Friday, April 14, 2006

Democracy Now: Nepal, Jeff Chester, Scott Horton; Danny Schechter, Katrina vanden Heuvel

We were so psyched when C-SPAN agreed to tape a discussion based around my book  When News Media Lies. Rory O'Connor and I had a great conversation at the Used Book Cafe in New York. The folks at the store told us our packed event was among their best. The CSPAN videographer was enthusiastic.
CPAN 2 advised us that they scheduled the program for 7 AM on Monday the 17th. 7 AM! Well, I will be up. I always am, BUT.... Tape it if you can and send it around. And if you like it, ask Brian Lamb and his team to consider playing it again. Do you think this had anything to do with the subject--ie the role of the media? Rememer, the cable industry pays for CSPAN--or is just bad luck.
Have a great holiday weekend. I will be attending the memorial tribute to the late producer and supporter Al Levin tomorrow night. You can see Al in his son Marc’s doc "The Protocols of Zion."
That is a heads up on the broadcast of Danny Schechter's March 29th discussion.  I'm not a CSPAN junkie.  (I really don't watch TV if I can help it.)  However, things are streamed online.  This event may be (audio only or audio and video).  If you are a member who is a CSPAN junkie and have more to add to the above (which is from The News Dissector's "The Dissector Daily Readers Forum"), e-mail and put "When News Lies" or "CSPAN" in the heading so I notice it right away.
RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service
In Britain, a doctor in the Royal Air Force has been sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith maintained he is refusing his assignment in order to not take part in an illegal war. "Now more so than ever he feels that his actions were totally justified and he would not if placed in the same circumstances seek to do anything differently," Justin Hugheston-Roberts, the lawyer representing Kendall-Smith, said after the sentencing.
Dozens Dead in Iraq Violence
In Iraq, dozens of police officers are feared dead after their convoy was bombed north of Baghdad earlier today. At least six officers were killed. In other violence, at least eleven construction workers were murdered after they were abducted in Basra. Today's deaths come a day after violence killed at least 52 people around Iraq. In Thursday's deadliest incident, at least 15 people were killed and 25 wounded in car bombing of a market in a Shiite area of Baghdad.
White House Maintains Silence on Iraq Weapons Lab Claim
Meanwhile, for the second straight day Thursday, White House spokesperson Scott McLellan could not tell reporters when President Bush or other administration officials were informed a Pentagon fact-finding mission had found no mobile biological weapons labs in Iraq. The timing of the fact-finding mission's report has come under intense scrutiny. Just two days after it was submitted, President Bush cited the trailers as proof the US had discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The President and other administration officials continued to make the faulty claim for more than a year -- and never once said their claim had been disputed.
Nepal Criticized For Human Rights Abuses
In Nepal, embattled King Gyanendra pledged today he would hold national elections, but did not give a specific timetable. Opposition groups said the King's message was nothing more than a vague repeat of previous promises that have gone unfulfilled. The King's announcement comes just two days after he returned from a two-month vacation to the capital of Katmandu amidst massive protests against his rule. On Thursday, Louise Arbor, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized what she called the government's excessive use of force and use of arbitrary detention against protesters. Also Thursday, Police fired on a demonstration attended by dozens of lawyers outside the Supreme Court. At least 70 people were arrested.
Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for One Day Boycott, Walk-Out
A coalition of groups advocating for immigrant rights are calling for a massive one-day job and economic boycott to take place May 1st. Some are calling the event "A Day Without Immigrants." Organizers are calling on immigrants to refuse to work or spend any money on May Day to protest moves in Congress to criminalize undocumented workers. In recent weeks millions of immigrants and their supporters have taken to the streets in an unprecedented wave of protests.
