on when we had the draft and I'll note one statistic:

Historically 2 percent seek conscientious objector status, declining to serve on religious or moral grounds.

So let's take a look at Iraq, via one of C.I.'s "snapshots" (roundup of news item):

Reuters reports that Cambodia has turned down requests to send troops to Iraq.This as the BBC notes Tory MP Michael Ancram's call for withdrawal from Iraq by all British troops. Ancram's statements break with his party's official position. Though
Jawad al-Maliki is the new nominee for prime minister in Iraq, some aren't waiting for parlimentary process to make deals that will effect Iraq for decades.
Reuters is reporting that Shamhi Faraj, director general of marketing and economics in the oil ministry, has announced that the Iraqi parliment doesn't need to pass the investment law, oil contracts can start now. That is important to the US administration, they're getting antsy that they won't be able to install a new figurehead soon enough. The investment "law" doesn't need to become "law" says Faraj. Do the Iraqis want it? No. This is more US policy stamped "Iraqi" and passed off as a sign of "democracy." In a true democracy, other countries don't design the potential laws and the proposal does not go into effect before it's been passed into law. As Exxon and Chevron (and others) sniff around, it's worth noting that this is one more aspect of the (illegal) occupation that causes tension and strife. It's not unrelated. More traditionally recognized violence continued in Iraq today.
Iraqi police officers continue to be killed.
AFP notes the death of seven including five killed near Tikrit. Irish Examiner reports that four police officers died in Mosul (roadside bomb) and that, in Baghdad, at least nine Iraqi police officers were wounded in road side bombings. While in Baquba, a police officer walking to his house was gunned down.
Corpses were discovered by police, six in Baghdad, one in Mahmudiya. Al Bawaba reports that two bodies with signs of torture were discovered between Qaem and Rutba. One body that was identified earlier this week, reports CBC News, was Sadeq Aldifai. A Montreal tailor, Aldifai left Iraq in 1991. He was returning for his first visit since 1991 and had hopes of seeing his two eldest daughters. In Beiji, the Associated Press reports that six Iraqi soldiers were killed following a kidnapping by unidentified people. Finally, in Al Diwaniya, Deutsche Presse-Agentur addresses a rocket attack aimed at a US Army base: "The extent of the damage inflicted on the US base and information regarding casualties was not yet know."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

US number four on execution, Guantanamo prisoners, strong voices

Good evening. Elaine's off tonight because she has that group that she counsels on Thursday night. But she's here with us in spirit. :D First, let's do Democracy Now!

Amnesty: US Among Top Four State Executioners
Meanwhile, a new report from Amnesty International shows the US ranks only behind China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in carrying out state executions. 94 percent of an estimated 2100 executions worldwide took place in those four countries alone. In China, Amnesty says at least 1700 executions took place last year, but that the actual number could reach as high as 8,000.

Ruth had C.I. post this:

Ruth wants to note something from this week's Law and Disorder. Amnesty is asking for help in stopping an execution (scheduled for tomorrow) of Willie Brown. In addition to the Amnesty link (which allows you to take action as well as providing information), you can also listen to Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn discuss the case and issues with the hosts on this week's Law and Disorder.

Isn't it shameful that we're on the list at all? We're only number four so Bully Boy's probably going to be encouraging more to be "number one!" I guess the idea of rehabilitation left the country long ago and life in prison isn't good enough, got to kill 'em. I'm still forming my thoughts on the death penalty. It's not something I thought about at all until Democracy Now! was covering Stanley Tookie Williams' impending execution and then after he was executed. I knew I was against it because I was taught it was wrong in Church. I took that lesson to heart. Every Catholic I know picks and chooses and I'm the same way. That one I probably never thought about until recently but just took the Church's word for it. In this case, my religion was right. But this is an issue I'm trying to understand. (And I grabbed some books from C.I. last week that I'm going to be reading as soon as I get caught up after missing a week of classes.) I bet some people who support are like me in that they're going with what they were taught growing up and never thought too much about it after.

Pentagon Releases Most Comprehensive Gitmo List To Date
Back in the United States, the Pentagon has released its most comprehensive list yet of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay since it opened four years ago. The list shows the names of 558 men from 41 countries. Most came from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan. The list was not complete, with the omission of close to 200 current and former detainees.

Here's something I have thought about a lot because I've seen it pop up. The death penalty came back in to use, widespread, before I was old enough to know about it. What I'm learning now is about the resistance to it and the success before. With something like Guantanamo, I've seen it pop up and gone from disbelief that we could do this to disgust. I love Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! but sign me up as one of the ones who calls them "prisoners." I won't call them "detainees." I know that's the widely accepted word but I do think that word disguses what has gone on. These people are prisonres and they seem to have little chance (thanks to the Levin-Graham amendment) of having a day in a real court. But they've been held as prisoners. Not detained because their time just goes on and on. I was going to say their "sentence" but they weren't "sentenced," they were grabbed and they were imprisoned.

