Saturday, May 13, 2006

NYT: In a Dispute, Army Cancels Rebuilding Contract in Iraq" (Glanz and Rhode)

Juso Sinanovic, a 47-year-old carpenter from northern Bosnia, died on April 17 of natural causes. His body arrived on Thursday in the northern town of Djurdevik.
"Daddy is back, and this is the only thing I lived for these last days," his daughter, Jasmina Sinanovic, 21, said. "We were waiting for so long to give him a proper burial."
Sinanovic's body was sent to Australia instead of that of Private Jake Kovco, 25, the first Australian serviceman to die on duty in Iraq since the US-led war began in 2003.

The above is from the Associated Press' "Bosnian man's body returns home" (Sydney Morning Herald) and Skip noted it. The New York Times has never been interested in the stories of Sinanovic or Kovco so we'll open with it. Iraq's not given much play in this morning's New York Times at all.

James Glanz and David Rhode contribute "In A Dispute, Army Cancels Rebuilding Contract in Iraq" which is hard to get excited about. The article is an officials say. Might officials also need to say that not only has Parsons (who lost their contract) done a poor job rebuilding hospitals in Iraq (that's a mild way to describe the tragedy) but the officials provided no real oversight? That's reality. It's easy to get outraged (and people should be) that Parson won a $243 million contract and "that just 20 of the original 150 clinics" can be "completed without new financing."
But where was the oversight? The administration launched the invasion three years ago. Why only now is it an issue that there's a lot of money being shoved in pockets but nothing to show for it?

The article would also benefit from an awareness of Dahr Jamail's study (PDF format "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" -- summarized here) but it's probably too much to expect that Green Zone reporters read the work of the non-embeds. (It's probably a mobility envy thing.) They do mention ("last year") the work of Ali Fadhill but his work was televised which is probably much easier than reading.

Probably for readers of the Times this is an amazing article because this is really the first they're learning of it. For those who know to go elsewhere for the news, it's disappointing. (Possibly increasing the size of the article -- the topic should indicate it should be longer and front-paged -- would have allowed Glanz and Rhode a stronger article.)

Diana Jean Schemo contributes "Protests Continue at University for Deaf" which is about the protests over the selection of Jane K. Fernandes as president of Gallaudet University after a limited search and criticisms of Ferandes' approach and experiences. Fernandes, Schemo notes, has been "criticized . . . as aloof." Meeting with groups of teachers and students while making statements like "I'm not here to get your vote" probably won't help dispell that image.

Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston contribute "C.I.A. Aide's House and Office Searched" covers Kyle "Dusty" Foggo (the Times leaves out "Dusty" -- it's always hilarious to watch the Times rename whether it's Spiro or Scooter) the latest on the contracting fraud scandal that's already landed Randy Cunningham a conviction and has Foggo stepping down from his position (though not quitting the CIA as some might think). From the article:

Current and former intelligence officials said they could not recall another time in the 59-year history of the agency that a senior official like Mr. Foggo was involved in a criminal investigation. Intelligence officials said that although Mr. Foggo had resigned as executive director, he remained an agency employee, but without access to headquarters.

On the front page, John Markoff tackles "Questions Raised For Phone Giants In Spy Data Furor:"

The former chief executive of Qwest, the nation's foruth-largest phone company, rebuffed government requests for the company's calling records after 9/11 because of "a distinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," his lawyer said yesterday.
The statement on behalf of the former Qwest executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, follwed a report that the other big phone comanies -- AT&T, Bell-South and Verizon -- had compiled with an effort by the National Security Agency to build a vast databse of calling records, without warrants, to increase its surveillance capabilities after the Sept. 11 attacks.

While an improvement over yesterday's coverage (it abandons what can best be characterized as "Sweet, sweet, sweet the sting" -- with a nod to Tori Amos and The Beekeeper), questions in e-mails indicate that there's some confusion. I spent some of the morning on the phone with friends who work at various phone companies. If you're using a "Bell-ette," you were effected. Let's say you go through 1888GETAPHONE (made up company), that's not a phone company proper in that it has its own equipment. So if you're not with Qwest but didn't see your phone company listed, you may be thinking (falsely) that you weren't effected. If you're using some form of a Bell-ette, your service provider is likely using a bigger company (AT&T, etc.) because they are the ones with equipment and lines.

A number of members wrote about their service providers. I was able to find out about all but one (Sam's) and, in those instances, you're being routed through either AT&T, Bell-South or Verizon. (Sam, you've got an e-mail asking if your company has a longer name, full name.) So, unless you're with Qwest, a good rule of thumb is to assume that your own calls were caught up in the spy net. (I was told flat out by three friends that unless you're with Qwest, regardless of what the name of your service provider was, you are in the net.)

The article speaks of "pen register or trap and trace information" and I was told that in earlier decades these would be "toll slips." For authorites to seize toll slips (records of calls placed and received, either written by an operator or printed on a roll of tape) they did need to go through channels. Bully Boy has circumvented that process. The fact that we're no longer dealing with a hard copy (or "wet document") shouldn't alter the guidelines the government would need to follow if it were an instance of getting information on calls placed and received on one line or on millions.

That's the Times. Besides those phone calls, I also got to hear Betty's latest, "The joke is always Thomas Friedman. Always." It's very funny and you should read it. (If you're one of the lucky ones who avoids Thomas Friedman's column, Wednesday he was again scaring the United States about the dangers in store from other countries including Russia which is the country Betty's focusing on in her latest chapter.) I then stopped in the middle of this entry when Trina called. She was nervous about her entry but it's perfect. Make a point to read "Popcorn in the Kitchen." And I'm leaving the time on this for when I started the entry. Which was almost three hours ago. She's addressing a topic that was alluded to here and one that a number of members want explored more, so read her entry.

Also remember this 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.

Kat posts her review later today. After the flack I got last week for steering to something outside the community, I won't steer to another thing. (Not complaining, but again, I just gave a heads up to something that happens on Fridays, I had no idea what was scheduled.) That'll become clear tomorrow but if you're reading this and thinking I've forgotten something, I haven't. (I do know what's scheduled and, if you do as well, you know why I'm not highlighting it.)

Seems like there's something else (something I may be actually forgetting). The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, May 12, 2006

Democracy Now: NSA discussion, Cindy Sheehan & Elaine Johnson address the war

Bush's Approval Rating Sinks to 29%
And President Bush's approval rating has hit another new low. According to a poll by Harris Interactive, just 29% of Americans believe the President is doing a good job. Another poll tracking views on the President and the outlook for the United States led the New York Times to conclude: "Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades."

Chomsky Criticizes US Stance on Iran
Meanwhile, on a visit to Lebanon, MIT professor Noam Chomsky was asked about the Bush administration's row with Iran.
  • Noam Chomsky: "The regional superpower Israel is threatening to attack [Iran], the U.S. is threatening to attack it. These threats alone are outright violations international law and of the U.N. charter. Iran is in difficulty. Iran has been trying for some years to negotiate settlement but the U.S. just refuses."

