Saturday, May 27, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Sat: Anthony Arnove, Ayub Nuri; Sunday: Doug Henwood, Peggy Haley, Joan Granier and more

Kat: RadioNation with Laura Flanders broadcasts new episodes this holiday weekend:

From war crimes to war chest crimes, it's reality check time for the Bush mob.
On the ground report from Iraqi journalist AYUB NURI. Author-editor ANTHONY ARNOVE makes the case to bring the troops home now. Artist SHERYL ORING tells us why she is collecting birthday messages to 'W.' And JACK HUBERMAN, author of "101 People Who Are Really Screwing Up America," goes after the rabid right with humor.
MASSIE RITSCH, of Washington's Center for Responsive Politics, on Ken Lay's days as W's biggest donor.
A Media Roundtable with GARANCE FRANKE-RUTA, Senior Editor with The American Prospect and DOUG HENWOOD, Nation Contributor and Editor of the Left Business Observer.
Then the return of our independent bookstore hour with JOAN GRANIER from Odyssey Books in South Hadley, MA. And PEGGY HALEY of Book People in Austin, TX.

Make a point to check out the program. Laura's a voice worth listening to and then some. She's no Joanie-come-lately, she's been a brave voice in dark times. I think they're getting a little lighter (the times) but that doesn't mean we don't still need our brave voices, so listen to RadioNation with Laura Flanders (on air and online from seven to ten p.m. eastern time zone).

"Kat, Bully Boy's still in office!" No sh*t. (Edited because I intend to cross post this at The Common Ills.) But look at how we're starting to speak out. Look at where the country is on the war as compared to the refugees from the real world occupying DC. Look at how far we've come from the Thou-Shall-Not-Question-the-Bully-Boy commandment enforced by the press (not just the right wing) following 9-11.

Maybe it's just seeing a nice view out of my window when I woke up this morning or it's the birds chirping along with the Dixie Chicks CD that I've got playing, but I'm a little more hopeful than usual."Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way" was my most recent review and thank you to everyone who e-mailed on it. (Including three visitors who are Reba freaks.) It is a great CD and I may note it more (or may note Jon-Boy more) here.

Today, I'll either post the Free Design review or work on one for Janis Ian's Folk Is The New Black. Did Laura interview her? Someone interviewed her on radio and I went out and purchased the CD right after. It was one of my potential May reviews. However, yesterday, a music special on KPFA featured one song and that had me thinking I really needed to review it (Ruth also phoned last night to say some of the e-mails she received mentioned the program and Ian).

KPFA's Guns and Butter Wednesday featured a speech by David Ray Griffin on the questions raised by the offical 9/11 theory. Iwana e-mailed me to say she really wasn't familiar with him but that the "speech was fascinating and everyone should listen." This was her first time listening to Guns and Butter and she was very impressed. Listen to the show and you'll understand why.

Tomorrow on KPFA's Sunday Salon at nine a.m. Pacific Time the hour will address conscientious objectors, the second hour will address travel. Make sure you listen.

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: C.I. said, "If you want to post, that's fine, but you don't have to." Yes, I want to. I have missed posting while I was on vacation. I need to do a heads up and a thank you so I will do that and note a few observations as well.


KPFA's Sunday Salon
This week on Sunday Salon...
Hour 1: Conscientious objectors -
Hour 2: Reduce your travel woes

That airs from nine to eleven Pacific, eleven to noon Central and noon to two Eastern. The program is hosted by Larry Bensky. Be sure to listen.

Thank yous include all the members who e-mailed. I was wondering if three Saturdays missed would result in everyone thinking, "Thank God that old woman's finally shut up!" Apparently, that was not the result.

Thank you to Rebecca. Shortly before I was due to leave with Treva, the woman who was going to watch my grandson Elijah while I was on vacation had to cancel due to a family emergency in Florida. These things happen and I was prepared to cancel the trip when Rebecca called moments after I got off the phone with the woman. Rebecca immediately offered to fill in for the duration. That was not just a big help, it was a blessing.

On my end, Rebecca's wondered, there was never any reservations about her watching Elijah. I can also report that my son and daughter-in-law accepted the offer when I presented it to them without knowing anything other than I trusted the person. After they agreed, they asked who it was. My daughter-in-law met Rebecca when she visited during the winter and they have both heard of her from my grandchildren Jayson and Tracey. My son said, "I wished you'd told us it was Rebecca right away." Far from alarming either of them, Rebecca's presence was gladly appreciated.

I will say thank you to my children for making a point to invite Rebecca to dinner each night during the three weeks and I will note that they enjoyed having her. A few strong words were actually exchanged over who would be able to have her on the last night. She was a big hit.

Most of all with Elijah. Monday through Friday, I watch my grandson. I see him on the weekends as well. We have a pretty close bond. When I went to California, I took him with me.
I was not sure whether he would enjoy a two to three week road trip, however. What he did enjoy was Rebecca. She has a post about their early days together that you should read.

When she left Thursday, he did not want to her go. Friday was "Beck-uh" this and "Beck-uh" that. If she had not been out of the country on vacation, I would have phoned her just so Elijah could say hello. He knew her before this but he really took her during their three weeks together.

I will also note that she cleaned the house top to bottom, Tracey says she did that Wednesday night, which I had asked her not to do and not to worry about. I was expecting to come home to well lived in home and instead found it sparkling clean, so thank you, Rebecca.

In the e-mails, a few members expressed concern that WBAI had not gotten enough attention in terms of highlights. KPFA's website usually notes upcoming programs on a regular basis. Dallas usually does the links for me in my reports, and thanks to him for that, and we discussed that issue this morning. You really need to listen to WBAI to know what will be coming up. Jess did note a program on the station in a special entry he did this week. I called Rachel and Micah but was not able to reach Jonah. Both Rachel and Micah stated that they were not highlighting because it was special programming and they often learned of what was coming on shortly before it aired. WBAI is the station I listen to over the airwaves so if there was a dip in noting it, that can also be attributed to the fact that I was on vacation. Remember, however, that any member who notes a program in an e-mail will see it noted it at the site. If there is a program you are looking foward to, e-mail and C.I. will note it because if it interests you, it will probably interest other members as well. A sentiment that I heard Bernard White and Amy Goodman express, on WBAI, was that the station was the people's university and, at a time when NPR seems to exist as the graveyard for mainstream media, that is even more accurate. If you are interested in learning, you are seeking out information from the likes of WBAI.

Whether you listened to KPFA or WBAI or another Pacifica station, there were many strong programs during the fundraising drive. A big hit was Timothy Wise. I also have a number of e-mails on a documentary made by Canada's CBC on environmental pollution in the home. [C.I. note: Up Close and Toxic.] Brandon cannot say enough kind words about KPFA's Bob Dylan Birthday Special and there are also e-mails on Radio Chronicles' airing of John Ono Lennon and of Friday's Music Special: Modern Protest Music. I heard both of the last two.

Radio Chornicles was something Treva and I both wanted to catch so we listened on the road. It was a wonderful look at the music, activism and life of John Lennon. For people our age, we are superimposing several decades we lived through when we listen so I was delighted to read e-mails from younger people who were impressed with the special as well. Friday's noting of some of the music coming out today, music commenting on our times, was also delightful. The biggest question from the e-mails was, "Is Kat going to be reviewing Janis Ian's new album?" That is on her list but I called her last night to pass on the interest among the community in the album Folk Is The New Black. It was great to hear Ms. Ian's "The Great Divide" as well as two songs from Neil Young. The thing that stood out the most was probably Josh Ritter's "Girl In The War." The music to that really is magical and I have grown so used to Tracey and Jayson playing the entire CD of The Animal Years, that it was only hearing it on Friday's program, surrounded by other things, that I remembered the joy I felt upon first listen.

The vacation was a time of rest and fun. This really was the first vacation where I the passing of my husband was not so fresh that I was plauged by moments of sadness. I missed him, as always do, but there were no episodes of depression.

