Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Noam Chomsky, John Bonifaz, Marcy Winograd, Jonathan Tasini

Hundreds Flee Ramadi Fearing U.S. Attack
In Iraq concern is growing that U.S.-backed forces may soon launch a major offensive in the Sunni city of Ramadi. On Monday, U.S. forces fired artillery at the city's train station. Hospital officials said five civilians died and 15 others were wounded. The Red Crescent reports over 100 families have recently fled the city fearing that a large-scale military operation is imminent. Last week U.S. military officials announced it was moving 1,500 soldiers from Kuwait into the region surrounding the city. One Pentagon spokesperson declared Ramadi had become the most contentious city in Iraq. On Monday the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars warned the Iraqi government not to support any U.S. attacks on the city.

U.S. Refuses to Help Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is traveling to Asia this week. During his stop in Vietnam, U.S. military officials admitted that Washington will not compensate the millions of Vietnamese suffering from the affects of Agent Orange, used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile Rumsfeld traveled to Indonesia to mark the restoration of Washington’s military ties to the Indonesian government.

Jose Padilla Attorneys Ask Court to Throw Out Evidence
There is an update on the case of Jose Padilla -- the U.S. born man who was held in solitary confinement for three years before being charged with a crime. His layers are now alleging that the government’s case against their client relied in part on statements made by a government witness who was tortured. Padilla's defense team has a filed a motion to suppress evidence and statements connected to a man who says that while in detention he was whipped, hung from the ceiling of his cell with leather straps and tortured with razors.

Greensboro, NC Mayor Refuses to Apologize Over City Role in Massacre
In Greensboro North Carolina, the city’s mayor is rejecting a call to apologize for the city's role in what has become known as the Greensboro Massacre. On November 3, 1979, 40 Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis opened fire on an anti-Klan demonstration and killed five labor activists and injured 10 others. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently concluded that the single most important element that contributed to the violent outcome of the confrontation was the absence of police. No one has ever been convicted of criminal charges in the shootings.

UCLA's Freshman Class Falls To Only 2 Percent African-American
In other education news, newly released statistics show that only 2 percent of this year's freshman class at UCLA will be African-American -- the lowest number at the school since 1973. The school is expected to have just under 5,000 freshmen this year. Only 96 are African American and 20 of them are recruited athletes. At UC San Diego just 1.1 percent of freshmen are African-American. According to the Los Angeles Times, the problem is rooted partly in the restrictions placed on the state's public colleges and institutions by Proposition 209, the 1996 voter initiative that banned consideration of race and gender in admissions and hiring.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Wendy, Jonah, Charlie, Jill and Keesha. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 6, 2006

- Supreme Court to Decide Racial Integration School Cases
- UCLA's Freshman Class Falls To Only 2 Percent African-American
- Hundreds Flee Ramadi Fearing U.S. Attack
- Iran Offered Incentives to Give Up Uranium Enrichment Program
- Report: Congress Members & Aides Took 20,000 Free Trips
- Islamic Militias Seize Somalia Capital
- Gunmen Raid Pro-Fatah TV Station in Gaza
- U.S. Refuses to Help Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims
- UN Warns Global Warming Affecting World's Deserts
- Bush's New Domestic Policy Adviser Caught Lying About Past
- Greensboro, NC Mayor Refuses to Apologize Over City Role in Massacre

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Antiwar Candidates Challenge Incumbent Democrats in House and Senate Races

The 2006 mid-term elections are just five months away. In the Senate, close to three-dozen seats are up for grabs, while all 435 seats are open in the House. Democrats hope growing public discontent with the Bush administration will help them win control of Congress from the Republicans. But some of this year's most heated races won't just come down to Republicans vs. Democrats -- or Independents -- in November. Rather, in primaries this week and continuing through the summer, some of the country's closely-watched races will pit Democrats -- against Democrats. And there's one main issue that's creating the fault line: the war in Iraq.
Across the country, a handful of challengers are taking some of the leading Democratic figures to task for voting to send US troops to Iraq and refusing now to bring them home. On this issue and others like government wiretapping, these candidates say many elected Democrats have betrayed core party values and provided political cover for the Bush administration.
We hear from four of these candidates that are shaking up races across the country: Jonathan Tasini in New York, Marcy Winograd in California, Ned Lamont in Connecticut and John Bonifaz in Massachusetts.
AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, what do you say to those who say if you do this, support candidates against Democratic candidates, that you are ultimately supporting the man in the White House who declared the war that took your son?
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, I think the candidates who -- I'm supporting Jonathan, I'm supporting Marcy in Los Angeles, I'm supporting John Bonifaz, and they are running against people who support George Bush. And I believe that we are not going to get leaders of integrity and honesty and courage until we start voting with our integrity. It's time for us to stop holding our nose and voting for the lesser of two evils, because that person might be just a little less evil, but they're still supporting the evil policies of the Bush administration. So we have to stand up and have courage. If we all have the courage we need to vote for people who do have integrity, then we'll get leaders of integrity. And that's the only time we will.

