Friday, April 28, 2006

NYT: A reporter discovers the Granny Peace Brigade

Eighteen "grannies" who were swept up by the New York City police, handcuffed, loaded into police vans and jailed for four and a half hours were acquitted yesterday of charges that they blocked the entrance to the military recruitment center in Times Square when they tried to enlist.
After six days of a nonjury trial, the grandmothers and dozens of their supporters filled a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court to hear whether they would be found guilty of two counts of disorderly conduct for refusing to move, which could have put them in jail for 15 days. The women call their group the Granny Peace Brigade and said they wanted to join the armed forces and thus offer their lives for those of younger soldiers in Iraq.

[. . .]
Despite the judge's demurrals, the verdict was one in a series of victories for protesters who have been arrested by the New York police since the invasion of Iraq.
While more than 300 people were detained for minor offenses during demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention, few were convicted. Also, earlier this year, a state judge rejected the city's efforts to quash Critical Mass, a monthly bicycle rally in Manhattan.

The above is from Anemona Harticollis' "Setting Grandmotherhood Aside, Judge Lets 18 Go in Peace" in this morning's New York Times. What happened at the paper? Did Clyde Haberman's column last Friday shame them into action? Maybe it wasn't shame, maybe it was just seeing Haberman call the trial "news" in print, convinced the paper that it was? Haberman was correct. This trial was news. Prior to his column, the story was a paragraph -- a brief March 3, 2006 -- and nothing more (in the New York Times). The case was news and people showed up to support the Granny Peace Brigade throughout the trial. It was news before the verdict came down yesterday. Last week, the paper failed the news test. The trial started and they were nowhere to be found. As Halberman pointed out in his column "What Did You Do In The War, Grandma:"

Grandmothers being hauled away in a police wagon is what we in the news business call a story.

A week later, the news section can see what was obvious to Halberman at the start of the trial. Even in they do make a 'regional' story (and run it on page A21).

For more on this story, as we noted last night, The KPFA Evening News covered yesterday's verdict. Also from the news section we'll note this from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Iraq's New Premier Gains Support in Talks With Shiite Leaders:"

Violence cast a shadow on the meetings, with the drive-by killing in Baghdad of the sister of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the deaths of one Romanian and three Italian soldiers near Nasiriya, which spurred calls from some Italian political leaders to speed up the withdrawal of the country's 2,600 remaining troops in Iraq.

We'll also give Oppel credit for noting a statement from the US military was "an optimistic view of the situation in Iraq." Yazz will think I'm going easy on the paper (I'm not and the plan for tomorrow morning is to point out what the paper has consistently refused to report on -- from another region -- all week long), but in a world of Dexter Filkins, the easiest thing to do (and what's too often done in the paper) is to a military statement and run it either without question or as fact.

There will be entries here tomorrow morning and Sunday morning. In the DN! entry later today, I'll note the plan otherwise (as well as who's planning on blogging tonight). On the topic of Democracy Now!, Rod passes on these scheduled topics for today's shows:

Preview of this weekend's major protests: Saturday's anti-war rally in NewYork; Sunday's protest in DC over the genocide in Sudan; and Monday's Boycott for Immigrant Rights.

Martha notes Robert Barnes' "Running for Senate, and Against the War: Area's Democratic Candidates Find Support in Calling for U.S. to Leave Iraq" (Washington Post):

From a cocktail party of liberal contributors in Baltimore to the ball-cap-wearing crowd in a conservative town in southwest Virginia, wherever Democratic loyalists gather, there are five words sure to prompt applause for a Senate candidate:
End the war in Iraq.

Virginia Democrat James H. Webb Jr.'s early warnings about invading Iraq are the main reason he has been so embraced by the liberal bloggers who started a draft movement to get him into the race. Maryland candidate Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin was one of 133 House members who voted against the original resolution authorizing President Bush to take action -- and he might be the most conservative on the issue among Democrats seeking to replace retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D).
[. . .]
But the most recent Washington Post poll showed that only 37 percent of the country approved of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation, and respondents said it will be among the key issues in deciding their votes in congressional elections this fall.
"Oh, it's everywhere," Webb, a decorated Vietnam War Marine veteran and former secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, said of the concern about the war. "You heard it in Gate City."

Everywhere, Martha notes, but in the leadership of the Democratic Party.

The e-mail address for this site is