The above five (!) items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and KeShawn, Lyle, Amanda, Sam and Mayra all made strong cases for their selections.  Democarcy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for April 14, 2006

- Dozens Dead in Iraq Violence
- Nepal Criticized For Human Rights Abuses
- Chad Claims To Have Fought Off Rebel Attack
- Report: Hamas Willing To Recognize Israeli Government
- RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service
- 6th Ex-Military Commander Calls For Rumsfeld's Resignation
- White House Maintains Silence on Iraq Weapons Lab Claim
- California TV Station To Stop Using VNRs
- Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for One Day Boycott, Walk-Out
- Audit: FEMA Misspent $1B in Hurricane Katrina Relief
- Federal Judge Criticizes Denial of Muslim Scholar's Visa
Thousands of Protesters, Journalists, Lawyers Arrested in Nepal as Mass Pro-Democracy Demonstrations Continue Against King

For the past week, tens of thousands of protesters have filled the streets of Nepal. King Gyanendra has placed severe restrictions on civil liberties since consolidating power in February of 2005. We go to Kathmandu to speak with a Nepali journalist who was beaten by police and we speak with two activists who have been following the latest developments.
Part II: The End of the Internet? Net Neutrality Threatened by Cable, Telecom Interests

Both Congress and the FCC are currently considering a number of proposals that will have far-reaching implications on the way the Internet works and the vital concept of net neutrality -- universal and non-discriminatory to the Internet -- is at risk. We speak with Jeff Chester of the  Center for Digital Democracy.
Iraqi CBS Cameraman Released After 1 Year Imprisonment by U.S. Forces

We look at the case of Iraqi CBS cameraman Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein. He was shot by U.S. forces while working in Mosul then detained for a year in Abu Ghraib without due process. We speak with Scott Horton, a New York attorney who flew to Baghdad to help defend Abdul Ameer.
Iraq . . .  The Associated Press reports that, near Baghdad, "dozens" of police officers are missing and at least six are dead in the continued waves of chaos and violence that make up the illegal occupation. KUNA notes the death of police officer Lieutenant Marwan Yosef who was killed by gunmen in Kirkuk.   Australia's ABC highlights yet another source of tension from the occupation: Babylon's hanging gardes ("one of the seven wonders of the ancient world") became the perfect place (in someone's mind) for the US to put in a helicopter landing-pad and the military's "sandbags" were the perfect place for "archaeological artefacts."  Donny George head of the Board for Heritage Antiquities, stated that it would "take decades to sort out" and that "using this city for military purposes was [a] huge damage to the history and heritage of the country."  CNN reports at least four dead and six wounded in two separate mosque bombings in Baquba. In Basra, Reuters reports, kidnapped workers were found dead (eleven civilians) and that a bomb near Basra took the lives of two Iraqis and four British troops were wounded. (The Telegraph of London points out that an additional  three were wounded in Afghanistan, a total of seven British soldiers have been wounded.)  On the workers who were kidnapped, the BBC notes the number as ten and reports that seven were killed but three escaped. Al Jazeera reports the deaths of at least thirteen with at least eight wounded as a result of a 7:45 pm (GMT) market bombing.
Highlights?  Death, loss, and 'justice' plus a profile.  On the topic of death, Hilda notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr: 1924-2006" (The Notion, The Nation):
"Clearly the trick in life is to die young as late as possible," Reverend William Sloane Coffin From his last book, Credo.
Reverend William Sloane Coffin died Wednesday at the age of 81.
Bill Coffin, as his friends knew him, was one of our greatest and most eloquent prophetic voices. For more than forty years, his passionate calls for peace, social justice, civil rights, and an end to nuclear insanity challenged this nation's conscience.
While Chaplain of Yale University in the 1960s, Coffin emerged as an indomitable opponent of the Vietnam War. A leader of the draft resistance movement, a proponent of civil disobedience, Coffin and four other antiwar activists (including Dr. Benjamin Spock) challenged provisions of the Selective Service Act. Tried in 1968, Coffin, Dr. Spock and two of the other three were convicted of conspiracy, but the verdicts were overturned on appeal. In 1978, Coffin was called to the very visible pulpit of Riverside Church and as its Minister led the church into the center of the antinuclear movement. (He was also immortalized as the offbeat Rev. Scot Sloan in Doonesbury. )Though slowed by a stroke he suffered in 1999, Coffin spoke out against the Iraq war and, just last October, he founded a religious organization calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Dallas notes Mischa Gaus' "A Legal Limbo" (In These Times) which deals with one Guantanamo prisoner:
A Libyan, [Abdul Hamid Abud Salam] Al-Ghizzawi was invisible until he passed word through other detainees that he wanted a lawyer. Dozens of new detainees became known this way last year. [Candace] Gorman took his case in November.