What was there? A chance to really get to know this country. I knew the community's feelings and took comfort in that. But I had no idea how prevalent the mood of the nation was in turning against the Bully Boy. I count only the states we stopped in, not the ones we drove through, and ended up with sixteen. Time and again, the talk was of how the Bully Boy had failed the nation. The outrage over the lack of prepartion for and the lack of response to Hurricane Katrina has not faded. The NSA issue is much more pressing than the mainstream media's polling implies.
People my age, really old, compared the Bully Boy to Richard Nixon with no hesitation.

In Arizona, I met some wonderful women who are doing their part and then some to get the word out. It does not really feel like an attempt to wake up the country because the nation is awake. Waking up Congress, on the other hand . . . .

In every discussion, at some point, the issue of the media would be brought up. If anyone or anything is more unpopular than the Bully Boy, it may be the press. During those discussions, I would note Pacifica and Democracy Now! and was pleasantly surprised time and again to find that people who had no Pacifica station for miles and miles knew of it. Democracy Now!? The program's reach is huge. Amy Goodman usually notes the various outlets it plays on but it is one thing to hear Ms. Goodman note it and another thing to hear, "Oh, I watch it on ___" or "Oh, I listen to it on ___" or "I always go to the website" and listen, read or watch.

I doubt it is yet reaching as many people as one of the big three networks' evening news broadcasts, though I may be wrong, but it surely reaching as many and probably more than anything on cable. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, we stopped to speak to a young man who was wearing a Democracy Now! t-shirt. Treva had told me of the program's reach but I had not really absorbed how great the reach was until our three week road trip. In North Carolina, we met people watch it on a channel called "The People's Channel" and that seemed appropriate because it is the people's news.

We also met a few community members by accident. When this Ruth would speak of Pacifica, I would be asked, "Ruth of The Common Ills?" I was able to meet Kayla and see her very cute newborn son. I also met ??? and asked him, "Why '???'?" He said it was "James Bond like" and also that another member already was noted by the same first name. If I had thought ahead, we would have attempted to meet up with some members while we were on the road. Our only set plans were to see the Grand Canyon, in a happier Thelma & Louise type visit, and to meet Eli whom I knew from the site, e-mails, columns in the gina & krista round-robin and phone calls. Eli is just as wonderful and wise as he comes off in his columns. He also won a permanent spot in my heart for greeting me with, "I thought you said you were old." (I am old.)

He has written of how having his great-granddaughter come to live with him while her parents are going through a divorce has been a blessing and I saw just how true that was. The house was alive with music and people talking. When you lose a spouse or partner after many years of living together, getting out into the world is important but you are often still coming home to your home that you no longer share with anything other than fond memories. We discussed that and how wonderful it was to see our homes come back to life.

His great-granddaughter plays the piano regularly which Eli's had tuned because that is the sort of thing you figure "Why bother?" when it is just you. I told him that I, like many members, had been worried because his children live far away, his wife had passed away and the friends they had around them had passed away, gone to live with their children or entered nursing homes. He asked me to note that he is doing "better than fine." Which is true, that house is alive. He also asked me to note that Wally and Wally's mother both call at least once a week just to chat and that he appreciates that now but he really appreciated it before his great-granddaughter moved in.

His plate is overflowing these days. Besides having his great-granddaughter to talk about the world with, just her presence has meant that some of the neighbors have opened up. (Eli stated that when you are an old man living alone, young neighbors tend to want nothing more than to wave at you and I would agree with that.) A young family next door have become good friends especially after learning that they shared politics and could discuss the day's Democracy Now! with someone. So see, the people's news program not only provides you with information you need, it also provides you with conversation.

The Grand Canyon was a place we always intended to visit, my husband and I. The children usually wanted either Disney Land or Disney World so we would vacation in Florida or California. Then, as we grew older, so many friends and family relocated to Florida that it became the destination. So finally, after all these many years, I saw the Grand Canyon in person. Photos do not do it justice. Forget the majesty of mountains we sing of, the Grand Canyon filled me with awe and wonder.

Camping out near there, a young woman came over to ask if we would be bothered if she played some music on her jam box? We both said no. She then came back over, sent by her mother, to explain that she wanted to play a CD and her mother had asked her to check with us. The CD? Neil Young's Living With War. We told her that not only did we not mind, we had packed that CD for our own road trip which led to an invitation to join her large family gathering. Speaking to her great-uncle, I was confronted with a self-described "always vote Republican" who had broken with his party after decades of voting straight ticket. That includes in 2004 when, he explained, he felt that the first term was "messy" but that, given the chance, he had faith the Bully Boy would make the second term about fixing the mistakes. He no longer has that faith. He told me that Bully Boy makes Nixon "look like a Boy Scout." It was a conversation I had many times as we traveled but it is one that still stands out because, as he said, he was someone who wanted to believe in and to support the Bully Boy but no longer can.

How this will translate into the election turnout in November, I have no idea. But, time and again, talking to people of all ages, I saw a nation that had no faith in the Bully Boy and eager, this especially from Republicans and usually over the NSA spying, to see him impeached. It is a nation that you only see covered as poll numbers by the media, but it is one that is outspoken and paying quite a bit more attention than the mainstream media or the Congress appear to be with what is going on.

NYT: Repubes attack the press (KPFA's Sunday Salon this Sunday -- conscientious objectors addressed)

Recent disclosures of classified information by the press have damaged national security, several Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee said Friday at a hearing on news organizations' legal responsibilities.
The criticism focused on articles in The New York Times concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program and, to a lesser extent, on disclosures in The Washington Post about secret C.I.A. prisons overseas.
Some Republicans on the committee advocated the criminal prosecution of The Times. Their comments partly echoed and partly amplified recent statements by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that the Justice Department had the authority to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information.

The above is from Adam Liptak's "Panel Is Told Disclosures Pose Danger to Security" in this morning's New York Times. The most interesting question isn't asked: why the activities were done in the first place? The press reported it. That is their job. A democracy is only as strong as its citizenry (we're not very strong currently, my opinion). The how-could-they! cry of Republicans is a nice way of defocusing from the fact that activities took place.

The press should report what happens. Always. That's their duty in a democracy (one that the mainstream often fails at). But Republicans (and an idiot from Commentary -- "idiot from Commentary" may be redundant) want to focus on the exposure. The exposure isn't the issue, the activities are. But you'll note there's no cry for hearings on that. Apparently the posturing factor on that isn't as high as it is when you can blame the press for reporting governmental actions that betray what we are supposed to stand for.

Congress have forgotten that they represent the people. The last six years have led to many thinking they serve to protect the Bully Boy. (True also of those serving in the administration.)
They don't. Regardless of who is in the White House, Congress is supposed to represent the people. That doesn't mean treating them like children or hiding reality.

I'll slam the Times for anything without pause. I'm not a cheerleader for the paper. (And would love to not cover it but the community wants it covered, so it is.) I'll slam them for sitting on the NSA story for over a year. I won't slam them for finally printing it (even though that was pushed/prodded by the publication of James Risen's book). The paper actually did its job (and appears to be taking 2006 off as a result).

Congress shouldn't be fretting over (and posturing) the paper, they should be pursuing the information that came out (as well as what came out in Dana Priest's Washington Post article -- but we don't comment on the Post here). Maybe the most embarrassing thing for the posturing voices is not that the exposures laid bare two hideous, undemocratic, evil practices? Maybe what's most embarrassing is the fact that many people will wonder where Congress was?

Where was Congress? For the past six years, where has it been? The Times has largely snoozed (as anyone who's followed the Sibel Edmonds* case knows -- to offer one example).

What's Congress' excuse? They have none. They can point fingers and they can huff and puff but the exposure isn't the issue, what's being exposed is. How did that ever happen in the first place? Not the exposure, the activity? Until they want to address that, they can keep hoping to change the news cycle but most Americans have caught on to the fact that they've trashed their office and shirked their responsibilities by not doing their job.

Peter Hoekstra can puff his chest and spew his empty mind with comments about "The press is not above the law" and anything else. It doesn't change the fact that (despite the Bully Boy's attempts) the United States is built on a system of three branches. Whomever occupies the White House is always answerable to the people. The occupant is also supposed to be checked by Congress and the judiciary. How we managed to get to our current state does involve a lazy press, no question, but the press shirking their duties is sad, Congress doing the same is deplorable because they took oaths to uphold the Constitution.

