Thursday, April 06, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

When he orchestrated the end of conscription in 1973, Nixon likely intended to insulate middle and upper class children from death and injury in future wars. (2) If those called to fight are far removed from those wielding political power, then elected officials can passively support unpopular military interventions without fearing much constituent pressure. Further, the death or wounding of a "volunteer" can be rationalized merely the risk he or she assumed in exchange for receiving the benefits of the enlistment contract.
My sense is that there has been less public outcry about the deaths of 2,300 GIs and the wounding of 17,000 more (as of February 2006) than there would have been during the Vietnam War. This may be partly due to the media blackout Bush has imposed on returning coffins return home or when reporters want to report on the problems of injured veterans. But I think the identity of the victims also helps explain the difference. Statistically, most of the casualties so far have been ordinary kids from the small rural towns and downtrodden urban neighborhoods that are invisible to most public officials and the media.

The above is from Tod Ensign's "A Working Class War: Who's Opposing It?" from Citizen Soldier. Heather noted it and asked if we were aware of Citizen Soldier? I wasn't. (Members probably were.) Another good source, one I did know of, is Pacific News. Miranda notes Angelika Gomez's "Young, Female and Guarding Detainees in Iraq:"

When Alanna Jones, 19, was a high school student she attended almost every anti-war protest held in San Francisco. Then, two years ago, she joined the Air Force to get money for school, to see the world and because it was a steady job. She had no idea that within a year of joining she would be serving guard duty at Camp Bucca, an internment facility for enemy prisoners of war in southern Iraq.
"We're out there and we're doing a job," Alanna tells me in an interview during her most recent trip home. "Some people don't have choices. They need a way out of their home life and some people do it to support their country." Tall and lanky, Alanna bears a strong resemblance to the cartoon character Olive Oyl, the wife of Popeye the Sailor Man. I first met her about two years ago at her Aunt Katie's house, one of my good friends. Alanna is a little tomboyish and athletic -- she made All City tennis and played basketball at International Studies Academy in San Francisco. But she's just a normal girl who loves to hang out with her friends, work and party. After graduating from high school, she went to San Francisco State for a year before joining the Air Force. "I really didn't think I was going to be deployed, because the Air Force really isn't supposed to be sent over there," she says. "But the lack of soldiers and security forces in Iraq made it happen."

No offense intended, but I'd argue that the illegal invasion followed by the illegal occupation made it happen. Thursday, indymedia roundup. Focus on Iraq. "Tonic to the corporate media," is what Tori labes these entries and she adds "a big thank you and big shout out to all the members who work to hunt things down." Agreed.

Ruth noted that I'd probably be providing an excerpt from a story in the latest edition of Extra! and she was correct. I didn't have time on Sunday. This is from Seth Ackerman's "Now It's a Chemical Weapon, Now It's Not" by Seth Ackerman (pages eight through nine). The focus is on white phosophorus and for those who've forgotten, "It wasn't used! . . . Oh wait, it was! But it's not a chemical weapon, not when the American government uses it!" We're focusing on Ackerman's critique of the New York Times:

