Friday, May 05, 2006

Democracy Now: Damu Smith remembered, Ray McGovern . . .

Mass Police Raid On Mexican Town After Farmer Arrests
In Mexico, over 1,000 police officers raided a town on the outskirts of Mexico City Thursday that was the site of a riot a day earlier. On Wednesday, demonstrators clashed with police who tear-gassed them for protesting the arrest of several farmers for selling flowers without a permit. The demonstrators took six police hostages, all of whom were released. At least 30 people were arrested and remain in custody. Two journalists said police beat them to prevent them from filming.

Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
In Somalia, the Bush administration is being accused of fermenting unrest through the support of warlords fighting Islamic militants in Mogadishu. A Somali government spokesperson said the US government's backing is helping fuel a civil war that has led to many civilian deaths. Some 90 people were killed during the fighting in March -- the worst violence Somalia has seen in years.

New Israel Gov. Takes Office With Pledge To Annex Settlements
In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert installed his new government Thursday with a promise to impose permanent borders. Under Olmert's plan, 60,000 settlers living in isolated areas on the West Bank will be moved to Israel's main settlement blocks, home to over 340,000 people. Those settlement blocks would then become part of Israel's permanent borders. Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has announced Hamas would be willing to move towards peace with Israel if it agreed to give up its West Bank settlements and recognize Palestinian rights.

Damu Smith, 1952-2006
And finally, legendary peace activist Damu Smith died earlier this morning. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Damu spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the south. He was a key leader in the anti-Apartheid movement and fought police brutality in Washington, DC and around the country. Damu was diagnosed with colon cancer last year while on a peace mission in the Occupied Territories. He then not only fought for his life, but against racial disparities in the health care system. Damu is survived by his daughter Aisha and his legacy lives on in all those who fight for justice.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Francisco, Brenda, Kara and Susan. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 5, 2006

- 2 Rebel Groups Walk Out of Darfur Peace Talks
- Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
- Mass Police Raid On Mexican Town After Farmer Arrests
- Thousands Flee East Timorese Capital
- Indonesian Militia Leader Starts 10-Year Jail Sentence
- Israel Gov. Takes Office With Pledge To Annex Settlements
- FEMA To Close New Orleans Recovery Office
- US Invokes Voting Rights Act To Sue African American
- Damu Smith,1952-2006

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

Damu Smith 1952-2006: Legendary Peace Activist Dies After Battle with Colon Cancer

Legendary peace activist Damu Smith died Friday morning in Washington, DC of colon cancer. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, he spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the South. [includes rush transcript]

Retired CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Takes on Rumsfeld Over Justification for Iraq Invasion

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld comes under fire from retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern at a speech in Atlanta on Thursday. Rumsfeld was interrupted by protesters several times in his address. We speak with McGovern and play excerpts from the event. [includes rush transcript]

FBI Counterterrorism Unit Spies on Peace Group School of the Americas Watch

The ACLU released evidence Thursday showing that the FBI has been monitoring the peace group, School of Americas Watch. The group conducts research on the U.S Army School of the Americas, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. SOA Watch is the latest organization that has been found to have been subject to U.S government surveillance in the name of counterterrorism efforts.

FBI Targeted Freelance Journalist Covering FTAA Miami Talks

Newly-released documents reveal that the FBI spied on freelance journalist David Lippman as he was covering the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Miami in 2003. The documents indicate Lippman was under surveillance for being a "known protestor w/history." The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit on his behalf.

Evo Morales Nationalizes Gas Resources in Bolivia

Leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela gathered Thursday for an emergency summit do discuss Bolivia's decision to nationalize its natural gas fields and refineries. We speak with Larry Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Bullets in the Hood: Bed-Stuy Documentary Goes on Tour to Raise Awareness About Gun Violence

Downtown Community Television is launching an anti-gun violence tour in New York City and elsewhere featuring the award-winning film "Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story." The film was made by two 19 year-olds, raised in Brooklyn's public housing projects, who had lost 11 friends to gun-violence in the streets of New York.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Yesterday, KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien's newsbreaks, covered the developing story of the US attack on Ramadi. Austalia's ABC notes that at least 13 people died in that attack.

CNN reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry has announced that "army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif was gunned down in the western Yarmouk neighborhood as he drove to work." (That occurred Thursday.)

On Monday, we noted: " FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th)." Today, Reuters reports that Denmark has decided to make no reduction, they will switch some to "U.N. duties" ("a small net reduction in the force of 530 of 10 to 40"). Later today, AP reported that Denmark was indeed going to reduce their troops (by 80). Reuters also reports that the issue of Polish troops in Iraq is something Andrzej Lepper (deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture) intends to address: "We are still against out military presence there and if it comes to a vote in parliament, we will oppose (extending the stay)," he said. Meanwhile, Australia plans to send 460 additional troops to Iraq.

Corpses continue to surface in Iraq. China's Xinhua reports that five corpses ("riddled with bullets"; "signs of torture") were discovered in Ramadi. The Associated Press notes the discovery of five more corpses with "four in Baghdad and one on the outskirts of the city."

