Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Other items

In the If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Meltdown or maybe it's Statuesque Karen Goes To Saudi? ("It's not the same . . . down in Saudi . . . Since the Satuesque . . .") but quicker than you can say "Bully Boy" (or Moondoggie), it all blows up in Hughes' face:

But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and "fully participate in society" much as they do in her country, many challenged her.
"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.
The administration's efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance. For that reason, Ms. Hughes, who is considered one of the administration's most scripted and careful members, was hired specifically for the task.

[. . .]
She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes.

The above is from Steven R. Weisman's "Saudi Women Have Message for U.S. Envoy" in this morning's New York Times.

Let's hope Felicity Barringer's article was heavily edited. It's called "Interior Secretary Says U.S. Will Push Search for Energy" and we learn from Goofy Gail Norton and her flunky Craig Manson (no relation to Charles that I'm aware of) that what our forests need are fake trees. Cell phone towers, surely intended by our ancestors because they are of the strict constructionish administration, can easily be disguised as part of a building or a fake tree! We also learn that drilling is like "foot prints." So put up the fake trees and open the parks and forests to drilling and " all-terrain vehicles." Again, hope Barringer's been heavily edited. There's no remarks from scientists or environmentalists. Norton and Manson are quoted and it's run so it's . . . fact? Strange article.

Raymond Hernandez is noted by Ellen for "Ex-FEMA Director Says He Issued Early Warnings:"

Michael D. Brown, who stepped down as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the government's much-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, told a Congressional committee on Tuesday that he had warned the White House of impending disaster several days before the storm struck.
Asked when the White House became aware that a "disaster was looming" in the Gulf Coast region, Mr. Brown said he had warned Andrew H. Card Jr., President Bush's chief of staff, at least three days before the hurricane hit New Orleans on Aug. 28.
"They were aware of that by Thursday or Friday because Andy Card and I were communicating at that point," Mr. Brown told a special House committee investigating the government's response. "In fact, I remember saying to Andy at one point that this is going to be a bad one. They were focused about it. They knew it."

Pru wonders what Alan Cowell does all day. (Still wonders.) She notes Cowell's "Blair Tells His Party He Will Keep Troops in Iraq:"

In a keynote speech intended to reinforce his political dominance, a pugnacious Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged Tuesday to keep British troops in Iraq and to "remain the strongest ally of the United States."
The speech to the Labor Party conference in this seaside resort was closely watched by political analysts for any hint about when Mr. Blair might redeem his pledge to stand down in favor of the chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, his close associate and political rival.

Here's where she really wonders:

Questions about the deployment have multiplied since British troops came under attack from protesters in Basra last month. Photographs showed a British soldier in flames, struggling to escape a burning armored vehicle. "I know there are people, good people, who disagreed with the decision to remove Saddam by force," Mr. Blair said.

The reason? Speculation about what the two Brits captured were doing. Why were they in wigs, why were they undercover? This is something people are talking about and, as Pru points out, Cowell mentions "questions" but not the one that's becoming the talk of London.

Charlie e-mails to steer us to Thom Shankar's "Army Investigates Photos of Iraqi War Dead on Web" notes the website we noted last Thursday (actually Friday but I hadn't been to sleep yet so it was still Thursday to me):

The Army has opened an investigation into whether American troops have sent gruesome photographs of Iraqi war dead to an Internet site where the soldiers were given free access to online pornography, Army officials said Tuesday.

From our entry last week "Indymedia round focus on Iraq:"

Warning on the next item. The site linked to in the excerpt has the f-word in the title. We're using "*"s in place of the f-word. But if you go to it, it's the f-word. If that's enough to get you in trouble at work, do not go to this site on a work computer. Blake e-mails to note Chris Thompson's "War Pornography" (East Bay Express):

If you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site NowThatsF** For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.
At Wilson's Web site, you can see an Arab man's face sliced off and placed in a bowl filled with blood. Another man's head, his face crusted with dried blood and powder burns, lies on a bed of gravel. A man in a leather coat, who apparently tried to run a military checkpoint, lies slumped in the driver's seat of a car, his head obliterated by gunfire, the flaps of skin from his neck blooming open like rose petals. Six men in beige fatigues, identified as U.S. Marines, laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.
The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by the soldiers who posted them, laugh and gloat over the bodies. The soldier who posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails wrote, "What every Iraqi should look like." The photograph of a corpse whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, bears the caption: "bad day for this dude." One soldier posted three photographs of corpses lying in the street and titled his collection, "die haji die." The soldiers take pride, even joy, in displaying the dead.This is a moral catastrophe. The Bush administration claims such sympathy for American war dead that officials have banned the media from photographing flap-draped coffins being carried off of cargo planes. Government officials and American media officials have repeatedly denounced the Al-Jazeera network for airing grisly footage of Iraqi war casualties and American prisoners of war. The legal fight over whether to release the remaining photographs of atrocities at Abu Ghraib has dragged on for months, with no less a figure than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers arguing that the release of such images will inflame the Muslim world and drive untold numbers to join Al Qaeda. But none of these can compare to the prospect of American troops casually bartering pictures of suffering and death for porn."Two years ago, if somebody had said our soldiers would do these things to detainees and take pictures of it, I would have said that's a lie," sighed the recently retired General Michael Marchand – who as Assistant Judge Advocate General for the Army was responsible for reforming military training policy to make sure nothing like Abu Ghraib ever happens again. "What soldiers do, I'm not sure I can guess anymore."