That's not to say that the big U.S. news outlets were unaware of the story. In an online "Ask the Washington Post" chat forum (11/09/05), an inquisitive reader asked the paper's assistant managing editor why the Post had ignored the white phosophorus allegations. The Post's David Hoffman replied that the paper had reported the use of white phosphorus at the time of the battle, and pointed the reader to a front-page dispatch on the Fallujah fight from November 2004. A diligent reader who located the year-old article (11/10/04) could indeed find -- 22 paragraphs into the story -- a sthree- sentence passage confirming the use of white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon, including this: "Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorus burns." The New York Times took a different tack. It did mention the allegation that white phosphorus had been used as a weapon -- but it cited this to illustrate the kind of flimsy anti-American charges that foreigners have a habit of putting in their newspapers. In a feature article about an American intelligence unit that monitors the foreign press (11/13/05), reporter Scott Shane signaled to readers how preposterous this particular charge was by giving his assurance that "the mainstream American news media" had "largely ignored this claim," since its "reporters had witnessed the fighting [in Fallujah] and apparently seen no evidence" of white phosphorus weaponry. For the Post then, white phosphorus wasn't a stroy because it had already been reported (albiet almost invisibly), while for the Times, it wasn't a story because American reporters hadn't mentioned it. [. . .] For Scott Shane, the New York Times reporter, the only apparent cause for concern in all of this was that the U.S. had bungled its damage-control response. A week after publishing the story that dismissed the possibility that the U.S. might have fired white phosphorus weapons. Shane wrote a new article blaming U.S. officials for not defending the practice with the requisite public-relations aplomb. He deemed the Italian documentary "riddled with errors and exaggerations" -- citing as his source unnamed "officials and independent military experts" -- and accused it of "inacurately labeling white phosphorus a chemical weapon (11/21/05). Yet because U.S. officials had "bungled their response," Shane wrote, there are now "dozens of stories in the foreign news media and on websites suggesting that the Americans used banned weapons and tried to cover it up." If readers were left with the distinct impression that Shane thinks it unimportant that U.S. soldiers fired white phosphorus rounds into a densely packed city, the reporter did nothing to disabuse them.

That's an excerpt. It may or may not be available online. Check it out print at bookstores or libraries and if either doesn't carry Extra! ask them to. (Ruth gave a magazine report on this edition of Extra! Saturday.) What's the true tonic to corporate media? Independent media, unembedded media. If you're someone who regularly discusses the news and all your remarks are "Well the Times says this, the Post says this and on 60 Minutes . . ." you're not supporting independent media.

Heather is. She gave a heads up to a publication I (at least) was unaware of. She got the word out. That's the most powerful thing we can do in terms of the media (my opinion), get the word out. Inject it into our conversations. Whatever your favorite indymedia is, bring it up in a conversation. "That's interesting, but I read/heard/saw, on ___, that . . ." Why is the New York Times the paper of record? Because it's referenced as though it was. (Which, by the way, is why I truly would love to drop it but members have rejected that notion so we'll continue to note it.) What's the news source of record in your circle? If it's independent media, take it beyond your circle. If it's not independent media, start making it that. I'll use Democracy Now! as an example because that's one thing the community can always agree on 100%.

If next week, you spoke of Democracy Now! everytime news coverage or news topics came up, there would be a lot of people curious about the program. If we all did it, there would be even more. (We in the community.) If everyone who listens, watches or reads it (everyone globally) did that, Democracy Now! would be on it's way to becoming the programming of record. Not just in the independent world but beyond it. The Times is only the "record" because it's so often noted. Members of this community are fully aware that the paper of record leaves out important topics, minimizes others and really just jots down official statements most days. The James Risen scoop? Have they followed up on it as one would expect a paper of record to? No.

As much as Bully Boy may hate it, we still have control over our own voices. We can use them wisely. (That's not a slam at Martha, by the way, for highlighting Washington Post articles. Members can highlight whatever they want. Martha also highlights independent media.)

A number of members love the James Blunt CD. They didn't know about it until Kat reviewed it. Outside this community, other people got the word out on it as well. What happened? A huge commercial success. Or "water cooler" shows. The "must watch" shows people watch because they don't want to be left out since everybody talks about them. That's the result of word of mouth. That's the power we have. We have other powers as well but that's one we should never be afraid to utilize. And we'll need to utilize it if the illegal occupation of Iraq is ever going to end.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

And the war drags on and on. Last Thursday, the fatality count for US military in Iraq stood at 2327. Tonight? 2345. B-b-but, the New York Times was singing things are looking up on Sunday! Exactly the reason to turn to indymedia. That's 18 deaths. Since Thursday. The war drags on and on. The numbers mount. We, not politicians in DC, are the only ones who can stop it.

