Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. II

Ruth: This is part two, where I will note the Iraq coverage and also include comments on the coverage of the topic no media, independent or mainstream, seemed to get tired of. [Part one is here.] I thank those who shared their thoughts for doing so and for allowing me to share it here.

This week started strong on Monday with Janet Coleman interviewing women with the Granny Peace Brigade on WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe. If you are not familiar with the group, this is a group of women who are activists to end the war and they are also grandmothers. They have shown so much bravery and grit as they have repeatedly protested at military recruitment centers. The women were in DC gearing up to participate in the fast for peace with, among others, CODEPINK, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace. These women know there is a war going on and they want to end it.

C.I.'s written here, two or three times now, wondering does the right-wing want the illegal war to continue more than we want the illegal war to end? That is a good question and one that we need to answer. I will note, because Mike has been upset about this as have my grandchildren Jayson and Tracey, that two Mondays ago, if anyone was paying attention, we saw the United States government exposed again for lying about the war. How so? Hopefully, you did not ask that and are already aware that Nancy A. Youssef broke the news then that the U.S. government, despite repeated claims otherwise, has been keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians. Mike and my grandchildren are young so that might be why they were so shocked that so little was said about it. How little? I did not hear it covered on any Pacifica program. I think it is likely that Free Speech Radio News did cover it because Aaron Glantz, who often reports on that program, did write an article on this story. But the silence on it has been disappointing.

Maybe it is an indication of our failure to connect with the tragedies Iraqis are facing? Maybe it is a case of people not hearing of the story? Is it that we just do not care? I hope not. But listening in vain for any kind of a discussion on this made me wonder how much we, as a country, even care?

I lived through the Vietnam era. I was a college student then. I was out of college before the war ended and when I reminded Mike of that, he is in college currently, he asked about the turning point with the media?

I wish I could give him a concrete answer. I can remember the turning point with the people. But I mainly remember being disgusted with the coverage in real time. There is the Walter Cronkite moment where then President Lyndon B. Johnson famously said that if he had lost Mr. Cronkite, he had lost America so there was no point in running for re-election. I did not see the media change then. It was many years before I saw it change.

Are we on the same trajectory again?

When I was traveling around the country on my road trip with my best friend Treva, we encountered families, individuals, old and young, opposed to the war, wanting it to end. The people have turned against the war and I agree with C.I. that the sentiment is so solid on that, there is not a return to embracing it.

In the last two weeks, we have seen armed agression in Gaza, a very likely fraudelent election in Mexico and a host of other issues. Are they worthy of coverage? They are. So are many other topics. But, in terms of Pacifica and all media, we have also seen less coverage of Iraq. This I do know, from the sixties to the early seventies, Vietnam was covered. Once the media finally started covering it, they did not cover it from the beginning, they continued to. Other stories might grab the opening spots of the evening news, but Vietnam did not disappear.

Iraq is disappearing. We should not kid ourselves otherwise. I have read, seen and heard lousy coverage on the so-called peace plan. Dahr Jamail has been one of the best writers refuting the nonsense and, sadly, he has not been on many programs. C.I. has rightly, and repeatedly, pointed out that hearing "eight groups" are involved from the resistance or "ten" or "twenty" is meaningless because exactly how many groups are there? There is not one group. I would add to that one more point, our information there comes from people in the government chosen by the U.S. During the Vietnam era, there were some serious efforts at a peace plan, not serious on the side of the U.S. administration. It bothers me that such a vague plan as Nouri al-Maliki has presented has become a period at the end of the coverage and I was glad to see that Tom Hayden, who knows more than a few things about peace plans, was also a strong critical voice at a time when a number of other people just went along repeating talking points. [See Hayden's "Breaking Iraq News" and "Shifting Winds on Iraq."] On the radio, I have heard no real discussions on the so-called peace plan for the most part. I have, however, heard a great deal of people repeat "peace plan" and wonder exactly what happened to criticial thinking?

There have been so many brakes put on the current peace movement. You have seen an "anti-war" group spend all of 2004 and most of 2005 claiming that we had to stay there. The group has now caught up with the America people. Only after they slammed CODEPINK for demonstrating at a miliatry base. During Vietnam, the left had a some sense of the Vietnamese. I am not sure we have any sense of the Iraqis. It is not just that during the initial invasion the coverage was so far removed that we saw, as many pointed out, the missiles being launched but not the targets or the people whose lives were forever changed or ended.

Do the Iraqis have a right to exist? I do wonder about where we stand in this country on that sometimes as we all stick to the playbook of focusing on individual Americans but never being overly concerned about individual Iraqis. They largely remain faceless and their stories untold.

One of the exceptions in the coverage has been KPFA's Flashpoints. Flashpoints focuses a great deal on the Middle East, true. But there main emphasis is usually the occupied territories in Israel. It was a surprise, one I was very thankful for, to see that even with the events in Gaza, they still were able to offer some outstanding coverage on Iraq and from Iraq. That was last week and it continued this week.

They managed to cover the Mexico election and the aftermath but they managed to have a balance that most programs did not. I read the special edition of the round-robin that went out Thursday where Gina and Krista allowed Mexican-American members to sound off. I agreed with the sentiment expressed there which I will boil down as "an election does not change anything regardless of which of the two is selected." But I kept thinking of how we have had questionable, I would call them "stolen" elections, in this country and thinking the coverage was stemming from that. Then Friday, while Elijah was down for his nap, I got online to read the latest gina & krista round-robin. When I saw C.I.'s column, with its opening sentence, I was prepared to hear about Mexico. I was surprised because members had been very vocal about their feelings of the coverage of it. But there was the sentence, "I'm going to focus, for this column, on a questionable election." So I was shocked when, in the next sentence, the backdrop was Macednoia and not Mexico. I had no idea that they had held elections in Macedonia.

In addition to the special round-robin, I know from e-mails I got throughout the week that members felt the Zapatistas were being spat upon. Francisco wondered how, after the treatment they received, they will ever again receive any decent coverage?

Maria and I spoke on the phone because I saw Kat's entry and, since Maria had been visiting family in Mexico through the lead up to the election and left shortly after the election, I wanted her opinion. Maria said the election was not the most pressing concern for her family in Mexico. Her family members were not members of the Zapatistas but they were aware of the movement's feelings and they shared it. Contrary to one guest who appeared to blame the Zapatistas for the turnout, they did not pick up that attitude from the group, they had it already. It was interesting to hear all these journalists and professors talking about the average Mexican and their needs. One might think they could not speak for themselves?

Maria said she did not detect a great deal of passion for either candidate and, based on phone calls late in the week, she did not see an overwhelming protest over the returns though she added: "I did feel much of the coverage was trying to create that." She spoke of Vincent Fox and the "massive failure" of his government to address the concerns of the working class and the extreme poor. She spoke of a long process of detachment and a lack of belief in any central solution because the feeling is the president of the country cares about the most prosperous areas and only those few areas. She feels the election and the candidates were "a joke." She spoke of the destruction NAFTA had brought, the many businesses closed as Wal-Mart overtook the country, and mainly of a journalist who had once praised the Zapatistas but now rushed to turn them into Mexico's version of Ralph Nader in 2000. She found that attitude to be elitist and insulting as though the average Mexican was not smart enough to think for his or herself and had been duped.