The press isn't the issue on this. I'd love to slap them down if they were. The issue is that things are going on that aren't American, that aren't democratic. Their exposure is not the issue. The activities themselves are the issue.

The press isn't above the law. There are libel and slander guidelines. We do not, however, have a national secrets law. (England does.) The issue isn't that the press informed the public, the revelation isn't the issue. What was revealed is. Until Congress wants to seriously address that, they're betraying the public and not living up to their sworn duties.

[*Don't know Sibel Edmond's case? Google and you can pull up her site. A link was included and it wiped out eight paragraphs. I'm not in the mood to attempt to put a link back in this morning -- I'm barely in the mood to attempt to recreate what's been lost as a result of attempting to link.]

Erika notes Monica Davey's "Drive for Vote on Abortion Accelerates:"

Advocates of abortion rights were planning a final push this weekend for signatures to a petition that could send South Dakota's ban on abortion, which was intended as a direct legal challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, to a statewide vote in November.
The advocates had intended to file the signatures -- more than 16,000 are required to bring a law passed by the state legislature to the voters -- several weeks from now, the deadline under their interpretation of a state law providing for such referendums.
But they said on Friday that they had heard talk from supporters of the ban about a possible legal challenge to the referendum, based on how quickly the petitions needed to be filed. As a result, the advocates said, they have decided to take the signatures to Pierre, the state capital, on Tuesday to avoid any debate over timing.

And we'll close out the Times with Richard A. Oppel's Jr.'s "Iraq Official Says Iran Has Right to Atomic Power Goal:"

The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Friday endorsed the right of Iran to pursue the "technological and scientific capabilities" to create nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but shied away from the subject of uranium enrichment, which the United States says could allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
[. . .]
On Friday, insurgents struck targets including a market in western Baghdad and a bus garage in eastern Baghdad, killing as many as 20 Iraqis, according to some reports, in attacks that used homemade bombs. In Kirkuk, a bomb killed a policeman while assassins killed two other officers, the local police reported.
And on Thursday, gunmen barged into a wedding in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, kidnapping the groom, his uncle, his cousin and another guest. On Friday, the bodies of all four men were found beheaded, the police said, Reuters reported. Reuters also reported that gunmen in Baghdad killed a coach and two players from Iraq's national tennis team.

Martha notes Ellen Kinckmeyer's "In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre: Iraqi Townspeople Describe Slaying of 24 Civilians by Marines in Nov. 19 Incident" (Washington Post):

Witnesses to the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha say the Americans shot men, women and children at close range in retaliation for the death of a Marine lance corporal in a roadside bombing.
Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. "I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. "But they killed him, and his wife and daughters."

How much will this story matter? A few e-mails contain that question. It doesn't help the story to break on Memorial Day weekend. (Or to be largely ignored by the Times.) But my guess (and I could be wrong and often am) is that it's not 'buriable.' It may be white-washable and that wouldn't be surprising. But I think it's out there enough and being reported enough that people are aware of it. Possibly it being a holiday weekend has interfered with the usual "it's not a story!" cheerleaders like John Corny and the other boys of Orrin Hatch.

Zach notes Robert Parry's "Bush's Enron Lies:"

Four years ago, when the taboo against calling George W. Bush a liar was even stronger than it is today, the national news media bought into the Bush administration’s spin that the President did nothing to bail out his Enron benefactors, including Kenneth Lay.
Bush supposedly refused to intervene, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Enron had poured into his political coffers. That refusal purportedly showed the high ethical standards that set Bush apart from lesser politicians.
Bush's defenders will probably reprise that storyline now that former Enron Chairman Lay and former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling stand convicted of conspiracy and fraud in the plundering of the onetime energy-trading giant. But the reality is that the Bush-can't-be-bought spin was never true.
For instance, the documentary evidence is now clear that in summer 2001 -- at the same time Bush's National Security Council was ignoring warnings about an impending al-Qaeda terrorist attack -- NSC adviser Condoleezza Rice was personally overseeing a government-wide task force to pressure India to give Enron as much as $2.3 billion.
Then, even after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when India’s cooperation in the "war on terror" was crucial, the Bush administration kept up its full-court press to get India to pay Enron for a white-elephant power plant that the company had built in Dabhol, India.
The pressure on India went up the chain of command to Vice President Dick Cheney, who personally pushed Enron's case, and to Bush himself, who planned to lodge a complaint with India's prime minister. Post-9/11, one senior U.S. bureaucrat warned India that failure to give in to Enron's demands would put into doubt the future functioning of American agencies in India.
The NSC-led Dabhol campaign didn't end until Nov. 8, 2001, when the Securities and Exchange Commission raided Enron's offices -- and protection of Lay's interests stopped being politically tenable. That afternoon, Bush was sent an e-mail advising him not to raise his planned Dabhol protest with India's prime minister who was visiting Washington. [For details on the Dabhol case, see below.]
Contrary to the official story, the Bush administration did almost whatever it could to help Enron as the company desperately sought cash to cover mounting losses from its off-the-books partnerships, a bookkeeping black hole that was sucking Enron toward bankruptcy and scandal.

Two things on the highlight above. Along with pushing India before and after to support Enron, the month of August 2001, while on vacation, Bully Boy fretted over stem cells instead of addressing national security ("No one could have guessed!" hisses Condi). If you've forgotten that detail, pick up Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. It's a book worth reading. Pick it up at bookstores, order online or use your libraries. Trisha e-mailed this week to say she'd just read it and loved the book. (You will too.) She wondered why I often mentioned Lost History but rarely did S&P? First of all, I usually get the title wrong (when talking to friends) and call it "Secrecy & Lies." (Dilip Hiro has a wonderful book entitled Secrets and Lies.) Lost History is a title even I can't mess up. It's also true that what the United States government did (and does) in Latin America is so rarely addressed. But both books by Parry are worth reading (as are others -- we've discussed two at The Third Estate Sunday Review).

So that was one. Two, Zach's highlight gets double play. Rebecca's noting it at her site. She called this morning and we've been on the phone working out who's grabbing what (she's grabbing two articles from the Times: David Johnston's and Carl Hulse's "Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute'' and Eric Pfanner's "Times of London to Print Daily U.S. Edition") because she ended up with time on her hand and decided to do an entry. So be sure to check out Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude.

Billy notes this from Danny Schechter's News Dissector:

Resistance Cinema is showing two great films this coming Sunday -- "STILL WE RIDE" a new film on the bicycle group "Critical Mass" and the NYC police crackdown on them during the RNC in 2004. Then at 2pm we screen David Zeiger's new award winning film "SIR! NO SIR!" on GI resistance to the Vietnam war.
WHEN: Sunday May 28, 1:15 pm

WHERE: Community Church Of NYC, 40 east 35th st. @ Park ave
ADMISSION: Free: We will be making a special effort to collect donations to go towards defraying the costs of making the film.

What's coming up here? "Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way" was Kat's review Thursday if you missed it. She's posting here today. A review as well as a heads up to RadioNation with Laura Flanders. We may have a surprise entry and we'll have Maria doing the run down of some of the important headlines Democracy Now! covered this week. An English speaking only member wondered why he couldn't listen to the Spanish headlines? You can. I checked with Maria. It's a Spanish link at the top that has "MP3" in the link. Maria says that the "listen to segement" isn't how you listen to the Spanish headlines. You click on the MP3 and a few seconds later it should begin playing. Regardless of why you're listening or reading the Spanish headlines -- because your fluent in Spanish (native tongue or a language that you learned), to brush up on your Spanish, to learn a little about Spanish, or to share with friends who speak Spanish -- both the listening and the reading options are available.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders is new shows this weekend (Saturday & Sunday). Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) is a guest for Saturday's show and Sunday features a discussion on books with people from independent bookstores. There are many other guests and Kat will note them later today but, in case anyone's wondering since it's a holiday, Flanders will have new episodes of RadioNation with Laura Flanders which you can listen to over the airwaves or by using the link and listening on your computer (if you're able to listen on your computer).