Now to Elaine. My favorite prof is this cool guy who is just smart and willing to listen. That's to all the students, not just the ones he agrees with. (I agree with him.) He thinks blogs are really important and he prints stuff up to pass around the class. You know C.I. makes it at least once a week on the print outs. C.I.'s in a class of one, no one comes close. I feel that way but my prof will tell you that too. When so many sites seem to have dropped real issues to give consultation help to the Democratic Party (let's hope they're being paid), C.I.'s out there tackling issues. My prof likes Elaine's work and there was one that she did on the medical communities obligations (and how they fail when it comes to Guantanamo) that he included. He passes out the stuff. Each row gets a different one. We're supposed to read it together and then talk to each other and then share it with the class. And he focuses on talking about one he didn't pass out. That's about ten to fifteen minutes because during that he's raising issues from the main selection. He made Elaine the main selection today with her post from yesterday.

After class, he wanted to talk about it with me. He said it was real and "on the mark" and that he enjoyed Elaine's comments but she's usually more reserved with the exception of when she talks about the medical communities obligations (she's a doctor herself). He said this was really raw for her. It was. I told him that she was very frustrated with the "we must go to war" nonsense regardless of the country and regardless of who is making the claim.

C.I. gave her the advice to just "open a vein and let it pour, don't worry about grammer, don't worry about spelling and don't go back after you're done to make it professional, let people see the thought, the struggle and speak what you feel."

Prof goes, "Well she did that." She did too. It's an amazing post. (Nina's reading over my shoulder and said to put in that Elaine is an amazing woman.) He asked me if I'd talk about that next week? I said sure. He didn't want to put me on the spot in class in case I didn't know or it was something "just for the community" (the whole way of how she wrote it). By the way, he does bring in right wing stuff. He won't bring in anything racist or sexist or homophobic. But he will bring in stuff from right wing blogs. The point is for us to hear what people are thinking about, what they care about. He thinks the "political consultants" are boring with all there "what the Democratic/Republican Party needs to do to win in November is . . ." stuff.

Biggest laugh of the ones he passed out -- C.I.'s thing comparing Dexter Filkins to Donna Summer. I was hearing people laughing and thinking, "What did that row get?" (My row got a right winger today.) The row that got C.I. enjoyed that post. They had the most to talk about of any of the rows. One guy was just going over the main points and this one woman kept saying, "Don't forget the humor!" So she'd bring that up and everyone would laugh. Then he read some of Elaine's post and asked us what they made us think and feel. That was a pretty intense discussion. Then he goes, "I've got one more and you'll have to read it on your own so come by the desk if you want a copy but last week I was making Katie Couric jokes. I read this critique and felt a little stupid." It was Ava and C.I.'s "Katie Was a Cheerleader." About half the class picked it up on their way out. I was talking to him and stuff and then when I finally get out of the classroom and am walking around, this woman who knows Nina from a class they have together but never speaks to Nina or to me (she's in the prof's class with me) says, "Hey! Wait!"
She goes "Tell them, keep doing just that!" I didn't even know she knew my name let alone that I knew Ava and C.I. She was really mad. She's this super serious person who only talks in class to make a point. Turns out, she was a cheerleader for two years in high school. She goes that she's used to all the lame jokes and has "buried" that side of herself because she wants to be taken seriously but all last week when the cut downs on Katie Couric were being made because she had been a cheerleader, she really got bothered by it. She goes, "Today we are all cheerleaders!" That's one of the points Ava and C.I. make at the end, that if women have learned anything from the attacks on Katie Couric it's that "today we are all cheerleaders."
So I'm walking over to meet Nina and stuff like that keeps happening. It was mainly the female students but it was a few men too. Ava and C.I. really got to something with that thing.

Prof's including Kat's thing next week. Her latest review. He said she brought up a real good point about it's easy to be a "peace voice" when things are "hunky dory" like Carole King but why didn't she have one song, something old or something new, really addressing that on a double disc album? He'd already decided to do Ava and C.I.'s TV critique when he read it Sunday because it made good points and because he'd been making jokes about Katie Couric (either in other classes or to his friends and family because it hadn't come up in our class). But he said to pass on to Kat that she "posed an interesting question that should be addressed."

Which was the point of two guys who stopped me. They know I blog and they know about the others in the community with sites. (I almost said "other bloggers" but C.I. would say, "I don't have a 'blog.' I have a resource/review. There are great bloggers, I'm not one of them." :D) But they were all, "Dude, there are some strong women in that community." There are too. Wally does the humor take, but Cedric does hard hitting stuff. (Prof used his thing on covert racism last week but I missed it because I was in California.) I just toss out stuff and plug Democracy Now! (especially when I'm trying to catch up on what I missed last week). By the way, I love Wally's stuff and most of the guys I know do too. Do women like it? Leigh Ann, you want to take that question?

