Monday, May 15, 2006

Democracy Now: Greg Palast addresses Iraq, corporations and more

Cindy Sheehan Leads Mother's Day Anti-War Vigil
In Washington, peace campaigner Cindy Sheehan spent Mothers Day in an anti-war vigil outside the White House along with actress Susan Sarandon, other military mothers and Iraq war veterans.
Report: U.S. Deployed Mentally Ill Soldiers to Iraq
In other news from Iraq, the Hartford Courant reports the U.S. military has routinely deployed soldiers with known mental problems to fight in Iraq. The paper said a record 22 U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. In several cases soldiers remained on active duty even after they attempted suicide.
Report: Global Warning Could Kill 184 Million in Africa
The charity group Christian Aid is warning that global warming could have a devastating effect on the continent of Africa. A new report by the group estimates 184 million people could die in Africa this century as a result of climate-induced floods, famine, drought and conflict. The group said "Poor people will take the brunt, so we are calling on rich countries to help them adjust as the seas rise, the deserts expand, and floods and hurricanes become more frequent and intense."
Verizon Sued For Sharing Phone Records with NSA
Meanwhile the telecom giant Verizon has been sued for giving the NSA the phone records of millions of Americans. The lawsuit was filed on Saturday just days after USA Today reported Verizon, Bell South and AT&T handed over millions of phone call records to help the government build the world's largest database, The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act made it illegal for telephone companies and computer service providers to give the government records showing who their customers had dialed or e-mailed. Attorneys say that under the 1986 law the telecoms could be forced to pay out one thousand dollars per violation per customer.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Markus, Zach, Karen and JonahDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
 Headlines for May 15, 2006

- Bush To Call For National Guard to Patrol U.S.-Mexico Border
- Rene Preval Sworn In As Haiti's New President
- Report: Global Warning Could Kill 184 Million in Africa
- Bush Administration Asks Judge To Throw Out AT&T Spy Suit
- Verizon Sued For Sharing Phone Records with NSA
- U.S. Helicopter Shot Down in Iraq; 2 Dead
- Cindy Sheehan Leads Mother’s Day Anti-War Vigil
- Feds Raid Home & Office of Ex-Top CIA Official
- U.S. Blocks Access for Red Cross to Secret Prisons
- Laura Bush: "I Don't Really Believe Those [Public Opinion] Polls"
- Clear Channel DJ Threatens On Air to Sexually Abuse 4-Year-Old
Darfur: Inside the Crisis

Top officials from two of Sudan's main rebel groups and journalist Tina Susman of Newsday discuss the situation in Darfur and the new peace agreement. Abuduallahi of the Justice Equality Movement discusses why he opposed the peace agreement and Adam El Nor Mohammad from Sudan Liberation Movement on why he supported the agreement. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Greg Palast on His New Book "Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08…"