Bill notes some people doing their part to be heard. From Anna Thompson's "Thousands Gather in Atlanta to Protest War" (Tennessee Indymedia):

Atlanta, GA: Thousands gathered in the streets of Atlanta on Saturday, April 1st to protest the war in Iraq and to demand justice at home. According to organizers, an estimated 3,700 people participated in the Southern Regional March for Peace from the Martin Luther King Civil Rights center to Piedmont Park. The event, which was marked by colorful puppets, drumming, dancing, signs, and costumes, was held on April 1st to commemorate both the third anniversary of the war in Iraq on March 18th, and the April 4th anniversary of the assasination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of Dr. King, the march began in front of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in King's boyhood neighborhood. The march was attended predominantly by residents of Atlanta, but was also attended by peace groups from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The march itself was endorsed by one hundred and forty four organizations. Tennesseans from the Nashville Peace Coalition, Peace Roots Alliance and Nashville Peace and Justice Center, Tennessee Progressive Independent League, Mid South Peace and Justice Center, and Progressive Student Alliance were represented.
The event was sponsored by the April First Coalition and the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta. The march drew 130 religious congregations and anti-war groups from across the South, organizers said. By the time they arrived in the park their march had attracted 4000 participants where Veteran activist Rev. Joseph Lowery told the crowd: "Don't let anybody tell you that just because you're against the war that you don't support the troops. Hell, the best support that you can give the troops is bring them home out of harm's way, not in body bags but home and alive and well."
Kelly Jacobs represented Mississippi's Code Pink! Women for Peace, who had 2 balls and chains labeled 8+ Trillion National Debt and 2326 Troops Dead in Iraq, with a small flying pig to symbolize when this administration plans to repay the money they've borrowed. Jacobs stated that the reasons to stay in this war are the same they gave to stay in Vietnam, so America needs to leave, and let the Iraqi's win their war. Lady Liberty started marching in the parade as the last participant "because our Liberties are coming last with Bush's increase in Presidential Powers." According to Jacobs, the best speaker was Dr. Lowrey who said: "Our country should be paying to rebuild its infrastructure, educate its children, care for its aged," he said, "not send smart bombs on dumb missions to kill people in foreign lands."Dan and Rusty Sweeton, of Lebanon, Tennessee attended the rally as performers. Better known as the Sweeton Boys, Dan and Rusty perform a popular Americana style of folk music that has its roots in Dan Sweeton's boyhood home in Grundy County, Tennessee on top of Monteagle mountain, the original home of the Highlander Folk school. Sweeton writes populist folk music with deep Appalachian roots that express working class resistance to greed and exploitation. Sweeton performed his ballad about a catfish that used to live in the slimy waters of the Potomac River and decided to head for clearer waters in rural Tennessee to escape the liars, greed and slime of Washington politics.

Bill also notes that an indymedia journalist that we've noted here before (Chris Lugo) is running for the Senate. Bill says he's voting for him if he's on the ticket in November and suggests everyone check out Howard Switzer's "Local Green for Peace Seenator" (Tennessee Indymedia):