But the point or, I guess, reason Prof does the blogs once a week in class is because he wants us to see that people do have opinions. People not on TV doing chat and chews. And that you should think about opinions. Not just read a column and go "Hmm." He thinks the blogs (and the resource/review) are great examples of people expressing themselves on the world around them. He's not in the mood for "reasoned" where half-wits (Thomas Friedman?) play the "look at me" game.

The other thing in class was I delivered my paper. That was my work for missing his classes like week, I had to write a paper on the student activism and talk about what I saw of that in California. Before I left, I go, "What is this like?" Because speeches still make me nervous. He goes it's a presentation and, hopefully, they'll be questions. There were. I read the first paragraph and was thinking, "Dear God, someone please ask a question." At the end of the first paragraph, I got a question. After I answered that, I got another one. That's how I filled up the whole time and I liked that a lot better than just standing there, looking down at my paper reading while I was thinking everybody was staring at me thinking, "Will he ever finish this paper?" I think the photos helped because I started them being passed around before I went to the podium and read my paragraph. I took a ton of pictures. I think that helped a lot because it's really easy for me to give numbers or say "a lot of people" but it's another thing when you can hold a picture and look at it and see the people yourself.

So that was my day. Hope you had a great one. Tomorrow is Friday! The weekend! I'm still trying to make up for two classes I missed last week and I'm hoping to knock that out tonight but I'll probably only get to one. (Ma, if you're reading, Nina and I wanted to see that movie last night! I'm not behind. My stuff's not due until Monday! :D)

Check out Betty tonight because she's got a new chapter she's working on right now. (I heard a paragraph when she called a second ago. About twenty minutes ago. I'm long winded and wordy tonight!) And Rebecca's going to continue part two of her post from last night so check that out.

Oh, from C.I., snapshot of Iraq today:

In Iraq today . . .
AFP reports that at least ten people have died in Iraq today and the Herald News Daily notes that Ibrahim al-Jaafari has "cleared the way Thursday for Shiite leaders to withdraw his nomination for a second term." No surprise here but, as Bloomberg News notes, Azzaman has a list of contenders and it's all male. In Baghdad, a Sunni mosque was attacked by gunmen. Also in Baghdad, two men were killed in a drive by shooting while two more will be killed by gunmen in a bakery. In Karbala, a man was shot to death outside his home. Roadside bombs have killed at least three police officers today. Two in Khalis, where a civilian was also killed and at least seven people wounded, and one in Baqouba. In addition to those three police officers killed, in Tal Afar, two more died (roadside bombing) and at least four were wounded while a doctor was killed "inside a hospital." Close to Basra, Middle East Online reports at least five wounded civilians and two dead from a roadside bombing.
And in the United States,
the trial of 18 women, grandmothers aged 50 to 91, has begun. The women form the "Granny Peace Brigade" and are standing trial for an October protest of military recruiting. In NYC's Time Square, the Granny Peace Brigade are accused of the "disorderly conduct" and "refusing to comply with a police order."
Now here's a test we can grade tomorrow: Will the New York Times cover this? Eighteen women. Aged fifty to ninety-one. This is a news story that the paper won't touch. Will they cover it as a feature or act like it doesn't exist? These women are news. So let's see what the Times elects to do. It is news (it also makes for a human interest feature). Will it be ignored?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Iran, Jack Anderson, Dave Zirin

Good evening. Starting late due to Blogger being down for fixing. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Bush Refuses To Rule Out Nuclear Strikes on Iran
At the White House Tuesday, President Bush refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in the impasse over Iran's nuclear program. "All options are on the table," Bush said. "We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so. The best way to do so is there for (sic) to be a united effort with countries who recognize the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're working very closely with countries like France and Germany and Great Britain. I intend, of course, to bring the subject up of Iranian ambitions to have a nuclear weapon with Hu Jintao this Thursday. We'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved."

Diplomatically. Bully Boy can sound out the word but he has no idea of what it means. If you missed it Scotty McClellan is out and Karl Rove's being shuffled around. No real changes being made. And Rumsfeld remains, as does Condi, Dick and, of course, Bully Boy. News of Scotty came out while I was at work this morning. I don't know how the corporate press organs will play it tomorrow but I can tell you how it played to all the people talking about (over fifty): means nothing. Some noted Ari left and nothing changed, some noted that Scotty really didn't do anything about policy. Everyone agreed (and easily close to half of them were Republicans) that it was meaningless. That's the Bully Boy, meaningless.

So when he says diplomacy is an option, everyone knows it is empty talk. On Iran, this woman, about forty, had a good point at the end of her bit on Scotty. Her point was on Iran and it was that Bully Boy says, "You can't have nukes. They're bad. You can't have them. If you try to have them, we'll . . . nuke you!" She said it real funny and I bet she's used to cracking everyone up. Everyone who heard her was laughing.