EU Lawmakers In US For CIA Prisons, Rendition Investigation
Back in the United States, a group of European lawmakers are in this country as part of their investigation into the CIA's secret prison facilities and renditions of suspects throughout their continent. But after a meeting with the State Department, Carlos Coelho, the delegation's Portuguese chair, said US officials had given very little information.
  • Carlos Coelho: "They reminded the European committee the United States of America are [bound] by international law, so they deny anything like making renditions to foreign countries to torture someone. They reminded some declarations from Ms. Rice, admitting perhaps some kind of mistakes can happen, but it's our duty to provide if it is true, no other errors can be made in the future."
US Mulls Troop Deployment To Mexican Border
The Associated Press is reporting the Pentagon is examining ways to use the military to patrol the United States border with Mexico. Paul McHale, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland security, has asked aides to draw up plans for the deployment of military resources and troops, including the National Guard. The news comes on the heels of a meeting this week between White House political strategist Karl Rove and several Republican lawmakers where the issue was discussed. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill Thursday, lawmakers approved a measure that would allow limited deployments of military personnel to assist border officials.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Kansas, Emily, Heath and Joan. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 12, 2006

- Bush Admin. Stonewalls Questions on Latest NSA Revelations
- IAEA Head: Iran Dispute Can Be Resolved Diplomatically
- Chomsky Criticizes US Stance on Iran
- 4 US Troops Killed in Reported Accident
- Diego Garcia Islanders Win Legal Battle To Return
- EU Lawmakers In US For CIA Prisons, Rendition Investigation
- US Mulls Troop Deployment To Mexican Border
- Kentucky Governor Indicted For Conspiracy, Misconduct
- Bush's Approval Rating Sinks to 29%

Three Major Telecom Companies Help US Government Spy on Millions of Americans

USA Today has revealed the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. One source told the paper that the NSA is attempting to create the world's largest database -- big enough to include every call ever made within the nation's borders.

The Yes Men Strike Again: Group Poses As Halliburton Reps At "Catastrophic Loss" Conference

The Yes Men have struck again. On Tuesday, a man claiming to be a representative of Halliburton gave a presentation at the "Catastrophic Loss" conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. Conference attendees include leaders from the insurance industry. We speak with the Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum, who took part in the hoax. [includes rush transcript]

Mothers Say No To War: Peace Activists Plan Mother's Day Protest Outside White House

Sunday is Mother's Day and a group of women have chosen to honor it by calling for peace. Women from all over the country are gathering in Washington D.C this weekend and will be holding an all night vigil outside the White House to demand that the troops be brought home from Iraq. We’re joined by Elaine Johnson and Cindy Sheehan, who both lost sons in Iraq.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence.

As Sabrina Tavernise noted, Thursday "was . . . the deadliest day for the American military in a month, with the deaths of seven service members and the announcement of an eighth death that had occurred on Tuesday." This did not include the death of four marines on Thursday when, as reported by the Associated Press, a "tank rolled off a bridge into a canal" resulting in the drowning deaths of four marines.

Thursday was also the day that Nikola Radovanovic denied that Bosnia had shipped "200,00 small arms to Iraq in a secret and non-trasnperanet fashion" (China's Xinhua).
Amnesty International has made the charges that Radovanovic (Defense Minister of Bosnia) was denying. The charges come in a report on how the transfer of arms threatens human rights.

Today? The Shia party Islamic Virture has withdrawn from cabinet negotiations. The BBC notes that party spokesperson Sabah al-Saadi has "criticised what he said were external pressures from the US ambassador in Iraq." A joint story by CBS and AP, identifying the party as Fadhila, notes that the criticism also includes the assertion that "the Cabinet selection process was being dictated by personal interests and pressure by the United States that ran counter to the spirit of national unity." As cabinet negotiations continue to fail to meet the much touted timetable, Reuters reports that a "bomb in a parked car" went off outside the office of Dawa (the Shi'ite party of Nuri al-Maliki). The AFP notes that Nuri al-Maliki (Iraq's prime minister to be) continues to to tell "the ambassadors of Britain and Iran that the cabinet would be ready in the next 'few days.'" Al Jazeera notes that the real timetable, constitutional as opposed to the one al-Maliki has promised and missed, leaves only ten days to meet the "one-month constitutional deadline to present his cabinet to parliament."

In Baghdad, CNN reports, an Iraqi soldier was killed in an attack on a convoy. Reuters notes the death of Ahmed Midhat Mahmoud and two of his bodyguards as a result of an ambush (Mahmoud was "the son of a senior judge). Kuna identifies Mahmoud as the "son of chief of Iraqi judicial council." The Associated Press notes that a police officer was killed with at least two more wounded as a result of drive by shootings. Road side bombs continued in Baghdad, at least one resulted in no deaths or casualties but another resulted in one police officer being wounded.

The Associated Press notes that Basra saw violence as Sheik Khalil Ibrahim and his son were killed as they departed the Sunni Khudairi mosque.

Kuna reports that, in Tal Afar, an attack on a police patrol resulted in three being wounded (police officers) and two being killed (attackers).

In Dhuluiya, the BBC notes, at least four Iraqi soldiers have died and at least seven civilians have been wounded as people clash with "Iraqi forces."

Throughout Iraq, corpses continued to turn up. Reuters notes four ("military uniform, two of them beheaded") being discovered in Khan Bani Saad and one ("gunshot wounds to the head and . . . signs of torture) being discovered in Baghdad while KUNA also notes the discovery of a corpse in Sadr City ("blindfolded, with hands bound and the victim appears to have been shot dead."). Al Jazeera notes the kidnapping of Carlo Daccache "snatched on Friday in Baghdad by unidentified armed men."

In the United States, Congress member John Murtha has told the Associated Press that he predicts America will brings its troops home "by 2007" as a result of the Bully Boy "bow[ing] to public pressure or [because] Democrats will have won control of the House of Representatives."

Finally, as noted this morning on Democracy Now!, an event sponsored by CODEPINK and other organizations will take place Saturday and Sunday in DC:

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.

On Sarandon, Molly notes "Sarandon Got Death Threats Over Iraq" (CBS/AP):

"If you ask somebody and you explain to them the future of their children, the future of their world, that's not supposed to be a radical idea at all," she said. "And, you know, who are those 32 percent that still approve of bush? That would be your right wing. The rest of the country is saying he's not doing a good job."
The actress also said there was a backlash in Hollywood for her public stance against the war. She said "certain people in the business" called for boycotts against her.
"I don't think that I thought that I'd really never work again, but when there is nobody else, when you look out on the field and everybody is quiet and they're all looking away and nobody's saying anything, it's a really scary place to be," she said.
Sarandon condemned Democrats for failing to stand up to the Bush administration's Iraq policy -- even though she hopes a Democrat will win the White House in 2008.
"Everybody is so cautious and just trying to get elected, just trying to stay in office," she said.

Two more highlights. First, Billie wonders if we forgot it was Thursday? (I usally do.) She steers us to Margaret Kimberley's "Shelby Steele Loves White Supremacy" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Shelby Steele is a well known black conservative, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a leading right wing think tank. Steele has made a lucrative career for himself by lambasting black people and praising white people. He says that racism is all in the past, that all is right with the world and it is up to black people to admit it and stop complaining.
Recently on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal Steele outdid himself. Steele lamented that white people just aren't as vicious as they used to be. He believes that the legacy of slavery, segregation and American imperialism left a terrible legacy on white people. Of course, the worst impact was on the oppressed and subjugated, but Steele isn't very worried about the legacy the past left on them.
According to Steele, ever since World War II the U.S. just doesn't mistreat brown skinned people the way it used to. He says that white people just feel too guilty and don't utilize sufficient vigor when blowing countries to bits. Steele claims that, "Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war."
Perhaps he lives in an alternate universe. Every opinion poll indicated that the majority of white Americans applauded their government's decision to occupy, kill and steal in Iraq. Most of those who now oppose the occupation do so because victory wasn’t swift, not because they truly think their government was wrong.