Chris Lugo, well known local journalist, activist and landscaper, has decided to run for the U.S. Senate. He is challenging the corporate party candidates despite not having the kind of money and organization it normally takes to win such a race. Facing such difficult odds one might wonder, "why bother?"Chris said he decided to run as the result of a conversation he had with the leading Democrat Candidate, Harold Ford. Chris had asked what Ford would do about the Iraq war if elected and he said he would send 500,000 troops over there to win the war. This offended Chris's moral sensibilities; with no peace candidate in the race, he felt he needed to run so those who might not vote out of disgust with the corporate candidates could at least register their protest. Chris has a website at with an extensive platform that goes well beyond concerns for the War in Iraq. Chris has often shown us how the war economy affects people's lives in many ways not covered in mainstream journalism. Well versed on the issues important to so many, Chris will no doubt make good campaign speeches and educate many people.
Tennessee has a long history of radicals and activists involved in social justice and social change movements. Thousands of ordinary Tennesseans have played a role in shaping the history of the country, fighting for civil rights, for a clean environment, for a woman's right to vote, and literaly fighting to end slavery. Chris considers himself one of these ordinary people,advocating for an issue that most Tennesseans already agree on, that it is time to end the war in Iraq. According to his platform, Chris believes that, "it is time for the immediate cessation of all activities in Iraq which involve American troops. I support the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Furthermore, I support restitution to the Iraqi people for the damage that we have done to their infrastructure."The environment is also an issue of key concern to Greens and to most Tennesseans. The water, the forests, and the air are the most precious resources that we have, and Chris believes it is important to preserve them. "The waters and forests of Tennessee are national treasures which have been abused by industrial pollution, mountain top strip mining, clear cutting, coal mining, industrial farming, urban expansion, air pollution and nuclear production. Our forests and waterways are the lungs and lifeblood of our earth. Without them we cannot live. At the federal level I will work to do everything I can to protect our forests and waters in Tennessee, end pollution of our waterways, stop mountaintop strip mining, stop clear cutting of our forests and support species recovery, forest recovery and de-industrialization of our natural areas."

Bill wondered in his e-mail if that was enough to write? Yes. You can just say, "I'm supporting ___" and we'll note it. However, you can write an endorsement and we can note it or, as is the case for tomorrow's round-robin, Gina and Krista can note it. (They have five endorsements written by members going out in the round-robin tomorrow.) If a candidate speaks to you, as Lugo does to Bill, you just have to say you're supporting them and we'll note it here. Any member can do that.

That's using your voice, that's being heard. Something we all need to do and to think up new ways to do so. It's not as though there's a shortage of things to speak out against. Speak out against torture. A lot of people are. Zach notes Erin Podlipnik's "Protesting Yoo" (San Francisco Bay Guardian):

They gather every Thursday afternoon outside UC Berkeley's Boalt School of Law, usually no more than a dozen committed souls, displaying enlarged photos of detainees who have been tortured by American soldiers and handing out flyers to mostly uninterested passersby.
It's a telling sign of our times, this small protest over ongoing atrocities that have been strongly condemned by most world leaders. After all, Berkeley students were once at the forefront of condemning human rights abuses and other excesses of imperialism. But today the school employs the architect of the US torture policy, and few of its students raise a peep.
The target of the protest is John Yoo, a law professor here since 1993 who went to work for the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Yoo authored the infamous "torture memo" in 2002 that served as the legal justification for policies allowing American troops to indefinitely detain and illegally torture those the president dubs "enemy combatants." And that was just one memo in a series of position papers Yoo has written arguing that the United States has an almost unlimited right to launch preemptive wars, during which Congress has little authority to oversee the decisions of the president.
The weekly protests have been held Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. since Feb. 9, when Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed Nixon's actions in Vietnam, kicked off the demonstrations. Event organizer Taigen Dan Leighton and other protesters say they hope to breed awareness of tortured detainees and their moral objection to Yoo's beliefs.
"I was kind of amazed that John Yoo was teaching there," Leighton, a professor at the nearby Graduate Theological Union, told the Guardian. "I could just see Mario Savio spinning in his grave because no one was doing anything about it."

It is amazing that Yoo is allowed to teach on campus considering that he didn't just utilize free speech to advocate a policy that goes against our notions of justice and democracy, he actually crafted a policy. We're coming up on more protests against the war. Members are getting active in those and that's wonderful. If you can, take at least one person with you on the next one. Someone who hasn't been before. The movement that the Times doesn't want to cover depends upon us to get the word out. It also depends upon us thinking of new ways to be heard and be more willing to use our voices.

