Thursday, May 04, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

Protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence in an unusually vociferous display of anti-war sentiment.
"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst, during a question-and-answer session.
"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.
With Iraq war support remaining low, it is not unusual for top Bush administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions. But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.
Three protesters were escorted away by security as each interrupted Rumsfeld's speech by jumping up and shouting anti-war messages. Throughout the speech, a fourth protester stood in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest. Officials reported no arrests.
Rumsfeld also faced tough questions from a woman identifying herself as Patricia Roberts of Lithonia, Ga., who said her son, 22-year-old Spc. Jamaal Addison, was killed in Iraq. Roberts said she is now raising her young grandson and asked whether the government could provide any help.
Rumsfeld referred her to a Web site listing aid organizations.

The above is from Shannon McCaffrey's "Rumsfeld Heckled by Former CIA Analyst" (Associated Press). Bring the war to Atlanta. Wally called and asked if it could be included in the indymedia roundup? It's not indymedia but it is news and we'll include it. The war is coming home. Americans aren't just expressing their distaste for the war, they're making connections and this will only increase. It's why (as Democracy Now! pointed out this morning) Condi Rice finds that sometimes an 'honorary' isn't really an honor.

The connections are being made and will continue to be. The lie's been exposed (as most have realized) and once that sinks in, people start looking at what's happening now. Which is at the heart of Jonah's highlight, John Nichols' "Mission (Really) Not Accomplished" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

President Bush and his acolytes continually suggest that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are "success stories" that just have not receiving proper attention from the U.S. media.
Unfortunately for the spin doctors who dressed the president up in flight-suit drag and made their Iraq "mission accomplished" declaration three years ago are having a hard time convincing serious observers of global affairs that they have achieved anything but disaster.
According to the The Failed State Index, an authoritative annual analysis produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Washington, DC, based Fund for Peace, both Iraq and Afghanistan are in serious trouble.

Before we get to the next highlight, a word of caution. This is indymedia roundup. That may not be clear since we opened with the Associated Press and are now about to move to an elected official. However, senator or not, in today's climate, he's "alternative." That's the set up to
Brad's highlight, Russ Feingold's "Our Presence is Destabilizing Iraq" (CounterPunch):

This Administration has compounded its misguided decision to wage war in Iraq by refusing to recognize the consequences of its actions--the tremendous cost to our brave troops and their loved ones, the drain on our financial resources, and the burden on our nation's national security resources and infrastructure, which are unable to focus on new and emerging threats to our country. I don't have to point very far to show how imbalanced and burdensome our policies in Iraq are. While we have spent, according to the Congressional Research Service, upwards of $6 billion dollars per week during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and $1.3 billion per week during Operation Enduring Freedom, we are spending a little more than $2 million annually--not weekly -- in Somalia, a known haven for terrorists and criminals and a true threat to our national security. This supplemental appropriation, if passed, will increase the cost of this war to $320 billion and rising. Mr. President, this is simply unsustainable, and because the President has failed to provide us with any semblance of a vision for when our troops will be redeployed, we can expect more of the same for years to come. That is, unless the Congress finally requires the Administration to develop an Iraq strategy that includes a flexible timeline for redeploying our troops by the end of 2006. My amendment recognizes the need to maintain a minimal level of U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2006. Those forces will be needed for engaging directly in targeted counter-terrorism activities, training Iraqi security forces, and protecting essential U.S. infrastructure and personnel.
It is time for Members of Congress to stand up to an Administration that continues to lead us astray in what has become an extremely costly and mistaken war. We need to hold this Administration accountable for its neglect of urgent national security priorities in favor of staying a flawed policy course in Iraq. And we need to tell the Administration that they it can't continue to send our men and women in uniform into harm's way without a clear and convincing strategy for success.

Will they stand? (See "Why They Crawl.") Fortunately, unlike the junior senator from New York, Feingold's not afraid to take a stand or to stand alone. He seems to grasp what's at stake with regards to Iraq.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality toll in Iraq stood at 2395. Today? 2412. You read that correctly and I didn't mistype. 2412. Remember when we were shaking our heads that the toll had reached 2400? It keeps climbing. As the war drags on.

