Friday, April 21, 2006

Democracy Now: Stephen Kinzer on regime change; Kim Gandy, Dahr Jamail, Tom Hayden

Native Protesters Re-Occupy Disputed Site After Police Raid
In Ontario, Canada, a major standoff at a native site intensified Thursday when police used taser guns and tear gas to disrupt a protest. Native protesters have occupied the site for the last seven weeks in an attempt to prevent construction of a housing development on what they say is their ancestral land. 16 people were arrested in the raid. Within hours, the site was re-occupied by a group of over 200 native protesters who had come to provide their support.
100,000 Defy Shoot-To-Kill Curfew in Nepal
In Nepal, 100,000 people poured into the streets Thursday in defiance of a government warnings they would be shot on sight for violating a curfew. The demonstrations marked the largest show of opposition to the rule of King Gyanendra since the outbreak of pro-democracy protests more than two weeks ago. More than 2,000 people staged a sit-in at the site of a police shooting that killed three people and injured dozens more.
New Mexico VA Hospital Admits Nurse Wrongfully Accused
This update on a story we've been following: In New Mexico, Albuquerque’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center has publicly admitted it wrongly accused one of its nurses of sedition. In September, the nurse, Laura Berg, wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Her employers responded by confiscating her computer. Shortly after she was informed she was being investigated. Up until this week, the hospital had given Berg a private apology, but had resisted calls to publicly admit that its allegations were false.
Monthly Spending on Iraq, Afghan Occupations Nears $10B
In other news, a new report from the Congressional Research Service says the US is now spending close to $10 billion dollars a month on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan -- an increase of nearly $8 billion dollars from one year ago.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Joan, Shirley, Ellis and KeShawnDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for April 21, 2006

- 1200 Undocumented Workers Detained In Record Immigration Sting
- 100,000 Defy Shoot-To-Kill Curfew in Nepal
- Hu Jintao Heckled by Falun Gong Protester At White House
- UN Warns Darfur Efforts At Risk
- Native Protesters Re-Occupy Disputed Site After Police Raid
- Polls: Support For Bush, Iraq War At New Lows
- Monthly Spending on Iraq, Afghan Occupations Nears $10B
- In Closing Testimony, FBI Analysts Doubt Moussaoui Claims
- New Mexico VA Hospital Admits Nurse Wrongfully Accused
- Rev. William Sloane Coffin Remembered At Funeral Service
Immigration Crackdown: 1,200 Undocumented Workers Detained Across U.S.

In what is being called one of the largest immigration crackdowns in recent U.S. history, 1200 undocumented workers from 26 different states were rounded up and detained late Wednesday. We take a look at the unprecedented immigration raids and the ongoing struggle for immigrant rights.
Democracy Now! Interviews New Orleans Mayoral Candidates Mitch Landrieu and Ray Nagin

On Saturday, New Orleans will hold a primary for what is being considered the city's most important mayoral race ever. Voting rights activists fear tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees living out of state will be unable to vote. We speak with Mayor Ray Nagin and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. [includes rush transcript]
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq

Author Stephen Kinzer discusses his new book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." In it, he writes that the invasion of Iraq "was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons." [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Now, something we see today, for example, in Iraq, is the critical role, not only of the U.S. government perhaps protecting U.S. corporations, but the role of the media in all of this. Going back to Cuba, what was the role of the media?
STEPHEN KINZER: The press played a really shameful role in the run-up to the Spanish-American War. The Americans had never been particularly fond of the Spanish rule in Cuba, but it wasn't until the press, actually in a circulation war, decided to seize on the brutality, as they called it, of Spanish colonial rule in the summer of 1898 that Americans really went crazy.
Now, there's one very interesting aspect of the Cuban press campaign that I think we see repeated periodically throughout American history, and that is, we never like to attack simply a regime. We like to have one individual. Americans love to have a demon, a certain person who is the symbol of all the evil and tyranny in the regime that we want to attack. We've had this with Khomeini, with Castro, with Qaddafi, various other figures over history.
Now, in the case of the Spanish-American War, we first thought we'd like to demonize the king of Spain, but there was no king of Spain. There was a queen, who was actually an Austrian princess, so she wouldn't work. The regent, her son, was actually just a 12-year-old kid, so he wouldn't work, either. So then, we decided to focus on the Spanish general, who was the commander of Spanish troops in Cuba, General Weyler, and for a time, Weyler was thought of as the epitome of all the carnal brutality that we attributed to Spanish colonialism.
Reuters reports that Cambodia has turned down requests to send troops to Iraq.This as the BBC notes Tory MP Michael Ancram's call for withdrawal from Iraq by all British troops.  Ancram's statements break with his party's official position. Though
Jawad al-Maliki is the new nominee for prime minister in Iraq, some aren't waiting for parlimentary process to make deals that will effect Iraq for decades.
 Reuters is reporting that Shamhi Faraj, director general of marketing and economics in the oil ministry, has announced that the Iraqi parliment doesn't need to pass the investment law, oil contracts can start now.  That is important to the US administration, they're getting antsy that they won't be able to install a new figurehead soon enough.  The investment "law" doesn't need to become "law" says Faraj.  Do the Iraqis want it?  No.  This is more US policy stamped "Iraqi" and passed off as a sign of "democracy."  In a true democracy, other countries don't design the potential laws and the proposal does not go into effect before it's been passed into law.  As Exxon and Chevron (and others) sniff around, it's worth noting that this is one more aspect of the (illegal) occupation that causes tension and strife.  It's not unrelated.  More traditionally recognized violence continued in Iraq today.
Iraqi police officers continue to be killed.  AFP notes the death of seven including five killed near Tikrit. Irish Examiner reports that four police officers died in Mosul (roadside bomb) and that, in Baghdad, at least nine Iraqi police officers were wounded in road side bombings.  While in Baquba, a police officer walking to his house was gunned down.
Corpses were discovered by police, six in Baghdad, one in Mahmudiya. Al Bawaba reports that two bodies with signs of torture were discovered between Qaem and Rutba. One body that was identified earlier this week, reports CBC News, was Sadeq Aldifai. A Montreal tailor, Aldifai left Iraq in 1991.  He was returning for his first visit since 1991 and had hopes of seeing his two eldest daughters.  In Beiji, the Associated Press reports that six Iraqi soldiers were killed following a kidnapping by unidentified people. Finally, in Al Diwaniya, Deutsche Presse-Agentur addresses a rocket attack aimed at a US Army base: "The extent of the damage inflicted on the US base and information regarding casualties was not yet know."
Highlights?  Iraq is a main topic.  Kevin notes Kim Gandy's "Beware the Uber-Patriots" (Below the Belt, NOW):
Tax season may be over (phew!) but from the looks of it, the number crunching is only beginning.
With midterm elections a little over six months away, the pundits and pollsters are having a ball analyzing, postulating, hypothesizing and guessing what we voters are thinking.
According to a March 27 Democracy Corps poll, voters are tired of George W. Bush. Two-thirds of us think the country should go in a "significantly different direction" than the one the Bush administration has mapped out. But, the report said, a winning strategy will require Democrats to "think outside the box."
In other words, the Democrats are in a position to win in November if (and that's a big if) they can prove to voters they have something to offer. Good luck with that.
Last time I checked, the Democrats' strategy involved ignoring their base (especially women) and focusing on winning the votes of male veterans, NASCAR dads, Alabama guys with gun racks in their pickup trucks, and the "ban abortion" crowd. The uber-patriotic rhetoric, combined with support for the war, confirmation of right-wing judges, and distancing themselves from women's reproductive rights, is starting to make a lot of democrats look like "Republican-lite"--same bad aftertaste, one-third fewer votes.
Repeat after me: It's not a winning strategy. Ignoring your base will not bring success at the polls. Ignoring the deeply held convictions of the majority of democratic voters won't either.