"I really felt," Maria told me, "that he was saying, 'Stupid Mexicans! They blew their chance to have a great leader!' It wasn't the fact that he was so obviously an advocate of one candidate that bothered me, it was his disdain for the people. I'd like to find something positive to say, Ruth, about this American citizen who was so passionate about Mexico politics but I can't. He was insulting. I think the people sent a message with their lack of enthusiasm for the election. He seemed to feel that they were too stupid to grasp how important the election was to their own lives. I don't think a foreign journalist should cover an area where he has so little respect for the people. They were burned repeatedly by Fox. The lesson wasn't 'free elections,' it was 'empty promises.' They'd had enough of it. I kept waiting for the coverage to address that aspect but it never did. Which is a real shame, in my opinion, because that does have implications for elections in the United States. I also was shocked to hear how 'ugly' this election cycle was which indicated to me that those speaking knew only of press coverage of past elections as opposed to what happened and didn't get covered. But certain people on the left seem to have adopted a psuedo-left candidate and to have been troubled by the results. I would think they'd be dismayed over his slogans which never amounted to a plan. I was honestly shocked when I returned home and heard the coverage because I'd traveled throughout Mexico since I have aunts and uncles and cousins all over. I wasn't in the rich areas and I didn't hear any of the passionate outrage being expressed by anyone. They felt the candidates were jokes and that the election was a joke. They felt that way leading up to it and they felt that way after so it was a tremendous shock to come back here and turn on the radio and catch this coverage. I then caught up on some of the coverage I'd missed and phoned Miguel and Francisco to ask them what was going on. They have family in Mexico and I thought possibly I'd missed the areas where the election was some overriding concern. But they agreed with me. Francisco was even more offended by what I see as the 'stupid Mexicans' coverage, if you can believe that. It was a squabble over resources between elites and most people sensed that. They weren't stupid. Meanwhile, my two oldest kids were asking me if everyone was okay? They'd seen only a small part of the coverage, since we'd gotten back, and were convinced that Mexico was about to go up in flames over this election."

I followed up by calling Francisco and Miguel. Francisco was happy to talk about Mexico, his family there and a number of other topics. On the subject of the American coverage of the elections he had to stop for a minute. I was not sure if he was still there so I called out his name. He responded that he found the coverage so hurtful that he was attempting to choose his words carefully. In the end, he apologized because he said he could not come up with a well worded response, he was too bothered by the portrayals of Mexicans in the coverage. He did offer that if the coverage continued next week we could look forward to well educated elites showing up in the media to protest the election or a story on how "the lazy masses are too stupid to care." He did want to share a lesson he learned from the coverage: "I blamed Ralph Nader for the 2000 election for a long time. Seeing the Zapatistas turned on made me realize that Nader wasn't the problem. On some level, I knew that all along but it made me face it."

Miguel said that at first he was bothered by the coverage but, as the week went on, he learned to just laugh at it.

"That really was the best thing to do unless I wanted to get so ticked off I couldn't focus on anything else," Miguel said. "So I would laugh and say something like, 'Oh poor baby, you did not get your way. Cry some more.' When the New York Times hails a candidate as the great lefty, that's your first clue that he's not very left. If he is left, they ignore him, like they do Noam Chomsky. It's only if he can work within the system and not challenge any of the resources that they even bother to cover him. They'll mock him, the way they do Democrats in this country. But if he's a serious politician with plans for the people, like Dennis Kucinich in 2004, they just ignore him."

I had been off the phone with Miguel for about an hour when Diana called me. Francisco had spoken with her and passed on my number. I knew Diana from some wonderful poetry she had shared in the round-robin and from the entry she wrote here about attending the largest protest ever held in Dallas, Texas -- the one million-plus turnout to show support for immigrant rights. After I has asked some questions about her poetry and we had both discussed our children, and, in my case, my grandchildren, then we discussed the coverage. Like Miguel, she had learned to laugh it.

Diana laughed and said, "Ay-yi-yi, it was that or rip my head off. Awhile back, a publisher from my area was on a program, you may remember, and up in arms about how wrong young, teenage, Mexican-Americans were to take a Mexican flag to a protest. That was somehow hidous and awful. Showing 'dual loyalties.' It was 'wrong.' We weren't supposed to honor our heritage in the protests but now that there's an election in Mexcio, we're supposed to be focused on nothing else. A flag, showing that you are someone in this country who came from somewhere else, is wrong. But being obsessed with elections in another country is 'okay'? A flag honors your heritage, meddling in politics in another country? That's how I saw it, meddling. I felt like I was being encouraged to be outraged. Instructed to be outraged. Maybe I would've been if I wasn't very aware of politics in Mexico. I actually think that might have been the most instructive thing, to talk about the realities of how fixed those elections are, how corrupt. If we could see that in another country, it might help us see it in our own. I think what I found most interesting in the coverage, beside the inclusion of so many Anglo-Americans, was how little present women were. Did you see them or hear from them? I don't know if that means we were smarter and didn't want to join the circus of if it just means we weren't invited? But it was interesting to see the coverage on the right and the left and the supposed center, where all these male blowhards got bent out of shape over which man was going to be chosen. It was like seeing them squabble over the results of a sporting event. I'm working on a poem about my reaction to that and how, at the end of the day, we're still the ones who put the food on the table so we don't get lost in another round of empty promises."

Diana hopes to finish that poem this weekend so check next Friday's round-robin. She read me the first stanza and I think it is now my favorite of all the poems she has shared. I know from Ava and Jess that the sentiments expressed were the overwhelming response from members who e-mailed C.I. this week. If there were members who found the coverage useful, e-mail me and I will note it in my next report. I phoned Maria, Francisco and Miguel because I knew them and had their phone numbers. I was lucky to hear from Diana and even luckier to be able to include her reponse.

I thought the comments about how this could be applied to the United States were very interesting, especially as we get near another presidential election cycle of our own.

How does this apply to Iraq? Ask any member and you will find that this is what was emphasized while Iraq was lost. The playwright and activist Sherry Glaser was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein on Thursday's Flashpoints and she spoke of how we needed to become more bold and more active in our opposition to the war. Breasts Not Bombs is one of the activites she is a part of. I really think that is a wonderful way to approach things, to ask, "How can I get the message out in a different way?"

After the road trip, my opinion of the country was that the mood was there for activism and speaking out. There was, however, a feeling of isolation. Usually, the person I spoke with would talk about how nice it was that they had friends or neighbors who were also against the war. But even so, there was a sense that they were an island in some sea of support. When, not if, when, we wake up to the fact that we are not the minority opinion, I think we will see some real pressure brought upon our leaders to end the war.

We are not there yet. Just as a presumably educated man made a fool out of himself for ranting over the fact that Mexican flags were brought to a protest for immigrant rights, we still have too many people trying to put the brakes on how we respond: We can march with this sign or we can speak about it in this way.

Until the brakes come off the movement, it will continue to struggle. That is why I enjoyed Sherry Glaser as a guest so much. She seems like a very bright woman and, here is the thing, there are many women and men like her. Until they are covered, until the peace movement is covered, we will continue to feel like we are islands in some huge sea. We need more information on Iraq and more reality in the coverage of it. We also need to realize that a peace movement not covered is not a peace movement that grows in leaps and bounds.

There was not one response to Vietnam from a unified peace movement. There were many responses. What spoke to me, did not always speak to my late husband and vice versa. What Treva applauded was not always the event or action that I found touched the most. Tapesty, long before Carole King named an album that, was an overused term of that period, but it was also an accurate one. There was a tapestry of actions. There was also coverage of the actions. The mainstream news might sneer at it but it did get coverage. We also had programs, talk shows, where hosts were not afraid to bring on peace activists. They might feign outrage and ask "What are you hoping to accomplish?" but they allowed them to speak. As this war drags on, the thing that continues to surprise me is how little coverage there is of the peace movement.

