Friday, February 24, 2006

Democracy Now: Jose Serrano, Danny Schechter, Pratap Chatterjee; Grace Lee Boggs

140 Die in Iraq Following Bombing at Shiite Shrine
Iraq is under a high security alert following days of violence sparked by Wednesday's bombing of one of the country’s holiest Shiite shrines in Samarra. At least 140 people, mostly Sunni Arabs, have been killed across the country. The Sunni-led Association of Muslim Scholars has said 184 Sunni mosques have since been damaged or destroyed. 10 clerics have been killed and 15 more abducted. The government imposed a rare daytime curfew today in Baghdad and in three other provinces -- preventing many from attending Friday prayers. A series of joint Sunni-Shiite demonstrations have been held calling for national unity and to condemn the increasing violence. As many as 10,000 rallied in Basra alone. But many analysts fear Iraq is on the brink of civil war. The U.S. military is ordering its soldiers to stay in its barracks in Baghdad and to stay off the streets. On Thursday seven U.S. troops died. Meanwhile the staff of the satellite TV channel Al Arabiya is in mourning following the death of one of its best-known correspondents in Iraq. The 30-year-old Atwar Bahjat was assassinated along with her cameraman and soundman on Thursday.
Marines Conduct Secret Study Into Iran Ethnic Minorities
The Financial Times is reporting an intelligence wing of the Marines has hired a private defense contractor to conduct a secret study of Iran’s ethnic minorities. This is a move that could indicate early stages of contingency plans for a ground assault on Iran. The Marines conducted a similar study in Iraq. A former intelligence officer said the ultimate purpose of the Marines intelligence wing was to "support effective ground military operations by the Marine Corps." The study appeared to focus on whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq. The Financial Times reports several Iranians living in the United States refused to help with the study because they saw it as part of an effort to break up Iran. To conduct the analysis, the military hired a subsidiary of the defense contractor SAIC, the Science Applications International Corp.
Judge Orders Release of Names of Guantanamo Detainees
A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release the names of all of the detainees being secretly held at Guantanamo Bay. Up until now, only a handful of the detainees have been officially identified. The ruling comes as the Bush administration is coming under increasing international pressure to close the prison camp. Meanwhile newly released FBI memos show that FBI agents repeatedly warned military interrogators at Guantanamo that their aggressive methods were legally risky and also likely to be ineffective. The memos indicate that senior military officials, including former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, were aware of and in some cases had approved of putting hoods on prisoners, threatening them with violence and subjecting them to humiliating treatment.
Environmental Activist Arrested For Giving Speech
In Arizona, an environmental activist is facing 25 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for a speech he gave in San Diego three years ago. The government charges the activist, Rodney Coronado, broke the law by urging people to commit arson and telling them how to build an incendiary device. The FBI has described Coronado as a leader of the Earth Liberation Front. His speech came just a day after the Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for burning down a new condominium complex in San Diego. Coronado has never been charged in connection with the fire -- just the speech he gave the next day.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Liang, Kara, Brady and KeShawnDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for February 24, 2006

- 140 Die in Iraq Following Bombing at Shiite Shrine
- Dubai Firm Offers to Delay Takeover of U.S. Ports
- Marines Conduct Secret Study Into Iran Ethnic Minorities
- New Orleans Soil & Air Still Contain High Level of Containments
- U.S. Blocks Travel of Bolivian Diplomat to U.S.
- Judge Orders Release of Names of Guantanamo Detainees
- Environmental Activist Arrested For Giving Speech
- Dissident Chinese Journalist Freed After 17 Years
- Ohio Company Implants Workers With ID Chips
Baghdad Imposes Daytime Curfew as Violence Escalates Following Shiite Mosque Bombing

At least 140 people have been killed over the past two days in Iraq following the bombing of one of the country’s main Shiite shrines. We go to Baghdad for a report and speak with an Iraqi blogger and architect. [includes rush transcript]
 Venezuelan-Owned Citgo Faces Congressional Inquiry For Offering Discounted Oil to U.S. Poor

Republican Congressmember Joe Barton of Texas has launched an investigation into one of the world's major oil companies -- Citgo. The Venezuelan-owned company announced a discounted gas program for poor Americans last year. We speak with Democratic New York Congressman Jose Serrano, one of the few members of Congress promoting this effort.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) Criticizes FBI For Cracking Down on Independence Movement in Puerto Rico

