Monday, April 03, 2006

Other Items

The photograph, seen worldwide, is one of the defining images from Abu Ghraib: a dog strains at its leash, lunging at a terrified prisoner in an orange jumpsuit. One United States military dog handler was recently convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib, the prison in Iraq, and the court-martial of another is to start in May.
But for Ibrahim Turkmen and Akhil Sachdeva, the image evokes something closer to home: the dogs used inside the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey. The two men, plaintiffs in a pending class-action lawsuit known as Turkmen v. Ashcroft, were among hundreds of immigrant detainees held in the Passaic jail for months after 9/11 before they were cleared of links to terrorism and deported on visa violations.
Until now, lawsuits brought by former detainees against top American officials have focused attention on the maximum security unit of a federal detention center in Brooklyn where the Justice Department's inspector general found widespread abuse. But today in Toronto, as Mr. Sachdeva, a Canadian citizen born in India, gives his first deposition for the class-action lawsuit, the spotlight will shift to the New Jersey jail.

The above is from Nina Bernstein's "9/11 Detainees in New Jersey Say They Were Abused With Dogs" in this morning's New York Times. So Lynndie England was in New Jersey training those guards as well? I mean, isn't that what the nonsense of a "few bad apples" would suggest? Apparently she trained people in Guantamao and then carried the technique over to Iraq, right?
Or are we going to get serious and admit that torture's been encouraged from above and wasn't, in fact, created or *conceived* by lower level persons?

Or we will just practice the national denial we've utilized so many times? The way we did with regards to Iran-Contra? Zach notes Robert Parry's "Weinberger, Bushes & Iran-Contra" (Consortium News):

On Christmas Eve Day 1992, as many Americans were wrapping holiday gifts or rushing off to visit relatives, the nation’s history took a turn that blacked out key chapters of the recent past and foreshadowed troubling developments in the future.
At the center of that historic moment was former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who died on March 28 at the age of 88. In 1992, he was one of six defendants in the Iran-Contra scandal who received Christmas Eve pardons from President George H.W. Bush less than a month before Bush left office.
If Bush had not granted those pardons, Weinberger would have gone on trial in early 1993 facing perjury and obstruction charges, a courtroom drama that could have changed how Americans perceived key figures from the Reagan administration, including Colin Powell and President Bush himself.
At stake was not only Weinberger's guilt or innocence but more importantly the legacy of the Reagan-Bush era. Quite likely, too, President Bush would have been caught up in this final unraveling of the Iran-Contra cover-up -- and the prospects for his family’s resumption of political power might have been dealt a fatal blow.
The Weinberger trial might have foreclosed the possibility that George W. Bush would ride his father's reputation to the White House eight years later.
The trial also represented the last best chance to explain to the American people the constitutional conflict that was festering beneath the surface of the Iran-Contra Affair, essentially the President's assertion of unfettered power to conduct foreign policy even in defiance of laws passed by Congress.

On the issue of immigration, Lynda noted Sharon Smith's "Krugman and Clinton: Shut the Door" (CounterPunch):

Economist Paul Krugman is "proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia."
Now, however, he argues that the U.S. should close its door on the poor huddled masses, warning, "We need to do something about immigration, and soon," in a New York Times op-ed on March 27-the same day the Senate opened debate on immigration reform.
Krugman cites "serious, nonpartisan research" revealing "some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular."
In reality, the foreign-born population today remains under its historic high point of 15 percent a century ago, when Krugman's grandparents presumably emigrated to the U.S.
But Krugman claims that the current pool of Mexican migrants reduces wages for unskilled native-born workers, citing a recent Harvard study estimating that "high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration."
Krugman neatly sidesteps another "uncomfortable fact": the federal minimum wage, unchanged by Congress for eight years, fell to its lowest level in 56 years in 2005-to just 32 percent of the average wage for private sector workers-surely exercising a greater downward pressure on
wages than that of Mexican workers.

