Monday, March 20, 2006

Democracy Now: Ahmad Sharif, Alaa Khalid, Harry Belafonte; Christian Parenti ...

Anti-War Protests Worldwide as Occupation Enters Fourth Year
As Iraq entered its fourth year under US occupation Sunday, anti-war protests were held around the world. Tens of thousands of people took the streets in cities across the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia. In Iraq, protesters demonstrated in Basra and Baghdad to protest the ongoing U.S. occupation.
45 Killed in Iraq Violence
The third anniversary brought no end to the continuing violence that has gripped Iraq. At least 45 people have been found dead since Sunday.
Iraqi Video Leads to War Crimes Investigation of US Marines
In other Iraq news, video footage shot by a young Iraqi journalism student has led to the investigation of close to a dozen US marines for committing possible war crimes. The video was taken after a roadside bomb killed one US marine in Haditha. US troops then raided homes in the area, killing 15 civilians. The Pentagon initially blamed their deaths on the roadside bomb attack that killed the soldier. But an investigation was opened a few months later when a Time magazine reporter gave the videotape to the military. The video shows the victims lying in their bullet-ridden homes. Three children were killed.
US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians Near Balad
Meanwhile, Iraqi police have accused US troops of murdering 11 civilians in a raid just last week. According to an Iraqi police report obtained by the Knight Ridder news agency, the villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included two young children, a 6-month-old infant and an elderly woman. The report says the troops burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house. A local police commander said all the victims were found handcuffed with gunshot wounds to the head.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Lynda, Sherry, Brady and KeShawnDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 20, 2006

- Anti-War Protests Worldwide as Occupation Enters Fourth Year
- Ex-Interim Iraq PM Says Iraq Mired in Civil War
- Iraqi Video Leads to War Crimes Investigation of US Marines
- US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians Near Balad
- Prison Abuse Continued After Abu Ghraib
- Police Memos Recommend Surveillance, "Proactive Arrest"
Three Years After U.S. Invasion Two Wounded Iraqi Children and Their Fathers Tell Their Stories

On the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we hear about two
Iraqi children who suffered near life-threatening injuries in the war:
8 year-old Ahmad Sharif lost his eyesight and right arm after being
caught in crossfire and 3 year-old Alaa Khalid Hamdan was seriously
injured when a U.S. tank opened fire on her family's home. Their fathers
join them to tell their stories and two activists speak about their efforts
to bring the children to the U.S. for medical treatment.
Excerpt of the intro:
We turn to the war in Iraq. It has now been over three years since President Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. At the time he vowed to make every effort to spare innocent lives and that the U.S. forces would go to Iraq with respect for its citizens, its civilization and the country's religions.
But three years later Iraq is a devastated country. Tens of thousands - if not
hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis have been killed and the violence is only
increasing. The actual death toll among Iraqis may never be known. In 2004,
the British medical journal Lancet estimated 100,000 Iraqis had died since
the war began.
Many of those killed have been children. Today, to mark the beginning of the
fourth year of the Iraq war, we are going to hear about two Iraqi children who
suffered near life-threatening injuries.
We speak with Ahmad Sharif and his father, Jabbar Sharif. Two and a half
years ago Ahmad lost his eyesight and right arm after being caught in
crossfire. He first came to the United States last year and received prosthetic
eyes and an arm. He was brought to this country by Elissa Montanti, founder
of the Global Medical Relief Fund. Ahmad and Jabbar They are translated by
Hesham El-Meligy, an advisor to the Global Medical Relief Fund
We also speak with Khalid Hamdan Abd who brought his three-year-old
daughter Alaa to the United States for medical treatment. Last May a U.S.
tank opened fire on their home in the town of Al Qaim near the Syrian border.
Two of Khalid's sons died as did three of his cousins. The infant Alaa was
seriously injured.
Thanks to the organization No More Victims, she recently had surgery in the
United States to reconstruct her abdominal wall. She also underwent eye
surgery to remove shrapnel and to reattach her retina. According to her surgeon
she would have been blinded for life if she had not undergone the surgery. We
also speak with Cole Miller a Hollywood screenwriter and founder of They are also translated by Hesham El-Meligy, an advisor
to the Global Medical Relief Fund.
To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program,
click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.
on why he was disinvited from speaking at the funeral of Coretta Scott King and how he been blacklisted in places due to his political views.
[includes rush transcript - partial]
HARRY BELAFONTE: It is in culture that I think we come to know one another.
And we are in countries murdering, killing, destroying people, and we have never
heard their song. And perhaps if we had and perhaps if we would listen to their
song, we might find that we are not capable of sending off our sons and daughters
to murder.
It’s a great place to be, in the arts. It's a gift that's very hard to define. So many
great practitioners of art have already said so much, but there is a spirit in it.
There is an essence in it, that if it’s applied to the human heart, if it’s applied to
inspire people to trust, I think the rewards from it are forever.
One of the things that was a mechanism and a device used to cruelly punish
artists who would speak out was to cut them off from their livelihood. They did
it to Paul Robeson. They wouldn't give him a passport. Carnegie Hall wouldn't
hire him or give – or rent him the hall. Many of the places that he had sung,
where people loved him, were closed to him for a long period of time. But when
that case was fought and won in the courts, he was nourished again, because everybody in the world was waiting for him.
Two excerpts above and the first one is an intro which notes an option I'm not sure we've noted -- that you can order copies of Democracy Now! -- audio or video.
What are we focusing on in highlights?  Iraq.  Third anniversary and the majority
of the e-mails are on this topic.  First up, Kyle notes Christian Parenti's
A column of American military veterans of wars in Iraq, Vietnam and points
in between, as well as parents and families of soldiers, marched into New Orleans Sunday chanting radical cadences and flying a 1776 version of the American flag.
Young Iraq vets led the column of roughly 250 through the grey wrecked landscape, many wearing their desert camouflage uniforms, with
upside-down American flag patches on their shoulders, sporting shades, beards, kaffeeas, and chests full metals. At night and along the roads the conversation frequently turns to PTSD, poverty, depleted uranium-caused cancer, unpaid student loans, Ramadi, Tikrtit, IEDs and the intense camaraderie of this new movement.
Older veterans, mostly from the Vietnam war, who helped a younger generation of soldiers to launch Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) are
still as angry as they were thirty years ago, but their once-youthful anger
and grief has been tempered by a generation of struggle. And it is upon
this platform that the young Iraq vets are now building their piece of the movement.
"Our motto is that never again will one generation of veterans turn their
back on another," said Dave Cline a long-time activist and early member
Christian Parenti was a guest of Laura Flanders on RadioNation with Laura Flanders Sunday.  Note:
 If you missed it, a one-hour edited podcast of last week's broadcast is
available: CLICK HERE
And as noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Parenti was also on  KPFA Sunday:
9:00 am Pacific Time
Sunday Salon
The third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq...
In our first hour...

