Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Democracy Now: Ann Wright, David Zeiger, Sir! No! Sir!, Michael Massing

FCC Won't Investigate NSA's Access To Telephone Records
The Federal Communications Commission says it won't investigate whether the National Security Agency has obtained access to the telephone records of millions of US citizens. Calls for an investigation followed a USA Today report that three major telecom countries handed over customers’ phone data to the NSA. The FCC says it cannot investigate because of the classified nature of the NSA's activities. Democratic Congressmember Ed Markey, one of several lawmakers who had requested the probe, said: "The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect Americans' privacy to the National Security Agency without even asking a single question about it."
Activists To Protest Telecoms Over NSA Spying, Net Neutrality
The FCC's decision comes as activists around the country are planning protests outside the offices of major telecom companies across the country today. The protests will focus on the companies' involved in the NSA spy program and ongoing lobbying efforts against net neutrality. The protests are being organized by the group SaveAccess.Org.
National Guard Specialist Sentenced To Prison Over Afghanistan Objection
A member of the US National Guard has been sentenced to military prison for refusing to serve in Afghanistan. Specialist Katherine Jashinski announced her conscientious objection last November. She was sentenced to 120 days in prison. She has already served 53 days.
White House Rejects Renewed Iranian Diplomatic Overtures
The Washington Post is reporting Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Bush with new overtures for direct negotiations. According to the Post, the White House has ignored these requests, despite the conclusion of intelligence experts that Ahmadinejad's letter was a major overture. Several anonymous officials said the Bush administration is coming under pressure from government experts to respond to Iran's letter. Paul Pillar, who served as the senior Middle East intelligence analyst with the CIA until last year, said: "There is no question in my mind that there has been for some time a desire on the part of the senior Iranian leadership to engage in a dialogue with the United States."
Karzai Calls For Inquiry Into US-Led Airstrikes
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered an investigation into Monday's US-led airstrike that killed dozens of people. The dead included at least 16 civilians. In a statement, Karzai expressed concerned over what he called the US bombing of civilian areas. The U.S. military has denied reports of civilian casualties and claimed that all of the dead were Taliban members.
The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Ken, Yazz, Mia, Charlie and NedDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for May 24, 2006

- White House Rejects Renewed Iranian Diplomatic
- Overtures House Votes To Ban Assistance to Palestinian Authority
- Bush Supports Israeli Plan To Annex Settlements
- Clashes Kill Dozens More in Afghanistan
- Senate Intel. Committee Approves Hayden Nomination
- Activists To Protest Telecoms Over NSA Spying, Net Neutrality
- 800 Displaced By Burmese Government Raid
- Pentagon Review Calls For End To Payments To Iraqi Journalists
- NY Transit Authority To Put Cameras on Public Buses
- Lloyd Bentsen Dies at 85
President Bush Embraces "Bold" Israeli Plan To Annex West Bank Settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in the United States for his first official visit since coming to office. On Tuesday, President Bush embraced Ehud Olmert's proposal to annex the major settlement blocs in the West Bank. We get reaction from Afif Safieh, the PLO ambassador to the United States. [includes rush transcript]
House Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act: A Debate

The House yesterday approved a bill to ban U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act would make it difficult for nongovernmental organizations, except those providing healthcare, to receive U.S. funds. PLO Ambassador Afif Safieh, the Heritage Foundation's Ariel Cohen and Brit Tzedek V'Shalom's Rob Levy debate the issue.
Study Alleging Dominant Influence of Israeli Lobby Sparks Heated Fallout

In the recent study "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy", two distinguished political science professors charge that the United States has willingly set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel. In addition the study accuses the pro-Israeli lobby, particularly AIPAC of manipulating the U.S. media, policing academia and silencing critics of Israel by labeling them as anti-Semitic. Media critic Michael Massing joins us to talk about the fallout from the study.
Retired Army Col. Charged With Sedition For Handing Flyer on Anti-War Vietnam Vets

On Monday, Ann Wright, a Retired Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat, found herself handcuffed to chair inside the Fort McNair military base in Washington after being detained at the base. Her crime: passing out a flyer for the film "Sir, No Sir: The Suppressed Story of the GI Movement to End the War In Vietnam." We're joined by Ann Wright, as well as the film's director.
April 27th we noted dates through May 28th.  I did, however, mean to note dates for
Sir! No! Sir! before today.  One more thing that never happens.  We'll pick up on the 26th of this month:


26 UPSTATE FILMS (Rhinebeck)
(minimum one week)   EVENINGSTAR CINEMA (Brunswick)
(minimum one week)   DARKSIDE CINEMAS (Corvalis)
(minimum one week)   THE ANGEKLIKA FILM CENTER (Dallas)
(minimum one week)   LARK THEATER (Larkspur)
(minimum one week) 27 CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
(Santa Fe)
(Veterans for Peace Benefit) 28 CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
(Santa Fe)
(St. Louis)
(three nights only) 30 THE NARO CINEMA (Norfolk)
(one night only)


(minimum one week)  
(minimum one week)  
(minimum one week)
(Santa Fe)
(two days only)
(minimum one week)
  THE ROXY (Burlington)
(minimum one week)  
RITZ THEATRES (Philadelphia)
(minimum one week)  
(minimum one week)
(one night only)
13 THE GUILD CINEMA (Albuquerque)
(June 13 - 15)
16 REGAL MANOR TWIN (Charlotte)
(minimum one week)  
REAL ART WAYS (Hartford)
(minimum one week)  
(June 16 - 22)  
(minimum one week)  
SCREENLAND (Kansas City)
(June 16 - 18)
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence -- the only consistents.
As noted by Amy Goodman on Democray Now!,yesterday in Iraq: "at least 40 people were killed in violence around the country. In Baghdad, 11 people were killed and nine wounded in a bombing near a Shiite mosque".
Reuters notes that General Ahmed Dawod was shot by assailants.  The AFP  notes the death of Ahmed Daoud as well ("Daoud" is their spelling) and lists him as "Baghdad's deputy police commissioner."  The Associated Press notes that drive-by shootings in Baghdad resulted in at least nine deaths: "a college student, a police officer, two street vendors, a university professor, two taxi drivers, the owner of a grocerys tore and a builder".  Along with the shootings, bombings continued.  Reuters reports on one that went off where people were seeking "day labouring jobs." The AFP notes two other bombs that wounded at least 10 (targets were a minibus and Palestine Street).   AFP notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad.
Outside of Baghdad?  The Associated Press notes an oil blaze on a pipelin "south of Baghdad" as a result of a bomb. "Near Baquba," Reuters reports that a convoy was attacked resulting in the death of two bodyguards working for a provincial council member.  In Basra, the AFP reports "gunmen" attacked a "British armored patrol."
The AFP reports that Nuri al-Maliki, who couldn't keep his own deadline and barely kept the constitutionally mandated deadline, now says that by this weekend he expects to fill the posts of defense, interior and national security.
In the United States, Michael Rowland reports on the case of Sergeant Santos Cardona -- prosecutors are arguing Cardona's actions at Abu Ghraib resulted from a desire "for entertainment." The Associated Press reports that seven people were arrested at the Port of Olympia protesting in Olympia, Washington where "military vehicles" and convoys were "to be loaded onto a ship."  Five are charged with "pedestrian interference," one with trespassing and the seventh "was arrested a day earlier."  Sam Green, activist, is quoted as saying, "Everybody's a little terrified right now.  We were doing what we thought was legal."  Finally.  Remember Donald Rumsfeld's annoying smirk and dismissing the looting in Iraq -- joking it was one vase shown over and over in a media loop?  Evonne Coutros takes a look at the looting and speaks with Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos who tells her that "almost 6,000 of the 14,000 known missing antiquites" have been recovered (Bogdanos has been working on the recovery since April 2003).
Julie notes this from CODEPINK:
Breaking News: Watch CODEPINK's Latest Protest Against Donald Rumsfeld in Washington D.C. on May 18, 2006.
Select Windows Media or Quicktime versions of this action, courtesy of PoliticsTV.Com, and read about CODEPINK Portland members' arrest.
And that's going to be it.
Yesterday the following posted at their sites:
Zach notes these programs on KPFA today (Pacific Time):
Guns and Butter Fund Drive Special
Wednesday, May 24th, 1:00p.m.
David Ray Griffin speaks about "Explosive Testimony: The 911 Oral Histories", 911-The Myth and the Reality, excerpts of the film "Loose Change," and much much more!
Bob Dylan Birthday Special
Wednesday, May 24th, 8:00p.m.
Larry Kelp and Derk Richardson are hosting their annual four hour Bob Dylan Birthday Special tonight! Vintage tracks, rarities, favorites and more!
Again, KPFA.  You can listen online (no fee, no registration). Thanks to Jess for doing the previous entry.  The e-mail address for this site is

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