Also on the topic of immigration, Francisco notes Juan Gonzalez' "Reigniting A Call to Action" (New York Daily News via Common Dreams):

When a movie called "Walkout" premiered on HBO two weeks ago, no one had any idea it would inspire hundreds of thousands of Hispanics across the country to march in the streets and end up altering a major debate in Congress over immigration reform.
But that's precisely what happened with a new movie by Edward James Olmos and Moctesuma Esparza, two of Hollywood's biggest Latino filmmakers.
Directed by Olmos and produced by Esparza, the film recreates a spontaneous school walkout against ethnic discrimination by more than 20,000 Chicano high school students in Los Angeles back in March 1968.
The conflict became a turning point in the civil rights battle of California's Mexican-American community. Several of the student rebels went on to become respected figures in Los Angeles, including Vicky Castro, the former school board president, and filmmaker Esparza himself.
Even Antonio Villaraigosa, the current mayor, has said he was influenced by the walkout.

Juan Gonzalez? Good time to note, remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today.

Micah notes Tom Hayden's "Marco Firebaugh, Presente!" (Huffington Post):

It started as a private matter, not a blog, when I paid my respects Sunday night at the La Placita services for a former legislative colleague, Marco Firebaugh. The sanctuary was overflowing, however, not only with people but a spirit of excitement you don't expect at funerals. The reason was that every person in La Placita was part of that weekend's march of 500,000 -- who knows, really, how many more? -- against the racist immigration language being advanced in Congress.
There was a palpable connection to the funeral. Marco had passed away at an early age, after a long and painful struggle. But he helped start the events that led to the march of 500,000. Representing an all-immigrant LA district, he was really the foremost fighter for immigrants, though not the only one, during his tenure in Sacramento. He somehow passed the legislation that classified immigrants as California residents, not out-of-staters, for purposes of paying college tuition, making college an affordable dream for thousands of his people.
Working with him on immigrant issues, or on removal of toxics from inner city school sites, or on new schools, I became fully aware that he representated a whole community that lived, loved, worked, and died in the shadows of the state. If Sacramento could be seen as the United Nations, Marco was the delegate from the State of Immigrants.

Lyle and Rachel have both e-mailed this morning about Danny Schechter's latest News Dissector. Rachel applauds Danny's take on the Times' editorial which is far from the "Yea! New York Times!" that she feels she has seen in other responses to it. (Though I don't comment on individual op-eds or editiorals in the paper of record, remember that members can if they want. So if anyone wants to tackle that, or Krugman's op-eds -- and maybe, hint, focus on the fact that a recent op-ed seemed unaware of the long pattern of declining voting regardless of ethnicity? -- feel free and just note that it's to be shared here. I have no problem, however, noting that Dowd is on a book tour so Saturday's op-eds featured no op-eds by women. Though the paper was fine with bringing in men to write guest op-eds that day.) Lyle notes Danny's news and summary of Scott Ritter's latest "attack" (Lyle's term) on the anti-war movement. Ruth and others have noted Ritter (and others) attempts to turn the peace movement into a military organization with themselves in charge. Considering that it was rare of him to get through an appearance on the Ritter/Sy Hersh tour without sliming the peace movement, his latest attack is no surprise. Which may (but probalby won't) lead people to realize that information or analysis from certain individuals is worth utilizing; however, turning them into our "saviors" is a real waste of time. Ritter's not the only war hawk conservative that the left has sunk too much time into rehabilitating.

The fatalities and casualities continue to pile up (with Bully Boy's war lust itching for new targets) so it is easy to get discouraged but the peace movement has been building and as Ruth pointed out, someone who (unlike Ritter) was a part of the peace movement in the sixties and seventies:

It's past time to bring the troops home from a war they never should have been sent to fight. I don't think that's going to happen tomorrow or next month but I think we will be hearing more calls for that and, hopefully, the troops will be brought home. But, based on the way I remember it, I'd add that the call and the pressure have to build and build before anything is accomplished. Keep fighting.

In the instant gratification world we live in, it's easy to lose sight of what has been and is being accomplished. It can also be argued that, with PNAC, the war mongers began plotting their illegal war for over a decade. Unhappy with the way things are going? Speak out more and speak out more often. It has made a difference and it will continue to do so.

(For Ruth's most recent Public Radio Report, click here.)

Molly asked that we note the new content from the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review:

"Editorial: That's what it sounds like when bullies bluster"
"TV Review: What happens on Vegas will bore you to tears"
"Ned Sublette interviewed Kevin Phillips on Saturday's Radio Nation with Laura Flanders"
"Tricky Dick all tricked out for 2008"
"Why They Schill"
"5 CDs that got us through the week"
"Air America Radio back on the air in Arizona"
"About Last Week"

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