As a feminist, I can tell you the importance of sharing stories. I particpated in many 'rap sessions' in my day where the issue was the war. When I first learned of feminism, it was an incredible moment. But I had no idea that it would be that for so many women. The'rap sessions' became consciousness raising and, in sharing our stories, we found strength and understanding. Overnight, it seemed, feminism spread across the nation. That could happen with the peace movement today. I can remember hearing that another college had just done something and thinking, "Okay, well what are we going to do?" Because learning of what another group of women were doing empowered me.

I will wrap up by noting that Friday on KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning about a joint appearance they were making that evening to discuss and show Mr. Manning's documentary about Falluja, Caught in the Crossfire. That is a wonderful documentary but I understand it has been updated so I will assume my DVD from last year is out of date now. I know Goldie showed the film at a house party she and her mother Marlene held to raise awareness about the war and I know a few other members have seen the film as well. You may want to consider purchasing a new copy of Caught in the Crossfire because I believe it has been updated.

Ms. Lewis opened the discussion asking them to offer some context on the recent allegations of rape and murder committed by U.S. troops in Iraq. Mr. Jamail spoke of how these events, though not covered by the domestic media, were not uncommon and were "happening on a regular type basis in Iraq" citing reports he received of rapes during house raids. Mr. Manning agreed and noted that "a lot of women in Iraq [are] stating that they have been raped." He pinned some of the blame on the immunity for the military and contractors in Iraq. As a result of this immunity, he noted that "no investigations are happening."

He spoke of what it would be like in this country, the reaction to a large number of women reporting rapes, and the police and judicial systems not following up on it.

On the subject of the future of Iraq, Mr. Jamail sited a poll of Iraqis which found that 82-percent of them "wanted an immediate pullout" while less than one-percent of those polled "felt that their presence was improved by the U.S. being in Iraq."

They also spoke of how Falluja was not covered by the mainstream media in this country. They spoke of the huge number of people killed there, the November 2004 destruction of the city, the fact that, all this time later, nothing has been done for the people there. Mr. Manning spoke of how "the media fialed to report" what he saw with his own eyes and how he doubted that Americans would be indifferent to the news that destruction was brought on this city, the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina in many ways, and there has still been no real efforts at providing relief.

Mr. Jamail compared what was going currently in Ramadi, a topic I heard addressed only twice this week outside of news programs, to the events in April of 2004 in Falluja. He spoke of the ongoing air bombings, of the fact that the "U.S. has bulldozed three blocks of the city downtown" to create a mini-Green Zone similar to what exists in Baghdad. My comment here, possibly that is why the vile Dexter Filkins of the New York Times feels so comfortable leaving his usual Green Zone and 'reporting' from Ramadi?

So the week started strong with Janet Coleman and ended strong with Andrea Lewis. During the week itself, you were lucky to catch Dennis Bernstein or Nora Barrows-Friedman, otherwise, Iraq really was not on the radar. Thursday on WBAI following the broadcast of First Voices Indigenous Radio, there were two thirty minute broadcasts of Pacifica's From the Vault series.
If you missed it, Dallas advises me it is not listed as "From the Vault." To listen, pull up the eleven a.m. hour from Thursday at the archives. Both half-hour documentaries focused on Vietnam. The first was providing you with a look at some of the G.I. protests of that war. I enjoyed this half-hour the most. I also found it interesting to listen to Senator John F. Kerry's famous speech about how do you ask someone to be the last to die in Vietnam. What I noticed this time was how easy it was to substitute "terrorist" for "communist." The second half-hour was devoted to an interview with someone from the military and I am sure you can hear it better at the archives but I was listening over the airwaves and the sound would go in and out.
What both made me wonder is when the From the Vault project intends to start putting together documentaries on Iraq?

We have passed the three year mark. Certainly Amy Goodman alone has provided enough interviews and reports on the G.I. resistance to fill several hours. From the Vault is dedicated to preserving the historical tapes of Pacifica Radio broadcasts and history is now. Bernard White, introducing the second half-hour, noted that it had also run on July Fourth. It is very important to cover Vietnam, I am always surprised by what Tracey or Jayson picks up from that coverage and applies to today. But I would assume a documentary aired on a holiday about Iraq would be as useful. I think hours could be spent pulling some together or, if they wanted to do something quickly, they could just pull from the Iraq coverage Democracy Now! notes in the year end episodes each year.

The people have reached their turning point. The media has not. Instead, we end up chasing this story down or that story down and Iraq is repeatedly put on the back burner. I love what Mike and his friends have started on Fridays, the group, the very large group, that gets together to discuss Iraq. I have made Saturday afternoons my time to emulate Mike. Since we, C.I. and I, were attempting to find a way to break up this report into two parts, I was able to "add one more thing." I always picture C.I. cringing at those words while thinking, "Jeez, is this report ever going to be finished?"

I do not watch TV anymore. I listen to news and public affairs programming mainly and, in the evenings, also surf the web. For this meet up, I prepared a list of questions to ask my friends who do get their news from TV coverage. I mainly went with what had been covered in the daily "Iraq snapshot." "Someone was kidnapped!" was the reply to the first question asking what they heard of the targeting of Sunnis serving in the Iraq parliament. Going down the list of questions, I was repeatedly surprised by the number of women who are attempting to follow news from Iraq but, despite showing up believing they were informed, were getting very little news of Iraq.

The coverage is not there. For two weeks now, I do not believe it has really been there on the radio programs that I listen to. I am saddened that there has not been coverage of the fact that the U.S. government is keeping a body count, that the government has been caught in another lie, of Iraqi civilians. Until the coverage improves, I think C.I.'s question is one we should all ponder: Does the right-wing want the war to continue more than the left wants it to stop?

One woman in the group forced herself to watch Fox "News" for eight hours one day. She noted how many times Iraq popped up on various programs. It did not get that much coverage in the mainstream or in the radio programs that I listened to this week.

So the responsibility still falls on us to be our own media and get the word out.

Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. I

Ruth: There was not a lot last week that I wanted to highlight now that I am attempting to focus on Iraq for the reports. I did a report that would have gone up on Monday night but, if you missed it, C.I. rightly saw something in my report that I was missing: Michael Ratner's speech. That was a perfect highlight for the Fourth of July.

Friday evening, a member e-mailed to say that she had not been listening to Law and Disorder. She enjoyed the coverage of it here and felt like she should check it out. She read Mr. Ratner's speech when she returned to work on Friday and decided it was "about time I made an effort to listen to this show." So Friday, she subscribed to the podcast and caught up with the last four podcasts. She played the speech for a friend. That is how it works. We all get the word out.

Due to transcribing some of Mr. Ratner's speech, I did not have time to rewrite my report and help out with the news headlines we worked on together for the Fourth of July. But I want to note early that last week, I did catch two broadcasts that addressed the war in Iraq.

Rachel and Mike both responded immediately when I sent up the 'flare' saying basically, "Anybody, anything?" -- as did my granddaughter Tracey. They steered to me WBAI's Wakeup Call.Thursday on the second hour of WBAI's Wakeup Call, Deepa Fernandes, and another person whose name I did not catch, interviewed Omar Abdullah who is one of the contributors to Alive In Baghdad, a website the community is familiar with which offers unembedded reporting on and from Iraq. Mr. Abdullah was reporting from Iraq. During the interview, there was a great deal of news as US helicopters flew overhead and that led to a discussion of how common that was. It is the sort of detail you probably will not hear addressed elsewhere.

My granddaughter Tracey is a huge fan of Ms. Fernandes and wants me to pass on that this month, Ms. Fernandes first book Targeted, will be released by Seven Stories Press.

Friday on the third hour of WBAI's Wakeup Call, Mario Murillo spoke with an author of a book and managed to use the topic (Latin America) as a starting point for Iraq.

That was last week. This week?