Second, Eddie notes "Hayden Enabled the Breaking of the Law: Tyranny Creeps in on the Feet of Fog" (BuzzFlash):

Okay, BuzzFlash has to admit it.
Sometimes, we feel like we are in an auditorium, watching a cliched, tiresome play. We notice smoke and then fire licking at the side walls of the theater. We start to shout, "Fire, Fire!"
But no one seems to hear. The audience just sits in rapt attention, in deep thrall as the soap opera unfolds on stage.
Take for instance, yesterday.
General Hayden "made the rounds" on Capitol Hill and the mainstream press reported on what a nice reception he received. Olympia Snow, the moderate Republican -- for election purposes only -- announced she would likely vote for him, and others chimed in. Once again, even though Bush's polls are lower than a limbo bar lying on a floor, the Bush fairy dust (or is it political anthrax) has descended on Capitol Hill -- and the media is treating it as just another appointment, albeit with a little bit of mild controversy, but nothing serious mind you.
We've railed against the appointment of Hayden since the White House first leaked that he was going to be nominated immediately after Goss walked the plank for any number of reasons not disclosed to us. We've stated a number of reservations, but nothing is more egregious and dangerous to our Constitution than that Hayden oversaw the Bush Administration's illegal foreign and domestic spying while head of the NSA.
In short, Hayden is a lawbreaker. The courts haven't determined that yet, but if you brazenly rob a bank and there are a hundred witnesses (in this case about 300 million), then you broke the law. Bush even admits he made an "end run" around the FISA court and law passed by Congress. Hayden oversaw the implementation of the illegal activity. Case closed.
Today, USA Today reports, in detail, that Bush, with hard evidence proving that he lied, authorized domestic spying, particularly the gathering of information on nearly every phone call made in the United States. This is illegal and an abonimal affront to the Constitution. This is, as we note in our headline, something that would make the late Leonid Brezhnev proud of Bush -- and Hayden, the Pentagon apparatchik, who saw it through.
But there's more (much more than we can detail in this editorial). Hayden refused to tell a Congressional hearing awhile back that the NSA was not spying for political purposes. Similarly, Alberto "Consigliere" Gonzales, at a Congressional hearing, would not answer the same question. In short, the Bush administration is, it appears, spying for political purposes.

Betty's planning to post her latest chapter tonight. Carl urges everyone to read Mike's "Barry Bonds, Repubes drool over tax breaks, peace activists go to Iran" Susan urges everyone to read Kat's "Guns & Butter and the crappy 1000th issue of Rolling Stone."
Tomorrow's Saturday, remember Trina posts on Saturday.

The e-mail address for this site is

Other Items

The Army has shaken up a program to heal recruits injured in basic training after soldiers and their parents said troops hurt at Fort Sill were punished with physical abuse and medical neglect.
The program, which treated more than 1,100 injured soldiers last year at five posts, normally returns three-fourths of its patients to active duty, according to Army statistics. But at Fort Sill, recruits said, injuries were often subject to derision, ignored or improperly treated.
Two soldiers in the program have died since 2004, one or possibly both of accidental overdoses of prescription drugs. The latest death, in March, remains under investigation, the Army said.

"I am an inmate," one soldier, Pfc. Mathew Scarano of Eureka, Calif., wrote in a letter home in January two months before he died. "I sometimes ask those friends of mine with jailhouse tattoos if they'd rather be back in jail, or here. So far, they are unanimous -- jail."

The above is from the opening of Ralph Blumenthal's "Army Acts to Curb Abuses of Injured Recruits" in this morning's New York Times. Blumenthal and 'staff' missed the Alphonso Jackson story (which they should have owned). Pair Blumenthal's article with an Associated Press that Jonah notes, "White House Opposes Parts of Defense Bill:"

The Bush administration does not see a need to increase the size of the armed forces right now. It believes that 2.7 percent is too much of a pay raise for the military. And it does not want to maintain its current fleet of 12 aircraft carriers.
On a 396-31 vote Thursday, the House approved a $512.9 billion military bill that includes those provisions and others that the White House and the Pentagon could do without.
The bill addresses lawmakers' concerns arising from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from combating makeshift roadside bombs to equipping more vehicles and troops with armor. The measure also includes a plan to spend $50 billion for the first part of next year's war costs.

And pair both up with this from Sabrina Tavernise's "As Violence Grows, Shiite Closes Town's Mosques:"

Thursday was also the deadliest day for the American military in a month, with the deaths of seven service members and the announcement of an eighth death that had occurred on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Monica Davey apparently missed the Tom Zeller memo (see sneearing article by Zeller in Nov. of 2004). Good thing. She contributes "New Fears of Security Risks in Electronic Voting Systems:"

With primary election dates fast approaching in many states, officials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem.
"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday.
Officials from Diebold and from elections' offices in numerous states minimized the significance of the risk and emphasized that there were no signs that any touch-screen machines had been tampered with. But computer scientists said the problem might allow someone to tamper with a machine's software, some saying they preferred not to discuss the flaw at all for fear of offering a roadmap to a hacker.
"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.

With regards to the issues in California, you can hear more on this by going to KPFA and listening to the archived broadcast of Living Room's Thursday April 27th, 2006 broadcast.
Among Kris Welch's guests for that broadcast were Bob Fitrakis of The Free Press, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, and actress and national advisory board chair of Progressive Democrats of America Mimi Kennedy.

Mia notes Joshua Frank's "Save Darfur?" (CounterPunch):

Some little-known facts about the Darfur situation: Both sides in the conflict are black, and both sides are Muslim. So, despite what the major news media may say, this isn't an Arab-on-black or Muslim-on-Christian nightmare. And perhaps worst of all, there isn't a good side to be on. Both have committed horrible atrocities, and both want to slaughter the other. Not to mention that entering the region militarily would only feed right into bin Laden's rhetoric ­ much like we did when we shocked and awed Baghdad. So I think it's safe to say that hatred of the U.S. would only increase among closet jihadists in the Middle East and elsewhere if we invaded Darfur. That doesn't make us, or them, any safer.
You may recall that President Clinton did his part to end the violence in the Sudan when he fired a few missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in 1998. It didn't do much good; it led to countless deaths and probably prompted al-Qaeda to attack the United States quicker. There is no reason to believe that an intervention by Bush would result in anything different. And never mind that the United States isn't all that great at "humanitarian interventions".

She also recommends everyone check out "Darfur" and "Head on Home (a musical in four scenes)." And with Mother's Day approaching, Cindy notes Laura Billings' "Mother's Call For Peace Still Resonates" (St. Paul Pioneer Press via Common Dreams):

Her hoop skirt wouldn't fit in today's standard-issue minivan, and still Julia Ward Howe seems to be enjoying a fashionable comeback this Mother's Day.
Howe is best remembered by history buffs as the woman who wrote the words that became "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the fiery Civil War anthem first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862.
Not so widely known is that eight years later, the woman who wrote "Let us die to make men free" wanted to end war forever. Having seen and survived the violence and economic devastation of the Civil War, Howe dreaded the gathering storm of the Franco-Prussian war. In Boston 1870, she delivered a "Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace," 274 words in which she envisioned "a great and earnest day of counsel" in which mothers of all nationalities would arrive "at the means the great human family can live in peace."
Included in her call to lay down arms: "Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
"We, the women of one country, Will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

Which is a good reason to again note 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.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: Says nah-nah, we did in December, though they really didn't (Shane & Lichtblau)

Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike demanded answers from the Bush administration on Thursday about a report that the National Security Agency had collected records of millions of domestic phone calls, even as President Bush assured Americans that their privacy is "fiercely protected."
[. . .]
The president sought to defuse a tempest on Capitol Hill over an article in USA Today reporting that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth had turned over tens of millions of customer phone records to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But Mr. Bush's remarks appeared to do little to mollify members of Congress, as several leading lawmakers said they wanted to hear directly from administration officials and telecommunication executives.
The report rekindled the controversy about domestic spying.