"The fact that I’ve been representing my client for four months and yet I can’t communicate with him in any way is just ludicrous," Gorman says.
Gorman cannot see or talk with Al-Ghizzawi without filing a protective order with D.C.’s federal district court--an agreement that warns that she can be prosecuted for sharing classified information. The Justice Department is refusing to let those agreements be filed, because cases currently before the D.C. appeals court and the Supreme Court--Al Odah v. United States and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld--will affect what rights and legal venues detainees can access. The Supreme Court decided two years ago that detainees can challenge their detention, but until the latest cases are cleared everything else--including Gorman's emergency petition to see Al-Ghizzawi--has been sidelined.
Perversely, Al-Ghizzawi may be lucky. Recent disclosures of detainee records show not all even have habeas petitions filed on their behalf yet, says Barbara Olshansky, assistant legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is coordinating their legal fight. These motions allow prisoners to challenge the legality of their detention.
For these prisoners, legal aid may come too late. The Detainee Treatment Act, passed late in 2005 as a rider to a military appropriations bill, strips detainees of their right to challenge their detention in court. The administration is arguing that it retroactively removes habeas rights for all detainees.
Even for those few lawyers who had already filed protective orders, gaining access to their clients is difficult.
Now the 'justice' and loss, Malcolm Kendall-Smith.  Sentenced to eight months at the conclusion of his three day court martial but the issues involved in the case weren't as easily dismissed in the real world as they were in the trial.  James in Brighton notes
Robert Verkaik's "Court Martial highlights importance of legality of the war" (Independent of London):
Few controversies have divided the British people more than the question of the legality of the war with Iraq.
Among those who believe the 2003 conflict to be unlawful are some of the world's leading experts on international law, who maintain that without a second UN resolution the American and British forces lacked the authority to invade Iraq.
Leading the argument for the British Government is Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General. He told the Prime Minister that UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which found Saddam Hussein to have failed to disarm, could be used to justify war without a second resolution being passed, if it could be shown that Iraq was still in direct breach.
But it is now clear that even Lord Goldsmith had his reservations about the Government's position because of worries that 1441 did not explicitly set out the conditions upon which military action could be taken.
Yesterday's court martial in Aldershot is further evidence that the question of whether the invasion was unlawful is not merely of interest to international jurists.
More on the issues can be found in Gareth's highlight, George Galloway's "Rebellion in the ranks" (Guardian of London):
The film Winter Soldier is finding a new audience through the networks of the anti-war movement -- and with good reason. Made in 1972 by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, it depicts the height of the revolt behind the lines that was one of the decisive factors in ending that war, the other two being the popular anti-war movement and, above all, the resistance of the Vietnamese people.
The revolt in the ranks of the US military hamstrung the Pentagon for over a decade and a half. But throughout that time organised opposition to war by military personnel and their families seemed a uniquely American phenomenon. Not any more.
The court martial of Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, an RAF doctor, is highlighting the gathering opposition and incipient revolt within the British armed forces to the Iraq war and occupation. Kendall-Smith is refusing deployment to Iraq. He told the court in Aldershot that disobeying illegal orders is "a duty under international law" and referred to "the Nuremburg principles and the law of armed conflict". That was before the judge cut him off and said the illegality of the war was not the issue. Kendall-Smith's argument caught my eye: I made it three years ago and it was one of the reasons I was expelled from the Labour party.
Now, that sentiment is spreading throughout the British military, their families and many of the relatives of the 103 personnel who have been killed in Iraq. The organisation Military Families Against the War (MFAW) was little noticed in the media when it was launched by a small number of courageous individuals, headed by the indomitable Rose Gentle, who lost her son Gordon in Iraq. But that has not stopped it taking off to such an extent that it now receives many emails and phone calls weekly not only from military families, but also from those serving in the military. It is organising a nationwide protests on next Tuesday outside TA centres, and will be lobbying Parliament and heading for Downing Street on Wednesday April 26.