Before I get into the coverage of that, I want to note Law and Disorder from this Monday on WBAI. The first segment covered the issue of NSA illegal, warrantless spying. The guest was Cory Stoughton, with the and her point was a solid one. The government is being no responsive. What can we do? We can contact our phone providers, in writing, and let them know that we do not appreciate our communication records being turned over to the government. I am sure others have made similar remarks, they must have. But I had not heard it before. It reminded me of when women started to realize their own buying power and demanded that magazines and ads marketed to them be more representative. One phone company, AT&T, is now more interested in covering business. I wonder if they would be so lackadaisical if they received hundreds of letters from the individuals who do have service with them?

That was one of the three segments. Mike covered the second segment in "War as an after thought" and Cedric covered the third segment in "Law and Disorder on the Green Scare." All are worth listening to. If you're unable to listen on your computer, please check out their coverage at their sites. Now we're ready for part two of the report.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Sat. Ann Wright, Kris Delmhorst; Sunday: Robert Scheer, Dr. Mona

Kat: "Where are the posts?" I actually called C.I. and asked that. They're here. C.I.'s holding the Times entry to include Mike and Cedric. And Ruth's got an amazing thing that C.I. and Ruth are trying to figure out where to cut. All of it's going up but it's long and they're trying to figure out where the natural break is so it can go up in two parts. C.I. explained that there was a guest on this weekend's RadioNation with Laura Flanders that the community wasn't going to be too excited about. I knew that already. I knew that because I saw him does his little whimpers on the Zapatistas. (I wrote about that Wednesday when I filled in at Rebecca's site.)

I said, "No problem." Because C.I. was wondering how I was going to note the show. If you haven't noticed, C.I. hadn't, if I don't care for a guest, I don't note them here. There was a time when I'd just copy and paste the guest list here in full. I stopped doing that. I'll note the ones I like or the ones I don't know about but that sound interesting. But, for instance, when there was anti-Ireland guest (or anti-Irish Catholics who wrote this crappy little thing once attacking them), I didn't note that guest. If that guest were on this weekend, I wouldn't note the guest again. I'm Irish-Catholic.

If there's a guest that I know the community doesn't care about, I respect that. The show's worth listening to for Laura Flanders. I have no problem, regardless of guests, of noting it for Laura but if someone's on that I don't like, I either listen to that segment for a little bit to see if maybe the guest is going to surprise me or I use that time to run some errands or do something else.

So here are the guests I'm noting. On Saturday, which we're not sure we're going to be covering at The Third Estate Sunday Review because we've got a lot we want to do in this edition, there's going to be discussions on Gaza which should be really interesting. And I'm really looking forward to hearing Ann Wright discuss the Troops Home Fast at the White House. Kris Delmhorst will discuss her new CD Strange Conversation and the role and power of art. That's what I'm looking forward to.

Then on Sunday, Dr. Mona El Farra will be a guest and she'll be discussing Gaza. Rebecca always tries to get her full name and usually ends up calling her "Dr. Mona." That's actually what a lot of people call her. If you don't, chances are you're not familiar with her. You should make a point to listen. Dr. Mona is an important voice. I don't know Leland Kim but he'll be on discussing Korea and I'm sure that will be interesting. So will Robert Scheer who has a new book about his years covering politics and presidents.

Are there other guests? Yes, there are. They don't speak to me if I don't note them, or not I'm aware of them. I'm not interested in someone's hate speech about Ireland as they rush to assure they were working for the US government over there and they know what it's like. I know what it's like over there too. My family usually visits each year. It's where our roots are. I don't need the hate speech, honey.

I don't care to highlight someone who trashes the Zapatistas. They really have become the Ralph Nader and maybe we can all wake up to the fact that sometimes what costs a candidate votes is the fact that they run a weak campaign?

In other news, I know Goldie and West are working on their own newsletter that will be up and running by next week because Polly has told Goldie, "You do so much and we never hear about what the young people are doing. Just on how lazy they are." Polly thought that was just the way news traveled to England. Nope, it's here too. And you can get attention by playing dumb on the youth of America and decrying their lack of enthusiasm and activism. It's not like much of the media (any form of media) bothers to cover what the youth of America is doing.

For instance, it was here and only here that I heard about the conference that's going on right now, "Generation Y Puts a New Face on the Peace Movement: Youth Anti-war Organizers & Young Iraq Vets Talk Strategy On Ending The War." But just as women can always get mainstream coverage by trashing the feminist movement, youth 'voices' can always get attention by peddling some conventional wisdom about how the youth of America is failing to get active. Lot of people make a name for themselves as the queen bee, the exception.

Right now, a number of authors, filmmakers and activists are unearthing many of the uncovered actions and activism during the Vietnam era. Maybe in a few decades, we'll hear about the movements that were going on today?

I highlight what I want when I do these entries. Laura's always worth highlighting but, in terms of guests, I started listing only those who spoke to me or that I knew nothing about a long time ago. If you listen this weekend and you hear someone I didn't note there's one of two reasons: I didn't know they were going to be on the show or they're not someone who speaks to me.

If I know a guest has offended the community, I'm not going to do a hard sell on them or tell the community, "You're wrong! They're a great guest!" I mean, maybe if I thought that. But the consensus of the community is usually something I agree on.

I said, in the first thing I ever wrote for this site (back in December of 2004), that we needed to draw the line. I have no problem drawing it. The youth movement in America is alive and well. I knew they were concerned from visiting the art classes that friends teach. As C.I. and I became friends and C.I. started involving me in some of the stuff going on, I saw that there were real leaders. I won't spit on them by saying, "Guys, there's this young American who's going to be on discussing how the youth of America is directionless and you are so going to love it!" They aren't directionless but it's probably an easy way to win a contest. If you think about it, that's been going on for generations. Young writers in the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, all the way up to today, have always seemed to instinctively know that they could win an award from older people by writing about how directionless their youth was. It's a self-pleasing narrative. It's not truth, it's not reality, but it's self-pleasing. They get patted on the head, handed a gold star and made an exception. That's probably been true since the beginning of time.

When our latest entry in 'the stab my own generation in the back' crowd came along, a number of younger members in this community were outraged. It's why West and Goldie are teaming up to cover the actions of young America in their newsletter. Face to face, I spoke to a young woman at a party at C.I.'s Thursday. She brought up that article and then listed the hours, from just this week, that she'd given to activism. She didn't list all the time it took to stay up on the news, just the hours she's put in this week on the war, on the bulldozing of the farm, on a number of issues. She'll never win a prize, she's too busy being active to be 'reflective.' But a million Nicky Kristofs are born on any given Sunday. They don't get links from me or word of mouth.

And I could've walked through that party and spoken to any other young person there and heard a similar story of what they were doing, how many hours they were giving. There's always apathy in any generation (at any age of the generation) and there's always activism. As C.I. would say, on crime rate and activism, "It's the demographics, stupid." That's really true. And in terms of the "sixties," you had one of the largest youth generations. Every baby boomer wasn't out marching but when the pool from which activists is drawn is so large, it's easy to assume that they were.

I drew my line. It's up to each member to draw their own.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs from seven to ten p.m. on Air America Radio, XM satellite radio and online, Saturdays and Sundays. Posts, or entries, are going up here. Show some patience and make a point to listen Laura this weekend.

NYT: What's covered, what's not

On July 5 the US Army brought charges against First Lieut. Ehren Watada, an infantry officer stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, who has refused to deploy to Iraq with his unit because he believes the war there is illegal. Watada faces up to eight years in jail and a dishonorable discharge. But in trying the 28-year-old officer, the Army is really putting itself, the Iraq War and the Bush Administration on trial.
At the June 7 press conference announcing his decision, Watada
argued that the Administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq was "manifestly illegal" because it "violates our democratic system of checks and balances. It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. Watada also said, "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order."
His refusal to deploy was an act of courage. It was also the product of profound reflection on taking personal responsibility for halting the US government's careening course toward authoritarianism and criminality--and of the legal justification for such acts of responsibility.