FBI Seeks Files of Deceased Investigative Journalist Jack Anderson
The Chronicle of Higher Education has revealed the FBI is seeking to search through the files of the late investigative journalist Jack Anderson. Anderson, whose legendary career included exposes of the Iran-contra scandal and the CIA's attempts to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, died in December at the age of 83. Federal investigators say they want to access Anderson's files to recover classifed documents and seek out evidence that could be used in the current prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists. Anderson's family has turned down the FBI's request. During his lifetime Anderson was viewed with derision by several administrations. He earned a spot on President Nixon’s infamous "enemies list", and was reportedly the subject of a poisoning operation ordered by a White House aide.

C.I. wrote about this with "What Shane leaves out" and there are good points throughout. One is asking whether this is the pattern of law enforcement trying to get convictions from the work of journalists when they can't get them on their own? Another point was about how Anderson's files cover Bully Boy's father. Poppy Bush was involved in Iran-Contra. In addition, Anderson's got stuff on the CIA from when Poppy was the head and trying to clamp down. So is this another effort by the Bully Boy to keep the public from knowing the truth about his father?

FBI needs to leave it alone. They argue, "Our papers!" and that's crap. The Pentagon Papers could have been pulled back and reclassified based on that nonsense. Your papers until you lose them. You lost them. Tough.

I told Nina we'd go to the movies tonight before I realized that Blogger would be down so I'm wrapping up quickly. I may try to write about things tomorrow night that I was hoping to have time for tonight. Check out Like Maria Said Paz tonight because Elaine's got at least one topic she's going to address. She may not comment on the news items above because we're both way behind due to Blogger going down. Give your props to Rebecca. She posted in less than ten minutes this evening to be sure there was something up for the community. Also check out Cedric's "Law and Disorder addressed PBS and Armenia" from last night if you missed it.

I'll go out with sports. From Kevin Prosen and Dave Zirin's "Privelege Meets Protest at Duke:"

In Durham North Carolina, a scant three miles separate Duke from historically black North Carolina Central University (NCCU), but the divide more resembles a canyon. The seismic shock of the recent and now notorious rape charges levied against the Duke Lacrosse team has upturned this complex cultural cocktail of a city, occupied by an aloof and narcissistic private school catering mainly to wealthy students rarely seen outside the gothic cloister of their campus. Tuition at Duke is $43,000 per year, more than four times the cost of NCCU and about $3,000 more than the median joint family income in Durham.
The case in question is by now widely known; Lacrosse players at an elite campus hired two young African-American women as exotic dancers, one a student at NCCU. While details aren't yet clear, the woman has injuries consistent with being raped and sodomized. Lawyers for the team have gone on a remorseless counter-offensive. A new well-heeled booster club called the Committee for Fairness to Duke Families hired the ultimate authority in smearing women who "cry rape: Bill Clinton,s former attorney Bob Bennett. Bennett has already begun, saying, "A lot of innocent young people and the families are being hurt, and unfortunately this situation is being abused by people with separate agendas. It is grossly unfair, and cool heads must prevail."
Bennett and his team have also released personal details about the assault victim. This gets the spotlight off the confirmed squalidness of the case. 911 calls report racist epithets being screamed by men in the party house. Ryan McFayden, a sophomore on the Lacrosse squad, sent an e-mail dated the night of the party describing in morbid detail his fantasy of torturing the exotic dancers, saying, "I plan on killing the bitches as soon as they walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off while cumming in my Duke issue spandex." The same McFayden had the unholy arrogance to show up at the Take Back the Night Rally on campus and while sexual assault survivors gathered in a circle, he stood on the sidelines giving interviews with the Chronicle, Duke's odious student paper. The racial climate on campus is utterly appalling and this isn,t isolated in the world of Lacrosse. Others on campus have noted parties with vile themes, like the "Viva Mexico" bash where students handed out "Green Cards" for invitations. Danielle Terrazas Williams, a grad student at Duke, told the Independent, a local weekly "This [the rape] is not a different experience for us [African-Americans] here at Duke University. We go to class with racist classmates, we go to gym with people who are racists. That's not special for us." Commenting on the persistent sexual harassment faced by black women at Duke, Williams continued, "[it's] as if they're re-enacting a rap video or something. [. . .]"