Investigative journalist Greg Palast joins us in the Firehouse Studio to discuss the follow-up to his best-selling book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."
AMY GOODMAN: Is the war in Iraq a war for oil?
GREG PALAST: Is the war in Iraq for oil? Yes, it's about the oil, but not for the oil. In my investigations for Armed Madhouse, I ended up with a story far more fascinating and difficult than I imagined. We didn't go in to grab the oil. Just the opposite. We went in to control the oil and make sure we didn't get it. It goes back to 1920, when the oil companies sat in a room in Brussels in a hotel room, drew a red line around Iraq and said, "There'll be no oil coming out of that nation." They have to suppress oil coming out of Iraq. Otherwise, the price of oil will collapse, and OPEC and Saudi Arabia will collapse.
And so, what I found, what I discovered that they're very unhappy about is a 323-page plan, which was written by big oil, which is the secret but official plan of the United States for Iraq's oil, written by the big oil companies out of the James Baker Institute in coordination with a secret committee of the Council on Foreign Relations. I know it sounds very conspiratorial, but this is exactly how they do it. It's quite wild. And it's all about a plan to control Iraq's oil and make sure that Iraq has a system, which, quote, "enhances its relationship with OPEC." In other words, the whole idea is to maintain the power of OPEC, which means maintain the power of Saudi Arabia.
And this is one of the reasons they absolutely hate Hugo Chavez. As you'll see in next week's Harper's coming out, which is basically an excerpt from the book, Hugo Chavez on June 1st is going to ask OPEC to officially recognize that he has more oil than Saudi Arabia. This is a geopolitical earthquake. And the inside documents from the U.S. Department of Energy, which we have in the book and in Harper'', say, yeah, he's got more oil than Saudi Arabia.
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
As noted on today's Democracy Now!, "at least 47 people" died yesterday as a result of roadside bombings. NYT's Sabrina Tavernise noted that five corpses were found in Baghdad Sundey ("gunshot wounds to the head")."At least 7 US soldiers died over Mother's Day Weekend," Sandra Lupien noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show
while attempts to cobble together a cabinet continue to falter  as participants "continue to disagree over who will fill the posts of interior, defense and oil minister." Wednesday, May 10th was the deadline Iraqi prime minister designate Nuri al-Maliki himself set as the deadline for finalizing his cabinet.  And CNN notes the death of two British soldiers on Saturday which brings the total UK fatalities to 111 since the illegal invasion. The names of the two killed are Adam Morris (19 y.o.) and Joseva Lewaicei (25 y.o.).
Reuters notes that the Muslim Clerics Association is accusing "US forces . . . of killing 25 civilians in raids near Baghdad in the past two days." The Muslim Clerics Association released a statement staing, "We hold the Iraqi government and the occupiers responsible for this brutal atrocity." 
Near Balad Ruz, CNN reports four teachers are dead after armed assailants stopped their minibus (which had seven teachers on it) and shot the four.
In Nahaweel, a roadside bomb claimed the life of one person and wounded another. The bomb exploded near a police station.  This as the Associated Press reports  an attack on a police station, "just outside Basra," which has resulted in the deaths of at least eight police officers and at least an additional ten more wounded.  The BBC notes that the attack by "tribesmen" followed the killing of "their leader . . . by men wearing police uniforms."
In Amarah, the Associated Press reports four British soldiers were wounded today in an attack on  British military camp Camp Abu Naji. CNN notes that "three soldiers received minor wounds" but that one had to be transported to a military hospital.
In Wajihiya, Reuters notes the death of a seven-year-old girl and well as the wounding of at least "seven members of her family" after their home was hit with by "a mortar round."
Meanwhile Australia's ABC notes the "UN-backed government survey" on malnutrition in Iraq which has found that "almost one child in every 10 aged between six months and five years, suffered acute malnourishment."
We're staying on Iraq for the highlights today.  Vic notes Anthony Arnove's "Out Now!" (ZNet):
In schools and colleges across the United States, students and faculty in organizations such as the Campus Antiwar Network have confronted military recruiters, in some cases driving them off campus. A Seattle parent-teacher-student association passed a resolution barring military recruiters from a local high school. "We want to show the military that they are not welcome by the P.T.S.A. in this building," explained Amy Hagopian, cochair of the organization at Seattle's Garfield High School. "We hope other P.T.S.A.'s will follow." Parents and students have also campaigned against a provision in the USA PATRIOT Act that forces public schools to hand over student contact information to military recruiters unless parents specifically remove their child's name.
It is vital that we build a strong counter-recruitment movement to expose the lies used by the military to send working-class and poor children to war. We must also lend our full support to the soldiers and reservists who are refusing to fight in Iraq.