The above is from "Bush Is Pressed Over New Report on Surveillance" by Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane (and the Associated Press?) in this morning's New York Times. A little less time spent trying to reassure readers that something broke in the New York Times in December (and was quickly dropped by the paper) and a little more reporting would help.

From Barton Gellman and Arshad Mohammed's "Data on Phone Calls Monitored: Extent of Administration's Domestic Surveillance Decried in Both Parties" (Washington Post):

The new report, by contrast, described a far broader form of surveillance, focused primarily on domestic phone-call records. Some of its elements have been disclosed before. The Los Angeles Times reported in December that AT&T provided the NSA with a "direct hookup" into a company database, code-named Daytona, that has been recording the telephone numbers and duration of every call placed on the AT&T network since 2001. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sued AT&T over that and other alleged violations of privacy law, said the call database spans 312 terabytes, a quantity that would fill more than 400,000 computer compact discs.
Government access to call records is related to the previously disclosed eavesdropping program, sources said, because it helps the NSA choose its targets for listening. The mathematical techniques known as "link analysis" and "pattern analysis," they said, give grounds for suspicion that can result in further investigation.

No, that is not a typo. The Los Angelse Times article ran on December 26th. The New York Times can pat themselves on the back (three times) in print today but never note the LA Times article (which is really more along the lines of the USA Today article):

The New York Times first reported in December [. . .]

The Times also reported [. . .]

The Times has reported [. . .]

Here's three more that the paper could have run, but didn't:

The New York Times sat on the story for over a year.

The New York Times quickly killed the story and quit covering it.

The New York Times got scooped, by USA Today yesterday, on a story they can't shut up about having broken in December.

The paper killed the coverage of the NSA spying. But let a paper that's not afraid to go after more NSA stories break news and the (NY) Times wants to trot out the fact that in December (over a year after they could have broken the story), they finally printed a story. They don't want to note the Los Angeles Times or anyone else. They want to stroke themselves in print (three times) because, in December, they did something. Five months ago. They're still so damn timid when it comes to this story that they run with a point of view that is very similar to the Associated Press' breaking news coverage earlier yesterday (including phraseology -- including the "confirm or deny" that the AP was running with yesterday).

There's something really sad about a glory hog that's done nothing to advance a story they were forced to break (due to the publication of Risen's book) showing up in print five months after the fact and being unable to provide a coherent or comprehensive story because they're so busy rushing to pat themselves on the back repeatedly (and reassure readers, falsely, that they've been on the job).

Brad notes John Nichols' "White House, NSA Block Investigation of Spying" (The Online Beat, The Nation) on where the NSA scandal/investigation stood yesterday before the latest news made it into the news cycle:

With news reports exposing the National Security Agency's previously secret spying on the phone conversations of tens of millions of Americans, what is the status of the U.S. Department of Justice probe of the Bush administration's authorization of a warrantless domestic wiretapping program?
The investigation has been closed.
That's right. Even as it is being revealed that the president's controversial eavesdropping program is dramatically more extensive – and Constitutionally dubious -- than had been previously known, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has informed Representative Maurice Hinchey that its attempt to determine which administration officials authorized, approved and audited NSA surveillance activities is over.
In a letter to Hinchey, the New York Democrat who has been the most dogged Congressional advocate for investigation of the spying program, OPR Counsel H. Marshall Jarrett explained that he had closed the Justice Department probe on Tuesday, May 9, because his office's requests for security clearances to conduct the investigation had been denied.

Does the latest news change anything? Maybe. It seems to have shaken members of Congress. But it'll need actual coverage and not the paper of record doing pats on the back and acting as though the new developments are just mere follow ups on what they reported in December.

Lisa notes "Conscientious Objectors from Around the World Gather in Washington DC and New York to Oppose Global War" (Common Dreams):

NEW YORK - May 11 - From May 11th to 16th, US conscientious objectors (CO's) and CO's from around the world will gather in New York City and Washington DC for Operation Refuse War, a week of conferences, demonstrations, and actions in celebration of International Conscientious Objectors Day, May 15th.
Operation Refuse War will be an opportunity for conscientious objectors, anti-war activists, and military families to come together to share strategies and build community. Participants are coming from South Korea, Eritrea, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Canada, Britain, Israel, Macedonia, Bosnia, Germany, and across the United States. This week of action will highlight the difficulties that current conscientious objectors face as well as help build relationships and connections between the various communities within the anti-war movement. In addition, Operation Refuse War will bring together international and American conscientious objectors to share their experiences and ideas with the public.
Public Activities will include:
* We Will Not Kill: International Conscientious Objectors Speak Out! Thursday May 11th 2006 7pm-9pm Location: Friends Meeting House, 15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY
* Operation Refuse War: An International Conference of Resisters to Global War Washington DC, May 13-14 2006 This two day conference will be an opportunity to connect domestic and international anti war organizers
For a full schedule of events, visit
Other Related Events in Washington DC: Lobby Day on Capitol Hill for CO Recognition (organized by the Center on Conscience & War), Eyes Wide Open Exhibit on the Mall, GI Rights Hotline Gathering, Silent March Against the War in Iraq and a number of other events.
Sponsoring organizations include the War Resisters League, War Resisters International American Friends Service Committee Youth and Militarism Program, the Center on Conscience & War, the Washington Peace Center, the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, Iraq Veterans Against the War - NYC Chapter, Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, Fellowship of Reconciliation: Disarmament Program, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), and Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) (List in formation) Since the 1980s, May 15th has been celebrated as International Conscientious Objectors' Day. Each year, War Resisters' International holds activities in a country where conscientious objectors face persecution or harassment. Previous locations have included the Balkans in 2002, Israel in 2003, Chile in 2004, and Greece in 2005. In addition, a similar gathering of conscientious objectors has been held each year in Washington, DC to forward the rights of conscientious objectors in the United States. This year, CO's from the US and other countries will meet together to strengthen their common efforts.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, May 11, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

In a war fought by voluntary soldiers, the line between military deserter and war resister can be slim.
At the age of 19, Boise native Robin Long enlisted in the United States Army seeking a job with steady pay, medical benefits and a chance to go to college. Two years later, while stationed in a non-deployable unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Pfc. Long and a handful of troops from his unit received orders to go to Iraq. Long was given three weeks leave before his report date.
But instead of reporting for duty at Fort Carson, Colorado on April 10, 2005, Long went AWOL (absent without leave) and spent several months hiding out in a friend's basement in Boise. In June 2005, Pfc. Long hitchhiked to Canada. Once there, Long spent several months living as a vagrant out of soup kitchens and hitchhiking coast to coast.
Now 22, Long is settled in Ontario and is engaged to be married to a Canadian woman with whom he is expecting a child.
Was it a personal decision or a political decision to go AWOL?
A little bit of both. It was mostly political because I really didn't feel like [the Bush administration] had proven that there was any reason for us to be over there. They hadn't proven there were weapons of mass destruction. It wasn't sanctioned by the United Nations. It also was a war of aggression. They [Iraq] were no threat to us. And after seeing Abu Ghraib and the killing of civilians ... you can look at anything on the Internet and see people have been tortured and civilians have been killed for no reason. Also, the people who were coming into my unit had just come from Iraq and they were telling me horrific stories. And another thing was that my superiors were telling me, "You're going to the desert to fight rag heads." It wasn't like I was going to Iraq to liberate the people. It was like I was going to the desert to kill "rag heads." They were trying to make people less human.