Sunday on KPFA's Sunday Salon (time given is Pacific):

This week on Sunday Salon...
Hour 1: Conscientious objectors -
Hour 2: Reduce your travel woes

Where is the coverage of the war resistors? That's a constant in the e-mails from members. They wonder why it's not in the magazines they read or the programs they watch or listen to?
(I wonder as well.) Where is it? Sunday, on KPFA, it's on hour one of Sunday Salon. You can listen online, without any registration or any fee. Larry Bensky's the host (as most members should know) so it should be more than worth making the time to listen to -- especially if you're someone wishing the topic would be covered more.

Two more highlights on the peace movement. First, Genie notes Karen Houppert's "Cindy Sheehan: Mother of a Movement?" (The Nation):

In the months since, Cindy Sheehan has emerged as the symbol of the antiwar movement, drawing crowds of well-wishers, counterprotesters and a slew of media to each of her many appearances across the nation and abroad. She is credited with galvanizing a nation whose approval rating of the President on Iraq was slipping to a dangerous 40 percent and injecting life into a sluggish peace movement. Sheehan's "fifteen minutes of fame" have stretched out to nearly fifteen months. She has rocketed from the obscurity of a low-key suburban California life where she did administrative work for the county--and before that worked for nine years as a youth minister at the local Catholic church--to Diane Sawyer's couch, Chris Matthews's hot seat and just about every national news program in between. Though she says she has always been politically left of center and admits that she opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, she was not an activist and had never spoken publicly against the war until July 4, 2004, three months after her son's death, when she addressed an antiwar crowd at a local church.
Today, she is more famous than anyone in a peace movement that lies poised on the brink of change: Public opinion has swung against the war--thanks in equal parts to antiwar activists and to Bush's own hubris and blunders--but this shift in Americans' thinking has yet to translate into significant changes in policy or leadership. At this critical juncture, all eyes are trained on Sheehan.

Second, as Memorial Day approaches, we can all pay attention to Mia's highlight, Missy Comley Beattie's "Stuck in a Cake-Walk War" (CounterPunch):

At first it was the "cakewalk" war. That morphed into "when we capture Saddam." Then, we heard "after the elections" followed by the nauseatingly platitudinous "we won't step down 'til they step up."
Now, it's the "long war" or the "Global War on Terror." Translation: The never-ending war.
How many deployments does it take to psychologically destroy a Marine? For some, it's one or two. For others, it's three or four.
How many deployments until a soldier just says "no" and crosses the border into Canada or goes missing in America?
How many deployments until a soldier decides that suicide is better than going back to back in Iraq. Or back to back to back to back?
The recruitment requirement for soldiers will be never-ending. Because never-ending war means never-ending injuries, both physical and psychological. Because never-ending war means never-ending death.

By the way, to those wondering about the Memorial Day weekend, at this site today and tomorrow will be our basic schedule we have every weekend. On Monday, there will be an entry on the news and (much later probably) one on Democracy Now! and possibly the Times.

The e-mail address for this site is And Rebecca's entry is "kpfa's sunday salon features a discuss on conscientious objectors this sunday!" (it just went up).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Democracy Now: Focus on Enron, Greg Palast and Robert Bryce

Toll Rises For Haditha Massacre As Murtha Sees Dozen Court-Martials
The estimated toll of innocent civilians killed by US Marines in the Iraqi town of Haditha is now higher than previously thought. Democratic Congressmember John Murtha told the Marine Corps Times that the number of dead Iraqis is actually 24, up from the previous figure of 15. Murtha says would not be surprised if a dozen Marines face court-martials for the killings. Retired Brigadier General David Brahms, a former top lawyer for the Marine Corps, said: "When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm. It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."

Enron Execs Found Guilty On Conspiracy, Fraud Charges
The two top figures in the Enron corporate scandal have been found guilty. On Thursday, Enron founder Ken Lay was convicted in two separate trials on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and for making false statements to banks. Enron's former CEO Jeffrey Skilling was also convicted. A jury found him guilty on 19 of 28 counts. The conspiracy and fraud convictions each carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Four years ago Enron filed for bankruptcy after years of defrauding its own employees and investors. The bankruptcy put over 4,000 people out of work. The value of the company's stock dropped from ninety dollars to about 30 cents. Thousands of Enron employees lost their lifesavings.

US Military Aircraft Met With Protests in Japan
In Japan, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was met with vocal protests as it arrived in the port city of Sobetha on Thursday. More than 150 people gathered on shore and on small fishing ships to protest the arrival of the 100,000 tonne USS Abraham Lincoln. The fishing ships navigated around Japanese coast guard attempting to prevent them for nearing the carrier. Anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Sobetha. The city neighbors Nagasaki, which was attacked by US atomic bombs in 1945.

Moscow Gay-Rights Parade To Proceed Despite Ban, Threats
In Russia, campaigners for gay rights say they will proceed with a gay pride rally despite a ban from the mayor of Moscow. The march is scheduled for Saturday. Police have refused to provide protection despite open threats from extremist groups to disrupt the event.

Activists, Celebs Stage Encampment For South Central Farm
And in Los Angeles, a standoff over the fate of a downtown community farm has intensified. Occupants of the South Central Farm are staging a 24-hour encampment and tree-sit to resist eviction orders that would clear them from land they’ve tended for over a decade. The 14-acre South Central Farm hosts the largest urban farm in the United States. 350 families use the farm to grow a multitude of crops. It was leased to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank following the 1992 Rodney King riots. In 2003, the land was sold back to a real estate developer who now wants to turn it into commercial property. The encampment has attracted several celebrity supporters including the singers Joan Baez and Ben Harper and actresses Laura Dern and Daryl Hannah.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Liang, Eddie, KeShawn, ??? and Susan. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 26, 2006
-Enron Execs Found Guilty On Conspiracy, Fraud Charges
- Bush Says "Tough Talk", Abu Ghraib, Mistakes of Iraq War
- East Timor Clashes Kill 9, Wound 27
- US Military Aircraft Met With Protests in Japan
- Moscow Gay-Rights Parade To Proceed Despite Ban, Threats
- Annan Calls For Release of Burmese Pro-Democracy Leader
- Senate Passes Immigration Bill
- FCC To Probe Network Affiliates For Airing VNRs
- Activists, Celebs Stage Encampment For South Central Farm

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

Enron Execs Found Guilty on Multiple Conspiracy, Fraud Charges
The two top figures in the Enron corporate scandal have been found guilty. On Thursday Enron founder Ken Lay was convicted on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and for making false statements to banks. Enron's former CEO Jeffrey Skilling was also convicted on 19 of 28 counts. With Lay's conviction, one of President Bush's top financial backers is now facing the possibility of spending the next 30 years in prison. We speak with investigative journalists Robert Bryce and Greg Palast. [includes rush transcript]

Enron: The Bush Connection
Enron founder Ken Lay and his family rank among President Bush's biggest financial backers of his political career. The family donated about $140,000 to Bush's political campaigns in Texas and for the White House. The president personally nicknamed Ken Lay 'Kenny Boy.' Our guest Greg Palast examined the connections between Enron and the Bush administration in his documentary "Bush Family Fortunes." [includes rush transcript]

Enron Played Central Role in California Energy Crisis
Six years ago, California was plunged into an unprecedented energy crisis. Rolling blackouts shut down parts of the state. Power bills soared. It turned out that at the center of the crisis was Enron -- although the company's role wasn't fully understood at the time. We play excerpts of audiotapes that proved Enron asked power companies to take plants offline at the height of the California energy crisis -- in order to make more money. [includes rush transcript]

Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room
We bring you an excerpt from the documentary "Enron -- The Smartest Guys in the Room" - based on the book of the same name by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. [includes rush transcript]

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue but Bully Boy and Tony Blair appear to have their minds elsewhere. Al Jazeera notes that Bully Boy's concerned about speaking better and Tony Blair hides behind the puppet government. [See Cedric's excerpt of Norman Solomon writing on puppet governments.] The AFP and Reuters report that Tony Blair, unable to fly the American flag, is saying it's the duty of the entire world to support the puppet government he and Bully Boy have created. Apparently not buying into Blair's bluster, CBS and the AP report that Romano Prodi, the new prime minister of Italy, held a talk with his cabinet "to map an exit strategy for the nation's troops in Iraq, who are being gradually withdrawn." Updating that story, Maria Sanminiatelli reports that Italy has announced they are pulling 1,100 troops out of Iraq (which would leave 1,600 stationed in Iraq). This as the Guardian of London reports Bully Boy's begging Tony Blair to stay on as England's prime minister.