"The United States is Terrified" -- Noam Chomsky on Latin America's Move Towards "Independence and Integration"

Noam Chomsky -- the renowned linguist and political analyst -- was in New York Monday where he gave a press conference at the United Nations. Democracy Now! was there to capture Chomsky's two-hour exchange with reporters. We play an excerpt of the press conference where Chomsky talks about the current political climate in Latin America. [includes rush transcript]
NOAM CHOMSKY: And so, the U.S. is preparing for more use of violence. If you take a look at the number of U.S. military personnel throughout Latin America, the military bases, the training of Latin American officers, that's all going up very sharply. In fact, for the first time ever, there are now more U.S. military personnel in Latin America than personnel for the major federal aid organizations. That never happened during the Cold War. Also military training for Latin American officers, and you know what that means.
Military training is being shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon. That's important. The State Department is under congressional supervision, and there are conditionalities, human rights and democracy conditionalities. They're not imposed very much, but they're there, you know, and they have some effect. You switch it to the Pentagon, there's no controls. Do whatever you want. And the whole region is surrounded by bases, and I suspect there will be secessionist movements coming along in Venezuela and Bolivia and possibly Iran. So the military option has by no means been abandoned, but it's nothing like what it was before. I mean, in the past, you just overthrew governments, you know, didn't think twice about it.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Does the lack of accountability as well?

Two weeks ago, May 25th, we noted: "Meanwhile the BBC reports that, James Cook has been determined to be not guilty ("by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Cochester") in the death of Ahmed Jabber Kareem [Ali] -- three remain on trial." Today, the BBC reports that those three have now "been found not guilty of the manslaughter of an Iraqi boy, at a Colchester court martial." Ahmed Jabber Kareen Ali died, at the age of 15, in May 2003. The prosecution described the Basra drowning as resulting from the efforts of British troops to "teach him a lesson." Carle Selman, Joseph McCleary and Martin McGing have been found not guilty.

The AFP is reporting that the Iraqi Islamic Party (the party of Iraq's vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi) has "acused US forces of murdering more than two dozen Iraqis in a series of incidents across the country in May." Omar al-Juburi, party spokesperson, alleged that 29 were murdered and cited two events on May 13: "US forces launched an air assualt on a civilian car in Latifiyah and killed six people inside the car" and "US forces attacked with aircraft the house of a civilian, Saadun Mohsen Hassan, and killed seven of his family members."

This after Sunday's admission that in Hibhib on Friday, an "accident" resulted in the death of three, the wounding of three and six damaged homes from a "US artillery round" and the death of two women, Naibha Nisaif Jassim and Saliha Mohammad Hassan, at an American checkpoint last week. (Jassim was pregnant and the women, along with Jassim's brother, were headed to the hospital.) Free Speech Radio News covered the issue of accidental deaths yesterday with Aaron Glantz and Salam Talib taking a look at the culture of the illegal occupation. Reporting for CNN, Jamie McIntyre follows the Hamdaniya incident and notes a source who states that "some of the Marines in pretrial confinement have admitted the circumstances of the man's death was staged." This is the April 26th incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported last week "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman." McIntyre's report notes the unidentified officer stating, "They went after someone, not necessarily this person, but they set out to get someone."

Writing for Knight Ridder, Nancy A. Youssef notes that the family's account of what happened to Hashim Ibrahim Awad is that "U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist."

CBS and AP note that "Pentagon officials tell CBS News that several Marines under investigation" in this incident "have made statements admitting they set out that night to kill an Iraqi."

As noted by Amy Goodman today, concerns abound over Ramadi.Brian Conley reports for IPS that there are allegations "of civilians killed by snipers, and homes occupied with American snipers on their roof, while families were detained downstairs." One resident of Ramadi is quoted saying: "On the side of the main street you will find destroyed buildings, and military tents on the buildings for snipers. Be careful, if you hear any sound of fighting, hide in the side roads, park your car there and get in any house and hide, because snipers will kill anyone moves, even if the fighting is in another area." While another echoes that "American snipers don't make any distinction between civilians or fighters, anything that moves, he shoots immediately. This is a very dirty thing, they are killing lots of civilians who are not fighters."

As noted by Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show and by the AP, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation) has announced the release of 2,500 Iraqis imprisoned in US and Iraqi-run jails with the first 500 to be released tomorrow. Today, al-Maliki also vowed to 'curb' the violence. This as "nine severed heads" were found "in fruit boxes by the side of a road" (Telegraph of London). The AFP reports that "some of the heads are blindfolded and already decomposing, indicating the killings took place a few days ago." CNN notes Saturday's discovery of eight severed heads, in Hadid, which "also had been stuffed into fruit boxes." The Associated Press reports that, in Aziziyah today, a "decapitated body" was discovered. AFP reports the discovery of a corpse in Baghdad: "25-year-old woman, wearing an Islamic headscarf, who had been shot in the head."

The AFP reports that Shaaban Abdel Kadhim was murdered in Baghdad "along with his two bodyguards." No word on the fifty-plus people kidnapped in Baghdad yesterday at bus stations; however, bus stations continued to be a key location for violence. In Nadha, CNN notes at least two civilians were killed and seven more wounded at an attack on a "bus facility." This as the AP notes that a woman died and three more people were wounded when a roadside bomb went off "near a busy bus station" in Baghdad. Also in Baghad, Reuters notes, that a woman and her husband were shot dead as was Thoaban Abdul Kathim, his aide and driver. Reuters also notes five people were killed at a funeral with twelve more wounded when a car bomb exploded.

In refugee news, Brian Conley reports on Ruweishid, a camp between Jordan and Iraq where "[p]oisonous insects are rampant, while water and electricity are a scarce commodity."

Lastly, as noted in the New York Times, Deidre Fitzsimons, sister of the late Margaret Hassan, spoke to the BBC on Monday. Not noted is the fact that Fitzsimons told the BBC that she "begged" Great Britain's Foreign Office for UK officials to interview the three men who were apprehended in her sister's death. Fitzsimons believes the men know where the body of her sister is: "These men know where my sister is buried and all we have left, all we want to do now, is to bring her home."

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