Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth (of Ruth's Report): If you were attempting to follow Iraq over the week, radio basically failed you. Thursday Peter Hart, CounterSpin, FAIR and Extra! would address a few points regarding the latest Iraq spin on KPFK's Uprising Radio with host Sonali Kolhatkar. He would repeat his point in far less time on Friday's CounterSpin. Also on KPFK Thursday, Morning Review Thursday would feature Thich Nhat Hanh discussing war, Vietnam and Iraq for the hour. Thursday may have been designated Iraq day by Pacifica because Dr. David Price was a guest on Democracy Now! discussing the U.S. military utilizing misguided anthropoligists in the Iraq War and Afghanistan one. Monday on WBAI's Out-FM featured The Ballet's "I Hate The War" at the half-way mark. That song is amazing by any standard but considering the week's output from Pacifica, it is also the hardest hitting 'statement' made all week.

While we cannot get Iraq on Pacifica, we can and did get a lot of really bad discussions of the housing crisis with guests who obviously learned jargon was important to get on TV but felt no need to explain the terms they repeatedly used to the radio listeners.

NPR appeared to be at least somewhat aware that the illegal war continued. Monday KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny presented an hour long discussion on Iraq and Raed Jarrar was one of the guests featured. NPR also offered reports throughout the week. Jamie Tarabay's report on Iraqi children on Friday's Morning Edition was the finest.

On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show Friday, Karen DeYoung, of The Washington Post, discussed Iraq and noted, of Wednesday's Amarah car bombings, that "three or four major Shi'ite groups have been contesting for power" and the U.S. has ignored that. Ms. DeYoung also noted that the American forces appeared to be hoping the Iraqi forces could become nonsectarian. She then offered what appeared to be her own belief that, prior to the start of the illegal war, Iraqi women had not been police officers. That is incorrect and killed any larger point she wanted to make about what could or could not be exported. Ms. Rehm had brought up The Los Angeles Times article this week on Iraqi female police officers being told that they would have to turn in their guns. Any comments Ms. DeYoung might have to offer on that topic need to be rooted in the reality that Iraq was not Afghanistan and that women were not wearing burkas. Saying "this putting women in uniforms" was an American goal is demonstrating a huge ignorance about the country she just returned from. Then Rosemary phoned in about the 'benchmark law,' the theft of Iraqi oil. Rosemary phrased her reading of it as "It did privatize a very big percent of Iraqi oil . . . removing it from their [Iraq's] hands" which is a correct reading. Unless your name is Karen DeYoung.

Ms. DeYoung wanted to insist that it was not about ownership. It is not ownership, she declared, before going on to say that what the proposed theft of Iraqi oil is really about is "a certain percent of profits" and that "it's not that they [companines] would own the law." Who would be selling it, Ms. DeYoung? Who would get more profits? It is a theft of Iraqi oil. Ms. DeYoung wanted to talk about exploration and drilling but failed to note that no country with Iraq's known reserves would agree to the percentages being tossed around, over 70% in some cases, and that corportations only get such generous deals when they have stumbled upon an area that may or may not have oil. An oil rich country, one that is known as oil rich, would never agree to such a deal.

In August of 2004, Ms. DeYoung told Howard Kurtz, by way of explaining the paper's poor reporting in the lead-up to the illegal war, "The hugeness of the war preparation story tended to drown out a lot of that stuff." "The hugeness" of the proposed theft of Iraqi oil should not "drown out a lot of" reality. But that appeared to be what happened.

In one of the broadcasts stronger moments, UPI's Martin Walker revealed the way the decision to renew the United Nations' mandate for one year is being seen in Iraq which is that after the mandate expires, the United States and Iraq would then have cleared the way to negotiate on their own permanent bases in Iraq.

So if you listened to NPR this week, you were aware an illegal war continued. If you listened to Pacifica? Not so much.

In each day's snapshots, "Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event" leads into this announcement:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

That is scheduled to take place from March 13th through March 15th and since we are now going to be noting the upcoming event each weekend day, I told C.I. I would grab it for today.

I have a few fears about the event, none of which have to do with IVAW but do have to do with press coverage of the event. Pacifica Radio would appear to be the natural leader in covering an event like this based upon its long history. However, the radio network's recent history, when they still cannot create one program devoted to covering the ongoing Iraq War, does not reassure me.

Throughout the week, I listened to live broadcasts and streams, caught archived streaming, and e-mailed members that listened to certain Pacifica outlets to ask, "Am I missing some big report, discussion or speech?" The responses I received indicated I was not missing anything and that Iraq really is not an issue to Pacifica. It has not been for some time. The big issue in 2007 has been the 2008 elections and, as awful as that has been, consider for a moment what that indicates for 2008's planned coverage. In 2006, Pacifica Radio created a national program for the mid-term elections and KPFA created its own program for the same topic. That was for mid-term elections. Shudder when you contemplate what is to come in 2008.

December 6th ended up being the only hearing the Canadian parliamentary committee on immigration was going to hold on the issue of war resisters. December 11th was just a brief committee meeting that sent the resolution agreed to on December 6th on to the House of Commons. I have no idea why many sites do not have that detail correct but, in addition to C.I.'s explaining that, I also called NDP parliamentarian Olivia Chow's office, read C.I.'s statements on the issue over the phone and was told that was correct and what happened. So in terms of covering any testimony, December 6th was the only chance this year. None was provided by Pacifica.

In addition, the 2007 crops of war resisters have been absent from Pacifica. Ehren Watada, an Iraq War resister from the 2006 class, got very little attention for his victory in civilian court. War resisters such as Brad McCall, Phil McDowell, Ross Spears, (Bethany) Skylar James, Eli Israel, Kimberly Rivera, and the Kamunen brothers (Leif, Leo and Luke) have been absent from the Pacifica airwaves and I think that is shameful.

So I am not going to be holding my breath that IVAW will suddenly interest Pacifica. Possibly if Al Gore shows up, Pacifica will yet again go out of their way to turn over programming to the event? Or maybe IVAW can book a 'voice' from the 'left' who pushes nuclear energy because they seem to pop up on all Pacifica stations and they are never questioned, let alone called out, for pushing nuclear energy. They are treated as 'trusted voices' and given the kids glove treatment. Again, that is not one station and I wonder if listeners of just one station grasp just how common this push for nuclear energy is becoming on Pacifica?

Dr. Helen Caldicott is a frequent guest on Pacifica programming. In 2007, I have only heard her on archived broadcasts such as From The Vault and she was to be featured, from an archived broadcast, on the Pacifica Radio Archives day of special programming recently. In a 2005 column entitled "Nuclear Power is the Problem, Not a Solution," Dr. Caldicott opened with this statement, "There is a huge propaganda push by the nuclear industry to justify nuclear power as a panacea for the reduction of global-warming gases." She was not mistaken. Hearing various 'trusted' 'voices' on Pacifica throughout the year present themselves as environmentalists while advocating on behalf of nuclear energy indicates that Pacifica is far from its roots on many issues.

democracy now