In Baghdad, the AFP reports that two players on Iraq's national tennis team as well as their coach have been murdered "reportedly for wearing Western-style tennis shorts." The AFP reminds that "[l]ast week 15 members of the Iraqi Taekwondo team were kidnapped between Fallujah and Ramadi." The BBC reports on roadside bomb attacks on two markets that have resulted in the deaths of at least nine and at least fifty wounded. There were other bombings that wounded Iraqis today but no reports of any other fatalities. Reuters notes that three corpses ("bullet wounds and showing signs of torture") were discovered in Baghdad.

More corpses were discvered today. In Kut, the Associated Press notes the discovery of four. Reuters notes the killing of two police officers in Baquba following the kidnapping of employees of a TV station. In Sinjar, a liquor store owner is dead from a bombing (two others wounded).
In Basra, the BBC notes the death of a "Sunni Imam and his bodyguard" from a drive-by shooting. Also in Basra, the AP reports that mosques were closed following the murder of the Sunni cleric. KUNA reports on an oil pipeline fire in Khour Al-Emmaya, reportedly caused by a leak in a pipeline "at a docking station." In Kirkuk, the Associated Press reports that a roadside bomb took the life of one police officer and wounded four others.

CNN reports on the investiation into the deaths of civilians in Haditha last November and quotes Pentagon sources that "Charges, including murder, could soon be filed against Marines allegedly involved." Editor & Publisher notes that the investiagtion and the off the record admissions take place months after the press reported the events in Haditha. Gulf News reports that Human Rights Watch John Sifton as stating: "There is no excuse for a massacre and anyone concerned about America's image can only wish that those who are responsible will be severely prosecuted and those who tried to cover this up will be punished.'' This as CBS and the AP note "Investigators believe that their criminal investigation into the deaths of about two dozen Iraqi civilians points toward a conclusion that Marines committed unprovoked murders, a senior defense official said Friday." Finally, the Scotsman reports that "the bodies of Privates Adam Morris, 19, and Joseva Lewaicei, 25, British troops who died in a roadside bomb attack near Basra two weeks ago, arrived back at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire yesterday."

One highlight and it's noted by Olive, "Status Quo Gitmo" (The Nation):

"We don't want to be the world's jailer," insists Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Really? The Bush Administration seems to be waking up to the realization that Guantanamo Bay shames the United States before the world. The President and the Secretary now portray themselves as hapless custodians caught between Al Qaeda operatives and a slowpoke Supreme Court. "I would like to close the camp and put the prisoners on trial," the President declared May 10. It's as if Bush, Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had never promulgated, approved or defended Guantanamo's law-free zone over the past four years.
The clock seems to be running down on Guantanamo. Last year Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan was widely derided for describing Gitmo as the gulag of our times, but now impatience emanates from the world's capitals and even from the confines of the prison itself. In London, Lord Goldsmith--attorney general for Bush's staunchest ally and no stranger to harsh antiterrorism legislation--adopts Khan's analysis, calling Gitmo a global symbol of injustice: "The existence of Guantanamo Bay remains unacceptable." In Geneva the UN Commission Against Torture calls on the United States to close Guantanamo and any other prisons whose secrecy and lawlessness facilitate waterboarding, short-shackling or other brutalities that place our nation in violation of the Convention Against Torture. (CIA nominee Michael Hayden refused to condemn waterboarding at his recent confirmation hearing.)

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Other Items

A grass-roots commission that investigated the 1979 shooting deaths of five communist organizers by members of the Klu Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party laid the bulk of the blame on Greensboro police in a comprehensive report released Thursday.
Officers knew white supremacists planned to attend the ''Death to the Klan'' march on Nov. 3, 1979, but failed to take action, the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission wrote in its nearly 400-page report.
Despite having a paid informant among the ranks of the Klansmen, ''The (Greensboro Police Department) showed a stunning lack of curiosity in planning for the safety of the event,'' commissioners wrote.
Five people were killed when Klan and Nazi members opened fire on people gathering for a march and rally in Greensboro's Morningside Homes neighborhood. Ten others were injured.

The above is from an Associated Press article, noted by Carl, entitled "Report Blames Police for Deaths at a '79 Rally in North Carolina" and available online at the New York Times. There may be impressive parts of the findings but when you're blaming the victims for using their free speech rights (as I'm reading Carl's copy and paste to suggest), it feels like minimizing. The report came out Thursday -- why didn't the Times have a reporter cover it? (Not to imply that the paper of no record would have done any better but to note the obvious fact that it is news and there was ample time for a write up by someone on the paper's payroll.)

Democracy Now! has covered this story several times. Click here for a 2004 report and here for a 2005 report. Martha notes Glenn Kessler's "Blair and Bush Are Duo Even in Descent" (Washington Post):

Blair, in fact, is among the last of Bush's foreign policy allies still in power, with many ousted by anti-U.S. sentiment.
Peter Riddell, a political writer for the Times of London who wrote a book called "Hug Them Close" on Blair's relationship with Clinton and Bush, said that if Brown replaces Blair, it is unlikely he would suddenly try to distance himself from Bush; that is in part because British leaders have long regarded a close relationship with the United States as critical for Britain. But Grant said that Brown is closer to Labor Party members -- who deeply dislike Bush -- than is Blair, and so Brown would be reluctant to send British troops into any more military campaigns led by Americans.
"Public opinion is quite hostile to this shackling of British foreign policy to the United States," Grant said.

While Bully Boy plays Jack to Blair's Rose (Bully Boy: "Never let go"; Blair: "I will never let go, Jack, I will never let go") and two nations sink, Rove has a little talk with . . . Novak. What? You thought I was going to say "Jesus?" Brandon steers us to Murray Waas' "Rove-Novak Call Was Concern to Leak Investigators" (National Journal via Truth Out) covering a conversation Novak and Rove had as the investigation into Plamegate was beginning:

As Fitzgerald considers whether to bring charges against Rove, central to any final determination will be whether Rove's omissions were purposeful.
Dan Richman, a law school professor at Fordham University and a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, says that perjury and obstruction cases are difficult to bring. "In many instances, you almost have to literally take the jury inside a defendant's head to demonstrate their intent," he said.
As of now, it appears unlikely that Fitzgerald will bring charges related to the September 29 conversation, according to Richman and other legal experts. Even if the prosecutor and his investigative team conclude that Rove and Novak did indeed devise a cover story to protect Rove, it is simply too difficult to prove what happened in a private conversation between two people.
A longtime friend of Rove, who doesn't have firsthand knowledge of the CIA leak case but who knows both Rove and Novak well, doubts that Fitzgerald could get a conviction - "as long as neither [Novak nor Rove] breaks, and there is no reason for them to, no matter how much evidence there is. These are two people who go way back, and they are going to look out for each other."
Richman says that a grand jury could consider circumstantial evidence in weighing whether to bring charges, so long as there is also other substantial evidence, and that the prosecutor can present that evidence at trial.
"It's possible that prosecutors would view their [September 29] conversation as the beginning of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, given that they had reason to believe that an investigation would soon be under way," says Richman. "It's even more likely that this conversation would help prosecutors shed light on Rove's motivations and intent when he later spoke to investigators."

