Monday, April 17, 2006

Democracy Now: Sam gardiner on Iran, Lilli Gruber on Berlusconi; NYT . . .

L.A. Protesters Commemorate Death of Teen Protester
In Los Angeles, 5,000 people marched on Saturday to call for immigrant rights and to mark the death of Anthony Soltero. Soltero was the 14-year-old middle school student who shot and killed himself two weeks ago shortly after taking part in a school walk out to protest proposed anti-immigration legislation. According to his family, the school's vice principal threatened Soltero that he could be sent to jail for three years for missing class because of the immigration protest. The school has disputed the family's claims. Anthony Soltero's mother spoke on Saturday. Meanwhile the New York Times reports hundreds of immigrants who have taken part in recent protests have been fired from their jobs.

HRW: Special Prosecutor Needed to Investigate Rumsfeld
Human Rights Watch is calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is criminally liable for the torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. According to an Army Inspector General’s report obtained by the online magazine, Rumsfeld was personally involved in the abusive interrogation of a Saudi man named Mohammad al-Qahtani. The report reveals Rumsfeld communicated weekly about the interrogation of Kahtani with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller at Guantanamo. Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch said, "The question at this point is not whether Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, it's whether he should be indicted." Human Rights Watch maintains Rumsfeld could be liable under the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that crimes were being committed, but fails to stop them.

U.S. Broke Human Rights Law By Arming Iraqi Militias
In news on Iraq, an internal State Department review has determined U.S. officials are doling out millions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without ensuring the units are complying with U.S. laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations. The Chicago Tribune reports officials failed to take steps to comply with the laws over the past two years, amid mounting reports of torture and murder by Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy crafted the law in the early 1990s after disclosures of widespread abuse by U.S.-supported forces in Latin America.

Pro-Democracy Protests Expand in Nepal
In Nepal, pro-democracy protests and strikes have entered their 12th day. On Sunday over 30,000 people defied a government ban on public gatherings and demonstrated in the capital of Katmandu in some of the largest protests to date. Meanwhile the general strike is being felt throughout the country. Widespread fuel and food shortages have been reported. And the nation's banks have closed in support of the general strike. On Saturday police beat and detained a number of journalists protesting curbs on press freedom.

Neo-Naxi Supremacist Convicted In WMD Case
In Tennessee, a white supremacist with Neo-Nazi ties has been convicted of attempting to acquire Sarin nerve and C-4 explosives in order to blow up government buildings. The man, Demetrius Van Crocker, once told an FBI informant that he dreamed of riding a motorcycle to Washington D.C. and setting off a dirty nuclear bomb while the House and Senate were in session. Crocker also said he wanted to get a helicopter license so he could bomb or spray poison gas on the African-American neighborhoods in Jackson Tennessee. Crocker was arrested after he bought nerve gas from an undercover agent. His attorney argued Crocker was prone to exaggeration and was a victim of entrapment. Despite the serious charges, the national press has ignored the story. The New York Times, Washington Post or Los Angeles Times have yet to report on Crocker's arrest or conviction. A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the radical right has attempted to carry out at least 60 terrorist plots since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Mavis, Brandon, Wil, Tori and Susan. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for April 17, 2006

- HRW: Special Prosecutor Needed to Investigate Rumsfeld
- Gen. Richard Myers: It is "Wrong" to Criticize Rumsfeld
- Sen. Lugar Calls for Direct Negotiations with Iran
- Six Die in Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing
- U.S. Broke Human Rights Law By Arming Iraqi Militias
- Report: U.S. Military is Planning a "Second Liberation of Baghdad"
- U.S. Investigating Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan
- California Teacher Board Divests From Firms Tied to Sudan
- Ex-ExxonMobil CEO Earned $150,000 Per Day
- All-White Jury Acquits Officers in Vicious Beating
- Police Arrest 17 at University of Virginia Sit-In

Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner on Iran War Plans: "The Issue is Not Whether the Military Option Would Be Used But Who Approved the Start of Operations Already"

Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner says a military operation has already begun inside Iran. Gardiner says, "It's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran." We also speak with Gardiner about what he calls the "unprecedented" revolt against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld within the military.

Fmr. Top Italian News Anchor Lilli Gruber on the Italy Elections, Media Monopoly and Beating Berlusconi for a Seat in European Parliament

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continues to refuse to concede defeat in the country's general elections. We speak with Lilli Gruber, a former top TV news anchor in Italy who resigned from national broadcaster RAI, criticizing Berlusconi's media influence as an "unresolved conflict of interest." She ran against Berlusconi in 2004 for a seat in European Parliament and won.