War is not the way to resolving conflict resolution: a Bay Area program
is getting people started on non-violent solutions when they're young.
We'll be joined by youth from the Berkeley-based Mosaic Project and the program's Director.
In our second hour...

A conversation about the war with author/journalists Pratap Chattergee
("Iraq Inc.: A Profitable Occupation," Seven Stories Press, 2004), Aaron
Glantz ("How America Lost Irag," Tarcher, 2005), and Christian Parenti
("The Freedom," New Press, 2005)
Those are two radio appearances Parenti made Sunday.  Regarding his article
today (more than worth highlighting), Kyle also notes this "The ones who go missing, missing from the coverage" (Third Estate Sunday Review) -- which has to do with
the need for more coverage of those who resist the war.  And I don't think there's
ever been more e-mails to this site about The Third Estate Sunday Review.  While
it's true that Ava and Jess help out with the e-mails (thank you both) and that may
be the reason for some of the e-mails, I think it's also the fact that so many have enjoyed the latest edition. 
Zach notes Robert Parry's "Iraq -- U.S. News Media's Waterloo" (Consortium News) which takes a look at the coverage of Iraq:
For more than three decades, the U.S. news media has been living off -- or living down, depending on your perspective -- its Watergate-era reputation
of helping to unseat a power-abusing President and exposing a raft of other political scandals.
But the U.S. media's debacle over Iraq -- failing to seriously question George W. Bush's case for invasion and often acting as pro-war cheerleaders as the casualty lists lengthened -- has dealt a death blow to that 30-year-old mythology.  The bloody spectacle of Iraq has become the Waterloo of Washington's "Watergate press corps," its crushing defeat.
Even the nation's preeminent news outlets, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, were sucked into the fiasco, shattering the trust that many Americans had placed in their "free press" as a vital check and
balance on Executive power.
By contrast, many poorly funded Web sites did a much better job of
standing up to the political pressures, showing skepticism and getting the
story right.
The third anniversary of Bush's Iraq invasion stands as a marker, too, for
the slide of the U.S. news media's big-name talking heads into the status
of laughingstock, even if they're too vain to know that the derision's
[For details, see below.]
Among the articles highlighted later in the article are "Trust Colin Powell?" and  "Politics of Preemption"  which Zach wanted highlighted and also noted is
Parry's book  Secrecy & Privilege.
Also taking a look at the media coverage, and noted by Eddie, is Danny Schechter who provides the following commentary in "In Europe For The Weekend ..." (News Dissector):
On the third Anniversary of the Iraq War, I did not read my op-ed page submission on media complicity and the war in the New York Times. I did
read a piece on page 1 on Saturday in which the Times admitted it ran a
story about a man who claimed to be the person in that famous "crucifiction" torture picture at Abu Ghraib prison. Salon exposed that mistake and now the Times admits they were right.
On Sunday there was a strong story on yet more prison abuse in Iraq in 2004.
I believe this is 2006! Editorally the newspaper of record devotes a lead editorial to "the stuff that happened" and courageously calls not for withdrawal but for more consideration for our humbling lessons.
The editors suggest that maybe the chaos in Iraq led to no new terrorist
attack in the US, thus offering another reason for supporting the war. A hypothetical is deployed once again as justification. The front page focuses
on the voices of the Administration supporting the war while a former Iraqi PrimeMinister--our guy Allawi--fears Civil War. All the news that is fit to print
is all too often the news of those on top--rarely the news of those questioning power (except in a society Washington doesn't like!)
CBS was running the "Final Four" with ads for joining the Army Reserves.
The Harper's Index reported "Number of U.S. Veterans who have been
denied Veteran's Administration health care since 3003: 263, 257. 51
percent say they support air strikes against Iran "if diplomacy fails."
60 Minutes did a hard-hitting piece on how the Bush White House is censoring/diluting news and scientific reports on climate change and