We get it, but for any stray visitors, let's break it down slowly. You're home. Maybe you've got the TV on. And someone kicks down your door. They say, "I'm moving in." And they do. You attempt to have them removed but your local police are controlled by the invader. You appeal for help to the outside world. But you hear, "Oh, well maybe this can work out. Maybe you two can get along?" As though, after the home invasion, you can ever live with this person? The crime was the invasion. Attempting to make you welcome and embrace the invader? All that's missing if Phyllis George saying, "Come on, give us a hug."

But just as some still can't face the fact that the occupation breeds more conflict, chaos and violence, they can't grasp that the invasion itself (illegal) means that there is no way a corner will be "turned." It's not happening.

What is happening in "liberated" Iraq? Well news to please Focus on Fool Jimbo Dobson comes via Polly's highlight, Jerome Taylor's "Iraqi police 'killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual'" (Independent of London):

Human rights groups have condemned the "barbaric" murder of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to witnesses, was shot on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq's most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Ali Hili, the co-ordinator of a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq, said the fatwa had instigated a "witch-hunt of lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent beatings, kidnappings and assassinations".

On that note, it's a good time to highlight this week's musical pick:

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father would hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say . . .
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine!
-- "Dear Mr. President" words and music by Pink and Billy Mann (available on Pink's I'm Not Dead)

"Liberation" . . . ah, the smell of it? It certainly smells like something. Free reign for gay bashing. Jimbo Dobson may see it as "democracy."

Cindy Sheehan's slammed this week in indymedia by the Republican, war luster who apparently couldn't find a nice FBI agent to i.m. While he's working out whatever he's working out, Cindy Sheehan never stops. She keeps going and going, fighting enough for 40 people. (At least.) While he plugs his book, she's out there doing something. Vince notes "Accept U.S. war deserters, 'Peace Mom' pleads" (Canada's CBC):

American anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wants the Canadian government to grant sanctuary to U.S. military deserters.
"I'm just here begging the people of Canada to force your government, because your government works for you … because your government does not work for war profiteers, to allow our soldiers to have sanctuary up here," she said.
[. . .]
Two American military deserters who arrived in Canada in 2004 -- Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey -- have been denied refugee status in Canada. They argued that the occupation of Iraq violates international human rights and is illegal.
Hinzman has appealed and the Federal Court is reviewing the decision.
Many others are anxiously watching the case. There are 20 active refugee claims by American military deserters.
About 150 deserters are known to be living in Canada, according to the War Resisters Support Campaign, though the organization believes the number could be as high as 1,500.

That is amazing because there's been more coverage of this topic recently in mainstream media than there has been in indymedia. The war resisters need support and their story needs highlighting. Only the spotlight of the world (via the press) can help them now. Sheehan's there being counted (once again). Whatever the war luster's problem is, he needs to find a new target.
He's not needed for analysis of the peace movement since he's never shown that he grasps the peace movement. He wants to militarize it. And a lot of people are shocked by this "recent" development. Ruth noted it months ago. Ruth, like many, had enough of hearing him sneer at the peace movement while speaking to presumably anti-war audiences. She wrote about it in her report that week.

His Republican buds didn't want to hear him speak. All he had was the anti-war community at this point. But for months and months he pissed on them. Short of him being arrested, we don't mention him by name. (The only exception to that is if he's a guest on Democracy Now! -- we highlight everyone of the reports they do. We can avoid him as a headline but he may pop in as a guest on that show.) If he had any value, it was speaking of what he knew of. There was no need to turn him into a hero. But we seem to do that a lot, get behind people who make no bones about the fact that they're not of the left and really don't care for the left. We don't do that here. There are good people and actual heroes on the left. We don't need to build the name (or ego) of someone who's had a falling out with CNN and the rest and is seeking a new platform.
It's why, outside of Democracy Now!, we haven't noted an author. He's not of the left. We need to be getting the word out on the left and getting the word out on objectives that matter, not allowing some man (are we suprised it's a man?) to trash Cindy Sheehan.