Nina just said, "Wait!" I forgot to note C.I.'s thing on Iraq today:

The Australian reports that since the start of this year (reminder: we're now in the fourth month), 19,548 people have been kidnapped. This number includes as many as 2350 children and 4959 women. In Kuwait City, the American military is looking into allegations that three military contractors (American) have been smuggling marijuana into the city. Still on American contractors in Iraq, Al Jazeera reports that Philip Bloom has entered a plea of guilty to charges of "conspiracy, bribery and money laundering in Iraq." While participating in the conspiracy, Bloom used over 2 million dollars to bribe the "US officials who directed more than $8.6 million in contracts to companies he controlled." Combine the two items and you've apparently got: "Money to be made in Iraq!" Apparently that's how the World Bank sees it since the BBC is reporting that it is pondering returning to Iraq. Associated Press notes that Iraq's Prime Minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) is refusing calls to step down (calls have come from the US government as well as some in Iraq). Earlier this week a Shia cleric was killed by gunmen in a drive-by shooting. Now Deusche Presse-Agentur reports that Sheikh Saad Jaber Yassin has also been killed (both the death earlier this week and the more current one took place in Baghdad). Yassan was killed by a car bomb set to dentonate when the car started. Ireland's notes that, in Baghdad, two bombs have gone off and at least 15 have been wounded while at least 2 have been killed. AFP is estimating that "[a]t least 19 people" have been killed in Iraq today. In Baquba gunmen killed three Diyala college professors and wounded another. Also in Baquba, the AFP notes that a police officer was killed. In al-Ramadi, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that at least four civilians were killed and six wounded when "[c]ivilian houses were struck by rockets." Back to Baghdad, two people were killed at the elementary schools of Amna and Shaheed Hamdi. The AP reports that the National Security Ministry has changed details (originally stated that two teachers were beheaded in front of students -- now backed off that claim and state a school guard was stabbed in front of students and a teacher was shot enroute to the classroom).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Law and Disorder, Nepal, Guantanamo and more

Good evening. Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel To Run For President
In political news, former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel has become the first Democrat to officially announce he will seek the party's nomination for president in 2008. Gravel served in the Senate from 1969 to 1981. Gravel who was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and is vowing to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. He said "President Bush's mistake is not worth the life or maiming of one more American soldier."

That makes me happy. Want to know why? That's two in the race -- Mike Gravel and Russ Feingold -- who should be worth watching. If Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden want to play twin hawks, they'll look all the more freakish (and out of touch) with two people in the race. I wish Dennis Kucinich would run again as well. Could you imagine those debates? Hillary and Joe trying to go hard right and people seeing it in the debate with not one, not two but three candidates calling out their crappy "logic." C.I. highlighted an article by John Nichols so if you want to read more about Gravel you can click here for Nichols take on him.

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Chinese Men At Guantanamo
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from two Chinese Muslims who are being held at the U.S. military prison Guantanamo Bay even though the government acknowledges they were mistakenly detained. The men have been held for more than four years. Lawyers for the men said they should be immediately released but the Bush administration has refused the request. Officials say they have been unable to find a country that will accept the men after their release. Both men are Uighurs and do not want to return to China out of fear that they would be imprisoned and tortured.

King George wins again. Not because he's right. Not because he plays fair. But because chicken asses refuse to call him on his crap. The two men, the two prisoners! Need to reinforce that because Elaine and C.I. are correct about Guantanamo. There are no "detainees" there, they are prisoners. And that word needs to be used because that's what it is. They are imprisoned. They are prisoners. The Guantanamo Prisoners. And there's no way out for most of them. Look at the two above who shouldn't have been 'rounded up' to begin with. Government admits it. But they remain imprisoned.

Let's used Leigh Ann because she's a cool lady. Okay, Leigh Ann gets stopped while traveling around the country. They toss her in a prison in Rhode Island. They don't give her a trial. They never give her a trial. She's held in prison for four years. After four years, it turns out that even the ones holding her, the government, says it was a case of mistaken identity. But they keep on holding Leigh Ann. Holding her in prison. Four years of her life they've already stolen. Instead of rushing to fix their huge injustice, they keep holding her. So Leigh Ann's lawyer files for her case to be heard by the Supreme Court. If they refused to hear her case, you better believe people would be howling. If people aren't howling about what's happened, it's because they think "Oh, they aren't like us." Don't be so sure. If they can get away with this and if they can get away with what they did to Jose Padilla, they can go after anyone. The Supreme Court failed justice and it failed democracy.

Nepalese Police Shot Dead One Protester
In Nepal, pro-democracy protests are continuing for a 13th day. On Monday police shot dead one protester. The BBC is reporting police in Nepal have arrested 25 government officials for demonstrating against King Gyanendra inside the Home Ministry. Among the detained are four high ranking officials. This marks the first time civil servants have been arrested for joining opposition protests against the king.

