Reuters Journalist Killed By U.S. Buried In Iraq
In Iraq, a funeral was held Monday for Waleed Khaled, the sound technician working for the Reuters news agency who was shot dead by U.S. forces on Sunday. The 35-year-old Khaled, was shot in the face and took at least four bullets to the chest. According to Reuters, U.S. soldiers were heard joking around when Waleed Khaled's family came to the scene of the shooting. As his tearful relatives inspected his corpse, a U.S. soldier said "Don't bother. It's not worth it." A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few feet from the body. According to Reporters Without Borders Khaled is the 66th journalist to be killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. In comparison, a total of 63 journalists were killed in the Vietnam War.
Reuters Demands Release of Journalists from U.S. Detention
Waleed Khaled's colleague -- Reuters cameraman Haider Kadhem -- remains in U.S. detention. He too was shot by an American sniper and was the only eyewitness to the killing of Khaled. Reuters is calling for his immediate release. Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger said, "We fail to understand what reason there can be for his continued detention more than a day after he was the innocent victim of an incident in which his colleague was killed." The Committee to Protect Journalists also called for Khadem's immediate release. Meanwhile a third Iraqi journalist working for Reuters has now been held incommunicado in the Abu Ghraib prison for three weeks without facing charges.
ACLU: FBI Has Designated Activist Groups as Terrorists
The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained internal government documents that show the FBI designated two Michigan activist groups as potentially being "involved in terrorist activities." One of the groups is the anti-war organization Direct Action. The second group is called By Any Means Necessary - it is a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement. ACLU staff attorney Ben Wizner said "When the FBI and local law enforcement identify affirmative action advocates as potential terrorists, every American has cause for concern." The ACLU has been conducting an investigation into whether the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces has been engaged in political surveillance. As part of this investigation the ACLU has learned that the FBI has collected thousands of pages of documents related to other activist groups including Greenpeace, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Headlines for August 30, 2005
- Hurricane Katrina Kills At Least 55
- U.S. Air Force To Be In Iraq "Indefinitely"
- Reuters Journalist Killed By U.S. Buried In Iraq
- UN Official Accuses Bush of Doing Damage in HIV Fight in Africa
- ACLU: FBI Has Designated Activist Groups as Terrorists
- Human Rights Commission Asked to Investigate Police Torture in Chicago
Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast with devastating force Monday morning leaving at least 55 people dead and more than a million people in three states without power. We speak with David Helvarg of the Blue Frontier Campaign about extreme weather and Damu Smith about who gets hit the hardest.
We speak with Robert Shimek of the Indigenous Environmental Network about the toxic pollution of the Mississippi River with various industries using it as a "sewer dump" to get rise of dioxins, PCBs and various heavy metals.
We speak with Damu Smith, founder of Black Voices for Peace and executive director of the National Black Environmental Justice Network about environmental racism. Smith says, "People, black and white and Latino, who live in these [heavy industrial] areas are exposed to toxic soup of chemicals regularly released into the air, into the soil, into the water."
With search and rescue operations underway in multiple states and many communities facing massive reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, state governments are relying significantly on aid from the National Guard. But with the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of Guard members available at home has been slashed.
We play Part 2 of our discussion with Middle East expert Juan Cole looking at U.S.-Saudi relations. Cole is a Professor of History at the University of Michigan and runs a widely-read blog called "Informed Comment."
Law enforcement officials in Michigan have been busy slapping the "terrorist" label on domestic groups.
An FBI document, released on August 29 by the ACLU, shows extensive monitoring of a whole bunch of organizations, ranging from the Aryan World Church and the Christian Identity movement to animal rights groups, an anti-war collective, and a leading pro-affirmative action coalition.
The document, dated January 29, 2002, is a summary of a domestic terrorism symposium that was held six days previously.
In attendance were the FBI, the Secret Service, the Michigan State Police, the Michigan State University police, and Michigan National Guard.
"The purpose of the meeting was to keep the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies apprised of the activities of the various groups and individuals within the state of Michigan who are thought to be involved in terrorist activities," the document states.
One of those "terrorist groups" is By Any Means Necessary, which says its aim is "to defend affirmative action, integration, and fight for equality."
The FBI document said a detective, whose last name was blotted out, "presented information on a protest from February 8-10, 2002, in Ann Arbor, Michigan," by the group.
That "protest" was actually the Second National Conference of the New Civil Rights Movement, which was co-sponsored by the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH, with keynote speaker Jonathan Kozol.
"We're standing up for education equity, and the American government is spying on us? That's an outrage," says Luke Massie, one of the national co-chairs of By Any Means Necessary. "This is palpable proof of what a lot of progressive people have worried about since 9/11: The Bush Administration is shredding our Bill of Rights before our eyes."
The February 8-10 conference was designed to build public support for affirmative action just as the Supreme Court was deciding two Michigan affirmative action cases.