The Senate passed their hideous bill yesterday. Francisco notes Edwidge Danticat's "Out of the Shadows" (The Progressive):

In post-9/11 America, where protests are easily pegged as anti-American, more so if the participants are not U.S. born, it is truly remarkable that those whose place in our society is most precarious would gather in nearly every major city of the United States for what in some cases have been the biggest demonstrations recorded to date. These protests are bringing at least some measure of dialogue between segments of the population that would wish to deny the existence of the others. And for once the exchange is not only between pundits and politicians but involves the concerned parties themselves, those whose children would be turned away from schools, who would be denied a doctor when sick.
True to the spirit of this nation as a land of immigrants, a community that is used to finding safety in invisibility has emerged to speak in its own voice. For at the center of this debate is the redefinition of America itself--and as in decades past, with immigration at the forefront of that process.
There is perhaps more discomfort now in the fact that a large percentage of the twelve million undocumented are poor and brown and from the developing world. For years, people like Pat Buchanan have bemoaned the fact that there was no melting taking place in the pot. They consider un-American what they see as the immigrant's backward glance at their sometimes poverty stricken and politically heated homelands. Monies sent back are equated with taxes not being paid. Newborn babies are health care thieves. And since good fences make good neighbors, especially when only one neighbor can afford to build or would seemingly benefit from the fence, images of barbed-wire topped walls with armed Minutemen on the other side dance around in wistfully nativist heads.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

Not Today*:

Amy Goodman in San Jose, CA:
Wed, May 31
*The NetSquared Conference
Cisco Systems' Vineyard Conference Center
260 East Tasman Drive,
San Jose, CA

Not tomorrow but next Saturday*:

Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sat, June 3
A Dialogue on Shias, Sunnis and Politics in Iraq with
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Noam Chomsky,
and Shia-Sunni Speaker's Panel: Anas Shallal, Dr. Anisa Abd elFattah, Salam Al-Marayati, Salma Yaqoob, Shaykh Ibrahim Kazerooni, Dr. UmarFaruq Abd-Allah
Columbia University, Lerner Hall, 114th St. and Broadway
For more information:

*Wednesday, I posted this information passed on by Rod but didn't realize it was next week. (I wrote "Today" on the Wednesday item -- fortunately the actual date was included.) Rod e-mailed that he and Lynda both noticed and were worried about how to raise the issue without embarrassing me -- I have no shame. Just point it out. Seriously. So those are events next week (as their dates stated but I didn't). (And I'm guessing others noticed it and thought, "Check my math? Try check my dates!") My apologies.

Remember Kat posted "Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way" last night. Last night for those who have been to sleep. I gave a warning at the end of the "And the War Drags On . . . (Indymedia Roundup)" that I might be late with the two posts this morning. There's up and probably a little early. However, I am now about to crash after being up twenty-four hours plus. I have no idea when the next entry will go up.

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"Worse than Abu Ghraib" Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt, Richard A. Oppel, Robert Burns & Thomas E. Ricks

A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.
Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could result in charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the incident could be the gravest case involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.
Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.
Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

The above is from Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt and Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Military Expected to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians" in this morning's New York Times. Think it's bad? Hold on for the next highlight.

Yesterday, we steered you to Robert Burns' report for the Associated Press on Gen. Michael W. Hagee trip to Iraq to look into what exactly is going on. Martha notes Thomas E. Ricks' "Top Marine Visits Iraq as Probe of Deaths Widens" (Washington Post) which provides more details:

The commandant of the Marine Corps flew to Iraq to address his troops yesterday, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were briefed on allegations that Marines had purposely killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians in November.
The two developments were indications of the growing seriousness of two investigations into the incident in Haditha that has led to charges from a congressman that Marines killed civilians "in cold blood."

"When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm," said retired Brig. Gen. David M. Brahms, formerly a top lawyer for the Marine Corps. "It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."

Worse than Abu Ghraib? And note, that's not an anonymous source, Brahms goes on the record.
Murtha knew about this last week which means Bully Boy should have known (and if he was out of the loop, when he heard of Murtha's remarks, he should have asked what they meant). Is this the 'turned corner' he was emphasizing? The steps? Freedom on the move? Remember that?

From Wally's "THIS JUST IN! 'FREEDOM IS MOVING!'" (Monday post in full):

Recommended: "Other Items"
"And the war drags on"
"the ruth & elijah report"
"Cole slaw in the Kitchen"
"The blonde brain of Thomas Friedman."
"Editorial: Here it comes, here it comes again"
"TV Review: Will & Grace -- goodbye, good riddance"
"Into the e-mails"
"Kat's Korner: Springsteen's Seeger Sessions"

So Bully Boy knew about the investigation but just kept talking that nonsense of a 'turned corner' all weekend? And some wonder why his poll numbers are consistently low?

Keesha noted Margaret Kimberley's "Tar Baby" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Fox News is the television news mouthpiece for the Bush administration. When the White House recently announced the departure of press secretary Scott McClellan rumors immediately surfaced that his replacement would be Tony Snow of none other than Fox News. The rumors were true and now it is official, Fox News speaks for Bush.
At his first press briefing Snow was asked about the NSA program that has allowed the federal government to spy on thousands of Americans. In his response Snow couldn’t resist throwing in references to
white supremacy fantasy in order to defend government supremacy over our lives.
"I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program – the alleged program – the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny."
You can take the man out of Fox, but you can't take Fox out of the man. Like his former colleagues at that network Snow doesn’t pass up an opportunity to openly espouse racist doctrine.

[. . .]
Snow's explanation for his insult was equally insulting. He whined about being picked on and pointed out what everyone already knows, that the term tar baby came from the Uncle Remus stories.
The words tar baby are a slur, period. They are used to hurt, to anger and to offend. The fact that they first appeared in the Uncle Remus stories doesn’t let Snow off the hook. The Uncle Remus stories were part of a carefully orchestrated effort to make plantation life appear benevolent instead of horrific.

On the topic of Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the Times' coverage didn't impress me while the trial was going on. (Yes, they had 'access.' It didn't result in meaningful reporting on a day to day basis. If they're going to insist upon covering trials, how about they do that -- cover the trial. Quit sucking up to this attorney or that. Tell us what's going on in the trial not who ate where or who wore what or other details that honestly don't matter -- which includes their own predicitions and those of defense lawyers.) So instead of rewarding medicore reporting, we'll skip them and go to two highlights that Daniel noted.

First up, William Greider's "Rise and Fall of the Enron Boys" (The Nation):

These two thugs looted pension funds and destroyed the personal savings of families. They stole money from the rest of us, not to mention from government and other non-glamorous business enterprises. They rigged energy markets to drive up prices and bilk defenseless consumers (an old-fashioned swindle borrowed from nineteenth-century robber barons and newly decriminalized by deregulation). They swallowed viable, productive companies and wrecked them, especially wrecking the livelihoods of their employees. And, worst of all, they were best pals with politicians and political leaders as well as the most prestigious names in banking and finance--connections the Mafia would die for!
Sorry, am I shouting? My exuberance over this verdict is a mixture of joyous fulfillment and lingering doubts about the impact. Since the meltdown of the stock market in 2001 and the avalanche of scandalous revelations that followed from hundreds of corporations, I have thought the political system and the financial system and even the public at large did not sufficiently get the message. The pervasive rot in American capitalism is much deeper than acknowledged. The various forms of fraud by which millions of people are separated from their money continue in practice, often blessed by law itself.
Still flourishing, likewise, are the leading Wall Street firms--Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, to name a few--that showed Lay and Skilling how to do the fancy financial footwork, converting "debt" into "revenue," so that stock analysts could tout Enron's rising "profit". This was fraud too, but nobody from the banks went to prison (they paid millions, even billions, for no-guilt settlements with government and injured investors). Message to America: Don't rob the Seven Eleven with a six-gun. Rob the general public with pen and computer.
Congress, meanwhile, claimed to "toughen" financial laws, but they did not get reform halfway done. Now the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups are back in Washington insisting that the rather mild reform measures be scrapped too. They may very well succeed, if the public is not aroused. The media can take care of that. They will be describing this verdict as "an end of the era."