In your face, Somini Sengupta, the New York Times' in house poet! As C.I. noted on Monday, she worried that Nepal's politicians might not be able to "curtail" democracy. Civil servants have joined in. Sengupta must be frantically flipping through her rhyming dictionary in tears.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz to get Elaine's take on the news. You'll see this at both of our sites and we know this takes a lot of work, the thing we're both highlighting. We know C.I. will write this (type it) if nothing else. If the rest of the entry's dicated, C.I. will type up this. Now C.I. could type up an entry will quick and not have to dictate it at all but hunting down the stuff in the paragraph or paragraphs takes time. I'll talk about that in a second. But this is what's going on in Iraq and we're not trying to put pressure on C.I. and if one day there's not time for it, that's cool. But when it is up, we're going to highlight it.

Violence and chaos (planned) continues. In Baghdad, the Associated Press notes, a bomb went off resulting in the death of at least two (Iraqi police officers) and wounding at least six. A separate bombing incident would claim addition lives. Xinhua reports that four civilians were dead and twenty-two were wounded. Also in Baghdad, four workers at the Sunni Endowmen Authority were shot at -- Bahrain News Agency reports two dead and two wounded. Still in Baghdad, AFP and Reuters announce that twelve more corpses were found. In addition to those twelve bodies, Ireland's notes that two more corpses were found in Iraq -- both had been shot in the head. Al Jazeera notes that a Shia cleric died in Baghdad -- the victim of a drive by shooting. In Basra, a drrive-by also claimed the life of an Iraqi "police officer walking near his home." Reuters informs that, in Baiji, "a police colonel" and "two policemen" were wounded by gunmen while, in Tikrit, a police officer was killed with two others wounded. A police officer was also killed in Irbil, KUNA notes, and at least six civilians were wounded. There is still no word on 3 kidnap victims: Salah Jali al-Gharrawi (AFP -- kidnapped April 4th) or Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal (Sumariya TV -- kidnapped February 1). And Tom Lasseter reports for Knight Ridder that despite warnings "more than two years that Shiite Muslim militias were infiltrating Iraq's security forces and taking control of neighborhoods," the US ignored the warnings.

So I talked to C.I. because there's not a lot of news on Iraq popping up in The Boston Globe. I was wondering about that and we had talked about it last week. I'd seen the work that went into that and how it would be pull out the laptops and Ava and Jess would go through the e-mails and say, "Here's a highlight" and C.I. would say yea or nah and while they were doing that, C.I. would hunt down news for that paragraph on Iraq. C.I. felt like Iran was a point of focus, or concern, but that there was less attention being paid to Iraq. ("But they can still offer the usual fluff topics, on the fluff, there's never a shortage," C.I. had said.)

So C.I. and Rebecca both called last night to check on me because I was angry (and I'll talk about that in a bit) and I made a point to call C.I. today to ask about the Iraq coverage. C.I. said, "I never thought I'd say 'thank you for the Associated Press.'" The BBC wasn't even offering new coverage on Iraq today. The BBC. They had nothing. That's really not new or because of what happened in Israel and the occupied territories yesterday.

Right now, on the BBC's Middle East news page, I see the Iraq deaths story C.I. mentioned. C.I. didn't highlight it today. Why? It's a story that was done on Sunday. They have a story they filed Monday. There is now a story up that was filed today. And there's this story last updated March 20th. Those are the main stories on Iraq on their Middle East news page. If you go their UK version (and not international) you'll find three more stories (that aren't up yet on the international) one about the World Bank, one about a bomb and one about Saddam Hussein. C.I. said that the AP gets mentioned over and over in those paragraphs of what's going on in Iraq because the AP is the only one filing repeatedly each day. I have no idea why the BBC doesn't offer more coverage. But let me put it good for the Associated Press. And the BBC's not the only one.

C.I. also pointed out (on plus side) Dahr Jamail's Middle East Wire which translates Arabic coverage of the area. That's usually two days behind when C.I.'s doing the entry and a day behind when I'm doing mine. A day behind is not bad when you consider that it's independent media and that it has to be translated. (And probably just one guy doing that. C.I. mentioned a name but I forgot who.) So make a point to check out Dahr's Middle East Wire and I'll make a point to add it to my links tonight. You should follow what's going on Iraq because this 'pacification' program is probably a) going to be very violent (it already is) and b) not going to work no matter how the Bully Boy spins it. So make an effort to follow news on Iraq and if you don't see any, make an effort to track down some.

About the BBC, I may be misunderstanding, and Pru, Polly, Gareth or the other British community members can correct me if I am, but BBC has many channels, radio and TV, and at least one radio channel is straight news, 24/7. So how do they get away with having so little Iraq coverage?

