Friday, December 09, 2005

Democracy Now: Hurricane Katrina, Leah Hodges and Tina Susman; Margaret Kimberley, CODEPINK, Anne-Marie Cusak

US Military to Probe Video of Contractor Shootings
Meanwhile, the US military has announced a probe into allegations private contractors with the defense company Aegis have randomly shot at Iraqi cars. A video recently posted on a website maintained by Aegis employees contained footage of an unidentified gunman shooting at cars in Iraq. In one clip, a Mercedes is fired on before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In another, a white sedan is shot at repeatedly as it drives on an open highway. London-based Aegis is in Iraq under a $290 million dollar contract. In a written instruction posted on the same website, Aegis CEO Tim Spicer wrote employees: "Refrain from posting anything which is detrimental to the company since this could result in the loss or curtailment of our contract with resultant loss for everybody."

Amnesty Criticizes European Leaders For Accepting Rice Comments on Torture
Amnesty International is criticizing European leaders for accepting Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's recent explanation U.S. interrogators are forbidden to use torture both at home and abroad. The issue followed Rice throughout a trip to several European countries this week amid allegations the CIA has used European airports to transfer detainees and is also running a secret prison in a former Soviet state. European leaders had hailed Rice's comments as a major shift in US policy. Natacha Kazatchkine, Amnesty International's top officer for human rights in Europe, said: "The European Union, as a Union of States, must reaffirm that they do not accept any practise violating the international convention on torture, and they have to explain what occured, and be all transparent on information we recently heard about this case."

Six Environmental Activists Arrested in Pacific Northwest
Federal agents have conducted a series of coordinated raids in New York, Virginia, Arizona and Oregon and arrested six environmental activists in connection to a string of arsons in the Pacific Northwest. Daniel McGowan of New York and Stanislas Meyerhoff of Virginia were arrested for allegedly setting fires in 2001 at a lumber company and an experimental tree farm in Oregon. Although no one was injured in the blazes, they both face up to life in prison. McGowan is a prominent New York activist who also went by the pen name of Jamie Moran. He was a member of the RNCNotWelcome collective and an advocate for imprisoned environmental activist Jeffrey Leurs. He has denied any role in the incidents. The four others arrested face between 20 and 25 years in prison. Chelsea Gerlach of Portland, Oregon, was accused of destroying an Oregon power transmission tower in 1999. Kevin Tubbs of Oregon and Bill Rodgers of Prescott Arizona were accused of arson at the Animal and Plant and Health Inspection facility in Olympia, Washington. And Sarah Harvey of Flagstaff Arizona was accused of a 1998 arson at U.S. Forest Industries in Medford, Oregon. Earlier this year a top FBI official called groups such as the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front the nation's top domestic terrorism threat. The FBI however has been accused of overzealously prosecuting alleged members of the movement. Last month the FBI agreed to pay an environmental activist named Josh Cannole $100,000 for mistakenly jailing him as a suspect in a string of arsons and vandalism at SUV dealerships in California.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Francisco, Lynda and Liang. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)

Headlines for December 9, 2005

- Group Claims to Have Killed US Worker in Iraq
- Ex-Gitmo Detainee Calls for Peacemakers' Release
- Al-Libi Fabricated Iraq Claims to Avoid Torture in Egypt
- US Military to Probe Video of Contractor Shootings
- Iranian President Says Israel Should Be Moved to Europe
- Schwarzenegger Holds Clemency Hearing for "Tookie" Williams
- NYU Bans Coca-Cola on Campus

New Orleans Evacuees and Activists Testify at Explosive House Hearing on the Role of Race and Class in Government's Response to Hurricane Katrina

Three months after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the southern coast of the United States, decimating communities in Mississippi and Louisiana, we play excerpts of an explosive congressional hearing focusing on race and the government's response to the disaster. [includes rush transcript - partial]

How Many Are Missing and Dead After Katrina? Three Months After the Hurricane, the Numbers are Still Unknown

Questions still remain over how many people died after Hurricane Katrina as well as the whereabouts of all of the evacuees. The official death toll stands at about 1,300 but thousands of people are still reported missing. One newspaper reported the whereabouts of 6,600 people reported missing have not been determined. We speak with New Orleans evacuee Leah Hodges, who is still missing her brother, and Tina Susman, a Newsday reports the number of missing include over 1,300 children.

Billie notes Margaret Kimberley's "Evil Racist Children and the Media Who Love Them" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Americans need to know more about white supremacist organizations. Too often the corporate media either deny their existence or diminish the danger they pose. Even when they gather a cache of bombs and machine guns, we get little if any information about their activities.

In 2003 a group of white supremacists near Tyler, Texas were discovered with 500,000 rounds of ammunition, bomb making equipment, canisters of cyanide and a KKK calling card. There was little if any media coverage of this terror plot in the making. The same journalists who saw no need to tell us about plots involving deadly poisons think that we need to know about white supremacists who are cute, at least according to European beauty standards.

Lamb and Lynx Gaede fit that description. The 13 year old twins, always described as blonde and blue eyed, come from a family who unleashed them on the public singing paeans to Adolf Hitler and Rudolph Hess. They spend their time vicariously killing black people via video games and raising money for white hurricane Katrina victims.