The above, noted by Lyle, is from Rachael Daigle's "Why I Ran: A military deserter explains why he left the Army for Canada" (Boise Weekly). Need more? Lyle notes that there's a companion piece "Why I Ran (UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT):"

[Daigle]: Jeremy Hinzman's case has been so publicized, how does the denial of his refugee claim make you feel about your own pending case?
[Long]: Right now I'm taking the political stance on it. I'm not really too worried about that because I have a Canadian fiancée and I can marry her and get sponsorship. And I have a baby on the way so I'm not really worried about what's going to happen until I exhaust all my appeals. I'm doing what a lot of other people are doing, just taking it one step at a time. The Canadian people have already given us a lot of support and they are behind us, it's just the government is kind of not lenient. They're waiting to see how the States are going to react. I think they're kind of scared.
As you were traveling, especially as you were traveling through Idaho to get to Canada, did you have to explain your situation?
I told them exactly how it was and they were kind of hippie-ish. They were like 21 or 22. It was a couple, and they were totally supportive of it. They thought it was pretty cool that they were taking a modern day draft dodger to Canada. They were really enthusiastic about it.
Have you met many other deserters since you've been in Canada?
Actually I haven't met any of the other [people involved with the] war resisters because they live in northern Ontario and they're all based in Toronto. But I have met some other deserters that aren't public--who aren't on that Web site. [The people on that Web site are] all the public people. I've met people who are still underground. I met a couple of them at a rainbow gathering in Quebec. There's a few there and I met another one in Alberta. It's just easy to pick out another person from the Army and they can pick me out. I guess it's the way we walk or something (laughs).
What are the legal ramifications you face?
Well if I go back to the States, it's definitely going to be jail. They're giving people anywhere from a year in prison at Fort Leavenworth to three or four years. Some people, they're not even sending to jail. They're sending them straight to Iraq as punishment. They're not even giving them a court or hearing. But I think since I've come to Canada, the punishment is going to be harsher because we're out in the open and speaking against the United States government and our involvement. They may make an example out of us so I really don't know. They have the death penalty on the books during war time, and I wouldn't put it past the Bush administration to do something really wild because they've been setting precedences with everything else.
Analysts say that half of all deserters return to the military on their own volition because the military is more lenient on someone who surrenders than someone they have to apprehend, but also because they're tired of living on the lam or out of the country or underground in the United States. What's your plan, to stay in Canada?
Yeah, I love Canada. It's kind of ... In the States it's a melting pot of different cultures and everyone loses their culture. And up here in Canada, they celebrate individual cultures and they have a good social net with things like free health care. They really take care of their people--not like the United States--but they have their problems, too.

Rachael Daigle, Peter Long and Boise Weekly reminding the country of the real difference between alternative newspapers and mainstream. If they're up to challenge. I'm not referring to alternative weeklies that had a slow week this week. I'm referring to those who never weigh in. (Except to run the syndicated article about the photos of the corpses -- and that ran only because there was a "porn" -- standard porn, not war pornography -- swap.) If you're idea of "alternative" means you take a 'tude over a Meg Ryan film and run WHITE KIDS IN DANGER! stories alternating with sports features, you're not serving anyone. Don't kid yourself that you are. We're in month five of the year, passed the three year mark on the illegal war, at what point do you get serious?

From Military Families Speak Out:

MAY 11 --14, 2006 WASHINGTON, DC
From May 11-14, Military Families Speak Out members will be in the nation's capital along with Gold Star Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and others as the American Friends Service Committee displays the Eyes Wide Open exhibit on the National Mall and as we all gather together to highlight the cost of the war and call for our troops to be brought home now and taken care of when they get here. For more information, send us an e-mail at or go to the AFSC website.

And you can read some families sharing their stories here:

Given incorrect information about son's deathFor Diane Davis Santoriello, her son's death in Iraq was only the beginning of her trauma. With less than one month left in his tour of duty, First Lt. Neil A. Santoriello, Jr., was killed by an improvised explosive device detonated near his Abrams tank. Though Diane and her husband were told by their casualty assistant that their son had died instantly, they later learned that he died two hours after the initial explosion. "We were given incorrect information about our son," Diane recounted. "We struggle daily because we did not see his body -- we were incorrectly told that he was not viewable." Diane has worked relentlessly to "get to the truth" of her son's death and to improve the casualty reporting process so that other families won't have to go through the same painful experience.
A member of Military and Gold Star Families Speak Out, Diane opposed military action in Iraq from the start. She recalls that "the pain in my gut screamed at my head 'write about this war, speak out against this war!'" But Diane's love for her son kept her from getting involved; she didn't want to undermine her son's confidence. Looking back, Diane regrets not speaking out sooner. "But I speak out now," she asserts, "to protect the people still serving and to try to restore honor to our country."

"I cannot and will not stop trying to speak the truth"
Celeste Zappala lost her son, Sergeant Sherwood Baker, age 30, in an explosion in Baghdad on April 26, 2004. He was providing security for the Iraq Survey Group looking for weapons of mass destruction. Remembering that day, Celeste says that "it was just terrible, really the worst moment of my life." Celeste sees her activism as part of her duty to America. "I cannot and will not stop trying to speak the truth," she asserts. "This is the democracy we all live in, and we all have to be responsible for what is happening."
Celeste sees herself as "a person who has tried to live consciously, in a non-violent manner." She has opposed the war from the start and sees the fight for a humane and just world as her life's work. She is a long-time member of Military Families Speak Out, and now also a leader in Gold Star Families Speak Out. Drawing on the memory of her son Sherwood, who she calls "everybody's soldier, everybody's son," Celeste works doggedly to bring an end to the war in Iraq. "He really believed in America," she asserts. Celeste's persistence in speaking out underscores that she too shares this faith in America and that she will not relent until everyone's sons and daughters return home from Iraq.

You have to read it by clicking here because your aleternative weeklies aren't that alternative.
They aren't interested in reality or in the stories that effect us all. They want strike a pose and play tough guy who says shocking things about women.

And in the dailies? Lot of jerking off over White men. Maybe some albino gave a fiery court room speech about Bully Boy's tax cuts and we can all high five over that b.s.? Or maybe a "comedian" had a "character" (that he broke repeatedly if that was even an excuse) and we all want to drool over that?

Tonight on ER, the war comes home (came home in some time zones where it's already aired). But Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra was ignored last time when her comments on the war weren't as important as some flashy speech. I'm sure that there's some White male who did something on TV that will be deemed as more important.

Just like last time. This wasn't just a court room speech, this was a storyline that they worked very hard on. It's actually given the show life. And it's created a wonderful starting point for a dicussion if any viewers are still playing the Quiet Game or sitting on the fence. I know people involved so someone could argue that's why I continue to note the program; however, Ava and I both know people involved and when we did our review at the start of the fall season and we didn't pull any punches. ("Pull the plug!" isn't pulling punches.)

It does matter what the alternative weeklies cover. It does matter what we hear on the radio or see on TV. Ending the war doesn't come via secluded conversations with only our nearest and dearests. It comes by putting the war front and center.

Lyle's highlight brings it home. Military Families Speak Out and other wonderful organizations bring it home. Nagra's performance brings it home. We can bring it home. But it won't be by applauding the usual sources. Cindy Sheehan didn't emerge from the usual sources.

