Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Democracy Now: Leonard Weinglass, David Cole, Sibel Edmonds; Cindy Sheehan, John H. Johnson

More Military Families Join Cindy Sheehan in Texas
In Texas, more military families are heading to Crawford to join Cindy Sheehan in an ongoing vigil in Crawford where President Bush is vacationing. Sheehan has threatened to stay in Crawford until the president agrees to meet with her. Sheehan's son Casey died last year in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Military families from Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia and Arkansas are expected to join Sheehan at the vigil site. "He doesn't have any children in harm's way. You know, if there are more soldiers and marines killed today, it's not going to worry him if one of them is his daughter," said Sheehan. "I mean, he's insulated. He's safe. Nobody in this administration has to worry about their children. And if I have to stay out here all month in this heat, it's nothing compared to what our soldiers are going through or what the people of Iraq are going through."
Federal Court Overturns Convictions of the Cuba 5
In Florida, a federal court has overturned the convictions of the Cuba 5. The Cuban nationals were arrested in 1998 after they shared information with the U.S. government on how anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Florida were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Cuba. The men were accused of being spies and a threat to the national security of the United States. For years activists around the world have organized calling for their freedom. On Tuesday the federal court ruled that the men did not get a fair trial in Miami, a stronghold of Cuban exiles opposed to the Cuban government. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is now calling on the U.S. government to release the men and drop all charges. We'll have more on this story in a few minutes.
The above are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today and were selected by Rachel and DomingoDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for August 10, 2005

- White House Delays Release of Roberts Documents
- Conservative Group Withdraws Support For Roberts
- Federal Court Overturns Convictions of the Cuba 5
- Poll: 57% of U.S. Says Iraq War Has Made Nation Less Safe
- Bush Looks to Cut State Dept. Arms Control Offices
- 5 Die in Taser Police Shootings
- NCAA Cracks Down on Native American Mascots
Landmark Decision Overturns Cuba 5 Convictions

A federal appellate court in Atlanta overturned the convictions of the Cuba 5 and ordered a new trial on the basis that the men could not get a fair trial in the right-wing Cuban exile stronghold of Miami. The five were accused of spying for Cuba. We speak with Leonard Weinglass, one of the lawyers for the Cuba 5.
Maher Arar Fights to Keep Torture Suit Against U.S. Government Alive

Canadian torture victim Maher Arar is the first person to mount a civil suit challenging the U.S. government policy of extraordinary rendition. Now his attorneys are fighting the Justice Department's motion to dismiss the case. We speak with David Cole, the lead lawyer for Maher Arar. [includes rush transcript]
Did Speaker Hastert Accept Turkish Bribes to Deny Armenian Genocide and Approve Weapons Sales?

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds is accusing the FBI of covering up improper contacts and financial dealings between certain Turkish nationals and the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. We speak with Sibel Edmonds and investigative journalist David Rose.
Let's immediately note Danny Shechter's latest News Dissector because the guest on the first segment, Leonard Weinglass, is addressed by Schechter today:
Three cheers for Leonard Weinglass today. I first met him in Julius Hoffman's kangaroo court in Chicago, where he defended the Chicago 8 activists against government persecution in the aftermath of the protests at the Democratic Convention in 1968. While William Kunstler was the lawyer who drew the headlines, Weinglass drilled down on the legal work. They lost the case but then won on appeal.

And now, in another high-profile case, Len has come through, this time for five Cubans sentenced as spies in Miami, the capital of anti-Castro sentiment. The appeals judges savaged the prosecution, noting: "He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor -- indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one." (Words that should be posted on the wall of every prosecutor in the country!)

BuzzFlash has selected Cindy Sheehan for their Wings of Justice Award this week.


BuzzFlash has an editorial "Add Ciny Sheehan to the list.  She too dared to Stand up for the truth, after losing a son in Bush's war, and found herself in a ditch:" 

After all, in TreasonGate, it is Bush and Rove vs. the CIA, not Joe Wilson -- although they would like you to think the latter. And Bush still unleashes Rove to do his stiletto jobs on anyone who would reveal the reality of the Bush lies, deceit and betrayal. Bush is no longer someone who just condones treason; he has enabled it and continues to let the same people who harmed our national security do their anti-American slime jobs out of America's House, the White House.