An objective of the left? Gavin notes Shay Totten's "Vermonters deliver impeachment resolutions to Congress" (Vermont Guardian):

An effort that began in March culminated Monday when three Vermont communities delivered a message to House Speaker Dennis Hastert: Start the process to impeach Pres. George Bush.
Six Vermont towns passed resolutions on Town Meeting Day calling for Bush’s impeachment. On Monday, Ellen Tenney, a bookstore owner from Rockingham, hand delivered petitions to Hastert, an Illinois Republican.
Neither Hastert nor his chief of staff was there when the office opened, as many members of Congress are not in Washington on Mondays. Tenney described the meeting with Hastert's staff members who were in the office as "bland and not very friendly."
She said it should have been no surprise that the petitions would be delivered.
"I had called and told him that we were coming, but I couldn't get anyone to call me back to set up an actual appointment," said Tenney, who was joined by representatives from and, two web-based organizations that have been encouraging Bush's impeachment. She was also joined by Julia DeWalt, daughter of Newfane Selectman Dan DeWalt, and a chief author of that town’s resolution, which sparked interest by other towns in Vermont.
Julia DeWalt handed the first of the petitions, that of Newfane's, to Hastert's staff. "It feels like my child's first steps," Dan DeWalt told the Guardian, "simultaneously a huge event, and painfully reflective of the enormous distance yet to go."

Can we impeach the Bully Boy? There's a lot of talk of the balance in Congress -- as though this has been something Congress would lead on if they only could. This has come from outside the Senate. (John Conyers and a few others have led the fight in the House.) Congress doesn't give anything. They respond to what the people demand. And there's a lot at stake as the war drags on. Oliver notes this section (picked to "put a face on what's happening") of Marilyn Bellemore's "Soldier's mother, moved to tears is opposed to the war" ( via Military Families Speak Out):

When Major Christian M. Neary, Field Artillery Battalion S-3, Army National Guard, stepped out of a tent at Camp New York, Kuwait, he spotted something in the distance about 300 yards away. It was late afternoon and the hot desert sun beat down on him. He was wearing a 66-pound vest -- consisting of body armor, water, ammunition and survival gear -- and was on his way to the medical station for Motrin to ease this unrelenting lower back pain he'd had.
As Neary walked in the direction of what appeared to be a crowd, he realized it was a Roman Catholic priest saying Mass on the hood of a Humvee. Literally, it was in the middle of nowhere.
The priest wore a green camouflage stole around his neck, which contrasted with tan fatigues. He was surrounded by 300 soldiers who, like Neary, would in the next few days cross the border to Taji, Iraq -- nearly 600 miles away.
It was like out of a movie, recalled the 33-year-old soldier. He was concerned because you don't usually see that many soldiers waiting around in a group like that, since one bomb could kill everybody.
Helicopters were landing behind them, taking away casualties and bringing in food and water. Every thing was "brown out" -- when dust and dirt gets blown around from the helicopter and for three or four minutes you can't hear or see a thing.
"Everything kind of stops and you get dust and crap in your mouth, everything pauses," said Neary. "Most of us were getting ready to cross the line at night. A huge no man's land of bombed-out buildings. The sermon was focused on keeping the faith. If anyone says they weren't afraid, they're lying. He told us to pray when you can, trust in your training and ultimately God will protect you. I reflected on that moment a lot."
There were too many confessions to hear, so the priest gave general absolution to everyone in attendance, which is allowed in times of dire emergency.
Neary's story, which he said represents that of the 85 soldiers he commanded, is told in detail in Trinity Repertory Company's "Boots On The Ground." The 90-minute play delves into the war in Iraq's affect on Rhode Island families. Neary said he was interviewed last year knowing that there was a movement to capture some of the untold stories — those that weren't being revealed in print, radio and television media. His only requirement was that he be allowed to read the transcript of his interview because he didn't want to be misrepresented.
But it wasn't until last Thursday night, when Neary and his wife, Amy, went to see "Boots On The Ground" that he knew his words had played such an important part.
Joe Wilson Jr., who played Neary, said to Wednesday night's audience after the play, "No matter how you feel about the war, there is a human toll and lives are changed. In a community as small as this, it's all connected. We told stories that people weren't aware of. I'm moved by seeing how much you don't know. It's my job to illuminate their truths."
Neary said he couldn't believe how accurate Wilson was in his portrayal — the facial expressions (although Wilson had never seen Neary), the body language, the way he looked back and forth, and most importantly, the rate of dictation.
"The story has to be told for the sake of the soldiers who did it," Neary said. "I did it for the 85 guys and the two guys that died in my command. My hope is that this will be somewhat of a story of the things we didn't read about."