Wow! That New York Times is really something this morning, eh? Wrong. It's Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith's "Watada, the War and the Law" from The Nation -- the Times still remains silent on Watada. All those reporters on staff and they can't spare one to cover Watada? Probably, they're all hard at work explaining how women are deciding to have it all by leaving the work force or some equally fact-free 'trend' story. It's as though they think they can wish Watada away. That's the reporting, right? What about the op-eds?

I don't know Lt. Ehren Wataba, but I know his mother, and spoke at length with her back in May in Hawaii about how Ehren morally did not want to go to Iraq and how he was being harassed by other members of his unit for his beliefs that the war in Iraq was wrong and that he didn't want to kill innocent people for BushCo.
Ehren tried everything he could within regulations and legal means to be excused from going over to the war crime in Iraq and becoming a war criminal himself; nothing worked, so he refused to be deployed with his unit.
Today he was charged with missing movement, contempt towards officials and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman! Are they kidding me? Are they kidding the world and hiding behind an ancient code while they are pretending that anything about Iraq or our government is "gentlemanly?"
How about looking at the Commander in Chief of our armed forces, George Bush, for one? George Bush is a dry drunk who runs our country like he ran all of his failed businesses - with an attitude that if he screws up, his daddy, or his daddy's friends, will bail him out. He has already said that the problem of Iraq will be solved by "future presidents" which absolves and excuses him from cleaning up the murderous mess that he has made.
George Bush and his daddy used their contacts to get him a spot in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. When he was transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard he never showed up to complete his military commitment to the United States. Now I have no problem with Georgie, or "I had other priorities" five-deferment Dicky, getting out of going to the war crime in Vietnam, but to grow up and strong arm your way into the CIA to fix intelligence and to deceive a country and play on its fears to lead us into another war crime is inexcusable and cowardly.

Oops. That's Cindy Sheehan's "Conduct Unbecoming" at Truth Out, not in the Times. In the Times, and possibly this is why there's been so much coverage of the election in Mexico, we're urged (by a strong voice) to advocate the US be "a good neighbor" and "urge" a recount. In the LA Times, there's an article (no link, I'm busy this morning) talking about the election and how Vincent Fox may have interfered so the move may be made to ask that the entire election be nullified and a new one take place. I don't think that's a winning strategy for hearts and minds. More importantly, it's exactly the action that Greg Palast decries in Armed Madhouse -- waiting until after the election to attempt to address problems. If there's a lesson here, maybe there is, it's what Greg Palast argued before the 2004 election and is arguing currently: You don't start carrying about the turnout and the recording of votes after the election.

If Fox's commercials during the campaign were wrong, maybe you object to them in real time and not after the fact? And if you want to win an election, we're back to focusing on the US now, you pay attention to what's going on before the voting takes place. You pay attention when the voting is taking place. You don't wait until the results come back and then make your first objections. That's how you get charged "sore loser." Because to people just learning of it, that's what you look like. If you're concerned with Fox's actions, you file your complaint in real time, not after the election in an attempt to nullify the results.

Count all the votes is one thing. Emerging details that were hidden during the election is a valid reason for sounding alarms. Waiting until after the election to complain about ads that run and ask for a new vote: Foolish.

Back to the New York Times. (It's a transition!) They do a 'for the record' correction, to their credit, acknowledging that Steven D. Green was arrested two Fridays ago and not on Monday of this week. They also note that this is the second time they ran the wrong information. (Both times in articles by Edward Wong.) Kirk Semple has "Joint Raid Captures 2 Linked to Rebel Shiite Leader" which is worth noting because he tells you that the raid the US was acting as press flack on yesterday was a joint raid. That's not a slap at the Post
(Jonathan Finer and Saad Sarhan's "Iraqi Soldiers Clash With Shiite Militiamen in Baghdad"), their writers noted the curious details on Friday, as did the AFP and the Associated Press. At some point, maybe we can ask the question of why the US continues to do this?

There's a reason. They're trying to sell a notion that Iraqis are coming together just the way Bully Boy told you they would. That's not happening. And some of the reports yesterday read like episodes of Lassie as the US version was retold which is basically: "We gave them a list and said go get 'em!" Are Iraqis Lassie? I thought they were citizens of their own country. Obviously the US administration never sees it that way.

Semple gets credit for going beyond the obvious press releases. He does note the hospital's version of the events. I'm not sure he spoke to them or pulled it from a wire report? If he pulled it from a wire report, he left out the details of how Iraqis sleeping on the roof due to the extreme heat -- and lack of electricity -- are also said to be fatalities of a raid supposedly targeting (according to this year's Vinnie Brooks -- Todd Breasseale) "only those were firing weapons at" the 'joint' forces.

James Glanz? No credit, no link. (No woman, no cry.) "A senior Army Resever officer" (Bruce D. Hopfengardner) is supposedly offering to plead guilty to his actions in taking both bribes from contractors and $120,000 cash. Sounds intriguing, sounds like an actual piece of reporting. Then Glanz tries to sweep over reality. The "how" of the money. "Chaotic time" doesn't cover it. People were invited in, not Iraqis of course, in the Bremer days, to help themselves to cash. As Bremer prepared for his big "Don't Cry For Me, Green Zone Occupants!" swan song, he invited anyone in and all in to 'claim' cash that was 'owed' to them. It wasn't chaos. It was criminal, it was careless, it was reckless, but it wasn't chaos. Glanz glides over reality. A smooth ride most Iraqis aren't likely to have offered to them.

A bit stronger is Eric Schmitt and David S. Cloud's "General Faults Marine Response To Iraq Killing:"

The second-ranking American commander [Peter W. Chiarelli] in Iraq has concluded that some senior Marine officers were negligent in failing to investigate more aggressively the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians by marines in Haditha last November . . .
General Chiarelli faulted the senior staff of the Second Marine Division, commanded at the time by Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, and the Second Regimental Combat Team, then headed by Col. Stephen W. Davis, and recommended unspecified disciplinary actions for some officers, said the two defense officials [unnamed], who have been briefed on General Chiarelli's findings. They said they would discuss the report, after being promised anonymity, because it showed that the military takes these incidents seriously and fully investigates them.

At least when they result in a storm of press coverage. That's left unstated but it needs to be said. There have been too many Hadithas that have gone unnoticed. So what will happen to the report? It's likely it will be buried. Or it will be whitewashed. Maybe it will see the light of day? Maybe it will lead to Congress finally seriously using their oversight powers? Contrary to what Bully Boy thinks (as he endlessly poses as Commander-in-Chief), in this country, the military is supposed to be under civilian control. As Congress made a multitude of excuses for not dealing with Abu Ghraib, you wouldn't realize that. It is, however, the way the country was set up and it was set up that way for a reason.

It's Saturday, so here's an excerpt from Margaret Kimberley's latest "Obama Gets Religion" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

"I agree with Senator Warner that the message should be 'we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it.'" -- Sen. Barack Obama, on the Senate floor.
It is always a bad sign when Democrats publicly proclaim agreement with Republicans. Lately Senator Barack Obama has given pause to progressives every time he makes one of his over rated and endlessly praised statements. If he isn't supporting the occupation of Iraq he is campaigning for his mentor, the right wing Democrat in name only, Joe Lieberman. Most recently he gave credence to GOP talking points about progressives and religion.
According to Republicans, the lap dog corporate media, and now Barack Obama, the Democrats give religious Americans short shrift. In his keynote address at the Call to Renewal Conference Obama lectured us in typical Democratic Leadership Council style. He argued for the truthfulness of phony Republican premises, in this case, that Democrats don’t have enough of that old time religion and are mean to church people.
Obama was hopefully speaking for himself when he referenced "Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation…" Progressives have never been shy about making moral arguments and have never been shy about referencing religion. The groveling pundits and opportunistic politicians who claim a progressive bias against religion can never seem to actually quote anyone who wants to send religion packing. They hope that making a specious argument often enough will make it true.