And Skip wanted to pass on that the verdict is much discussed in his area of Australia.  The verdict doesn't provide anything to be pleased with; however, it has raised the issues. DK notes in an e-mail that he feels as though the verdict is registering in his area (in Germany) because a lot of the people who supported the war early on have had to face "ugly realities."  He says that during the court martial and since the verdict, he's had conversations not just with his anti-war friends but with people who supported the war at the outset.  Polly's going to be addressing the topic Sunday in Polly's Brew so look for that.  Skip noted Malcolm Brown, Deborah Snow and Mark Coultan's "Doctor jailed for following his conscience" (Australia's Sydney Morning Herald):
AN eight-month jail term handed out in Britain to an Australian-born Royal Air Force doctor, Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, has provoked debate on whether an individual's private morality can override the duty to obey orders.
Kendall-Smith, 37, was found guilty of refusing to serve in Iraq by a jury of RAF officers at a court martial in Aldershot, in southern England.
Kendall-Smith was born in Brisbane before moving to New Zealand to study medicine. He also took a doctorate in philosophy, receiving top grades for his thesis on the secular and rational morality of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Charles Pigden, a senior lecturer in philosophy who marked Kendall-Smith's thesis, said: "Kant was the philosopher who makes doing the right thing of critical importance. People who are interested in Kant's ethics, they're keen on morality.
"Maybe Dr Kendall-Smith thought that in joining the British armed forces he wouldn't be getting into morally dubious stuff. Which sadly proved not to be the case."
While punitive action for refusal to obey orders is rare, in the lead-up to the first Gulf War in 1990, an Australian sailor, leading seaman Terry Jones, was court-martialled after jumping ship in Perth when HMAS Adelaide was due to go to the Gulf.
Outraged by television footage of the then US president, George Bush snr, playing golf and refusing to answer questions on the Middle East crisis, Jones decided he wanted out. "I am prepared to die to defend my country, but not to protect US oil lines," he said.
Despite his protests that it was a moral issue, Jones received a suspended sentence of 21 days' detention, was reduced in rank to able seaman and was docked four days' pay.
In other places and times, the line-of-command reaction to moral resistance by soldiers has varied widely.
Last highlight?  Polly's.  Saturday Seymour Hersh turned 69 years-old.  Sunday, he was pretty much the focus of the entire world in terms of journalists.  As the week concludes (Polly calls it "Hersh Week"), check out Julian Borger's "I feel like I did in the Vietnam days -- I hate to pay taxes just so they can go and bomb more people" (Guardian of London):
A generation ago aspiring journalists looked up to the Watergate team of Woodward and Bernstein as their idols. But times have changed. One half of the Washington Post duo, Carl Bernstein, has moved into academia, while Bob Woodward has grown rich and part of the Washington establishment.
His books on the Bush administration have leant heavily on interviews granted by the president and his top aides. Far from shaking the administration, they were advertised as recommended reading by the Bush re-election campaign.
The only investigative journalist from that era who is still giving the administration sleepless nights is Seymour Hersh, whose scoops in the New Yorker have become a centrepiece in the debate over the US "global war on terror".
This week's extraordinary report alleging that George Bush had not only made up his mind to topple the Iranian government, but was also toying with the idea of doing it with a tactical nuclear weapon, was a telling example of his influence. If any other journalist had produced the story, it would almost certainly have been laughed off. Because Hersh wrote it, it was front-page news around the world, notwithstanding Mr Bush's insistence it was all "wild speculation". The White House stopped short of denying the story, saying only that the Pentagon was conducting "normal military contingency planning".
The problem for the president is that the man known in Washington as Sy has become an institution with more credibility than the administrations that come and go in this fickle city.
Remember these two upcoming Un-embed the Media appearances (one is tomorrow):
* Amy Goodman in Castleton, VT: Sat, Apr 15 *
Tenth Annual Women's Studies Conference
Fine Arts Center, Castleton State College, Castleton, VT 05735
Free and Open to the Public
For more information: contact Dr Sanjukta Ghosh,, 802-468-1445
* Amy Goodman in New York, NY: Tues, Apr 18 *
"Stuff Happens" post show discussion
The Public Theater
For more information:
425 Lafayette St.
New York, 10003
A provocative and thoughtful play about how and why we went to war in
Iraq, Stuff Happens brings to the stage an ongoing story of great national
and international importance, with characters and dialogue seemingly ripped
from today's headlines. Inspired by actual events, both public and private,
that have been authenticated from multiple sources, Stuff Happens is a
powerful history play that brilliantly transforms "real life" into profound
On the Tuesday item, Micah states that it's been stated James Ridgeway will be at that event.
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