Now, I'm going to talk briefly about my anger yesterday. I was real angry. That's why C.I. and Rebecca called. They could tell I was real angry. I probably would've been less angry if I'd talked about it with Elaine but I didn't want to. So I stored it up until I was writing and then it all came pouring out. But if you're ancestors are from some place, you don't need to hear an entire group of people trashed. By going after the IRA and then comparing them to Sinn Fein, the idiot was insulting. I'm still insulted. And on the advice of everyone, when I'm insulted, I will say so. Here and in conversations. He wanted to be heard about a story that mattered to him. Here's a clue for him, when you build your case by trashing another group of people, you're not making a solid case. You are making people want to tune you out. The Common Ills community has a number of Irish-Americans (like me) and a number of members in Ireland. I heard from fifty-two of them about my post yesterday. I want to thank them for the support. Some members have popped up since C.I. addressed their concerns in March through May of last year because eleven or twelve (from Ireland) said, "Yes, it was a bar fight!" over and over in their e-mails (about the sisters who came to this country and met with Bully Boy because their brother died). But we want to turn it into an international incident. You go to a bar and you're drinking and talking (shooting off your mouth or not), someone may get mad. Bar fights happen all the time in this country and people die in them. That's not to say I don't feel sorry for the sisters. That is to say, wait. Point on that was that C.I. actually made that point last year (repeatedly). So newer community members should know that and know I was building on that.
Now the sisters, I am sorry for them. Let's go with the official narrative which is that some members of the IRA were involved in the bar fight. (Some members does not constitute the IRA. And the IRA and Sinn Fein are two different bodies.) So there case becomes an Oprah moment in Ireland and then internationally as a lot of people use their pain to work out their own personal bias. And at some point the IRA either offered to execute those involved or did. (I think they offered.) Offered to the sisters. That wasn't right either but it was an international incident by that point. I really don't know what to say here except a bar fight between individuals is not reflective of a political party. That would be like me going, "Proof died in a gun battle last week and so did the other guy. Proof's a rapper. Puffy's a rapper. All rappers are criminals. Puffy (or P-Diddy) helped with the get out the vote efforts and was for John Kerry so that must mean that all Democrats are criminals!"

It's just insulting and tarring people. And when I hear that junk, it makes me angry. There is violence in Ireland and that's not surprising. (And C.I. has repeatedly noted how when it's those loyal to the British, the New York Times looks the other way. There were two parades within a few weeks and both had violence. The paper of misrecord chose to only cover the one that made the Irish Catholics look bad. There are reasons for the violence and acting like there's not is really silly. There are reasons for the violence in Iraq and in Israel and the occupied territories. And thank you to Elaine for what she wrote last night. I appreciated it and knew she was commenting on it because she thought I was going to let it slide. I appreciated that then and now.)

Now Law and Disorder (which is on WBAI on Mondays). Cedric and me talked aobut the show and I'm grabbing one part and he's grabbing another. I'm grabbing the part where Michael Smith talked about a candidate rushing off the campaign trail to return to his home state for an execution. Who was that candidate? Bill Clinton. Had to look "tough" on crime. That's what's so damn scary about both the Clintons. Whatever they personally believe, they always work over time to look "tough" and not like someone's idea of squishy liberals. You can probably goad either of them into doing anything just by going, "Chicken! You're chicken!" Michael Ratner talked about a story in The New Yorker on how Clinton's best friend was a lawyer for the guy and how he tried to get a call through to Clinton but Clinton wouldn't take it. The guy that was executed was mentally ill. Bill Clinton always says, "He wasn't when he committed the crime! That's the law!" He still makes that stupid statement. The "law" is what got him into hot water. Then Michael Smith told a story about Michael Ratner's daughter Ana (or Anna) and how when she was seven, she was at a Clinton fundraiser. She interviewed Hillary (Michael Smith said cornered) and then went back and wrote an article for her school newspaper about how she wasn't for Hillary because Hillary was for the death penalty.

I should have written about it yesterday but I was mad. Then today my oldest bro calls and goes, "Dude!" I was supposed to write about him. (Him who won't let me use his name!) He was listening at work in New Jersey Monday to Law and Disorder because he wanted to hear
Dalia Hashad to see if she really did sound like our sister like I wrote last Monday and the Monday before. She did. She sounds just like one of our sisters. He goes that if he had just caught a second or two of it and not heard her name, he would have called our sister and asked her why she didn't tell him she was going to be on the radio.

So see, you never know what will make someone listen. You just got to keep pitching and you'll get one over the home plate. So make sure you pitch the programs that matter to you. Think about how many times Ruth had to note it before I finally listened. You just keep pitching.

So that got him to listen. He liked the show. He says he'll catch the first half-hour each Monday (he can only promise that half because of his work schedule).

Monday, April 17, 2006

"120,000 Mark 90th Anniversary of Easter Rising in Ireland" (Democracy Now!)

Good evening, kicking it off with Democracy Now!

Cindy Sheehan Returns to Camp Casey
And Cindy Sheehan and others returned to Crawford Texas to protest outside President Bush's estate. At a sunrise service on Easter Sunday the Rev. Joseph Lowery urged the protesters to keep working for peace.