Stories have to be told (and retold) for us to hear them. (True always but especially in the age of increasingly fewer independent outlets. Hank notes a highlight on one storyteller. From John W. Whitehead's "When Will They Ever Learn? An Interview with Pete Seeger" (Hudson Mohawk):

Before the Byrds or Joan Baez or Peter, Paul and Mary, there was Pete Seeger. With his five-string banjo in hand, Seeger helped to lay the foundation for American protest music, singing out about the plight of everyday working folks and urging listeners to political and social activism.
Born in New York City on May 3, 1919, Seeger, whose father was a pacifist musicologist, was plunged into the world of music and politics from an early age. He studied sociology at Harvard University until 1938, when he dropped out and spent the summer bicycling through New England and New York, painting watercolors of farmers' houses in return for food.
Looking for but failing to get a job as a newspaper reporter in New York City, he then worked at the Archives of American Folk Music at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 1940, Seeger met Woody Guthrie at a Grapes of Wrath migrant-worker benefit concert. Seeger, Guthrie, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell joined together to form the Almanac Singers, which became known for its political radicalism and support of communism. In 1942, Seeger was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to Saipan in the Western Pacific. After the war, he helped start the People's Songs Bulletin, later Sing Out! magazine, which combined information on folk music with social criticism.
In 1950, Seeger formed The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. Targeted for the political messages behind some of their songs, the group was blacklisted and banned from television and radio. In 1955, the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed Seeger to appear before them (read his testimony here). During the hearings, Seeger refused to disclose his political views and the names of his political associates.
When asked by the committee to name for whom he had sung, Seeger replied, "I am saying voluntarily that I have sung for almost every religious group in the country, from Jewish and Catholic, and Presbyterian and Holy Rollers and Revival Churches, and I do this voluntarily. I have sung for many, many different groups--and it is hard for perhaps one person to believe, I was looking back over the twenty years or so that I have sung around these forty-eight states, that I have sung in so many different places."
He was sentenced to one year in jail but, quoting the First Amendment, successfully appealed the decision after spending four hours behind bars. However, he has been blacklisted most of his life from normal radio and television work. During the 1960s, Seeger traveled around the country, continuing to play his folk songs for the peace and civil rights movements. Deeply offended by the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Seeger, along with other folk singers such as Joan Baez, led many protests.
"Wherever he was asked, when the need was the greatest, he, like Kilroy, was there. And still is," said his long-time friend, Studs Terkel. "Though his voice is somewhat shot, he holds forth on that stage. Whether it be a concert hall, a gathering in the park, a street demonstration, any area is a battleground for human rights."
In 1963, Seeger recorded the now-famous gospel song "We Shall Overcome." In 1965, he sang it on the 50-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1,000 other marchers. That song would go on to become the anthem for the civil rights movement and be translated into many languages. Seeger also turned his attention to cleaning up the Hudson River that ran past his home.
In 1966, he helped form the Clearwater, an organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental concerns such as pollution and protecting the river. The group offers educational programs for children on a 76-foot replica of a traditional Hudson cargo sloop and holds a two-day festival on the banks of the Hudson River every June. Seeger was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts and the prestigious Kennedy Center Award in 1994. In 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contribution to music and to the development of rock and folk music. In April of that year, he received the Harvard Arts Medal, and after decades of creating songs, in 1997, Seeger won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his album, Pete.