In October 2003, Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía, a member of the Florida National Guard, became the first soldier from the Iraq invasion to refuse to return to his post after a leave. "I cannot find a single good reason for having been there and having shot people and having been shot at," Mejía said. "People didn't want us there anymore, and we didn't want to be there." Mejía served nine months in detention. Today, he is one of many veterans and soldiers speaking out against the war. Others are Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes, who also refused to redeploy to Iraq and was sentenced to three months of hard labor and demoted, and Sergeant Kevin Benderman, who was sentenced to fifteen months of detention for his conscientious objection to the war.
Daryl Anderson, a soldier from Lawton, Kentucky, decided to cross into Canada and to seek protection, knowing well he might never be able to return to the United States, rather than go back to Iraq. "If I went back to Baghdad I would have been asked again to kill people, civilians, and I just couldn't do that anymore," he explained. "We're fighting people that we're supposed to help, but in fact they hate you and every time you walk down the street they shoot at you because you occupy their country. You're asked to get in their houses, in their businesses, block the roads, but you're an occupying power, you're messing up their daily life. You're not a liberator. You raid their houses and kill their family."
"As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, counselors, anti-war activists and others who work with military families report a surge in calls from soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines seeking help to withdraw from the service," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported early in 2005. "A growing number of soldiers and Marines in the all-volunteer force are seeking to be declared conscientious objectors," while between five and six thousand soldiers are "absent without leave."
In Iraq, soldiers in the field have also refused orders from superiors. Twenty-three members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, based in Rock Hill, South Carolina, were punished for refusing an October 2004 order to drive a fuel convoy from Tallil Air Base, in southern Iraq, to Taji, northwest of Baghdad. "The soldiers complained that their vehicles had not been properly outfitted, their fuel was contaminated, and they were not being escorted by armed vehicles." They called the order a "suicide mission."
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government learned how quickly the discipline of an army fighting an unjust war can break down. Today, soldiers in the field can see the contradictions between the claims of their officers and especially the politicians who sent them to war and the reality of the conflict on the ground. They now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat. And as the Iraqi resistance to occupation grows, more soldiers have come to see that they are fighting not to liberate Iraqis but to "pacify" them. To end this war, more will need to follow their conscience, like Mejía and the other soldiers who have refused to die-or kill-for a lie.
That's an excerpt from Arnove's book IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal (which was reviewed at The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Book: Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal.")
On Iraq, Shirley asks that we note this from CODEPINK:
Esteklal! Independence for Iraq!
We call on all Iraqi's and supporters to sign our Call for Iraq's independence from US occupation. With your help, we are sending a message of sorrow, friendship and peace directly to the women of Iraq and their families by challenging the free press in Iraq to print an
advertisement calling on the people of both nations to work together to end the occupation. Please join us by donating to this ad campaign. For a donation of $25 or more, we'll include the name of your city (or your mother's city) to show that support for ending the occupation comes from all over this country.
For the third highlight, we move to something that covers the issue of advertising, net neturatlity and other topics.  Billie notes "Pro-Internet Democracy Blogs Run Ads for Corporate Takeover of Net: Another Example of Why BuzzFlash Won't Accept Advertising" (BuzzFlash):
Right now there is a fierce Capitol Hill war being waged over whether the Internet will continue to belong to the citizens of America or will start to move down the path that cable television went: only the big players will survive as fully accessible content providers, as the Telecom broadband providers start to set up toll gates on the Net.
To make this account simple: advocates of democracy on the Internet with virtually no barriers for content entry are known as proponents of "net neutrality." The Telecom companies who want to start charging tolls for content, among other nefarious plans, are the bad guys.
Right now, many of the leading progressive blogs on the net are running ads by the bad guys. Not only are these ads promoting the corporate takeover of Internet content, they are totally misleading, along the lines of the nuke industry running ads on "How Nuclear Leaks Make Your Community Healthier."
The ad in question leads to an Orwellian flash that tries to convince the viewers that the government is trying to "interfere" with the Internet and that this will destroy it, which is exactly what the people behind the ads are trying to do.
Here's what the ad says, before you click through to the flash: "Don't Regulate The Internet! See The Truth About Net Neutrality. Don't let the Government Regulate the Internet. Make up your own mind. It's about the future of the Internet!" (See
That's not an editorial slamming sites that take advertising, it is noting that BuzzFlash depends upon readers.  Rachel asked if we could note that Pacifica is fundraising mode.  Pacifica Radio depends upon listeners. 
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