Their mother regrets her divorce because it deprived her of the opportunity to make more Aryan babies. "I could have produced four to six more children with that ideal eugenic quality that [Lynx and Lamb] possess."

Billie notes that this is the "Noonday group." She writes, "Famous for the Noonday Onions, their festival and now for being home to alleged terrorists." Billie also notes this from CODEPINK:

Bird-Dog Hillary!
The American people are saying, "Troops out," Iraqi people are saying, "Troops out." Are you listening, Hillary? CODEPINK has launched a nationwide campaign against Hillary Clinton because of her opposition to immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq. We plan to tail the senator around the state and the country to persuade her to oppose the war. Our protests in Chicago, Washington D.C, and New York have generated a buzz in the media. Click here to read about our actions and planned protests!

Brady notes Anne-Marie Cusac's "Harold Pinter Interview" (The Progressive):

Several months back, a colleague handed me a copy of the British journal The New Internationalist. The issue would interest me, she said, because it included a special section on U.S. prisons and because Harold Pinter had written an essay for it. (She knew I had long admired Pinter's plays.) I read the Pinter essay, finding to my surprise that it mentioned the stun belt and the restraint chair, two subjects I had reported on for The Progressive.

I wrote Pinter, requesting a couple of hours for an interview. He promptly agreed.

I first checked out a copy of The Caretaker from the library years ago, on the advice of a writing teacher. When I finished with that one, I returned and checked out all the Pinter plays on the shelves. I read them over the next few weeks, pausing to gasp at a particular music I soon realized was Pinter's own--simultaneously lyrical, hard-assed, implicitly brutal, and rhythmically dead-on.

His twenty-nine plays, which include The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, Betrayal, Party Time, and One for the Road, have inspired the adjective "Pinteresque," which the Financial Times defined as "full of dark hints and pregnant suggestions, with the audience left uncertain as to what to conclude."

But Pinter might be reluctant to apply such a phrase to his own writing. "Once, many years ago, I found myself engaged uneasily in a public discussion on the theater," said Pinter on being awarded the 1970 German Shakespeare Prize. "Someone asked me what my work was 'about.' I replied with no thought at all and merely to frustrate this line of enquiry: 'the weasel under the cocktail cabinet.' That was a great mistake. Over the years I have seen that remark quoted in a number of learned columns. It has now seemingly acquired a profound significance, and is seen to be a highly relevant and meaningful observation about my own work. But for me the remark meant precisely nothing. Such are the dangers of speaking in public."

Pinter is also an actor, director, and screenwriter. Among his twenty-one screenplays are The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1969), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1980), The Trial (1989), and The Tragedy of King Lear (2000).

Born in 1930, Pinter is also an outspoken human rights advocate. He has protested the NATO bombing of Serbia, the Gulf War and the bombing of Iraq since that time, the ill-treatment of U.S. prisoners, censorship, the U.S. role in Latin America, and the Turkish government's mistreatment of the Kurds. He has also demanded the release of Mordechai Vanunu--the Israeli citizen imprisoned for fourteen years because he told the British press that Israel had developed nuclear bombs.

I interviewed Pinter in his office in early December. Careful with his words, he often paused for a time before stating his opinion. He had an artist's caution about summing up or explaining his plays and an artist's enjoyment of craft talk. He expressed delight when demonstrating another actor's clever move. He was serious, but quick to laugh. And when talking about abuses of the state, he was passionate.

Just before I left, Pinter pulled two books from a high shelf and handed them to me. One was Celebration, his most recent play, which I had told him my library didn't own. The other was a book of screenplays which he said he was giving to me because I clearly admired The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Question: Early on, you didn't talk about some of your plays, like The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter, or The Hothouse, as political. But more recently you've started to talk about them that way. Why?

Harold Pinter: Well, they were political. I was aware that they were political, too. But at that time, at whatever age I was--in my twenties--I was not a joiner. I had been a conscientious objector, you know, when I was eighteen. But I was a pretty independent young man, and I didn't want to get up on a soapbox. I wanted to let the plays speak for themselves, and if people didn't get it, to hell with it.

On Pinter, remember this from yesterday's Democracy Now!:

Plinter Blasts US, UK in Nobel Acceptance Speech
British playwright Harold Pinter accepted a Nobel Prize Wednesday by delivering a stinging criticism of US and British foreign policy. Pinter won the award for literature -- the world's highest honor for a writer -- in October. At a ceremony in Sweden Wednesday, Pinter accepted the award via a taped video message from Britain, where is being treated for cancer. Pinter said: "The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatent state terrorism demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore the public." Pinter is author of such plays as "The Caretaker" and "The Homecoming."

Staying with The Progressive, see if this looks familiar:

Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Pinter Lays It All Out: Indict Bush, Blair" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Occasionally, an award recipient will chuck the clichés and park the platitudes and actually say something meaningful, something daring.
Such a thing happened on December 7 in Stockholm, when Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winner for Literature,
delivered an amazing, taped address.
Taped, because he was too ill to deliver it in person.
But he was by no means weak.
He let Bush have it.
But it wasn't just Bush.
It was Blair and Britain too, a country he called America's "own bleating little lamb tagging behind it" on a leash.
Pinter asked, "How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?"

It looks just like something up this morning. It was. But Sean noticed that I failed to provide the link to Rothschild's piece. Thanks for catching that, Sean.

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