Several members of Congress are calling for an investigation into recent raids conducted by the FBI targeting pro-independence activists in Puerto Rico. Last week, hundreds of members of the FBI's counterterrorism unit conducted six simultaneous raids targeting members of the pro-independence group known as the Macheteros. We speak with Jose Serrano, Democatic Congressmember of Puerto Rican origin and representing a major Puerto Rican district of the Bronx.
The News Dissector Danny Schechter Calls For March 21 Protests Targeting Media's Complicity in the Iraq War

We speak with Danny Schechter 'the News Dissector' -- veteran journalist, media critic and co-founder of, one of the largest online media issues networks. Schechter discusses the upcoming anti-war and media protest day, dangers journalists face in Iraq, coverage of war and more. We play an excerpt of his documentary "Weapons of Mass Deception."
CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee on the Link Between the Iraq War and the White House's Support for a Dubai-Owned Firm to Take Over U.S. Ports

The political firestorm continues in Washington over the proposed sale of six U.S. ports to a Dubai-owned company. Dubai Ports World offered to delay the $6.8 million deal after major clashes between the White House and both Democratic and Republican Congressmembers over national security concerns. We speak with Pratap Chatterjee of CorpWatch.
America's largest anti-war coalition, United For Peace and Justice, is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war -- often in the name of supporting the troops.
UFPJ Coordinator Leslie Cagan announced that her organization is partnering with and other media groups to organize a Media Day of War Coverage Protest on March 21, 2006. It takes part during a week of organizing and activism marking the third anniversary of the war. Plans are also underway for forums and film screenings on March 20th.
"We are thrilled that anti-war activists will now be connecting with media reform activists to challenge mainstream media 'coverage' that has underreported civilian casualties and much of the costs of the war," says MediaChannel Director David DeGraw.
"Sadly, the media helped make the war possible, and despite mea culpas about flawed pre-war coverage, the coverage has basically not changed, an approach which treats every Administration claim seriously, while marginalizing the anti-war movement."
Even as public opinion shifted against the war -- only 37% of the American people are said to still back the war -- most of the media downplay reporting on demands for troop withdrawal.
Focusing on the media role is a departure for the anti-war movement that helped organize the protests that brought 30 million people to the streets on March 15, 2003. Until now, protesters have focused almost entirely on government policies and practices.
Recognizing the media role indicts a corporate America that has, in some cases, profited from the war with rises in ratings and revenues. This includes General Electric (GE), owner of NBC-Universal, who received $600,000 in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
Before the war began broadcast networks lobbied the FCC for rule changes to allow them to buy more stations. At the time, Washington insiders spoke of a quid pro-quo with the networks asking the FCC to waive their rules while their news shows waved the flag. In that period, then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell justified a need for more media concentration with the claim that "only big companies can cover a war like the one in Iraq."
Many journalists and media organizations have since blasted one-sided coverage. Editor & Publisher, a media industry trade magazine, has consistently documented and criticized pervasive media practices that boosted the war with more "selling than telling." launched a "Tell the Truth About the War" campaign months ago, calling for better and more consistent coverage. Thousands of emails from readers have gone to media executives.
If the war is to end, the coverage has to change. We need to press the press and move the media.
Now MediaChannel plans to organize meetings between critics and media companies. Planning for protests and panels is underway - not only in New York, but at local newspapers, radio and TV stations across the nation as part of a national effort. A national email campaign will be launched as well.
If you would like to endorse or participate in this effort, or help in your community by organizing meetings, house parties - including screenings of WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) and other films critical of the war media coverage - contact

There are many activites in March  (including a tenth anniversary celebration for DN!, a march with Camilo Mejia . . .)  and we'll start noting those events next week. But this announcement was requested -- requested by Terrence who e-mailed that he was in the car listening to DN! and wasn't able to jot down the information. But I'm sure it will be of interest to most members.
We'll note an event tomorrow again:

As noted on Sunday's KPFA Evening News, Saturday Feb. 25th, a Counter-Recruiting workshop will be held, open to the public, from 2 to 5pm at the Veterans' Memorial Building, Room 219, 401 Van Ness Ave. March 1st is the National Law Student Day Against the Death Penalty (SDADP)
We're doing two more highlights and a correct link.  First the highlights.  Lewis notes
Bruce Dixon's "Bruce's Beat" (The Black Commentator -- please note that in "Bruce's Beat" Dixon provides commentary and maintains a dialogue with the readers of The Black Commentator, if you've never check this feature out, please do):
In last week's Freedom Rider, BC's own Margaret Kimberly drew attention to the little-noticed news item that Halliburton had landed the no-bid contract to construct detention centers to be utilized in the event of what officials deem an "immigration emergency."
Reader Linda O'Brien writes 
Many thanks to the Black Commentator and Margaret Kimberley for writing more on the frighteningly under-reported story of Halliburton KBR's contract to build "emergency detention centers."  When I first read of this in the New York Times, I was struck particularly by the comment that the centers would be used either for the influx of thousands of immigrants who apparently are poised on the border just over the ridge, or for "the rapid development of new programs."  That's the kind of ambiguity that could fuel a whole X-Files episode.
I agree with Ms. Kimberley, this development is justifiable cause for paranoia.  Paranoia really isn't even the right word, since common sense and self-preservation demand that the American people sit up and take notice.  Congress should have stopped this if for no other reason than that Halliburton's history of corruption should preclude it from ever again getting a U.S. government contract.  Those millions it wastes eventually add up to real money.  I hear some people around New Orleans could use a little help.
Thanks again.  Keep up the good work.
Yeah.  We heard that about New Orleans too. And "immigration emergency" does sound like an X-Files episode.  Former Halliburton CEO and co-president Dick Cheney and his gang, as Ms. Kimberly points out, have given us plenty to be paranoid about.  These are sad and dangerous times indeed when the most optimistic scenario, as she puts it, is that this is a case of vast but straightforward no-bid corruption.  And we cannot all be optimists.
Real journalists arm citizens with the real truths they need to stand up for their own rights.  Margaret Kimberley is a real journalist and a great commentator, and we are blessed to have her on board.
If there were more Margaret Kimberleys and more editors in the corporate media who allowed their stories to reach the public, it would have been big news at the end of January that a Zogby poll of 897 likely Pennsylvania voters revealed that 84.9% of them would support a congressional candidate who favored impeachment.  This is one of the latest pieces of potentially valuable and empowering news affirming that the vast majority of Democrats, and a much narrower majority of all Americans may favor impeaching the president and his gang.  Such news, if it became more widely known, would inevitably lead more rank and file Democratic voters to ask why the Democratic Party's House and Senate campaign committees, whose function is to recruit and provide assistance to Democrats running for the House and Senate, are not beating the bushes for the strongest pro-impeachment candidates they can find as the surest strategy to tip the Congressional balance in the upcoming mid-term elections. 
It is an open secret that instead of riding the impeachment donkey to a Congressional majority in the midterm elections, Democratic Party shot callers are threatening and discouraging pro-impeachment candidates.  For those seeking a clue to this mysterious behavior, Jeff Blankfort's article in last week's BC, "Why Cynthia McKinney Lost Her Seniority and Didn't Get It Back" went to the heart of the riddle by examining Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi's shameful and inexplicable revocation of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's seniority. 
Second highlight, Ned notes Grace Lee Boggs' "Malcolm and Martin: Allies, not adversaries" (The Michigan Citizen):
I'll always remember the day Malcolm was killed. It was February 21, 1965 and we had just returned from a CORE-led demonstration. As we walked in the door, the phone was ringing off the hook. It was Pat Robinson in New York, calling to tell us that Malcolm had been gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom.
At the time we didn't know why Malcolm was killed. We were sure of only one thing -- that we couldn't trust the U.S. courts. So we explored setting up an International Commission to investigate the murder.
Today, 41 years later, I agree with Vincent Harding that Malcolm was killed because he and MLK were moving towards one another.
In 1964, after his break with Elijah Muhammed and following his trips to Africa and to Mecca, Malcolm was seriously questioning Black Nationalism. He was also beginning to recognize that MLK's non-violent methods, far from being passive, were actually creating more change than the separatism of the Nation of Islam.
In this same period MLK was beginning to recognize that Malcolm was advocating self-defense, not violence.
In March, Malcolm and Martin encountered one another by chance at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Subsequently Malcolm spoke at several rallies in support of the civil rights movement, and in February 1965, two weeks before his assassination, he went to Selma to meet with King.
This morning the following is in the first entry:
At the Washington Post, Josh White actually writes a story (don't they know the Times was blowing off the story by running a brief, abridged AP report?), "FBI Interrogators in Cuba Opposed Aggressive Tactics" which adds this:

The FBI documents also show that FBI officials declined to get involved in investigating abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in January 2004, days after officials learned there was photographic evidence of abuse and several months before it became public.
"First, the matter truly is outside our mission and would squander resources," wrote an FBI official on Jan. 22, 2004. "Second, we need to maintain good will and relations with those operating the prison. Our involvement in the investigation of the alleged abuse might harm our liaison."
The only difference in the "repeat" is that Shirley e-mailed to note the proper link.  (Thank you, Shirley.) 
I'm rushing as always.  We will have at least one entry tonight. The e-mail address for this site is

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