If we'd spent the last two years listening to the usual sources, we'd still be either blindly behind the Bully Boy's illegal war or saying, "Yes, it's wrong but, like Colin Powel said, it's the Pottery Barn!" No, it's an illegal occupation that has bred the cycle of violence. It's an illegal occupation that preaches democracy but does nothing to allow for self-rule. It's an illegal occupation that's claiming lives of all nationalities, of all ages.

We were told the occupation had to go on because if US forces left, violence would emerge. And a lot of people (including xenophobes who saw the Iraqis as children when standing next to the almighty America) kidded themselves that this was reality. It wasn't. Now things are even worse and they'll continue to get worse. There's no point in kidding that the US forces are keeping something together.

KeShawn found a highlight that features someone speaking out on those issues. From Kevin Capp's "The long strange trip: Elliot Anderson went halfway around the world to fight terrorists. He returned with a mission and a surprising message" (Las Vegas City Life):

But [Elliot] Anderson freely fires his rhetorical machine-gun -- almost gleefully -- when talking about the sorry state of the republic under President George W. Bush and his sycophants in Congress, particularly as it relates to Iraq and the steel lid dropped on war opponents whenever they speak out.
"Right now, we're in a bad war and change needs to happen," he says. "We have to put a check and balance. That's what it comes to in American government."
If the estimated 300,000 vets living in Nevada are anything like Anderson, they're bloody upset at the putative party of the warrior. And if those who aren't already blue decide to scrub off the red and get organized as voters and candidates, Silver State Republicans may do well to go with another strategy this election cycle.
Says state Sen. Terry Care, a Vietnam vet and a Democrat: "Veterans figured to a greater degree in 2004" on the blue team because of John Kerry's presidential campaign. Adding, "It's not a group of voters to be overlooked by any means."
When Anderson's political epiphany flicked him in the forehead last year, he became more than just another veteran riding the donkey not to be overlooked. He became an activist to be heard.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality count stood at 2412. Right now? 2432. 28 for the month which is three short of the much applauded month of March -- another turned corner that wasn't. And, to steal from Marci, "That's reality."

"That's reality"? Her statement on Dahr Jamail's latest. From "All of Us Participate in a New Iraq" (Truthout via Iraq Dispatches):

Last Friday I was at the University of Texas, Austin, giving a presentation on Iraq. After dumping an hour's worth of horrible "real news" about Iraq, I was asked the question I have by now learnt to expect: "Is there anything good happening there at all?" I understand why people ask this. There must be some hope, somewhere, right?
I suggested that there are always the military press releases folks can go to, for an "upper" about Iraq. Here I recounted one of these bogus "news" reports. Released during my second stint in Iraq, a report of May 21, 2004, stated: "The Coalition Provisional Authority has recently given out hundreds of soccer balls to Iraqi children in Ramadi, Karbala, and Hilla. Iraqi women from Hilla sewed the soccer balls, which are emblazoned with the phrase, All of Us Participate in a New Iraq."
That same evening after my presentation, I received an email from a doctor friend in Baghdad. The email pertains to the question I was asked, so I quote it here:
"Dear Mr. Dahr, I am wondering why? Americans and coalition forces were supported by pro-Iranian Militias, like the Badr Organization! The support and help of Iraqi Shiites at first helped to somewhat stabilize and maintain the occupation. Death squads trained by the coalition forces are working day and night under cover of the Ministry of Interior, attacking innocent people: both Sunnis and Shiites!!!! In spite of knowing very well who is doing what, we still see no improvement in the security situation. On the contrary, the situation is getting worse. I have many colleagues, doctors and other professionals, who are now begging for help to get out of Iraq for their lives and for their families' lives! The only losers are the Iraqis. The only Iraqis who are benefiting from this war are those who spend all their life outside Iraq and are now living in their big castle, the green zone!!!!! Everyone now knows that the invasion of Iraq was carried out upon falsified testimonies and lies!!!! What is going on on the ground differs a lot from what the media tells!!!!! I mean that."
As bad as things are in Iraq today, it may come as a surprise to many people in the US, including many who never supported the illegal invasion and occupation to begin with, that Iraq has been a disaster from the first day of the invasion.

Need more reality? Try this 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.

By the way, a few people are sending something on a "Mother's Day" thing. We're not highlighting it. To me it smacks of an organization that's never really sure if it's opposing the war or just offering feedback attempting to steal attention away from CODEPINK. We can note other things from the organization (including write ups in magazines) but CODEPINK staked out their action sometime ago. And reading about them, I'm not tempted to scream, "Tell your lazy husband to get his ass out of bed when you do before whining again!" Walk on,

There are some real issues and I've never had a great deal of sympathy for those who take on all the responsibilites and then want to complain about it. One more responsibility to take on? You decided to be a doormat if you're waking up at the crack of dawn to do everything while your husband (or partner) sleeps. Face some reality before you start whining. Some actual reality comes via Jill's highlight, worldcantwait's "Judge Orders World Can't Wait Activist To Jail Psych Unit" (Cleveland Indy Media Center):

May 9: Judge Timothy McGinty forcibly incarcerated Carol Fisher in the psych unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, where she now sits for an indefinite period of time. In a hastily called hearing yesterday, Judge McGinty made a highly unusual and outrageous decision to force Carol to undergo a state psychological exam as part of her pre-sentencing investigation. From the very start of Carol's case, the judge has openly said that she must have mental problems for resisting an unlawful and brutal encounter with Cleveland Heights police. He went even further in yesterday's hearing, saying that her opposition to the Bush regime makes her "delusional."
The small courtroom on the 21st floor of the Justice Center was ringed with 5 armed court bailiffs. McGinty started off the hearing by making Carol stand up and had one of her attorneys read her t-shirt, which said: "Wanted for Illegally Crossing Borders: The Bush Regime "If you are going to insist that crossing borders illegally is a crime which cannot be tolerated, how about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice (and yes, Colin Powell) and the rest of that gang, with their highly illegal, and violent, 'crossing of the border'-into Iraq, among other places?!" McGinty then said this was proof of her delusion!
He also kept saying Carol "wants" to go to jail, and that she has a "martyr complex." When Carol tried to explain why she wouldn't take this test, the judge's only response was, "I do not negotiate with felons."
Does Carol really want to go to jail? No! But she is not willing to comply with a vindictive court ordered test to "prove" her sanity. And more than that, she is taking a stand for everyone who is angry and fearful of a government that, under the rubric of "national security and the war on terror," willfully and unapologetically tramples on the most basic rights of privacy. Think about this in light of the NSA spying scandal, and now Bush wants to install the head of the notorious NSA to be CIA chief! As Carol said before she went to jail, "I'd be crazy to go along with this sh*t! That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept."

That's reality. A woman steps out of the comfort zone (as opposed to playing doormat) and her sanity's questioned. Seems to me that deserves a bit more attention than the tales of those grabbing all the burdens when they should be demanding the burdens be shared. There's a wonderful women who always inspires me to think in new ways, she teaches on the family -- sociology, and she never shies from asking why some will accept that crap. She'll illustrate using her own mother as an example. Always griping that she had to do everything but when her father attempts to do things, she redoes them because it's not this or that. The story she tells is longer and full of more details but she just popped into my thoughts and I don't want to put anything that identifies her in this without her permission. But the point is, a lot of women make a lot of work for themselves. Mothers without partners have no option of asking that their partners carry the burden. Women with partners who fail to demand it (or go around redoing) make their own lives. Burnt out because you won't ask your partner to do his share isn't a badge of honor. Play the martyr all you want -- burn at your self-constructed cross, Joan -- but there are people with real problems.