Explosions also continued in Iraq. The Associated Press reports the death of three American troops in Babil -- resulting from a roadside bombing. In Mosel, KUNA reports, a bomb wounded an Iraqi soldier. In Baghdad, gunfire claimed the life of Maj. Ali Hamid (Iraqi police officer).

On this issue of Iraqi soldiers, John Berman reported for ABC news on the "graduation ceremony for 978 recruits" which quickly dropped to half that figure as "[t]hey began taking off their uniforms when they learned they would not be stationed in their hometowns."

Near Kirkuk (where no one wants to report from -- see oil "blaze" last week), Reuters reports the kidnapping of "six oil engineers for Iraq's Northern Oil company."

Bad news for two blood lusters: Tony Blair's having to juggle his cabinet and Bully Boy's got another poll (AP-Ipsos) to try to spin (poll found only 33% feel he's doing a good job). (Bully Boy will have to juggle as well with Porter Goss stepping down from the CIA.)

Ruth phoned. She's read the e-mails. She says she's not sure how she'll address it but she will address the issue in her report tomorrow. If she's unable to, we'll address it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Rebecca addressed it earlier this week. That on Friday (later for some areas) we all have to hear that nonsense again is appalling. To quote Mia Farrow, "There must have been nothing going on in the world that week . . . ." (What Falls Away, p. 107.)

This has been a start and stop entry, dictated over several phone calls. Most of what would have been included is being pulled. (I'm referring to my comments, not highlights.) There's a lot of nonsense getting attention, lot of "water cooler topics" eating up news time. Others can do what they want, that's their business. But we won't go into the gutter with them. (And yes, everyone who's e-mailed to complain about ___, I am aware of it. I didn't hear it. But I certainly heard of it in the e-mails. It was one thing when Democracy Now! covers it. That's a news program. That's why we'll note every report they do. There is a difference between what Democracy Now! is doing as a news program as opposed to whatever that was on ___ today.)

That nonsense has taken up more than enough of the community's time and my own today.

What topic could have been covered instead of the nonsense? How about Molly's highlight? From Ellen Goodman's "Granny Power Takes on the War in Iraq" (Boston Globe via Common Dreams):

I went to the grannies for a booster shot of optimism. It's been that kind of week. We just passed the third anniversary of the flight-jacket photo op and its mission unaccomplished. The plunge in the president's approval ratings, down to 33 percent, hasn't translated into a howl of protest but a low-level depression. And the Official Bush Countdown Clock is barely a tick below 1,000 days.
But in Manhattan, 18 women of granny age, full of wit and wisdom, have just won a court case and sent their protest story around the world. I'll take my optimism where I can.
Last fall, these women descended by foot, cane, and walker onto an armed forces recruitment center in Times Square. Inspired by groups such as the Tucson Raging Grannies, they demanded -- ''we insist/ we enlist"-- that the Army take them rather than their grandchildren.
When the soldiers locked them out, 91-year-old Lillian Runyon banged on the door, singing: ''If I had a hammer . . . " The women of the Granny Peace Brigade then staged a sit-down until the police, rather more gently than is their wont, took them to jail in handcuffs.
Their cry against the war's dishonorable conduct came up against the government's claim of their disorderly conduct. But on April 27, a mere whippersnapper of a judge -- 46 years old -- declared them not guilty. Whereupon Joan Wile, lyricist and grandmother of five, promptly then told the courthouse crowd, ''Listen to your granny; she knows best."
Now four of those grannies were sitting around the conference table in their lawyer's office still wearing buttons and the glow of notoriety. Wile was even brushing up the lyrics of her call-to-elder-arms: ''Grandmas get offa your tush/ We've got to go after Bush."
Something about the granniness of the event -- though some were younger than the average senator -- made the coverage read more like a lifestyle story than a gathering political storm. But then again, these protesters have a lightness of spirit that brings a message home: ''Just forget your retirement pursuits/ And get out your old marching boots."

That matters. (And you saw Amy Goodman interview Marie Runyon in
"Raging Grannies Acquitted in New York" -- no fluff at DN!)

Tasha noted "American 'Peace Mom' on cross-Canada tour to protest Iraq war" (China's People's Daily Online):

She camped 26 days outside the Texas ranch of U.S. President George W. Bush to protest the Iraqi war last August.
This April, she and her supporters pitched their tents outside the ranch again, just to demand a reasonable answer as to why the U.S. troops are fighting and dying in Iraq.
But now, she is shifting her mission to a new direction.
Cindy Sheehan, the American anti-war icon, is on a cross-Canada tour. She urges the nation, which once sheltered so many U.S. Vietnam war dodgers, to give sanctuary to more American soldiers who have dodged service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"I'm just here begging the people of Canada to force your government ... to allow our soldiers to have sanctuary up here," Sheehan, also known as "Peace Mom," told reporters on Thursday during her visit to the Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
The 48-year-old mother has become a leading voice in the American anti-war movement since her son, Casey, 24, was killed five days after he began serving in Iraq in 2004.
On Wednesday, she addressed an anti-war rally at the University of Toronto along with members of the Council of Canadians and the War Resisters Support Campaign. She is also scheduled to speak in Montreal and Vancouver.
Sheehan asked the Canadian government to create a provision allowing military deserters to flee to Canada so they do not need to apply for refugee status on an individual basis.
Canada became a haven for as many as 50,000 U.S. draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam war. That should happen again, Sheehan said.
"The peace movement in America has always looked up to Canada as refuge of peace and sanity when our leaders have taken us to insane wars."