Now Cindy Sheehan, mother of a young son killed in service in Sadr City, Iraq, sits in a ditch outside of Crawford, Texas, as Bush unleashes Rove, yet again, to besmirch and degrade her. George and his henchmen go after women with a special relish. They are so indifferent and vengeful that even the mother of one of our soldiers killed in action is just more target practice for enforcement of their Omerta.

The Democratic leaders in Congress continue to miss the boat. They think that they need to imitate the Machiavellian appeal of Bush to moral values, when the evidence is in plain sight that the man is immoral. His only claim to credibility is that he says he believes in God, but wonder if God doesn't believe in him? Wonder if God finds him a loathsome creature who betrays the teachings of Christ? Wonder if God long ago abandoned Bush, because Bush long ago abandoned God in deed and practice?

We'll now note Military Families Speak Out's press release:



August 9, 2005

Contact: Ryan Fletcher 202-641-0277
Dante Zappala 215-520-7040


Gold Star and Military Families from Across Country on their way to Texas


CRAWFORD, TX – More members of Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) and Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) are traveling to Texas to join the protest outside of President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is vacationing for the month of August.  


Starting today, Gold Star families from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arkansas and other states whose loved ones have died as a result of the war in Iraq will be joining one of their members, Cindy Sheehan, at the protest. Ms. Sheehan, whose son Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was killed in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004, has been in Crawford since August 5th, demanding a meeting with the President. These families will be joined by military families with loved ones currently serving in Iraq or about to deploy or redeploy to Iraq. All of these families are coming to Crawford, Texas to share their stories about the personal costs of the war in Iraq and add their voices to the call for a meeting with President Bush.

On August 3, 2005 President Bush, speaking about the dreadful loss of life in Iraq in early August, said

"We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission… The families of the fallen can be assured that they died for a noble cause." Gold Star and military families coming to Crawford know that the cause was not noble; that their loved ones died, or are currently in harm’s way, serving in a war based on lies.


 In the first 8 days of August, 36 service members died in Iraq; countless Iraq children, women and men are dying each day. All of the families traveling to Crawford will carry the message to the vacationing President: Honor our fallen and honor our loved ones’ service by ending the occupation, bringing the troops home now and taking care of them when they get here.


President Bush has consistently tried to hide, and to hide from, the cost of the war in Iraq. This August, these costs are being brought right to his doorstep.


Members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out who are traveling to Crawford will be available for interview beginning on Tuesday afternoon August 9th.


For More Information:

Military Families Speak Out:

Gold Star Families for Peace:

Download the full Press Release


Let's drop back to the interview we noted this morning from The Lonestar Iconoclast, W. Leon Smith's "Bill Mitchell, Whose Son Was Killed Same Day As Cindy's, Flies To Texas From California To Offer Support:"

ICONOCLAST: You drove here from California?

MITCHELL: I was going to drive, but I ended up getting a plane ticket because Cindy said, "I need you here now." So I flew down to be here and support her and the work she's doing. She's just incredible.

I don't know whether Americans just have too many distractions or are too busy with their own lives, but, you know, this war doesn't touch that many people in America.

ICONOCLAST: What do you think it would take to fix things?

MITCHELL: The mothers of America to all stand up.

It may take the draft. If the recruiting continues to fall short and they are forced to bring the draft back, maybe that might wake people up. But people aren't affected by it. Sometimes, we'll tell people that our sons died in the war, and they go, "What war?"

Every morning when I wake up, it's -- hopefully it's my first thought. If I go through five minutes of the morning without thinking about Mike, and all of a sudden I see one of his pictures hanging on my wall, it's kind of a shock again. I'm really kind of happy when I wake up and I have Mike there in my mind because it's not such a shock, a jolt that you go through again.

He was the baby of the family, Casey was the big brother of the family. It's like a little pebble into a pond. There's a ripple effect. There's brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles.

One of my biggest fears while Mike was in Iraq was that he would never see his grandmother again. (pause) Mike's grandmother had to go to his funeral. She's devastated still by it. My mother's a very sentimental, a very emotional woman. She's having some health issues in her life. I was afraid she would die before Mike got home.

To read Smith's article in full, click here.

Anne e-mails to note Steve Cobble's "Casey's Mom at the Bat" (The Huffington Post):

Cindy wants to ask George W. Bush exactly what was the "noble cause" that her son Casey died for.

She's camping in a ditch near George W. Bush's fake ranch--built as a stage set when Bush ran for President, so he could pretend to be a cowboy, instead of an oil man--because more Americans like cowboys...

