Friday, November 25, 2005

Democracy Now: Yip Harburg; Leigh Saavedra, Jeremy Scahill, Danny Schechter, Dahr Jamail, Medea Benjamin, community headlines

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , ,
, , , the , the , and other topics.

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):

Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.
Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justice
is issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! ( as we call for:
USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.

Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 hailed in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders
"Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.
Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the [New York Times] front page report, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out
to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging
her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to
negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted
to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other
administration officials signed the previous year authorizing
reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers
were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only
because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White
House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then
gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that
convinced them the waivers were genunie.
But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that she
felt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags. The above will be reposted at The Third Estate Sunday Review and may also be reposted at the sites of members participating.

Today Democracy Now! devotes the hour to:

A Tribute to Yip Harburg: The Man Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz
His name might not be familiar to many, but his songs are sung by millions around the world. Today a journey through the life and work of Yip Harburg, the Broadway lyricist who wrote such hits as "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" and who put the music into the Wizard of Oz. Born into poverty on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Yip always included a strong social and political component to his work, fighting racism and poverty. A lifelong socialist, Yip was blacklisted and hounded throughout much of his life.
Taking us on today's trip through the music and politics of Yip is his son, Ernie Harburg. First, we're going to go through Yip's early life, his collaboration with the Gershwin's, through "Brother Can You Spare A Dime." Then we're going to take an in-depth look at the Wizard of Oz. And finally, we'll hear a medley of Yip Harburg's Broadway songs and the politics of the times in which they were created. [includes rush transcript]

Mia e-mails to note Leigh Saavedra's "Thanksgiving at Camp Casey" (CounterPunch):

I don't know if Casey learned any parts of the big lie while he was in Iraq, but I look at his youthful face and am overcome with the knowledge of all that he never knew. He never knew that it was pointless to search for weapons of mass destruction, because such weapons didn't exist. He never knew that some reputable people would later say that the Bush crowd NEVER believed such weapons existed but used the threat only to force the American people to support the conquest. He never knew that even after some of Bush's "evidence" was disproved and reported to Bush as false that he would still go on to use it in a State of the Union Address fifteen months before Casey's life would be extinguished. He couldn't have known that one leak after another would finally bring two-thirds of the United States, now with a large number of its leaders, to admit that it had been wrong to invade Iraq. Probably he never for a moment knew that much of the world today considers George Bush to be the most dangerous person on earth, many calling him the greatest of all terrorists.
The saddest thing about Cindy's question, for what noble cause did Casy die, is that there never WAS an answer. There never WAS a noble cause. Casey was used, along with well over 2,000 other young people who believed what they were told, who listened to a corporate-controlled media that reported what Power wanted them to report and withheld what Power wanted withheld, all exacerbated by a gullible public with a short memory, narrow minds, and a great lack of research inclination.
And he never knew of course that it would take a single person, his mother, to take a stand watched all around the world, to become the child who questions the emperor's new clothes.
Today, our battle is far from over, but we have leaped mountains since the worldwide protests in February, 2003, when most of the American people refused to accept that we could be making a mistake to invade Iraq. At that time, the majority of Americans believed that there was a connection between Iraq and 9-ll, or Iraq and al-Qaeda. Today we can say that many in our country have awakened. Whether it is in shock at the discoveries that our country does indeed support torture and whether it is the photos of such horrible lawlessness as seen in Abu Ghraib or whether it is the slow, sometimes barely audible whistleblowing that is coming to us weekly now, we won't know for some time. But what we do know is that a short time ago, Americans in general believed their president. That is no longer the case.

Jeremy Scahill's "Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera?" (The Nation):

Is the allegation "outlandish," as the White House claims? Or was it a deadly serious option? Until a news organization or British official defies the Official Secrets Act and publishes the five-page memo, we have no way of knowing. But what we do know is that at the time of Bush's White House meeting with Blair, the Bush Administration was in the throes of a very public, high-level temper tantrum directed against Al Jazeera. The Bush-Blair summit took place on April 16, at the peak of the first US siege of Falluja, and Al Jazeera was there to witness the assault and the fierce resistance.
A day before Bush's meeting with Blair, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld slammed Al Jazeera in distinctly undiplomatic terms:
REPORTER: Can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
What Al Jazeera was doing in Falluja is exactly what it was doing when the United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001 and when US forces killed Al Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent, Tareq Ayoub, during the April 2003 occupation of Baghdad. Al Jazeera was witnessing and reporting on events Washington did not want the world to see.

On the same subject, Martha e-mails to note this from Danny Schechter's latest News Dissector:

Most wars "blow back" into the countries that start them. They lead to repressive policies, a redirection of funding into the military, and, of course. deaths and casualties that will be with us for decades to come. Ask the veterans from Vietnam if you doubt me. The War for Iraqi Freedom has now become a war on our freedom. Witness Tony Blair's efforts in England to suppress news flowing from a newly leaked Downing Street memo by threatening to jail editors.
More significantly, the story that is being censored in the press is about the press itself. I am talking about reports that Blair intervened to dissuade President Bush from bombing Al Jazeera’s headquarters. Its being treated like a joke in some quarters. I actually had people tell me that if he said it, he didn’t mean it. Such a joker, that Bush. Ha. Ha.
Only the people who work at Al Jazeera and other journalists in the Arab world are not laughing. They take it personally and politically. They are demanding the truth and so far I haven’t seen many journalists here joining them in solidarity. For us at Mediachannel, this is one more reason why we need a Tell The Truth About The War campaign.
I fully support Al Jazeera's demands and so should you.

Martha wonders if this might not be a topic worthy of attention from CJR Daily's media desk instead of "constant speculation solely about Judith Miller"?

Kyle e-mails to highlight Dahr Jamail's latest "Life Goes On in Fallujah's Rubble" (IPS):

A year after the U.S.-led "Operation Phantom Fury" damaged or destroyed 36,000 homes, 60 schools and 65 mosques in Fallujah, Iraq, residents inside the city continue to suffer from lack of compensation, slow reconstruction and high rates of illness. The Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Fallujah (SCHRD) estimates the number of people killed in the city during the U.S.-led operation in October and November 2004 at 4,000 to 6,000, most of them civilians. Mass graves were dug on the outskirts of the city for thousands of the bodies.

Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that it had used white phosphorus, a chemical that bursts into flame upon contact with air, inside Fallujah as an "incendiary weapon" against insurgents. Washington denies that it is a chemical weapon, as charged by some critics, and that it was used against civilians. Compensation payments promised by Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-backed interim prime minister at the time of the operation, have failed to materialise for many residents in the city, who lack potable water and suffer electricity cuts on a daily basis.

At Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches, The Daily Iraq Monitor is a new feature and I'll try to get a link up for it on the permalinks this weekend. (It was noted in the first headline of this entry.)

Finally, Cindy notes Medea Benjamin's "10 Reasons to Give Thanks" (Common Dreams):

This Thanksgiving, we who yearn for peace and justice have a lot to be thankful for. For starters…
We're thankful that Congressman John Murtha has joined us in calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq.
We’re thankful that the majority of Americans now agree with us that this war in Iraq was a mistake and the troops should come home as soon as possible.
We’re thankful that Lewis Libby has been indicted, that Karl Rove has become a liability for the Bush administration, and that Tom DeLay has fallen from grace.

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