See Cindy Sheehan makes peace her life and we need to be doing that. You don't just go to an event, you make sure that Iraq is a topic when you and your friends get together. You make sure you're challenging people who still support the war. What are there, fifty-two in the country? More if you count members of Congress. I'm swiping from C.I. to note the Iraq report:

Iraq? The Times of India reports that at least 31 Iraqis died on Sunday with an additional 32 wounded. In Baghdad today, Xinhua reports, the corpse of Taha al-Mutlak, brother of Salih al-Mutlak ("top Sunni policitian"), was found. Also in Baghdad, a gun battle between the Iraqi army and the resistance has resulted in seven civilians wounded and one killed according to the Associated Press.. Still in Baghdad, Reuters notes, a doctor was kidnapped. Still in Baghdad, back to Reuters, the corpses of 12 were found -- seven had bullet holes, three had signs indicating torture. The Associated Press is reporting a bomb exploded today in Ramadi "in front of a U.S. observation post." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that Jebail has seen the death of at least three Iraqis and the injury of 10 more. The three dead? Two children and a woman. The cause? "Pacification." They, and the ones wounded, according to "security force spokesman" Mustafa Karrim, were guilty of being in their homes.

C.I.'s been offering that every weekday lately. A way to cancel the Operation Happy Talk. That's in addition to Thursdays and Sundays special entries on the war. And there was a
"And the war drags on" last night so check that out.

120,000 Mark 90th Anniversary of Easter Rising in Ireland
In Ireland, 120,000 people gathered in Dublin Sunday to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising -- a short-lived 1916 rebellion against British rule. During the uprising, Irish rebels seized parts of Dublin from the British and declared an Irish Republic. The rebellion failed and the British executed 15 leaders. But the uprising inspired the Irish independence movement. Five years later 26 of Ireland's 32 counties became free of British rule.

You know what I'm tired of? Hearing people blame the Irish for everything. There was a report on a man who pleaded guilty. I know some of the coverage on that and I'm willing to be he's innocent. He's been targeted by the administration (and by Clinton's before) because of the war on Arabs. So he had a trial and it came out pretty good for him with him being cleared on a lot of charges and having a hung jury on other charges. But he pleaded guilty. Now Sami Al-Arian is being deported. So this former reporter who is now an editor came on Democracy Now! today, not a columnist, supposed to have been a reporter, John Suggs explains why the guilty plea doesn't mean anything. Then goes on attack Sinn Fein and saying that it and the IRA are the same thing. He doesn't offer any proof. He just says it -- so it must be so.

I think Irish-Americans need to start calling that crap "crap" whenever we hear it. He lost me.
I didn't care about another word he said (and turned off the radio). The New York Times has conducted a war on Ireland and the joke's on them since the big story they just knew was going to get traction and outrage with this country's Irish didn't. Why?

It wasn't about Sinn Fein. A man dies in a bar fight. That's not right but don't try to drag a political party into it. If a member of a party does it, that's a member of a party. Claude Allen loved going into department stores, buying an item, coming back to the store with the receipt, grabbing a new item and returning it as though he'd paid for it. ("See here's my receipt.") That doesn't mean Laura Bush did the same thing. Even though Claude Allen is a Republican, even though he worked for the White House. But a bar fight -- a bar fight -- is suddenly reason to tar and feather a political party?

So when John Suggs started blowing chunks out of his ass, I turned off the radio. I didn't need to hear another word he said because I didn't respect him or his opinions anymore.

Neo-Naxi Supremacist Convicted In WMD Case
In Tennessee, a white supremacist with Neo-Nazi ties has been convicted of attempting to acquire Sarin nerve and C-4 explosives in order to blow up government buildings. The man, Demetrius Van Crocker, once told an FBI informant that he dreamed of riding a motorcycle to Washington D.C. and setting off a dirty nuclear bomb while the House and Senate were in session. Crocker also said he wanted to get a helicopter license so he could bomb or spray poison gas on the African-American neighborhoods in Jackson Tennessee. Crocker was arrested after he bought nerve gas from an undercover agent. His attorney argued Crocker was prone to exaggeration and was a victim of entrapment. Despite the serious charges, the national press has ignored the story. The New York Times, Washington Post or Los Angeles Times have yet to report on Crocker’s arrest or conviction. A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the radical right has attempted to carry out at least 60 terrorist plots since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Go check out Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz for her thoughts.

And check out Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary from yesterday. That's pretty amazing and the longest thing ever run at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Here's the conclusion of "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader:"

If women learned anything from the trashing of Katie Couric last week, it was that today, we're all cheerleaders. In their eyes, we're all cheerleaders. Our own work isn't addressed and there's no desire to familiarize themselves with it before weighing in. Call us when it's our turn to stand trial at the war crimes tribunal.

That's it for tonight. I felt like Suggs pissed over me through the radio speakers and everytime I think about it, I get mad.