Ruth goes up later today (in two parts, we're working on where to do the break) and Mike's "War as an after thought" covers a segment of Law and Disorder as does Cedric's "Law and Disorder on the Green Scare" (they're covering different segments).

And added as I've held this entry this morning, Jonah just e-mailed to note something that's at the website of the Times but not in the paper, Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane's "Ally Told Bush That Failing to Inform Congress of Spying Projects Might Be Illegal:"

In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters.
The letter from Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not specify the intelligence activities that he believed had been hidden from Congress.
But Mr. Hoekstra, who was briefed on and supported the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and the Treasury Department's tracking of international banking transactions, clearly was referring to programs that have not been publicly revealed.

And I'll add, they haven't been by the Times which continues to sit on more than it reports.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Ex soldado se declara inocente de violacion y asesinato de iraquies

Francisco: Hola mi amigos y amigas. Aqui estan 10 noticias de "Democracy Now!". Buen fin de semana.

Ex soldado se declara inocente de violación y asesinato de iraquíes
El ex soldado estadounidense acusado de violar y asesinar a una joven mujer iraquí y a tres integrantes de su familia, se declaró inocente. El ex soldado raso Steven Green, compareció ante un tribunal de Kentucky el jueves. Green es acusado de violar y asesinar a Abeer Qasim Hamza y luego quemar su cuerpo, en un intento por cubrir el crimen. Es posible que Hamza sólo tuviera 15 años de edad. Green también es acusado de asesinar a la madre de Hamza, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen, a su padre, Kasim Hamza Rasheed y a su hermana de 5 años de edad, Hadel. Otros cuatro soldados también están siendo investigados y siguen surgiendo nuevos detalles sobre el caso. El primo de Hamza, Abu Firas Janabi, dijo al periódico "Los Angeles Times" que él fue la primera persona en ingresar a la vivienda tras el ataque. Janabi dice que la cabeza del padre de Hamza estaba "destrozada" y que la hermana menor tenía un brazo visiblemente quebrado. Janabi dijo que Abeer Qasim Hamza yacía en el suelo desnuda y quemada, y que su cabeza estaba aplastada "por un bloque de concreto o un pedazo de hierro". Según Janabi, los dos hermanos pequeños de la víctima se encontraron con su casa en llamas y su familia quemándose adentro al llegar de la escuela. Janabi también sostiene que tres días antes del ataque, la madre de Abeer Qasim Hamza le había dicho que los soldados estaban constantemente registrando su casa y que creía que su hija era el blanco. Janabi dice que sugirió que la familia se mudara a una casa vacía al lado de la suya, pero que los padres insistieron en que estarían a salvo. Janabi explicó que los dos niños ahora se encuentran con su tío en una aldea cercana. Janabi dijo: "Perdieron a su padre y a su madre. Perdieron su casa y a sus hermanas. Su familia era muy pobre y no heredaron nada. Su vida es deplorable". Mientras tanto, las Fuerzas Armadas ahora investigan si el reciente secuestro y decapitación de dos soldados estadounidenses en una localidad cercana, tiene relación con el caso. Los soldados rasos asesinados, Kristian Menchaca y Thomas Tucker, pertenecían a la misma unidad militar que Steven Green y los otros cuatro soldados. Los investigadores creen que los soldados pueden haber sido asesinados en un acto de venganza por la violación y los asesinatos.

Informe: Pentágono admite a neo-nazis y extremistas en las Fuerzas Armadas
En materia militar, el Centro de Leyes para la Pobreza en el Sur advierte que las dificultades de reclutamiento del Pentágono han provocado que se permita que "un gran número de neo-nazis y extremistas radicales violentos" se unan a las Fuerzas Armadas. El Centro afirma que este número podría ascender a varios miles de personas. El investigador del Pentágono Scott Barfield, dice que aparecieron graffitis en defensa de las Naciones Arias, en Bagdad. Barfield dijo que los comandantes no están tomando medidas, incluso tras ser notificados de la presencia de extremistas o miembros de pandillas dentro de sus tropas. Barfield agregó: "No quieren causar una nueva conmoción por el hecho de que haya neo-nazis en las Fuerzas Armadas, porque los padres que ya están preocupados por que sus hijos se enlisten y mueran en Irak, rechazarán aún más la idea de que sus hijos se enlisten si sienten que estarán expuestos a pandillas y personas que creen en la supremacía de la raza blanca".

Infante de marina condecorado devolverá una medalla como símbolo de protesta
Mientras tanto, un infante de marina condecorado anunció que devolverá una de sus seis medallas como símbolo de protesta contra la guerra en Irak. El infante de marina, Sargento Matthew Bee de Akron, Ohio, afirma que considera que el presidente Bush utilizó la medalla de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo con fines políticos. Bee y otros infantes de marina viajarán a Washington, donde intentarán entregar sus medallas a Bush o a miembros del Congreso.

Estados Unidos demolerá partes del centro de Ramadi
En otras noticias de Irak, el "New York Times" informa que las fuerzas estadounidenses planean demoler varios edificios del centro de la ciudad de Ramadi para convertir el área en una nueva "Zona Verde", similar al área de comando estadounidense en Bagdad. El Teniente Coronel Stephen Neary dijo que en alguna de las áreas demolidas se construirá un parque. Y agregó: "Estéticamente será una mejora". Las Fuerzas Armadas están llevando a cabo una operación de gran escala en Ramadi que ya ha provocado la huida de miles de residentes y ha sido comparada con el ataque perpetrado contra Fallujah dos años atrás. Según el "New York Times", un cartel colocado en la base estadounidense local dice: “Sea amable, sea profesional y tenga un plan para asesinar a todas las personas que conoce”. Otro cartel que se refiere al nombre de una unidad militar dice: "Compañía Kilo: Mató a más personas que el cáncer".

Asesinatos en Bagdad aumentan un 16 por ciento
Mientras tanto, funcionarios de la morgue central de Bagdad dicen que los asesinatos se incrementaron abruptamente desde la muerte de Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Durante el mes pasado recibieron más de 1.500 cadáveres, lo cual representa un aumento del 16 por ciento con respecto al mes anterior. Mientras tanto, el periódico "United Press International" informa que son tantos los cadáveres que arriban a la morgue que ya no hay lugar para colocarlos. El sábado, 66 personas murieron y más de 100 resultaron heridas cuando un camión con explosivos detonó en un concurrido mercado de Bagdad. Este fue el ataque más letal desde que el nuevo gobierno iraquí asumió el poder en mayo.

Arrestan a funcionarios de inteligencia italiana por secuestro de la CIA
En Italia, dos oficiales de inteligencia de alto rango fueron arrestados por colaborar con agentes de la CIA en el secuestro de un clérigo musulmán en las calles de Milán, tres años atrás. Mauro Mancini, el subdirector del servicio de inteligencia militar de Italia, fue encarcelado. Su predecesor, Gustavo Pignero, se encuentra bajo arresto domiciliario. Esta es la primera vez que funcionarios italianos son vinculados al secuestro de Hassan Osama Nasr, también conocido como Abu Omar. Nasr fue secuestrado mientras caminaba desde su casa hasta una mezquita local. Nasr fue trasladado a una base conjunta estadounidense-italiana y finalmente a Egipto. Allí, Nasr asegura haber sido golpeado y haber recibido descargas eléctricas en sus genitales. Nunca fue acusado de ningún crimen y nunca fue enjuiciado. Mientras tanto, los fiscales dicen que obtuvieron nuevas órdenes de arresto en contra de tres agentes de la CIA y un empleado de la base aérea estadounidense local. Con estas nuevas órdenes, el número de estadounidenses acusados en relación a este caso desde el año pasado, asciende a 26.

