Friday, November 23, 2007

Other Items

Victor Rabinowitz, a New York lawyer who successfully represented Fidel Castro's government before the Supreme Court as well as a who's who of liberal clients in the United States, has died. He was 96.
Rabinowitz died Nov. 16 at his New York City home, his longtime law partner Michael Krinsky told the Associated Press. No cause of death was reported.
Rabinowitz was a socialist who chose the law as a vehicle for his activism, and his career covered most of the major political causes of the 20th century.
He defended trade unionists in the 1940s, leftists in the McCarthy era of the 1950s, civil rights activists in the 1960s and Vietnam War resisters in the 1960s and '70s.
He helped found the second incarnation of the American Labor Party in the mid-1930s and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1947.
In 1964, Rabinowitz defended the Castro government, which nationalized U.S.-owned holdings after Washington banned sugar imports from Havana.
In defending Cuba's position before the U.S. Supreme Court, Rabinowitz contended that the Act of State doctrine applied, meaning that U.S. courts could not question the decisions of other countries concerning their internal affairs.
"It was a watershed case about when American courts can look into another case beyond its own borders," Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, told the Washington Post. It "was a remarkable victory, considering American hostility to Cuba."

Megan noted the above from the Los Angeles Times' "Victor Rabinowitz, 96; lawyer defended Castro regime." Ratnter also hosts, with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith, the weekly program Law and Disorder which airs on many stations including WBAI each Monday at ten a.m. EST. As Ruth noted, among the guests on this week's program were Daniel Ellsberg. If you missed it, it's archived. If you heard Ellsberg, there's an article in Harper's December issue that you can pair the broadcast up with, Kate Doyle's "The Atrocity Files: Deciphering the archives of Guatemala's dirty war" (pp. 52-64). It is and it isn't available online. Harper's has opened the archives to subscribers -- archives going back to 1850. If you're a subscriber of the magazine, you have online access to everything in this month's issue. In addition, if you're a subscriber, you have access to the archives. This isn't like The Nation's archives where you have to pay to read their archives even after you subscribe. The format is PDF and, as a current subscriber to Harper's, you can access the archives at no additional cost. A friend asked me to note that (and yesterday we accessed some of the Vietnam coverage). With the archives, you can access, among others, articles by Horatio Alger, E.B. White, Seymour Hersh (Vietnam, back when he covered actual wars as opposed to ones that may or may not be on the horizon), etc. Harper's has done the most extended articles on Iraq during this illegal war (they also had strong work during the first Gulf War) such as Naomi Klein's ground-breaking "Baghdad Year Zero" (that's available in non-PDF format). In the current issue, Luke Mitchell's "The Black Box" takes a look at the Iraqi oil industry from the point of view of American workers. (One of whom, noting the pools of oil polluting the environment, gives thanks that Iraq doesn't have an EPA.)

Kyle asked that we note this from Left Turn magazine:

Support Grassroots Media!
Over the past year you have might have received a letter in the mail, overheard a conversation at a conference, or seen an email in your inbox telling you the sad news: Another grassroots print publication has been forced to shut down due to lack of funds.
Sobered by the challenges facing independent media and inspired by national conversations around "The Non-Profit Industrial Complex" that have discussed alternatives to foundation funding, we are launching our "100 Grassroots Sustainers" campaign to sign up 100 monthly supporters by January. We are asking you, the grassroots organizers and activists that make up our base, to donate $5, $10, or $20 a month to keep Left Turn not only alive and well, but also innovative and powerful. READ MORE

Melissa notes the opening of Poka Laenui's "Commentary: An Honorable Exit from Iraq" (Yes! magazine):

The United States should not win in its war against Iraq. It should change its strategy to being just.
The United States was wrong to attack Iraq. Possession of weapons of mass destruction is not a justification, moreover Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Toppling Saddam Hussein is no justification; the imposition by a stronger nation of its political preference for the running of another nation’s government has never been a legitimate basis for attack.
Every justification for the attack by the United States against Iraq leads to the same conclusion: the United States acted as an international delinquent, a violator of Iraqi sovereignty, and an international threat to peace.
So how could one even entertain the notion of winning a war for which there is no justification?