global warming. It also ran a glowing piece on the NYPD's billion-dollar
anti-terrorist units. Missing from Ed Bradley's paean to the police were disclosures of secret spying by the NYPD on dissent and anti-war activism.
For the second week in a row, 60 Minutes reported that the White House
and government officials refused to comment on their reports. Perhaps
before Mike Wallace leaves--he announced he will retire this year-- he can reteach his colleagues about the art of doing ambush interviews (ie confronting and interviewing people who don't want to be interviewed.)
60 Minutes invented the practice.
Keesha found Molly Ivins' "The 'Long War'? Oh, Goodie" (Boulder Daily Camera via Common Dreams) worth noting:
President Bush has once more undertaken to explain to us "Why We
Fight," which is also the title of an excellent new documentary on Iraq. According to the president, "Our goal in Iraq is victory." I personally did
not find that a helpful clarification.
According to the president, we are doomed to stay in Iraq until we "leave behind a democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself." That's not exactly getting closer every day. But, the Prez sez, "A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will make the American people more secure for generations to come."
So far, no good. After three years, tens of thousands of lives and $200 billion, we have achieved chaos. As Rep. John Murtha put it, "The only people who want us in Iraq are Iran and al-Qaida." Since the revisionist myth that we
went to war to promote democracy keeps seeping into rational discussion,
it is worth reminding ourselves that there never were any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
We are inarguably facing more terrorists now than there were when we started, so the Pentagon has decided to fight what it is now calling "the
Long War." Has anyone asked you about this? Me, neither. Nor has
anyone asked Congress. The administration -- mostly Donald Rumsfeld --
just decided we would have a long war and declared it, and is now committing us to fight against a fuzzy ideology no one seems to be able
to define.
And now our last highlight, Mia noted Dave Lindorff's "Howard Dean Tells CounterPunch: DNC No Foe of Impeachment Drive" (CounterPunch):
I got an personal email from Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean today.  On a Sunday morning, the DNC chief wrote me to take issue
with what I wrote on March 7 in this space.  I said that pressure from Democratic party leaders was the reason not one member of the House
has filed a bill of impeachment against our president for trashing the U.S. Constitution.
The article clearly hit a nerve.
"The DNC is not in the business of telling Congress to go easy on this President," Dean wrote.  "I'd be grateful if you could correct the report."
It's nice to be noticed as a columnist and I will clarify my point.  I agree
with Dean that the DNC as an organization is not telling Congress anything.  Indeed, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), vice chair of the DNC, is one of the latest
in a slowly growing number of Democratic members of the House to sign
on to Rep. John Conyers' December bill (HR 635) calling for a special panel
to investigate impeachable crimes by the president.  But that said, I've also learned from people close to the members of Congress who've been feeling the heat that Democratic Party leaders -- the people who run the key party organizations such as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic House Campaign committee, and the DNC -- are putting intense pressure on members to prevent a bill of impeachment. 
Bonnie notes we're one day displaying now.  That had to do with problems Kat had while attempting to get her post, Maria's and Ruth's up Saturday.  Hopefully, we'll switch back (but problems are still ongoing).  If you missed Ruth's Public Radio Report Saturday use the link, Maria's entry is here, since Isaiah provided comics for the gina & krista round-robin (for their daily special editions that ended Sunday),
he had Sunday off and West picked The World Today Just Nuts that we reran
and lastly Sunday's look at reporting from outside the US mainstream, "And the war drags on. . .Bonnie also asked that a link be provided to Saturday morning's entry: "NYT: Can't own up to mistakes, be it the paper or Michael Gordon."  I hope that's everything.
Noting again:
Peace concert today (noted by Rachel):