Charlie: Thanks to member Blake and Chris Thompson (who broke the story), we knew about it last week. Not today or earlier this week. Last week. So good for Blake for finding it and good for Thompson for writing about it.


From Shankar's article:

Another Pentagon official who reviewed the Web site said it raised questions, as well, of whether the acts could be viewed as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which set standards for treatment of remains of those killed in a combat zone.

Tracey e-mails to note Jennifer K. Harbury's "The Legal Responsibility Goes to the Top" (CounterPunch):

The photographs of Abu Ghraib torture practices left many of us with a chilling sense of deja vu. Anyone who survived torture in Latin America or lost a loved one to death squads there, remembers these techniques.
We also remember the U.S. participants. Although our government leaders insist that the recent abuses were acts of a few "bad apples"--young MPs out of control--we can only shake our heads. We have heard it all before. While our young soldiers face prison time for following orders, those who authorized and ordered the torture continue to violate our laws with full impunity. Why?
Given the extraordinary flow of disclosures, confirming the use of identical U.S. torture practices throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, the "bad apple" defense is coy at best. It is impossible for so many soldiers to dream up identical techniques by coincidence. We are dealing with official policy, not individual excess. Legal responsibility goes all the way to the top.
We must also remember that these horrific practices were not invented during the war against terror. Throughout Latin America, secretly held prisoners were subjected to raging dogs, excruciating positions, simulated drownings, long-term sleep and food deprivation, blasting noises and terrifying threats.

I'm reading the book right now. [Let's note this from the bottom of the article: Jennifer K. Harbury, author of "Truth, Torture and the American Way," and "Searching for Everardo", heads the Stop Torture Permanently campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.] Tracey and I swapped books in DC and this was one she passed on, Jennifer K. Harbury's Truth Torture and the American Way. It's a great book. And yes, Tracey is "the Tracey." Whenever she suggests a link, if I don't say, "Yes, this is Ruth's granddaughter" someone will e-mail to ask that. If another "Tracey" became a member she (or he) would have to choose a new name or spelling because Tracey is famous to the community as Ruth's teenage granddaughter (and famous for being really smart as well). If you haven't read the book, you should consider seeking it out because it's really worth reading. (Tracey, I hope you feel the same about the ones you got from the trade.)

Olive e-mails to note David Sirota's "Hurricanes Rain on Bush's Tax Cut Parade" (In These Times):

When President Bush kicked off his bid for re-election in the spring of 2004, he launched what was another in a long line of cookie-cutter conservative campaigns. There was the predictable pander to cultural conservatives with his high-profile introduction of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Then, there was the well-worn chest-thumping on national security and the War on Terror (sans any mention of the still-at-large Osama bin Laden).
And then, finally, there was the most familiar theme of all: right-wing economics.
Bush proudly promoted the trillions in tax cuts he had passed as supposedly helping the economy, and then went on the attack. "The tired, old policies of tax and spend," Bush said, referring to Democrats, "are a proven recipe for economic disaster."
The implication in Bush's statement is one America has been hearing for years from the right: namely, that conservatives' agenda of tax and spending cuts is not tired, but rather somehow "new," and is, most importantly, a path to success.
But with New Orleans residents still bailing water from their streets, that seemingly impenetrable axiom of American politics has crumbled almost as quickly as the infrastructure supposedly protecting our Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina. "Tax and spend" was not the recipe for economic disaster--tax and spending cuts were.

Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

Wednesday, September 28: We speak to one of the Saint Patrick's Four who were just acquitted of federal conspiracy charges for their protest against the Iraq war. We also look at how Michael Brown of FEMA is being made the scapegoat in the disastrous response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. We'll talk with Alison Young of Knight Ridder.

We'll also note some upcoming dates for the Un-Embed The Media Tour:

* Amy Goodman in Norfolk, VA:
Fri, Sept 30
Independent Media: A Primer
Keynote Speech
Naro Expanded Cinema
1507 Colley Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510
Minimum donation $10
Tickets available at Naro Cinema
For more information, visit

* Amy Goodman in Philadelphia, PA:
Sat, Oct 1
*TIME: 10 AM
National Alliance for Media And Culture
2005 Conference
Panel Discussion:
Taking Liberties: Freedom, Creativity and Risk in the Media Arts
Sheraton Society Hill
One Dock Street (2nd and Walnut Streets)
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Registration Fees:
NAMAC Members
Full Price $295
At the door $325
Additional Member Organization Representative $150
Youth Affiliated with a Member Organization $100
Day Pass $150
Students (under 23) $150
Non-Members Full Price $375
At the Door $400
Day Pass $175
for more information:
Tel: 215 222 2593

* Amy Goodman in Dayton, OH:
Sat, Oct 1
*TIME: 7:30 PM
Reclaiming Media Acess for Everyone
With Phil Donahue
Dayton Convention Center
22 E. 5th St., 3rd Floor
Dayton, Ohio 45402
There will be ASL interpretation
Tickets: $10
Available at

* Amy Goodman in Columbus, OH:
Sun, Oct 2
First Congregational Church
44 E. Broad St.
Columbus, Ohio
(Next to Columbus Museum of Art)
$10 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds

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