The failure of American efforts to transform Iraq into a free society comes at a time when we are experiencing a crisis in our own country over the basic concepts of freedom, democracy, and the separation of church and state.
Recently, while I was in Washington, I heard a young conservative woman assert that there is "no such thing" as the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution. Senator Rick Santorum, the family-values, anti-abortion crusader in the Senate, makes the same assertion in his new book, It Takes a Family. Various web pages echo this claim, supposedly debunking the secular myth of church/state separation in this country.
The principle of a wall of separation between religion and government in the United States is one of those ideas so familiar it comes as a bit of a shock to hear it denied. We all learned about church/state separation in civics class, but can we dredge up the relevant citations on demand? Can you prove, for that matter, that the Earth revolves around the Sun? Better start dusting off those old high school textbooks (before the new, expurgated versions come out).
The latest promised Iraqi oasis -- a constitution that would herald peace and democracy -- has turned out to be just the latest mirage in Americas bloody trek through the Iraqi desert. But George W. Bush is already pointing toward the next shimmering image and the Washington establishment agrees that the nation must press on.
Dramatic alternatives -- like finally turning back and withdrawing U.S. troops -- remain out of the question as far as nearly all major politicians and pundits are concerned. As in the run-up to war in late 2002 and early 2003, the United States is experiencing a truncated debate about what to do next in Iraq, often led by the same debaters.
Typical of this new version of the old imbalanced debate, NBC's "Meet the Press" program on Aug. 28 consisted of two segments: the first with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizad and the second with a panel of retired U.S. generals.
In the opening segment, Khalizad tried to put the best face on Iraq's proposed constitution, which rather than advancing reconciliation has deepened Iraq's bitter divisions. The document would transform Iraq from a secular to an Islamic state and embrace a federalism that Sunnis say will hand the oil wealth to the Shiites and Kurds.
But Khalizad told NBC's Tim Russert that the constitution represented "a new consensus between the universal principles of democracy and human rights and Iraqi traditions in Islam. And in that, it is an agreement, a compact between the various communities and it sets a new paradigm for this part of the world, a reconciliation, a consensus between the various forces and tendencies that are at work here in Iraq."
Russert did cite dissenting views, including objections from Iraqi Sunnis, who live primarily in parts of the country without oil, and protests from women, who complain that the constitution would strip them of equal rights under the law. But no one advocating those positions or opposed to a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq was included on the NBC program.
Yesterday was extraordinary at Camp Casey. It was filled with love, passion, and compassion. We started off the day with a prayer service led by religious leaders of all faiths, topped off with a little preaching by the Rev. Al Sharpton who gave an amazing talk in support of Camp Casey and all we are doing. Right before the Rev. Sharpton arrived, Sean Hannity said that if he were truly a man of God, instead of supporting me, the Reverend would "denounce" me for speaking ill of the President. The Reverend didn't take Hannity's advice, and I am glad.
But there are others who work with the fallen who need to be heard from. That's why the story in the Times's Long Island edition, "A High School Counts Its War Dead," by Patrick O'Gilfoil Healy, offers a moving window onto how this war is making quiet protesters out of even the most vehement supporters of our country's military.
Chris Chamberlin is no counter-recruiter. In fact, he is, as the Times article puts it, "the war guy" at Brentwood High School. A former Marine who teaches English, Chamberlin used to avidly promote the military as a career option to his students. But in the last two years, four Brentwood High graduates have died in Iraq or Afghanistan--most recently Specialist Jose Ruiz, who was killed August 15 in Mosul. According to the Times, "No other high school in America, apparently, has suffered so high a toll."
That toll is reflected in Chamberlin. Not only has he been torn apart by these deaths, but he recently tried to dissuade one of his students from joining the Marines. "Five years ago," Chamberlin admits, "I'd take some of the kids aside and say, 'You should really think about it.' At the time, I felt the benefits far outweighed the risk, I had no problem." But while Chamberlin still "loves the military, and still believes it can transform his students' lives...he reviles the Iraq war and the mounting casualties."
So when Jesus Jimenez came to him recently wanting to join the Marines, Chamberlin tried to talk him out of it, offering to find college scholarship opportunities for him instead. But Jesus went off, and made it back, even though he came under fire, killed men and saw buddies die. "I'm always going to feel a little guilty about playing a small part in that," Chamberlin says.
Getting over the loss of one of the most gripping and imaginative shows on television is rough. And much as I like Entourage -- and have explained why before -- I think Dana Stevens' suggestions for improvement could really raise the bar. From "Let's Script-Doctor It Out, Bitch," -- a send-up of a phrase familiar to Entourage viewers -- here's an excerpt:
1. Get a real female character. This is not merely a feminist plea for equal representation (although it would be nice to see my half of the human race shown as something besides Uggs-wearing ditzes). I think balancing the yang with a little yin would improve the show. She doesn't have to be a brilliant or even likeable woman: My tip would be to explore the after-hours life of Shauna (Debi Mazar), Vince's bitchy, hard-boiled publicist.
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