Bright Eyes, Fischerspooner, Peaches, Chuck D, and Devendra Banhart
Join Stellar Line-Up for Historic Benefit Concert at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom
New York, NY (February 22, 2006) -- A stellar line-up of today's most acclaimed, provocative, and outspoken musicians, including Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainwright, and Bright Eyes will join leading peace activist Cindy Sheehan for an historic New York City concert marking the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq on March 20th, concert organizers announced today.
Giving voice to the majority of Americans who now support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the "Bring ‘Em Home Now! Concert" will also showcase Fischerspooner, Peaches, Chuck D, Steve Earle, and Devendra Banhart, and more artists to be announced in the coming weeks.
The most recent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans oppose the war and believe it was a mistake. At least 2,267 American soldiers have died since the war began three years ago, and more than 16,600 troops have been injured. It is estimated that more than 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed.
"From coast to coast, the polls now show that a majority of Americans believe this war was wrong to begin with and even more wrong now," said concert organizer Chris Wangro, co-founder of The Imagine Festival, which presented more than 200 events during the 2004 Republican Convention. "Americans have had enough and are ready for a change. We are proud to have such a great coalition of artists working together to give voice to this new majority and to bring this great country back to a course of sanity."
"It is impossible not to react to the current state of affairs through personal action and artistic production," said Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner. "We are living in volatile times with a constant and vague sense of imminent disaster. We have been at war for 3 years. One desperately feels the need for someone to speak some sort of truth, either poetic or factual."
A who's who of America's leading artists, activists, and thought leaders have also signed on as the concert's "Home Team" Host Committee including Jane Fonda, Tony Kushner, Margaret Cho, Matthew Barney, David LaChapelle, Alec Baldwin, Janeane Garafolo, Gore Vidal, Eve Ensler, Studs Terkel, Ross Bleckner, and Howard Zinn.
In addition to the musical performances, a highlight of the concert will be remarks delivered by Cindy Sheehan, the Gold Star Mom who re-ignited efforts to end the war last summer when she held a month-long protest outside of President George W. Bush's ranch. Sheehan's son, Casey, was a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Organizers said the concert will serve as the kick-off for a national "Bring 'Em Home Now!" speaking tour, sponsored by New Press, which will bring Cindy Sheehan and noted authors to 15 U.S. cities in April, including Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Benefiting Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, two leading national organizations working to end the war in Iraq, the landmark concert will take place at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at or 212-307-7171. Ticket prices are $28.00 and $35.00.There is also a special VIP reception hosted by Cindy Sheehan for $150. Doors open at 7pm and the concert kicks-off at 8pm.
Air America Radio will broadcast The Majority Report live from the Hammerstein Ballroom to all of its 46 affiliates nationwide. The show will feature interviews with concert performers and guests.
Bring 'Em Home Now! is produced by Josh Wood and Chris Wangro, in conjunction with NY America (, an organization of artists and producers committed to engaging the public in civic discourse through events that unite the arts, sciences, and humanities. The concert is co-produced by Ina Howard of New Press (, a not-for-profit publishing house operated editorially in the public interest.
About NY, America: NY, America is an organization of artists and producers committed to engaging the public in civic discourse through events that unite the arts, sciences, and humanities. Our goal is to educate and empower audiences by presenting current issues and ideas through concerts, performances, screenings, forums, exhibits, town meetings and other cultural activities (
About New Press Established in 1990 as a major alternative to the large, commercial publishers, The New Press is a not-for-profit publishing house operated editorially in the public interest. It is committed to publishing in innovative ways works of educational, cultural, and community value that, despite their intellectual merits, may be deemed insufficiently profitable by commercial publishers. Like the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio as they were originally conceived, The New Press aims to provide ideas and viewpoints under-represented in the mass media. (
About Iraq Veterans Against the War:
Iraq Veterans Against the War is a group of veterans who have served since September 11th, 2001 including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are committed to saving lives and ending the violence in Iraq by an immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces. We also believe that the governments that sponsored these wars are indebted to the men and women who were forced to fight them and must give their Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen the benefits that are owed to them upon their return home (

About Veterans For Peace
Veterans for Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, other conflicts and "peacetime" veterans. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary (
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