The Democrats want to convince us they have ideas that will turn this country in a new direction. I'm all for it. End this disastrous war, don't start a new one, restore public programs that were cruelly cut by this administration, raise the minimum wage, and secure the homeland in a responsible way--not by cracking down on hardworking immigrants. And restore our right to privacy--on our telephones and in our bedrooms. Just for starters.
Too bad Gandy's not writing the Dem platform.  Public's turned on the war.  It's not a roller coaster ride.  The only ones who can't face that are in DC (and they're on both sides of the aisle).  Which is why each new "They're against it too?" story is followed by the feeling of, "Not that it matters with our Congress."  Brad notes  Tom Hayden's "Generals Deepen Bush's Watergate, But Will War End?" (The Huffington Post):
Leading US generals are deepening President Bush's "Watergate Moment," reinforcing problems for military recruiters and anti-war feeling among American troops on the ground, thus weakening important pillars of the policy itself.
Similar pressures enveloped President Johnson in 1968 when a group of "wise men" criticized the Vietnam War, and President Nixon when he crossed the line into illegal spying in 1973.
By 1968-69, sentiment among American soldiers had become rebellious.
Noting "a perfect example of nonstated," Lewis notes Dahr Jamail walking us through what gets reported and what doesn't -- from his "The Ongoing War on Truth in Iraq" (Truthout via Iraq Dispatches):
On Monday, April 17, my sources in Baghdad reported fierce fighting in the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of the capital city, as well as fighting in the al-Dora neighborhood. One source, who lives in the predominantly Sunni area of Adhamiya, had been telling me the situation was disintegrating for days leading up to this. There had been clashes every day for four days leading up to yesterday's huge clash there, with sporadic fighting between Sunni resistance fighters and members of the two largest Shia militias. The armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Badr Organization, and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army have been launching ongoing attacks against fighters in the neighborhood. There is a shorter version of this description.
Civil war.
Yet we don't hear it described as such in the corporate media, nor from the Cheney administration. Their propaganda insists that Iraq is not yet in a civil war.
But in Adhamiya, every night now for several weeks roads have been closed with tires, trunks of date palm trees and other objects to prevent "kidnappers and Shia death squads" from entering the area, according to one source, whom I'm keeping anonymous for security reasons.
His description of the fierce fighting in his neighborhood is quite different from the reporting of it in mainstream outlets.
"Sunday night at 12:30 a.m. clashes started just like on the four previous nights, but it was very heavy and from different directions. It was different from the other nights in quantity and quality; it was truly like the hell which I haven't seen even in the battles of the war between Iraq and Iran during the eighties," wrote my source. He added that mortars and rocket-propelled grenades were used, and so much ammunition that the sky was "glowing red." The situation went on until Monday morning. He said, "I usually have my cup of coffee in my small backyard to drink it in a good atmosphere, but the minute I opened the door someone from the interior ministry commandos shouted at me, telling me to get inside or he'd shoot me. Of course I stayed inside and the shooting continued in a very heavy way until 12:30 p.m., when the American forces came to start helping the militia's attack on al-Adhamiya after they were watching the scene from their helicopters."
He went on to state very clearly that "these were members of the Badr militia and Sadr's Mehdi Army who were raiding the neighborhood."
And following up on the EU whitewash, Dominick notes "Ed Horgan Tells European Parliament Committee That Ireland is a 'Rogue Neutral State'" (Ireland Indymedia):
Ed Horgan: I went to the European Parliament in Brussels to tell the Parliament what I knew of Ireland's involvement in the unlawful rendition for torture process at Shannon airport. I insisted on linking the extraordinary rendition process with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the combined serial abuses of international law that these wars and the torture process involved. To a large extent I was telling the EU parliamentary special committee what they did not want to hear -- "don’t mention the wars" -- I told them anyway in the brief summary of my submission that the 15 minute time slot allowed me. My main submission was thirty-seven pages long, with 45 separate attachments and it became clear very quickly that very few had even read the executive summary of my submission, and some of those who did, read it only with the intention of trying to discredit it, and discredit me. The Irish Times report on Friday captured the tone of the parliamentarians response -- "the witness failed to present the facts".
My response is that the parliamentarians failed to read the facts I put before them. Sean O'Neachtain, FF MEP, standing in for Eoin Ryan MEP, was put forward to attack my submission, but failed to address any of the facts in my submission, including my statement that the Irish Government’s reply to the Council of Europe on Rendition for Torture was fraudulent and misquoted Article 40.4.1. of the Irish Constitution thereby giving the impression that foreign prisoners being taken through Shannon are specifically protected by the letter or wording of the Irish Constitution. Simon Coveney incorrectly accused me of calling Ireland a "rogue state". My statement was that Ireland was “a rogue neutral state” and I explained this issue in detail.
Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan got a similar response from some MEPs and was accused of “disloyalty” by one UK MEP because he blew the whistle on the Government of which he had been an ambassador.
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