Such as peace activists who are spied upon which is the focus of Brandon's highlight. From
Andy Thayer's "Chicago Police Admit Spying On, Infiltrating Protest Meetings" (Chicago Indymedia):

At a time when civil liberties around the country continue to be under siege, the City of Chicago has once again admitted that it spies on protesters and infiltrates their organizing meetings.
As reported in the Chicago Police Department's recently released "2004 Annual First Amendment Compliance Audit," the City apparently feels that people exercising their legal 1st Amendment rights are a legitimate target for police spying and infiltration."Sworn [Police Department] members attended planning sessions for the protests in an undercover capacity," the report states, and "reports [were made] from officers, [and] various documents, fliers and items obtained via the internet."

The undercover infiltration was reportedly directed by the police department's Deployment Operations Center, a unit which is charged with "responding to emergency situations, special events, and mission directed patrols; conducting tactical analytical activities supporting effective deployment of field units; maintaining and deploying certain specialized vehicles; analyzing anti-terrorism intelligence; coordinating the Department's overall anti-terrorism planning and preparation; and providing dignitary protection."
The Deployment Operations Center is "commanded by a Deputy Superintendent who reports directly to the Superintendent."

Despite the crackdowns, despite the arrests, people continue to make themselves heard. Zach asked if we could highlight this in full? It's an attempt to get the word out, so we will. From Jessica Taal's "Update on the March 20th Arrests Against Torture" (SF Indymedia):

This is an update on the March 20th arrests in front of Diane Feinstein's office on Market Street. Seventeen protesters were arrested for refusing to move out of the street at a demonstration against the U.S. penchant for torture in the endless "War on Terror".
Following our arrest all seventeen of us were given a summons to appear in court on April 19th. The City then cancelled our court date and issued us a fine of $119.00 for vehicle code violations. Thankfully, the National Lawyers' Guild sent someone to request a new court date for us.
Our court date is now June 21st at 3pm. Our lawyer will again appear to set another date to file motions. Only one of us has actually paid the fine, and according to our lawyer, she may be able to get that money refunded if the charges against us are dropped.
Rather than quitely pay a fine and go away, we want to have the charges dismissed, or at the very least have our day in court and have the chance to verbalize some of what we are feeling about our actions. It seems that the City would like to depoliticize this whole event, and treat it as if we ran a stop sign. We crossed some lines alright, but they weren't double yellow. Stay tuned as this case progresses, and stand by in case we need supporters to show up in court!

That's reality. That's people speaking up. That's people taking control of their lives.

There are people who can't change their lives, can't take control. They may live in a war zone (declared or undeclared, military or civilian), they may be abused or battered. People who have the option of reflection and action and fail to use it need to take some responsibility. That over thirty-six years after Pat Mainardi outlined "The Politics of Housework" some are still willing to play I-can-do-it-all (and, in many cases, add on work outside the home) doesn't inspire a lot of sympathy. Young women just starting out may not know first principles. That is an excuse. Women who should know better and should be reflecting on their own situations but won't? Not a little sympathy. Universal childcare is something we should have. But that's not going to change the situation for a woman who sees it as a badge of honor (or sign of a perfect marriage) to 'do it all.' Quit playing gender roles (outmoded ones at that) and start doing some self-evaluation.

Which brings us to Bryan's highlight of someone who hopefully has done some self-evaluation (that's not an endorsement of a candidate, that is an endorsement of examining and learning).
From Ari Berman's "The New Kerry" (The Nation):

In the past few months Kerry has presented a side of himself very different from the one the public saw during the 2004 campaign. Freed from the grip of consultants, the spotlight of the national media and the Republican attack dogs, he is looser, clearer and more compelling. Call it the Al Gore Effect. At the end of a presidential campaign, losing candidates either retreat, keep up the good fight or attempt the arduous task of redefining themselves. Kerry's both fighting and redefining these days.
"The fact of losing so narrowly tends to concentrate the mind," Kerry tells me in an interview in his Senate office. Only a week after the death of his first wife, the mother of their two daughters, Kerry is surprisingly relaxed and upbeat, frank about his past failures and future aspirations. People close to him certainly sense a change in attitude. Former Senator Gary Hart, a confidant, believes Kerry has circled back to the Vietnam era, recognizing the folly of current US policy and rising to protest against it. "He's much more outspoken, much more decisive and much less likely to give credit to this Administration," Hart says.
The notoriously cautious Kerry has gone bold, conveying his views on Iraq and national security through an aggressive schedule of speeches, op-eds and talk-show appearances. Into the void of Democratic Party leadership, he's speaking for the vocal opposition--even endorsing Senator Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush. Kerry's been written off before and is rising from the political graveyard yet again. "What does he have to lose now?" says Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley. "He might as well go for broke."

If the excerpt doesn't get the point across, Berman's not playing Kerry cheerleader. (Nor should he.) By the way, Tammy also had a Berman highlight. I've passed that on to Rebecca because she really enjoys his writing and the topic (which I don't remember now) is something she's covered. Second song? I didn't get to it. I think it actually works with something on Democracy Now! today. I'll see if we can pair it up at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend.

The e-mail address for this site is

Democracy Now: Greg Grandin on Latin America, Administration causes unrest on campus

Telecom Companies Helped NSA Spy on Millions of US Citizens
Three of the country's largest telecom companies have provided the National Security Agency with the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. This according to a report in USA Today. One source with direct knowledge of the program called it "the largest database ever assembled in the world" whose goal is to collect a record of "every call ever made" within the United States. The Bush administration has insisted its spy program focuses solely on international calls. The companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- have been under contract since after the 9/11 attacks. Only one major telecom company declined to participate in the program. The company, Qwest, reportedly asked the NSA to get FISA-court approval before it would hand over the records. The NSA refused. Although the program does not involve the direct monitoring of phone conservations, it amasses detailed records on who people have called and when they've called them. At least one company had already been implicated in the program. In a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this year, former AT&T technician Mark Klein said AT&T has been working with the National Security Agency to spy on Americans. In addition to raising new questions about the extent of the NSA spy program and the companies involved, the disclosure also raises new questions about CIA Director-nominee Michael Hayden. Hayden headed the National Security Agency at the time the spy program was implemented. He declined USA Today’s request for comment.
UK Attorney General Calls For Guantanamo Closure
Britain's Attorney General has called for the closure of the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a speech in London, Lord Peter Goldsmith said: "The existence of Guantanamo remains unacceptable."
California GOP Rep. Lewis Probed Over Lobbyist Ties
Back in the United States, the Los Angeles Times is reporting prosecutors have launched an investigation into another Republican member of Congress -- California's Jerry Lewis. Lewis is being investigated for his ties to a lobbyist linked to jailed former Congressmember Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The lobbyist, Bill Lowery, represents clients who received millions of dollars in government contracts under measures that Lewis proposed. Lewis is chair of House Appropriations, one of the most powerful committees in Congress.
Study: US Second-Worst Newborn Mortality in Industrialized World
In health news, a new study has found the US has the second-worst newborn mortality rate in the industrialized world, second only to Latvia. According to Save The Children, the country's high rate of newborn mortality disproportionately affects minorities. African American babies are twice as likely as white babies to be born prematurely, have low-birth weight and to die at birth. Overall, more than 4 million babies worldwide die within their first month of birth.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Micah, Gareth, Molly and LyndaDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for May 11, 2006