Hank wondered if that was an okay suggestion? Susan's going to love it. She's going to read it and love it. She won't be the only one. But a younger member e-mailed asking about Seeger this week so besides the members who know his art enjoying it, it also acts as a nice intro the artist Bruce Springsteen's saluting on his latest album.

Now, for those wondering about Sunday's The Third Estate Sunday Review, Cedric has a rundown in "Coming up at Third." As he notes, I've been glad (and not guilty) for a change not to post in the evening. I'm afraid I'll let it slip out. Betty's latest chapter goes up tomorrow. (She's fearful Thomas Friedman may steal one of the things we're noting. Not likely. He could come up with the idea, he knows the history, but he's too focused on preaching globalization and his long term memory appears to have left the building.) Before that goes up, read her chapter from earlier in the week, "Thomas Friedman's Trash Dump Psuedo Politics." Please check out Mike's "Law and Disorder and lots of other stuff." Ruth will have a report this weekend. Then she'll be on vacation for at least one week. For those wondering about Kat, she's a) been working on five album reviews, b) had a surprise party last night and c) has been trying to think what's the best schedule for the reviews? When she planned to tackle five, her plan was one in a row (posting one each day). However, now she's factoring in Ruth's vacation and wondering if she needs to hold any and start while Ruth's on vacation? (She has one finished and another one that needs a concluding paragraph. The other three are in various states of completion).

I think that brings us up to speed on community news. Our final highlight was noted by Mia,
Cindy Sheehan's "Pro-American=Anit-BushCo" (Gold Star Families for Peace):

I (and every single other individual on this planet working for peace and justice) am often accused of being "anti-American" for dissenting against my feral government that has gone wild with lawlessness and greed; even though dissent from our government is as American as apple pie. Some people believe that if one is critical of the Bush criminal regime, then one is anti-American.
I steadfastly believe that to be anti-BushCo means being pro-American; pro-life; and most of all: pro-peace.
In a recent editorial in the Boston Globe (Sun, April 30) the Bush regime is blamed for breaking or giving itself permission to break over 750 laws. George is the only sitting president to have admitted to breaking laws and for openly disdaining the constitution as an "old scrap of paper." How can we peaceniks be accused of being anti-American when the squatter in the Oval Office has no respect for the supreme law of the land? But of course, 9/11 changed the world and we are a nation "at war" so George thinks he can do whatever he wants even though he is the one who made us a nation at war with his lies and deceptions. I will stipulate that the constitution is a deeply flawed document, but the founders realized this and gave we future generations ways to amend it and one of the ways to amend it is not just "cuz the president says so." He may be the decider but he is not the amender.
Extreme rendition and torture are being authorized from the top and carried out in the name of the American people. A recent Amnesty International report calls torture "widespread" for people in US captivity. CIA trained black operatives have even bragged how inhuman and brutal that water-boarding is and gave a high level terrorist his persecution props for being able to last over two minutes. In this particularly lovely form of torture, a person has cellophane wrapped around his mouth and nose and tipped at an angle so water pours over his face--thus creating the feeling of drowning--so to avoid choking, the prisoner succumbs. Our own torturers, who have to go through the ropes, can last for only a few seconds in this torture. Add the sexual depravation practiced on the prisoners with the tormenting of some prisoners by flushing the Koran and so forth: then not only is the humanity of the tortured broken, but the torturer also becomes lower than an animal. I used to watch a lot of Animal Planet but I have never seen nor heard of a four legged creature torturing another four legged creature. However, as long as we Americans condone this behavior from the ones who authorize such viciousness from the top, we are the torturers also. We become the thing that we abhor.

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