Cindy wants to ask Bush about the Downing Street Memo. Even though the elite media never really put it on the front page, Cindy knows that it proves that Bush & Blair had decided to go to war long before they told the rest of us, that the reasons they gave out to the public were false.

And Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq, has the White House boys in a tizzy.

She's got the President hiding inside, afraid to come out alone and talk to the mother of a soldier. Just like he couldn't talk to the 9/11 Commission without the Vice-President. Just like he's never managed to get himself to the funerals of the 1,800 soldiers killed in Iraq.

We'll now note Dawn Turner Trice's "Ebony, Jet are old school but still relevant" (Chicago Tribune):
Back when black folk were Colored, pretty was light skin and "good hair." Rarely was it dark skin and nappy hair. Pretty was thin lips and a keen nose. Rarely was it thick lips and a much more ample nose.

Pretty was a look so filtered through a white lens and sensibility that many black folk couldn't achieve it no matter how they hot-combed their hair trying to look like a Lena Horne or used Nadinola to bleach their skin to resemble a Dorothy Dandridge.

But, of course, pretty was by far not our only hang-up in terms of our identity. The negative mass media images of what it meant to be Negro, Colored and/or black in America seemed boundless and touched everything, not least the psyche.

John H. Johnson believed he could hold up a different mirror. And that became his mission years ago when he began publishing Ebony and Jet magazines, among others. Johnson, 87, who died Monday of heart failure, understood so deeply that black people needed to see the success stories within the black community if they were going to move beyond the stereotypes connected with second-class citizenry.

That didn't mean telling half-stories or half-truths. It did mean making sure that the positive segments of the community would be illuminated and given breadth. Within the pages of Ebony and Jet we saw black doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs. We saw marriages that spanned decades. Movie stars and athletes who were positive role models. Urban communities that were thriving.
Nolanda e-mails to note Julianne Malveaux's "Johnson's vision in his legacy" (Chicago Defender): 

The story of how Johnson started his magazine is now legend when African American entrepreneurs chafe about access to capital.  A bank rejected his business plan, so he went back and asked for a loan to take a vacation.  With his mother's furniture as collateral, Johnson took the $500 he was loaned and turned it into an empire.  When Johnson started publishing in 1945, there were few Black athletes or actors, and even fewer visible entrepreneurs.  Still, he gambled that the ones out there could inspire others, and he featured them on his pages.  Many of us chafed at the rank materialism that seemed to ooze from Ebony, the photographs of this lush house and that high-rise office.  Years later, I can see the logic in profiling the African American rich and famous.  There was a message - if she can do it, so can you.

Black folks have come a long way since 1945.  Then, more than two-thirds of us lived in poverty, but now just a quarter of us do (compared to 12 percent of whites).  Then, most of us worked in menial jobs, and just 2 or 3 percent had college educations.  Now, nearly half work in white-collar jobs, and more than 10 percent of us over age 25 have graduated from college.  Despite all of that, we are barraged by negative images - of the thugs, hustlers and half-nude sisters that seem to grate their way through cable television videos.  Ebony magazine often offers a respite from that swarm of swirling negative images, reporting, simply, on a promotion, a book published, a record produced, or the opulent lifestyle of someone successful.  If a young Black man or woman can't get solace from the numbers - and who buries themselves in statistics - they can get solace from the notion that a little Black boy or girl who grew up without much managed to find some measure of success by making it into the pages of Ebony.

This issue dedicated to Mr. Johnson is important - and definitely a keepsake - because he was more than a Black publisher. He ranks alongside the names of media titans such as David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC; William Paley, the builder of CBS; Ted Turner, who brought us CNN; and Henry Luce, who established Time Inc. into a world power.
Included in The Chicago Defender is this August 10 notice,  "Funeral arrangements for John H. Johnson:"

The body of John H. Johnson will lie in state Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Johnson Publishing Company, 820 S. Michigan Ave.

His funeral will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 South Woodlawn.

Johnson’s burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the John H. Johnson School of Communications, Howard University, 525 Bryant Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20059, (202) 806-7690, or the United Negro College Fund, 8260 Willow Corp. Dr., Fairfax, Va.,  22031-4511, (703) 205-3400.

KeShawn asks a question that Roland S. Martin's "John H. Johnson deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T" also raises (Chicago Defender):
So with that being the case, why have our nation’s political leaders been so silent and slow on the draw in response to Johnson’s death?