Apparently news that the 'surge' is working hasn't reached Yes! magazine. That was sarcasm. The escalation hasn't worked the same way other attempts at controlling Iraqis (don't mistake it for democracy) hasn't worked. A lot of money's been tossed around and the violence has stopped. The limited coverage of the violence has decreased. The illegal war was sold via the constant repetition of lies. Today we see the same thing playing out with the repetition of 'safety' and the myth of The Great Return. They both get told and retold to the point that people begin to believe the lies or fear that they must be silent because -- even though it doesn't feel right, even though it doesn't add up -- what if it's true! It's not true. But blood on the hands didn't bother the press after the illegal war began and the lies were revealed, so telling news lies to sell the illegal war doesn't bother them either.

They'll 'correct' the narratives in a few months and pretend like they had no part in spreading them. Or possibly, if the calling out becomes universal, print a mini-culpa. But violence never stopped in Iraq and Green Zone encased reporters really aren't the ones who can talk about life on the ground (although that does beat DC located journalist presenting eye-witness accounts of life on the ground in Iraq -- another popular feature of the month).

Ali al-Fadhily continues to explore the realities in Iraq. Many days he's the last one standing in a press that long ago caved and crumpled. This is from his "Infighting Increases Instability" (IPS):

Increasing conflict and finger pointing between leading Shi'ite political blocs are heightening instability in war-torn Iraq.
"It is said in the Arab world that if thieves were not seen while stealing, they would be seen while dividing the loot," Wayil Hikmet, an Iraqi historian in Baghdad told IPS. "That is what goes for the accelerating collapse of the Iraqi political system that was made in the USA. The thieves of the Green Zone are now giving me and my colleagues good material to write down for the coming generations," Hikmet said, referring to new scandals floating to the surface of the political scene in recent days.
The Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq (SICI) led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, and The Sadr Movement led by anti-occupation cleric Muqtada Al- Sadr are accusing each other of committing serious crimes against humanity in the southern parts of Iraq.
In early September, clashes between Sadr's Mehdi Army militia and the Badr Organisation militia of SIIC erupted in the holy city of Kerbala, 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad. Kerbala, with a population of about half a million, is a holy city, particularly for the Shias, as it is home to the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The shrine of Imam Hussein is a place of pilgrimage for many Shia Muslims. The clashes between the two powerful militias left at least 52 people dead and over 200 wounded.
"Hakim and Muqtada were brought to the scene by the Americans who employed the two ambitious clerics in order to fight side by side against any Iraqi resistance," Lukman Jassim, a former Baath Party member, told IPS in Baghdad.
"But it is well known in Iraq that the two groups cannot put up with each other because of the historic disputes between their fathers and grandfathers and the conflict between them over power in Iraq. It was another American mistake," Jassim explained.

In the public account, a visitor wonders why we're not noting the fact that foreign fighters in Iraq fighting against the foreign occupying powers are largely from Saudi Arabia? Because we've noted that. Amy Goodman has repeatedly highlighted that fact (and will again, and we'll note it when she does). The majority of resistance to the foreign occupying powers remains Iraqis despite the 'hook' some of these stories (that we're not noting) appear determined to sell: "The only resistance is from Saudis!" That's not reality. Third Party writes to note that the same 'left' voice who slammed Ralph Nader and said that the left (apparently all the left is Democrats and Democrats are all the left) had to support Democratic candidates only is now playing cheerleader for the Republican libertarian Ron Paul. Yes, that would be confusing were it not for the fact that logic obviously left that mind some time ago. For the record, it takes a lot of DUMB to write about Ron Paul and how money could have been used instead of on the illegal war when Paul is interested in dismantiling the government, not in aiding citizens. Were the nation not in an illegal war, Paul would no doubt make the same arguments about where money could go . . . instead of through Health and Human Services or any number of departments or (limited) assistance the government currently provides. Remember, John McCain -- despite the lies -- is not a creation of the mainstream media alone -- it took a lot of hype from the center-left to build up the lie that he was a 'straight talker'.

The e-mail address for this site is