We have a member who works at a religious company and did not feel that she could speak out. The company supports the war -- and the Bully Boy -- and they have to pray before every meeting. Actually, I shouldn't call it a "religious company." It's a distribution company for a chain of stores. It's owned by a "religious" family. So they can flaunt each and every rule of employment. That's why they can, and did, tell her that if she wanted to move from temp to permanent, she needed to go to ____ church. That's why they can insist that all participate in a prayer before a meeting. She's telling her story in tomorrow's round-robin and I'd suggest that all members make sure not to give monies to that company. She wants to stay at the company for two and a half more years to build up experience for her resume. Despite that and the fact that it's the only thing in her area that she can use her degree for, when the Bully Boy wet dreaming got too much, she spoke out. She did that on her own. We live in a Bully Boy economy and when she's written and I've replied, I've always told her that she can participate outside of work and do what she's comfortable with doing at work. It would be hypocritical of me to say, "Walk out!" or "Speak your mind!" because, although I've always done that, I've never had to face economic conditions that a lot of people have to face.

But with all of that, with student loans and no real economic opportunties in her area, a car that's on it's last legs (and no public transporation to speak of in her area) she reached the point where she had to speak out against the war at her job. I'm very proud of her and when you read her story tomorrow, I think you will be as well. We have members who work at large chains. We have Megan who works at large book store chain and a memo was posted in the break room during the 2004 election saying that they couldn't talk about politics. What it really meant, as Megan saw repeatedly, was that you couldn't say anything positive about John Kerry, Ralph Nader or any candidate other than the Bully Boy. You could praise Bully Boy to customers in front of the assistant manager and the manager and that was no problem. In practice, the memo only stopped political discussions if they were critical of Bully Boy or if they praised a candidate other than the Bully Boy. (Same assistant manager cancelled a "liberal" daily paper during the election -- didn't allow it to be stocked at the store anymore and went with Wall St. Journal even though customers repeatedly requested the cancelled paper. Of course, we know there's no "liberal" paper in the United States but such are the delusions/confusions of the fright-wing.) That's a reality for many people in this country. (That's changed, I hope, a great deal in the last year and a half.) And in a Bully Boy economy, unless you're willing to feed, clothe and house someone, you need to try to understand the sitatuion that quite a few people are in.

Those who can do more need to do more. We all need to do more but there are many of us (including me) who can do more. Maybe you're fortunate, maybe you're fearless, maybe you just don't give a damn about economic realities. But if you're one of the three, you need to work to do more. ("You" includes me.)

And that's at the heart of the next highlight. Joan notes Cindy Sheehan's "The Anti-War Movement?" (Gold Star Families For Peace):

Being a so-called anti-war movement leader (at least to the MSM), brings much responsibility and so much love for the people and the groups who are working hard to end this insane occupation, but is this enough?
Recently, a blog written by an aquaintance, Scott Ritter, [. . .] was called to my attention, where Scott, who is a self-proclaimed Republican, conservative who courageously opposed this war from the beginning, is predicting the eminent demise of the anti-war movement.
At first, I was highly offended and defensive at what I thought was Scottt's arrogant attack on the movement that I am so intimately and overwhelmingly involved in. But then after my knee-jerk reaction, I realized that for all of the wrong reasons, Scott was partially correct.
The anti-war movement is not on the "verge of collapse" because we are not organized, or because we don't take a "warriors" view of attacking the neocons and the war machine using the tactics of Napoleon, or Sun Tzu--but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong, BushCo lied, and the troops should come home, will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government. Some, like Casey and almost 2400 other Americans and their families give all, while some, like the people of Iraq, have everything stolen from them by unlawful war; some, like myself, give a lot; some give some, by writing letters, attending an occasional vigil or march; but the majority of Americans give nothing--except an occasional vote, which we all know counts practically for nothing with our electoral process being so corrupted and almost rendered meaningless by paperless voting machine, no instant run-offs, and exploitation of the religious right by such contrived issues as gay marriage and teaching evolution in our public schools.
I also agree with Scott that true progressives have many issues that we focus rightly on: a woman's right to have control over her own reproductive system and other human rights issues such as an end to the occupation of Palestine and the atrocities of Darfur and the Sudan. But unlike Scott, I think that these things are all interrelated and we have to expose the people in our government who exploit our young people and people of other countries, who are usually browner than the ruling class in America, for their own profit and imperial arrogance. Scott is definitely correct about this though: even while we are focusing our attentions on ending the occupation of Iraq, the fascist fanatics are planning on spreading their evils of Pax Americana to the next bogus threat of Iran, and who knows where else their fantasies of empire and fabulous ill-gotten booty will take them, and our children's precious lives to. Our anti-war movement must transform itself into a peace movement to resist this with all of our peaceful might!