Francisco: Good evening, my friends. In English, here are six news headlines for the week from Democracy Now!

Ex-Soldier Pleads Not Guilty to Rape, Killings of Iraqis
The former US soldier charged with raping a young Iraqi woman and killing her and three family members has pleaded not guilty. Former private Steven Green appeared in a Kentucky courtroom Thursday. Green is accused of raping and murdering Abeer Qasim Hamza, and then burning her body in an attempt to hide the crime. Hamza may have been as young as fifteen years old. Green is also accused of murdering Hamza's mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen; her father, Kasim Hamza Rasheed; and her five-year old sister Hadel. Four other soldiers are also under investigation. New details continue to emerge about the case. Family cousin Abu Firas Janabi told the Los Angeles Times he was the first person to enter the house after the attack. Janabi says the father's head had been "smashed into pieces" and the young sister's arm visibly broken. He said Abeer Qasim Hamza lay naked and burned, her head smashed in "by a concrete block or a piece of iron." And according to Janabi, the family's two young sons returned from school to see their home on fire and their family members burning inside. Janabi also says that three days before the attack, Abeer Qasim Hamza's mother had complained to him that US soldiers were constantly searching her house and that she believed her daughter was the target. Janabi says he suggested that the family move into a vacant home beside his but the parents insisted they'd be safe. Janabi says the family's two sons are now with their uncle in a nearby village. Meanwhile, the military is investigating whether the recent abduction and beheading of two US troops in a nearby town is linked to the case. The dead Privates -- Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker -- were from the same military unit as Steven Green and the four other soldiers. Investigators now believe the two soldiers may have been slain as an act of revenge for the rape and killings.

Pentagon Allowing Neo-Nazis, Extremists in Armed Forces
In military news, the Southern Poverty Law Center is warning the Pentagon's recruiting difficulties have allowed "large numbers of violent neo-Nazis and skinheads extremists" to join the armed forces. The Center says the numbers could reach into the thousands. Pentagon investigator Scott Barfield said graffiti advocating the Aryan Nations has appeared in Baghdad. He said commanders are not taking action even after being notified of the presence of extremists or gang members amidst their ranks. Barfield added: "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

Decorated Marine To Return Medal in Act of Protest
Meanwhile, a decorated Marine has announced he will return one of his six medals in protest of the Iraq war. The marine, Sgt. Matthew Bee of Akron, Ohio, says he believes President Bush has used the War on Terrorism service medal for political purposes. Bee and other Marines will travel to Washington where they will try to return their medals to Bush or to members of Congress.

US To Bulldoze Parts of Central Ramadi
In other news from Iraq, the New York Times is reporting US forces plan to bulldoze several blocks in the middle of the city of Ramadi and convert them into a new "Green Zone" similar to the US command area in Baghdad. Lt. Col. Stephen Neary said some of the razed land will be turned into a park. He added: "Aesthetically it will be an improvement." The military is engaged in a large scale operation in Ramadi that has already led to the flight of thousands of residents. According to the New York Times, one poster displayed in the local US base reads: "Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet." Another poster refers to the name of the military unit and says: "Kilo Company: Killed more people than cancer."

Baghdad Killings Up 16%
Meanwhile, officials at Baghdad's central morgue say killings have sharply increased since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. More than fifteen hundred bodies were delivered last month -- a sixteen percent increase over the month before. Meanwhile, United Press International is reporting delivery of dead bodies is so high the morgue has run out of adequate space to store them. On Saturday, sixty-six people were killed and more than one hundred injured when a truck bomb hit a crowded market in Baghdad. It was the deadliest attack since Iraq's new government took office in May.

Italy Intel Officials Arrested Over CIA Abduction
In Italy, two high-ranking intelligence officers have been arrested on charges they helped CIA agents abduct a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan three years ago. Mauro Mancini, the deputy head of Italy's military intelligence service, has been jailed. His predecessor, Gustavo Pignero, is under house arrest. The arrests marked the first time Italian officials have been linked to the abduction of Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Nasr was seized as he walked from his home to a local mosque. He was taken to joint U.S.-Italian base and eventually flown to Egypt. There, Nasr says he was beaten and given electrical shocks on his genitals. He was never charged with a crime and has never appeared in a court of law. Meanwhile, prosecutors say they've obtained new warrants for three CIA agents and one employee of the local US air base. The new warrants bring to twenty-six the number of Americans charged in the case since last year.

Democracy Now: same-sex marriage, Michelle Goldberg, Ehren Watada's attorney

Ex-Soldier Pleads Not Guilty to Rape, Killings of Iraqis
The former US soldier charged with raping a young Iraqi woman and killing her and three family members has pleaded not guilty. Former private Steven Green appeared in a Kentucky courtroom Thursday. Green is accused of raping and murdering Abeer Qasim Hamza, and then burning her body in an attempt to hide the crime. Hamza may have been as young as fifteen years old. Green is also accused of murdering Hamza's mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen; her father, Kasim Hamza Rasheed; and her five-year old sister Hadel. Four other soldiers are also under investigation. New details continue to emerge about the case. Family cousin Abu Firas Janabi told the Los Angeles Times he was the first person to enter the house after the attack. Janabi says the father's head had been "smashed into pieces" and the young sister's arm visibly broken. He said Abeer Qasim Hamza lay naked and burned, her head smashed in "by a concrete block or a piece of iron." And according to Janabi, the family's two young sons returned from school to see their home on fire and their family members burning inside. Janabi also says that three days before the attack, Abeer Qasim Hamza’s mother had complained to him that US soldiers were constantly searching her house and that she believed her daughter was the target. Janabi says he suggested that the family move into a vacant home beside his but the parents insisted they'd be safe. Janabi says the family's two sons are now with their uncle in a nearby village. Meanwhile, the military is investigating whether the recent abduction and beheading of two US troops in a nearby town is linked to the case. The dead Privates -- Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker -- were from the same military unit as Steven Green and the four other soldiers. Investigators now believe the two soldiers may have been slain as an act of revenge for the rape and killings.

Pentagon Allowing Neo-Nazis, Extremists in Armed Forces
In military news, the Southern Poverty Law Center is warning the Pentagon's recruiting difficulties have allowed "large numbers of violent neo-Nazis and skinheads extremists" to join the armed forces. The Center says the numbers could reach into the thousands. Pentagon investigator Scott Barfield said graffiti advocating the Aryan Nations has appeared in Baghdad. He said commanders are not taking action even after being notified of the presence of extremists or gang members amidst their ranks. Barfield added: "They don't want to make a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

European Parliament Orders States, Banks to Disclose Bank Spy Role
In other news, the European Parliament voted Thursday to demand financial institutions and member states disclose how much they knew about the secret US program to spy on international banking. The Parliament also voted to endorse the findings of a Council of Europe report that accused leading European countries of complicity in the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition.

CIA Kidnap Victim Reveals Ordeal in Afghan Prison
Meanwhile, an apparent victim of a CIA kidnapping has come forward to reveal the story of his abduction and torture. In an interview with the New York Times, the victim, Laid Saidi, says his ordeal began three years ago. In May of 2003, Saidi was expelled from Tanzania and handed to US agents. He was then flown to Afghanistan, where he spent sixteen months in a prison he believes was run by Americans. Saidi says he was left chained for five days without food or clothing. He says his interrogators beat him, doused him with cold water, spat on him, gave him dirty drinking water and told him he would die at the prison. He was eventually released in August 2004 and sent to Algeria. Saidi says he was held in the same prison as Khaled el-Masri, the German citizen who tried to sue the CIA for illegally kidnapping him two and a half years ago. According to the New York Times, two Pakistani detainees held at the same Afghan prison are now being held at Guantanano Bay.