As Keesha wrote, suggesting a highlight, "Let's make it about the women since no one else seems to give a ___ about women this week." It does feel like that, doesn't it? From CODEPINK:

Declare peace on Mother's Day with CODEPINK! We will be gathering in Washington DC for a 24-hour vigil outside the White House on May 13-14, and will be joined by amazing celebrity actresses, singers, writers, and moms, including Cindy Sheehan, Patch Adams, and Susan Sarandon! Bring your mother, children, grandmothers, friends, and loved ones. We will be honoring the mothers of the fallen by sending them organic roses. Click here to send your rose! We're also writing letters to Laura Bush to appeal to her own mother-heart, turning them into a book, "Letters to Laura." For event info click here, read our blogs and check out our online store for gift ideas.

Great highlight from Kevin. (And fits with Keesha's suggestion.) We'll probably note this again (remind me). From Kim Gandy's "Marching for Peace, Working for Peace" (NOW):

On this important day, as we prepare to march for peace, justice and democracy, I want to echo some of the voices of women--diverse voices that have been largely absent in the media coverage of peace and justice issues.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." And one of my favorite comics, Elayne Boosler, famously commented that, "When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country." Have you noticed that when something is really funny, it's often because there's a grain of truth in it?
Around the world, women are the peacemakers in every culture, perhaps because we are thinking about the future of our children--and the future of other women's children. We're not the ones who solve our disputes, be they small or large, with fists and guns.
That's why the National Organization for Women is marching today, joined by many thousands who care about equality, justice, democracy, and peace. Women cannot stand by while our daughters and sons are dying--whether our own, sent across the ocean to fight, or the children of Iraqi mothers, whose hearts bleed just the same. We cannot stand by while Katrina survivors, who have endured so many broken promises from this government, continue to wait for the help every one of us would expect. And we cannot ignore the threats to our democracy that are coming from within: the voter purges, the intimidation, the dirty tricks, the riggable voting machines. And that's just the beginning.

It really is a matter of emphasis. What gets praised and what gets noticed. This deserves to be noted.

Via Martha, we have some history (peace is a feminist issue as NOW points out) from Blanche
Wiesen Cook's "Women and Peace: The Legacy" (Ms. Magazine):

The extraordinary journey of the American women to join British, German, Belgian and neutral-country women to discuss the causes of war and the future of peace was unprecedented. Courageous and bold, they crossed mine-filled Atlantic waters in April l9l5 to join nearly 1,500 others, many of whom defied their families to attend. The British government held up their ship for four days in the English Channel, and ridiculed them as "Pro-Hun Peacettes." But the women were convinced that war was "a denial of the sovereignty of reason and a betrayal of the deepest instincts of the human heart." Unbound by nationalism, they declared themselves citizens of the world, in solidarity against the slaughter of war, committed to a future of sanity and cooperation.
On her return, Jane Addams presented Woodrow Wilson with their deliberations, which became a source for Wilson's Fourteen Points (his l9l8 statement of principles for a just and lasting peace) and the League of Nations. But the U.S. refused to join the World Court or the League, and the punitive Treaty of Versailles ending World War I led directly to World War II.
The grim events of l9l4 through l9l8 unleashed a century of violence, and transformed the nature of war. Airplanes, missiles, chemical weapons, poison gases and the bombing of cities ended the myth of men at war on isolated battlefields. The genocide of the Armenian people by the Turks in l9l5 introduced a new awareness of the need for human rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt was profoundly influenced by these events, and by her friends Jane Addams and Lillian Wald. She joined their peace efforts, campaigned from l923 to l935 for America's entry into the World Court, joined famed suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt's Committee on the Cause and Cure of War, became a lifetime member of WILPF, and spoke and wrote vigorously for peace.

That's from the Winter issue of Ms. (summarized here).

Remember Democracy Now! s Amy Goodman is in California today:

* Amy Goodman in Davis, CA:
Fri, May 5
A Conversation About Guantanamo
Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis
For more information: 530-752-1915
For Detailed Directions:
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
5211 Social Science and Humanities
University of California at Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and James Yee will be among those speaking.

Another event going on in that area today? Matthew Rothschild and Will Durst will be addressing the issue of impeachment this evening:

Where: Mill Valley, CA
142 Throckmorton Theatre,
Reception at 7:00
Event starts at 8:00

"All about the women!" Well Andrea Lewis will be there (co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show ) and it's a fundraiser for The Progressive (which publishes Molly Ivins, Anne-Marie Cusak, Ruth Conniff, Kate Clinton, Barbara Ehrenreich and more).

The e-mail address for this site is

Jess note: Post corrected to add link to Denmark story "later today."