Cindy Sheehan's reply to Scott Ritter's attempt to militarize the peace movement. The above is an excerpt and "[. . .]" notes that I've pulled the link to Ritter's writing. We've already discussed it here and we don't exist to popularize Republicans. (We're a resource/review for the left.) Anyone interested in reading Ritter's commentary can utilize the link to Sheehan's piece and find a link there for it.

James in Brighton notes that two women, two grandmothers, are making themselves heard. From Nigel Morris and Jonathan Brown's "Helen and Syvia, the new face of terrorism" (The Independent):

Two grandmothers from Yorkshire face up to a year in prison after becoming the first people to be arrested under the Government's latest anti-terror legislation.
Helen John, 68, and Sylvia Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25 years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration.
Under the little-noticed legislation, which came into effect last week, protesters who breach any one of 10 military bases across Britain will be treated as potential terrorists and face up to a year in jail or £5,000 fine. The protests are curtailed under the Home Secretary's Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
Campaigners expressed their outrage yesterday at Charles Clarke's new law, which they say is yet another draconian attempt to crack down on legitimate protest under the guise of the war on terror. In October last year a protester in Whitehall was convicted for merely reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq. And at the Labour Party conference in September the Government suffered severe embarrassment when Walter Wolfgang, a veteran peace activist who survived the Nazis, was detained for heckling Jack Straw.

Reading that should make us all think about what we can do.

I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands
-- "With My Own Two Hands" (written and recorded by Ben Harper; most recently appears on the Curious George soundtrack)

With our own two hands. Curious George. Curious? I'm curious as to why there's been so little attention in Canada to the verdict in the last few days in Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey's case. We noted it today and Vic and Vince were asked to look for coverage because they live in Canada. It's not surprising that the American corporate press isn't interested in the story -- they've never been. Lapdogs don't wag their tails if it might dispelease the master. A condition that apparently occurs in Canada as well.

From Richard Blackwell's "Court rules out refugee bid by U.S. Army deserters" (Globe and Mail):

Madam Justice Anne Mactavish yesterday refused to overrule Immigration and Refugee Board decisions that rejected the requests for political asylum from Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.

From Lauren La Rose's "War dodgers to appeal court ruling" (Canada Press via Toronto Star):

Hinzman deserted the U.S. army in January 2004, just days before his regiment, the 82nd Airborne, was deployed to Iraq from Fort Bragg, N.C. Hinzman, who is currently living in Toronto with his wife and three-year-old son, faces a court martial and possible jail time if he is sent back to the United States.
Hughey, from San Anjelo, Tex., fled to St. Catharines, Ont., in March 2004 after learning he was to be shipped to Iraq. He also now lives in Toronto.
In upholding the Immigration and Refugee Board's decision, Mactavish also certified the question of whether a soldier can claim a war is illegal when making a refugee claim — a move that automatically opens the door to a review by the Federal Court of Appeal.
House said they expect to file the appeal in the next week or so. If the decision is upheld, House said he's concerned it could set a troubling precedent.
"It doesn't just affect American soldiers," he said. "In the future, it would affect any soldier who doesn't want to go along with an arbitrary invasion of some other country."

The war drags on. Heads up, I'm exhausted. Don't expect much from tomorrow morning's entries.

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sylvia boyes
helen john