NY, Georgia Courts Reject Gay Marriage
Back in the United States, the highest courts in two states issued rulings Thursday that set back efforts of gay and lesbian couples to win marriage rights. The New York Court of Appeals rejected same-sex couples' bid to marry and the top court in Georgia upheld a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Molly, Brenda, Seth, Joan and Gore Vidal Is God. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for July 7, 2006

- Calderon Declared Victor in Mexico Race; Obrador to Challenge
- Ex-Soldier Pleads Not Guilty to Rape, Killings of Iraqis
- Israel Widens Gaza Assault
- CIA Kidnap Victim Reveals Ordeal in Afghan Prison
- NY, Georgia Courts Reject Gay Marriage
- Pentagon Allowing Neo-Nazis, Extremists in Armed Forces
- FBI: Suspects Planned to Blow Up Holland Tunnel
- Britain Marks Anniversary of London Suicide Bombings

Calderon Declared Victor in Disputed Mexico Race; Lopez Obrador Calls for Mass Rally

Mexico's electoral commission has announced that conservative candidate Felipe Calderon has won the presidential election with a razor-thin victory. His populist rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he will challenge the result in the courts. We go to Mexico City for a report. [includes rush transcript]

New York, Georgia Courts Reject Gay Marriage

The highest courts in two states delivered rulings within hours of each other Thursday that set back efforts of gay and lesbian couples to win marriage rights. The New York Court of Appeals rejected same-sex couples' bid to marry and the top court in Georgia upheld a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state.

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

In her book, "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," author Michelle Goldberg examines how gay marriage has become "the mobilizing passion for much of the religious right." The book also charts how Christian fundamentalism is supported by Republican patronage and how under the Bush administration, it is increasingly shaping many aspects of public policy.

Army Charges Lieutenant With Contempt and Conduct Unbecoming an Officer for Refusing Iraq Deployment and Criticizing Bush, War

The Army has filed three charges against 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada who refused to deploy to Iraq last month because he believes the war there is illegal. The charges against him include conduct unbecoming an officer, missing movement and contempt toward officials. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lives of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".

Along with the above, the AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."

Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'" Reuters reports.

In peace news, Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) -- no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."

CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."

Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)
Mark Manning will be screening his film
Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

The e-mail address for this site is

Other Items

The case of one of them, Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was held as part of the United States' antiterrorism rendition program, was revealed last year, and German and American officials have acknowledged that he was erroneously detained by the United States. But the tale of the other, an Algerian named Laid Saidi, has never been told before, and it carries a new set of allegations against America's secret detention program.
In May 2003, Mr. Saidi was expelled from Tanzania, where he ran a branch of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity based in Saudi Arabia that promoted the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam and has since been shut down after being accused of financing terrorist groups. Tanzanian newspapers reported on Mr. Saidi's expulsion at the time, but nothing was known about where he went.
In a recent interview, Mr. Saidi, 43, said that after he was expelled he was handed over to American agents and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held for 16 months before being delivered to Algeria and freed without ever being charged or told why he had been imprisoned. He acknowledged that he was carrying a fake passport when he was detained, but he said he had no connection to terrorism.

[. . .]
"It was a long trip, from Saturday night to Sunday morning, " Mr. Saidi recalled. When the plane landed, he said, he was taken to what he described as a "dark prison" filled with deafening Western music. The lights were rarely turned on.
Men in black arrived, he said, and he remembers one shouting at him through an interpreter: "You are in a place that is out of the world. No one knows where you are, no one is going to defend you."
He was chained by one hand to the wall in a windowless cell and left with a bucket and a bottle in lieu of a latrine. He remained there for nearly a week, he said, and then was blindfolded and bound again and taken to another prison. "There, they put me in a room, suspended me by my arms and attached my feet to the floor," he recalled. "They cut off my clothes very fast and took off my blindfold." An older man, graying at the temples, entered the room with a young woman with shoulder-length blond hair, he said. They spoke English, which Mr. Saidi understands a little, and they interrogated him for two hours through a Moroccan translator. At last, he said, he thought he would learn why he was there, but the questioning only confounded him.
He said the interrogators focused on a telephone conversation they said he had had with his wife's family in Kenya about airplanes. But Mr. Saidi said he told them that he could not recall talking to anyone about planes.
He said the interrogators left him chained for five days without clothes or food. "They beat me and threw cold water on me, spat at me and sometimes gave me dirty water to drink," he said. "The American man told me I would die there."
He said his legs and feet became painfully swollen because he was forced to stand for so long with his wrists chained to the ceiling. After they removed him from the chains, he said, he was moved back to the "dark" prison and a doctor gave him an injection for his legs.
After one night there, he was moved to a third prison. He said the guards in this prison were Afghans, and one told him that he was outside Kabul.
There were two rows of six cells in the basement, which he described as "filthy, not even suitable for animals." Each cell had a small opening in the zinc-clad door through which the prisoners could glimpse one another as they were taken in and out of their cells. At night, they would talk.
"This is where I met Khaled el-Masri," Mr. Saidi said. A layout of the prison he sketched closely matched one drawn by Mr. Masri.
Mr. Masri had been seized in Macedonia in December 2003, and it was later revealed that he had apparently been mistaken for a terrorism suspect with a similar name. He said he was able only to glimpse Mr. Saidi a few times in Afghanistan. But he said their cells were close enough for them to talk at night.

The above is Craig Smith and SOUAD MEKHENNET 's "Algerian Tells of Dark Odyssey in U.S. Hands" in this morning's New York Times, the one to read.

Two headlines and one event. Headlines:

The US Army filed formal charges yesterday against Lt. Ehren Watada for refusing deployment to Iraq. Charges include missing troop movements to Iraq, engaging in conduct unbecoming of an officer, and of speaking contemptuous words against the president. Watada says the war in Iraq is illegal under domestic and international law and that soldiers have a duty to question unlawful orders. The army officer could face up to 7 years in prison if convicted.

Elsewhere in the country, opponents of the war in Iraq continue to make their case outside of military recruitment centers. Some protesters have been arrested outside of the centers, while others have faced threats of physical violence. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.More than 60 people turned out late Wednesday afternoon next to the armed forces recruiting station in New Haven, Connecticut to protest the treatment last week of a smaller group of anti-war activists on the same site. Last week, a Marine recruiter threatened more than a dozen people with a baseball bat as they picketed on the sidewalk near the station. When police arrived, they said nothing to the Marine but ordered the protesters to move across the street. At the rally yesterday, attorney Peter Goselin, a member of the National Lawyers Guild, talked about the fight at home. [Goselin]"The front line in the defense of First Amendment freedom in this country is not in Baghdad, and it's not in Kabul. It's right here on this sidewalk and on sidewalks just like it all over the United States." The guild is considering what legal action, if any, to take in defense of those rights. The protesters had originally gathered in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, based on his contention that the war is illegal.

Charlie notes those two items from Free Speech Radio News (Thursday broadcast) and also wants to pass on that if you support FSRN with a ten dollar donation, you get Noam Chomsky's
Going To Far CD for free.

And Saturday, Amy Goodman has an event:

* Amy Goodman in Eugene, OR:
Sat, July 8
Oregon Country Fair
call: 541-343-4298

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, transition, be sure to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. Rachel says Michelle Goldberg is among the guests and Ehren Watada among the topics.