Jailed Palestinian Professor Sami Al-Arian to Be Deported After Prosecutors Fail to Convict Him on a Single Charge

Federal authorities have decided to deport Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian after failing to convict him on charges he helped lead the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. We speak with reporter John Sugg who has been tracking the case for over a decade.

Iraq? The Times of India reports that at least 31 Iraqis died on Sunday with an additional 32 wounded. In Baghdad today, Xinhua reports, the corpse of Taha al-Mutlak, brother of Salih al-Mutlak ("top Sunni policitian"), was found. Also in Baghdad, a gun battle between the Iraqi army and the resistance has resulted in seven civilians wounded and one killed according to the Associated Press.. Still in Baghdad, Reuters notes, a doctor was kidnapped. Still in Baghdad, back to Reuters, the corpses of 12 were found -- seven had bullet holes, three had signs indicating torture. The Associated Press is reporting a bomb exploded today in Ramadi "in front of a U.S. observation post." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that Jebail has seen the death of at least three Iraqis and the injury of 10 more. The three dead? Two children and a woman. The cause? "Pacification." They, and the ones wounded, according to "security force spokesman" Mustafa Karrim, were guilty of being in their homes.

And back to Reuters, back to Baghdad for "IRAQ: Baghdadis say curfew prevents access to medical care:"

Residents of the Iraqi capital are complaining that a recently-imposed government curfew, aimed at deterring ongoing violence, is hampering access to medical care.

"My son had stomach pains two days ago, but I couldn't take him to the hospital because we're prohibited from leaving our homes -- even for medical emergencies," said Baghdad resident and father of four Abu Muhammad, 47.

With a curfew imposed from 11pm until 6am, no resident is allowed to venture outside between these times, while security forces have the right to shoot violators on sight. Anyone requiring medical assistance, therefore, must wait overnight to seek help.

Highlights? (Commentary of sorts after highlights.) Lloyd asks if we can note the most recent broadcast of Progressive Radio Show. We can and will (Lloyd, remind me if we don't add that to the permalinks by this weekend that's been on the to-do list for too long).

Houzahn Mahmoud is interviewed by Matthew Rothschild:

An Iraqi feminist, Houzahn Mahmoud heads the British chapter of the Organization for Women's Freedom in iraq. She talks of the new Dark Age for Iraqi women and says neither the Islamists nor the Americans provide any hope.

Link takes you to an online version of the broadcast (in full, it's not abridged). In terms of broadcasting today, on a similar topic, remember what Cindy highlighted on KPFA today (time in Pacific):

1:00 pm
Women's Magazine
Women correspondents who covered the war in Iraq will join us by phone. May Ying Welch, freelancing with Al-Jezeera, Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times London, Hannah Allam with Knight Ridder and others will talk about the perspective that women bring to the coverage of the war. Marking the 57th anniversary of KPFA we host former programmers from KPFA Women's Department in the 1970's through the 1990's.

Staying on the same themes (women and peace), Julie notes "Four Nobel Prize Winners Honored With Global Women's Rights Awards" (Feminist Wire Daily):

At a star-studded ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday, the Feminist Majority Foundation honored four of the seven living women Nobel Peace Prize winners for their work for women's rights. "These are obviously extraordinary people. All the more so when you realize how hard it is to win a Nobel Prize... Of the 758 Nobel Prize winners, only 33 have been women, and only 12 have been awarded the Peace Prize," said host Salma Hayek in her opening address. Actor-director Hayek co-hosted the event with Mavis and Jay Leno.
The award, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt's human rights and peace work, was presented to Nobel Prize Laureates
Shirin Ebadi (2003) of Iran, Jody Williams (1997) of the United States, Betty Williams (1997) of Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992) of Guatemala. As the laureates took the stage, they were greeted with an overwhelming standing ovation.

Wait! We're still on peace (a topic that always needs attention). Lewis notes this from CODEPINK:

Stop Nuclear War With Iran! We weren't able to stop the last war, but we must stop the next one…NOW! The United Nations, which is the mandated to uphold international law, must speak out against the Bush Administration's plans. Let's send a collective letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan imploring him to denounce this threat and call for a diplomatic solution. Click here to sign on and/or send your own, and pass it to friends and family around the world. Let's let the Bush administration and Kofi Annan know that the world is demanding an end to this madness!