And Daniel also notes John Nichols' "Ken Lay--Guilty. George Bush--Guilty." (The Online Beat, The Nation):

The man who paid many of the biggest bills for George Bush's political ascent, Enron founder Kenneth Lay, has been found guilty of conspiracy and fraud almost five years after his dirty dealings created the greatest corporate scandal in what will be remembered as an era of corporate crime.
On the sixth day of deliberations following the conclusion of a long-delayed federal trial, a Houston jury found Lay guilty on six counts of fraud and conspiracy. In a separate decision, US District Judge Sim Lake ruled that Lay was guilty of four counts of fraud and making false statements.
The same jury that convicted Lay found Enron's former chief executive, Jeffrey Skilling, guilty on 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, making false statements and engaging in insider trading.
Lay, who President Bush affectionately referred to as "Kenny-boy" when the two forged an alliance in the 1990s to advance Bush's political ambitions and Lay's business prospects, contributed $122,500 to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns in Texas. Lay would later explain to a PBS "Frontline" interviewer that, though he had worked closely with former Texas Governor Ann Richards, the Democrat incumbent who Bush challenged in 1994, he backed the Republican because "I was very close to George W."
Needless to say, once Bush became governor, Lay got his phone calls returned. A report issued by Public Citizen in February, 2001, months before the Enron scandal broke, identified Lay as "a long-time Bush family friend and an architect of Bush's policies on electricity deregulation, taxes and tort reform while Bush was Texas governor."

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

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

Former Army Spc. Katherine Jashinski, a conscientious objector, cried before her sentence of four-months confinement was handed down, according to one witness at her court-martial.
"She was in tears," said Camilo Mejia, treasurer of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who attended Jashinski's Tuesday trial. "The entire mood of the courtroom changed."
Jashinski, reduced to the rank of private first class after a series of offenses, received a 120-day sentence and a bad conduct discharge after she pleaded guilty to willfully disobeying a lawful order of a superior commissioned officer. She was found not guilty of missing movement by design, said Monica Manganaro, public affairs officer at Fort Benning.
The judge gave Jashinski 53 days credit for a previous administrative punishment she received, leaving her 67 days to serve, which began Tuesday, Manganaro said. Jashinski is currently being held at the Harris County Jail, though she will be moved to military confinement in a few days.

The above, noted by Heath, is from Alan Riquelmy's "Guard woman brought to tears: Guilty plea brings rank reduction, bad conduct discharge" (Ledger-Enquirer). Visit Free Katherine for more information. This is going up late due to something I'd forgotten I'd agreed to do. (There are days when I wouldn't know the date, or even day of the week, without grabbing one of the morning papers.) My apologies. Thanks to Kat who agreed to rush a review she was working on so that something would be posted prior to midnight. ("Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way.") Her review also sets up this entry nicely as she fills you in on what the paper of no record can't or won't. A topic of which is the subject of the next highlight, noted by Marcus, Tod Ensign's "Withdrawal Talk: Bait & Switch?" (Citizen Soldier):

As the mid-term elections draw closer, it's likely that Congressional candidates and the White House will float proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq. Republicans with close races will spin any military talk of redeployment from Iraq as evidence of progress. On May 9th, the New York Times reported that Pentagon officials have been discussing the possibility of bringing American troop levels down to 100,000 assuming that Iraqi troops "continue to improve."
With little fanfare, the US command in Iraq has been busy spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade several military bases which appear intended for long-term use by American personnel. One of their largest projects is "Camp Anaconda" at Balad, Iraq where a major rebuilding effort is expected to take another nine years. Two 12,000 foot runways to accomodate the US military's largest cargo jets have already been extensively upgraded. Contracts totally $62 million have been let to construct three enormous ramps that can accomodate dozens of C-5 and C-130 cargo planes, as well as every type of helicopter in the US arsenal. The huge base, which covers fourteen square miles, can accomodate up to 25,000 workers, many of whom are currently American soldiers and construction workers.

The bases no one wants to talk about, the ones Nancy Pelosi wants to argue "permancy" about because they won't be there until the end of time, just many many decades.

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 troops fatality count (in Iraq) was 2454. Right now? It's 2463. Maybe a failed hacktress, failed sitcom star will find that to be something else she can get behind "110%?" (Or maybe Poppy will e-mail her on how Big Babs avoids letting fatalities and casulities effect her not-so-beautiful mind?) The war drags on because people let it and because some actively cheer it on.

What stops it? Action. Such as in Iwana's highlight, Matt Osborn's "Members of BC Community Hang Protest Banner During Rice Address" (Boston IMC) -- this article contains photos by Jonathan McIntosh:

Three people hung a banner reading "BC Honors Lies & Torture" during the Boston College commencement address by Condoleezza Rice.
During this morning's Boston College commencement address by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who received an honorary degree, three people unfurled a banner reading, "BC Honors Lies & Torture." The banner was visible for five minutes next to a Puerto Rican flag held by a different group. Campus police removed the flag and escorted the three out of the stadium.

What else stops it? Reality. But it has to penetrate the waves of Operation Happy Talk. Joan notes an article and says we may have highlighted it already. I've read it in print but don't think we've noted it here. If we have, it's worth noting again. From Catherine Komp's "Witness to War: Unembedded Photojournalism in Iraq" (Clamor):

As we reach the third anniversary of the US-led "shock and awe" bombing of Iraq and subsequent occupation, there is still no clear indication of when the devastation will end. A land that many historians called the birthplace of civilization has been reduced to smoldering buildings, burned-out cars, broken glass, and deserted streets. Unsanitized images of this shattered landscape are often hard to come by, especially those that expose the daily realities of living amongst the chaos -- people's pain, anger, and fear along with their strength, determination, and hope. But there are a number of unembedded journalists who continue to work in Iraq, leaving the security of the green zone and armed guards, to live amongst Iraqis and capture what American photograher Kael Alford describes as the "horror and beauty of Iraq." Alford, along with three other independent photographers, American Thorne Anderson, Canadian Rita Leistner, and Iraqi Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, have collaborated on Unembedded, a book and traveling exhibit of their photographs and essays. Clamor recently had the chance to ask Leistner and Anderson about their work.
What stories do your photos tell about the changes to Iraq’s people and cities that weren’t being told by other photojournalists?
Leistner: The work of embedded photojournalists is certainly important in showing the changes going on in Iraq (I was embedded myself for four months in the spring and summer of 2003). But when I was embedded, my story was about the soldiers. This was simple access and location: you report on where you are. Being unembedded meant spending time with Iraqis and so we were able to record the effects of the war on their lives. What our work and experience shows is that things are getting worse by far for the Iraqi people. You can't show this so well if you are living on a military base with American soldiers.
As an unembedded photojournalist in Iraq, how did you perceive your role in recording the destruction of war and the impact of the US occupation?
Anderson: I think news media, particularly American and particularly television, where most Americans get their information, relies too heavily on the reports of journalists embedded with American and coalition troops in Iraq. I feel that our role as journalists and the goal of this book is to provide balance to that coverage.

So where's the movement going? Brad was nice enough to send three of the most idiotic pieces from indymedia -- all three from so-called alternative weeklies -- and note that they'd truly lost it. I'm forgetting one piece, but I know one was by someone who obviously has no concept of the seventies as he editorializes about what the sixites did and didn't bring (music is the entry point). Another tells you that you must vote a Democratic senator who supports the war. Now is not the time, the article tells you, to question that support! Sound familiar? It's the same nonsense that allowed John Kerry to avoid dealing with the war in the 2004 run. That's why we don't waste a lot of time with "this race!" and other nonsense here. We're not going to worship Congress, fall down to our knees just knowing they'll 'give' us anything. People need to be held accountable. We were told in 2004 that it wasn't the right time to press on the war, we're being told that now. Nearly 2500 American lives (and countless Iraqis as well as British, Australian, Italians, et al) say otherwise. So those were the jerk offs of the week. Taking a minute to 'weigh in' and tell you that you have no power. (The editorial made that point repeatedly.)

You have power and you can use it. You have more power than Congress if you use it. Writing blank checks and giving unquestioning endorsements isn't using your power.