We waited until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday before placing a call to the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to find out why he had not said anything publicly about the loss of a giant. After getting the run around on the phone, I called and emailed his press spokeswoman, Angela Benander, who said that it was coming shortly. One hour later, it arrived. I wonder if that statement would have been issued had we not placed a phone call asking why (keep in mind, Durbin has still yet to make a public statement on the racial profiling of state Sen. James Meeks (I-15th), who is also pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago).

Yet he isn’t the only Democrat who has been silent.

Mr. Johnson was a favorite son of Arkansas, and his childhood home was recently converted into a museum. Yet with all of the wonderful things he has accomplished, the state’s two Democratic senators – Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor – have not issued formal statements.

A spokeswoman told me Tuesday that Lincoln was aware of Johnson’s death and made mention of it on a radio show, but that’s about it. Zip from Pryor’s office. Normally, politicians are always looking to heap praises on those who hail from their state. I guess Mr. Johnson just didn’t make the cut.

From Clarence Page's "Indispensable" (Chicago Tribune):
To black Americans of my generation, Johnson's publications Ebony, Jet and Negro Digest were indispensable reading matter, offering a brighter and more prosperous vision of black America than most of the mainstream--also known as "white-owned"--media provided.

To advertisers, Johnson's pioneering publications broke through the myth that the black consumer market was not worth targeting through black-owned media.

Today the newsstands are filled with magazines niche-marketed to blacks or Hispanics, but that really began with Johnson back in the 1940s.

And to journalists, particularly black journalists, Johnson's publications provided employment, a training ground and a model for how people of color might be covered in a more complete fashion than simply crime, sports or show business stories.

His 1989 autobiography "Succeeding Against the Odds" reads almost like a business-school series of case studies in how to solve whatever problems life throws at you.

When Arkansas refused to educate black children in his area past the 8th grade, his mother, Gertrude Johnson Williams, a cook and domestic worker, saved for two years to move her family to Chicago in the 1930s.

Young Johnnie was working days at a black-owned life insurance company and studying at night at Northwestern University when he started up Negro Digest in 1942 with $500 that his mother raised by borrowing against the family furniture.

When its circulation stalled at 50,000 a few months later, he persisted in requesting a guest column from Eleanor Roosevelt until she agreed, immediately boosting circulation to 100,000.

In 1945, Johnson launched Ebony, a picture magazine for blacks. Its initial press run of 25,000 copies was completely sold out. Pocket-size Jet magazine began in 1951. Jet helped launch the modern civil rights movement in 1955 when it published open-casket funeral photos of the mangled body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicagoan who was savagely murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi.
We'll note Felicia R. Lee's "He Created a Mirror for Black America" (New York Times):

For generations of black Americans, Ebony and Jet were much more than magazines. The publishing empire founded by John H. Johnson in 1942, which made him both rich and one of the most powerful black Americans, chronicled black possibilities, achievements and positive images. They fed a hunger for information and good feelings during the many decades when black people seldom saw themselves reflected in the larger culture except in the most stereotypical ways.

Mr. Johnson, who died two days ago in Chicago at 87, was an iconic figure among black Americans, not only because of his business success but also because of his ability to showcase the sweeping range of black America, said business executives, academics and journalists interviewed yesterday. Many recalled sitting down with an issue of Ebony and thumbing through the photographs of movie stars, sports figures and ordinary black Americans and being thrilled finally to see people who looked like themselves.

"John Johnson's genius was that he could define the collective unconscious of the African-American people and put it into print," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.

Ellis Cose, a black former Chicagoan who is a contributing editor at Newsweek and the author of several books on social issues, said he was even thrilled when walking past the Ebony building on South Michigan Avenue, a high-rise emblem of black entrepreneurship. "The whole enterprise was astounding," he said. And years later, when he interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Mr. Cose said that Mr. Tutu told him that he, too, had been inspired by Ebony during the dark years of apartheid.

We've noted Johnson twice this week already.  But since it appears that there is a feeding frenzy over a "pretty, blond gone missing" (who knew Jennings was blond?) means Johnson gets overlooked. Now maybe there's not footage of Johnson yucking it up while fully dressed above the waist and just wearing boxers below, but Johnson did accomplish a great deal.  So we'll take the time to again note his passing.
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