- Telecom Companies Helped NSA Spy on Millions of US Citizens
- Spy Probe Closes After NSA Denies Security Clearances
- Pentagon, Congress Spar Over Standards On Detainee Treatment
- WFP Resumes Food Aid to North Korea
- 122 Die in Mogadishu Fighting In Past Week
- UK Attorney General Calls For Guantanamo Closure
- California GOP Rep. Lewis Probed Over Lobbyist Ties
- US Second-Worst Newborn Mortality in Industrialized World
- Nearly Half of Children Under 5 Racial Minorities
- NYC Council Passes Anti-COPE Measure
Georgetown Faculty Object to Appointment of Iraq War Architect Douglas Feith as Professor in School of Foreign Service

A number of faculty members at Georgetown University are objecting to the appointment of Douglas Feith -- the former Under Secretary of Defense and a chief architect of the invasion of Iraq -- as a visiting professor in the School of Foreign Service. We host a debate with one of the key faculty members speaking out and the dean of the school.
Controversy Brews at New School Over Pick of McCain as Graduation Speaker

Students and faculty at the New School in New York City have objected to the pick of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain as commencement speaker for this year's graduation. We speak with one of the students speaking out.
Crackdown in Mexico: 200 Jailed, Women Claim Sexual Abuse by Police

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into last week's police crackdown in the town of San Salvador Atenco outside of Mexico City. Over 200 people have been arrested and over 20 women have said they were raped or sexually abused by police inside jail.
Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism

We speak with historian and New York University professor Greg Grandin about his new book, "Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism." It examines how U.S. foreign policy in Latin America has served as model for U.S. actions in the Middle East and beyond.
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
Today?  The parliament continued to make the issue of who heads the Iraqi oil ministry the main topic.  (Does that not demonstrate how important that position is?)  As the AFP notes, yesterday was the self-imposed deadline the US backed Iraqi prime minister designate Nuri al-Maliki had set for finaliing his cabinet. The deadline was missed.
This as Rod Barton, an Australian Defence sciene intelligence officer, has made statements that Australia was lied into war.  Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Company's Kerry O'Brien, Barton also addressed the issue of US torture:
KERRY O'BRIEN: Why do you believe he was beaten to death and how clear is the evidence that he was beaten to death?
ROD BARTON: I now know, and I didn't know this when I wrote the book, that he underwent a process called purgatory when he was arrested. Purgatory is, again, by this Special Forces 626. When they arrest the person they're trying to disorient the person. They put a hessian bag over the person's head and for three days or more the person is beaten, deprived of food and sleep and so on. There was a lot of stuff he was involved with. He developed poisons for assassination purposes. But I believe, I now know, that he knew about actual operations of assassinations of Iraqi dissidents overseas. And I believe that was the information that they were trying to get from him when they beat him again. The autopsy showed that he died not of a brain tumour or a brain aneurysm, or whatever they told me - not of natural causes, but the autopsy showed he died of blunt force trauma to the head. In other words, someone hit him too hard on the head.
Back in Iraq, as factions move towards the consolidation of militaries, Grand Ayatolla Hli al-Sistani has "ordered all Shi'ite mosques to close for three days" in Zubayr reports the Associated Press. This as AFP is reporting that "official sanction" will be needed for clerics in Iraq.  As part of the agreement, "capital and Iraqi forces" cannot raid mosques without US troops being present.  Presumably 'sanctioning' of cleric will take place with US permission as well.  (US military spokesperson, Rick Lynch, stated of the deal: "That's news to me, that's a surprise to me.")
In Baghdad, as noted on KPFA's The Morning Show newsbreaks anchored by Sandra Lupien and by CNN, roadside bombs have claimed the lives of at least three American troops today (Lupien also noted the death of two Iraqi soldiers from a roadside bomb -- as does Reuters).  The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb took the lives of five "municipal workers." (CNN also puts the number of dead at five and notes one wounded.)  Reuters, which puts the previous number at four, reports assailents shot and killed a "judicial investigator near a courthouse."  Courthouses and schools continue to be the targets for violence.  And the corpse of a police officer was discovered ("hands bound, signs of torture and shot in the head").
In Baquba, Reuters notes that a school teacher was killed and her fourteen-year-old nephew wounded by assailants.  Is this the same woman, Widad al-Shimri, whose death the AP reports?  They identify her as a Shi'ite "history professor" and note that her seven-year-old daughter was also killed.  So at least one educator was killed in Baquba, possibly two.  Also in Baquba, at least twenty-five men, suspected gunmen, have been arrested "wearing army uniforms" but not with the army.
In Haqlaniyah, US troops have fired on abandoned hotel where resistance fighters were believed to be while, in Kirkuk, assailants "ambushed and killed a police lieutenant colonel."
Highlights, two.  Quickly.
Marcia found an update on something Ruth was following.  First Ruth offering the background:
*Did you know that two CBS empolyees were assaulted? Dick Jefferson, news producer, and Ryan Smith, production secretary, were attacked with tire irons while having anti-gay slurs yelled at them? This happened in St. Maarten. Mr. Jefferson says that at least 25 people saw the April 6th attack so the police's ability to find only one witness seems to suggest that they are not seriously investigating the case. Mr. Jefferson had back and head injuries but is now back at work. Mr. Smith remains in the hospital, has suffered brain damage and has aphasia. My oldest son explained that this condition, a type of language disorder, is brought on by brain damage, generally to the left side of the brain, so the attack is the cause of it. Aphasia was not a condition I was familiar with, which is why I asked. My son also stated that there are two forms, in the first, the patient will have trouble with the speaking; in the second, the patient will have trouble understanding. In some instances, the patient has both forms. For those whose speech is effected, the condition can be mild, in which case longer sentences may be spoken, or severe, in which case the patient may only be able to respond in simple, often one-word responses. In terms of the second form, comprehension, it may take additional time to process what was said and, in some instances, a great deal may be lost.
Ruth caught the news from (Houston) KPFT's Queer Voices.  CBS and Associated Press update with "2 Arrests In Beating of CBS Newsmen:"
Authorities in St. Maarten say a man and a woman have surrendered to police in connection with an attack last month on two CBS News employees who were on vacation from New York. The victims say their attackers shouted anti-gay slurs.
The two, who were arrested on Saturday, are suspected of inflicting grievous bodily harm and attempted manslaughter in the April 6 attack, according to Taco Stein, St. Maarten's chief prosecutor.
Stein declined to release the names of the suspects, who both live in St. Martin, the French side of the island. St. Maarten, the other half of the island, is Dutch. The two countries share the island, which is a popular Caribbean tourist destination.
West noted a highlight that I passed on to Kat because it had to do with Pink (and Kat noted it in her review  "Kat's Korner: Pink's not dead or silent" last night).
West was hoping we could note it here as well, so from Matthew Rothschild's "Ten-year-Old Forbidden from Singing Pink's Anti-Bush Song at School Talent Show" (This Just In, The Progressive):
Molly Shoul has appeared in several talent shows at Park Springs Elementary School over the years.
And she was planning on participating again on May 11.
The ten-year-old decided to sing Pink’s new song, "Dear Mr. President," which the pop star says is one of the most important songs she's ever written. (The lyrics to the song are at bottom. To hear Pink perform, click here.)
Molly says she got the Pink CD for Easter, and she was attracted to this particular tune.
"It's a really good song," she says. "I wanted to sing something meaningful" for the annual talent show.
So she auditioned with it, and she says the music teacher told her it was very good, but that he would have to ask the principal.
And the principal, Camille Pontillo, put the kibosh on it, as Jamie Malernee of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported in an excellent story on May 5.
Thank you to West for noting it again and explaining that it was important to him.
Indymedia roundup this evening.
The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. PC-to-Phone calls for ridiculously low rates.