We noted an event on May 1st last week. We can note it again (true of any event). So we're highlighting it now and if you'd like it noted more, e-mail. Francisco notes Selene Rivera's "Group Calls for 'A Day Without an Immigrant'" (Pacific News Service):

Activists with the March 25th Coalition, organizers of the massive immigration rights protest which took place in Los Angeles two weeks ago, are now calling for an economic boycott to take place next month.
Organizers are asking the public to stay home from work, keep their kids out of school and to refrain from shopping or purchasing anything on May 1st -- International Workers' Day.
"It will be a day without immigrants," said Javier Rodriguez, one of the main organizers of both the protest rally and the proposed boycott.
"The arguments against [the immigrant community] claim we abuse the economy of this country... And if this is in fact the case, then that day we will see a resurgence of the economy," said Rodriguez.

Brenda wonders why I was so shocked that the New York Times (reporting section) is promoting a war on Iran? I just was. Rebecca has said repeatedly that each morning, I wake up with hope for the paper. I usually dismiss that; however, today I was very excited to grab the paper . . . and then I read it.

Mid-day Saturday, I'd spoken with a friend who was very upset about the potential war on Iran. What the administration does (how low they'll go) doesn't surprise me. But the paper?

After their shameful "reporting" in the lead up to the (illegal) war on Iraq, after the mea culpa, I guess I honestly expected that somehow it would change. That was a dumb thought on my part. War pornographer Michael Gordon and William J. Broad were writing partners with Judith Miller. No, most people don't know their names. No, few besides Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez would ever call any of them on their reporting.

Staying on that for a minute. Judith Miller wasn't the problem. She was part of the problem. But there's been no change at all in the way the Times will maket/sell this impending war.

So this morning, I was going through the e-mails and the paper, turning to stories members were e-mailing about, and it was just the worst edition. I hadn't intended to comment on the Iran reporting or even read it. But there are so many problems with every story that ran this morning. From Sengupta wondering/fretting over the state of the monarchy and whether or not politicians will able to curb the spirit of democracy to every other article that members highlighted. (After those entries, I was done with the paper.)

The word, conveyed on the phone, is that the reporters think they are being "realistic." (Not Sengupta, I'm referring to Iran coverage.) "Realistic." Hmm.
Instead of thinking what might happen or what could happen, why not fix the bad reporting? 'We weren't appropriately skeptical' or whatever the mea culpa said -- well how has that changed? Not one damn bit.

This goes beyond a fact check but to contextual critiques of how they are selling the war -- and they are, again, selling it. They can kid themselves that they're being "realistic." They aren't. "Realistic" has nothing to do with their approach which takes official claims and assertions (usually whispered) and throws them on the front page as fact.

Look at the anonymice. Take just the "European diplomat." How does that help the understanding of the story? It doesn't. It's not about the story. The only detail the anonymice provide is FEAR. It's scare time and Broad's ready to scare up another war. Here's a proposal for the Times: When the administration wants a war, you only give anonymity to those who aren't lusting for the war also. It's so self-serving and a reporter with half a brain would grasp that.

That hawks thrive in the reporting circles at the paper is not a surprise. That having seen Miller burned for this behavior, they don't even try to cover their rears . . . But why should they? The country knows one name and one name only: "JUDITH MILLER."

William J. Broad? Michael Gordon? Co-writers of controversial Miller stories with claims that never bore out. Let's remember, the faulty story about trailers found in Iraq that BullyBoy would claim (falsely) as WMD? That article was written by Judith Miller AND William J. Broad.

But it was Miller Time and everyone else got to slink off. (The way Dexy Filkins thinks he'll be able to but I'm told that's not quite the way it will play out.)

So learn from the coverage that prompted the mea culpa? Why should they? Why should Gordon or Broad care or worry? They got a pass. Miller's gone and we're all supposed to believe that she was the problem.

So, point, this morning, a number of members (over ten, less than twenty) wrote in about that article. And I just couldn't believe it once I'd read it. I haven't read this morning's entries but I did ask the friend I'm dictating this too about them because I was afraid I'd broken the work-safe policy with my own words. (I was furious this morning.) Apparently, I didn't.

But the Times (reporting section) wants to sell this war. It was a shock. It's not now. I was wrong to think they'd actually learned something from a shameful episode that's not all that long ago. But why should they when the uninformed went after Miller and let her males co-writers off? Bash-the-bitch is always the popular game and a lot of men skate free as a result. The paper can't own its mistakes and neither can Gordon, so I was stupid to have been surprised this morning. (But I honestly was -- surprised and stupid.)

The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. Make PC-to-Phone Calls to the US (and 30+ countries) for 2¢/min or less.