(The senator, by the way, is slimed as a hell on heels -- no, it's not Hillary -- and a cold fish and much more. But don't not vote for her says the guy who doesn't think we need to question those who supported and continue to support the war. He may have also said she had a drinking problem -- either that or she just made everyone who worked for her want to get drunk.)

So what lessons can we learn from the movement thus far? That exploration is at the heart of Zach's highlight, Bill Simpich's "Building a Movement That Will Be Stronger After the US is Out of Iraq" (SF Indymedia):

Following the April 29 antiwar march in New York, which gathered 350,000 participants and very little press coverage, it looks like the movement to end the war in Iraq is poised to make the shift from single-day protests to an action campaign. There is a call for a "Declaration of Peace", endorsed by United for Peace and Justice and twenty-five other antiwar organizations, calling for weeks of agitation and civil disobedience with a focus primarily but not solely at Congressional offices throughout the country starting on September 21, after spending the next four months organizing and getting each Congressional member position on the war on record.
The strategy is to ensure that the war is a central issue in the November election, with a call for an immediate comprehensive withdrawal designed to "bring the troops out now". The emerging plan is to sustain a steady string of actions over the initial weeks in September while Congress is still in session, with the hope that new people will join in and the campaign will attain a rhythm of its own. These actions would include everything from lobbying to civil disobedience. Such a call raises some perennial questions about the structure of such a action campaign: Single-issue or multi-issue? Electoral or non-electoral targets? Traditional or confrontational? Centralized or decentralized?
There is an understanding that local regions are free to pick and choose their own protest targets. Go to the Declaration of Peace website ( and say what you think... I believe that such a campaign should include a call for economic justice, whether as a "peace dividend" or as some other formulation, ensuring that the movement stands with the poor and the working class in America and worldwide. Such a position will aid in building a movement that continues to grow after the troops leave Iraq, and lessen the potential of any "divide-and-conquer" tactics by our adversaries.
Go back to the days of May in 1970, after Nixon's April 30 announcement that he was sending ground troops into Cambodia - the high-water mark of the antiwar struggle in the US, and the alliances and strategies of that period that impacted our objective to get the US military out of Southeast Asia. During the spring of 1970, as the anti-Vietnam war forces were looking for direction, the "justice" side of the surge for "peace and justice" was on the move in New Haven.
On May Day of 1970, 15,000 gathered on the Yale campus for a tense three-day weekend of action at the height of a student strike to protest the attempted frame-up of Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale (also a defendant of the antiwar Chicago 8) for murder. The trial revealed Seale's innocence and the central role of a probable FBI informant. (Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The Cointelpro Papers)
In a highly militarized atmosphere, the authorities' hopes for a shoot-out were dashed as the Panthers and the students kept the peace and the focus on Bobby's upcoming trial. The lasting image was of Yale president Kingman Brewster (the model for "President King" in Doonesbury) stating that "I am appalled and ashamed that things should have come to such a pass in this country that I am skeptical of the ability of black revolutionaries to achieve a fair trial anywhere in the United States."
During that fateful weekend, campuses began rising up throughout the country. They began to adopt Yale's tactic of a "student strike", a on-the-spot national mobilization in Washington DC for the following weekend, and a call for solidarity with the Panthers. It is noteworthy that the Panthers were one of the few African American groups willing to build alliances with the left during this era, and that Kent State University was part of this history. During November of 1968, Oakland, California police recruiters actually came all the way to Kent, Ohio. Protesting the racist history of this perpetual foe of the Oakland-based Panthers, African American students and others walked off campus and set up a "university in exile". Students returned only when the administration agreed to set up an African American studies program - now known as the Department of Pan-African Studies. (Melissa Hostetler, "Thirty Years of Activism at Kent State" April 27, 2002, Friction Magazine)

So read the article and see if it makes you think of some ideas or actions of your own. Tori notes a woman who took action, Christian Wright's "I protested George Bush at my (GW) College Graduation" (DC Indymedia):

I was not even planning on attending this ceremony until Chris gave me a call last night around midnight with his idea for the protest. The idea was to have him and some of his friends stand up while Bush was talking and to turn their backs to him.
Beacause I had no plans nor cap and gown I was just going to hand out the agitational leaflet I wrote. But what actually happened was that I met Chris right as he was being seated and I snuck in and sat next to him. I was wearing slacks and by 'I have a dream' shirt with a picture of Bush and Cheney behind bars on it, but after a staff person confirmed by Gworld card they let me stay.
Origionally, 4 of Chris's friends were going to protest with us, but when the moment came they all chickened out and stayed seated. So all it was was Chris and myself standing up when the Bushes (first his wife, then the former president) were introduced. We stood up and turned our backs to him. We were nervous but we backed each other up.
Looking in front of us we saw an army of elite, wealthy, and conservative college graduates, with their families behind them. The ceremony filled the mall from 4th st all the way to 7th st. Immediately people began to complain that we were blocking their view, and several students started shouting at us to sit down. At first we tried to look at them and say "sorry", but pretty quick we figured out that dialogue would be useless.
Instead we just looked back to the end of the crowd and avoided eye contact with those immediately in front of us.
I looked back to see the horror on the face of the president of the College Republicans, with whom I had had the burden to endure a "guerrilla warfare and insurgenceies" proseminar with. But he wasn't going to saynothing to us cause this was our turn.
A cop told us to sit down or leave and I told him he'd have to drag us out. He backed off and we stayed standing. Decicisvely, a few people around us joined in telling the police to let us stand. I think the discussions that our leaflet helped us get into with the other graduates early on was crucial to getting us this support. Even one student who was politically conservative that we had talked to earlier came out to support us when the cop arrived. We made the point that we weren't trying to disrupt anything, but it was the university who politicized the event by inviting the Bushes there, and we were simply obeying our conscience by turning our backs to him.
So I stood, alongside Chris with my back turned to President Bush! It was probably for about 10-15 minutes or so. I did not have a graduation suit on but I did borrow the hat from one of Chris' friends, all of whom had peace signs painted on them. I think that president Bush was able to see it.
An ABC guy took our picture and there was some other media there too. A few people, including a teacher, came up to us aftewords and thanked us for standing up, and said they were dissapointed that we were the only ones. One other student who elsewhere in the crowd had tried to independantly do the same thing, but who was shouted down by conservative fellow students, also came up to us and said thanks.

Why take action? Because it's going to take demonstrations, speaking out, rallies, sharing with the people around you and probably a lot more to end the war. We're already seeing the first rumbles of "Don't press on the war!" They'll only get louder. Because people disown their power and operate from a base of fear. And because it's also eaiser to hand over your power than to own it. "Here, take this off my hands" becomes the reason to vote for someone. It's a refusal to utilize your own strength, to own your own experience and to live in the ever present world.

Why take action? Because people are dying. Lynda notes Layla Wilder's "A mother's pain" (Fairfax County Times):

When Army 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Kaylor was growing up, he used to make his mother breakfast in bed on Mother's Day morning and get her flowers. That was years ago. Jeffrey grew up, joined the military and later went to Iraq, and this year, his mother, Roxanne Kaylor, 56, of Clifton did not get flowers from him on Mother's Day. He was killed by an explosion in April 2003 outside of Baghdad, at the age of 24, while destroying equipment to keep it from insurgents. Now all Roxanne said she wants is her son back.
Roxanne did not do anything special this Mother's Day, she said. But she prays every single day for the "senseless war to stop." It was the fourth Mother's Day since Operation Iraqi Freedom started in March 2003, and, for other mothers like Roxanne who lost sons and daughters in Iraq, the day meant dealing with the painful reality of war and their loss.

"Sunday was a hard day, and I had to work to keep the tears from coming and overwhelming me," said Nancy Hecker, 61, of Vienna, who lost her son, Maj. William Hecker III, in Iraq in January.

Because every death means grief for families (of all nationalities). Todd notes Cindy Sheehan's
"Casey's Mother's Day Gift" (Common Dreams):

I awakened last Sunday morning with an enormous pain in my heart. Every morning I wake up, as soon as I come to consciousness and figure out where I am, my first thought is of Casey and April 04, 2004, the day he was killed in BushCo's war for corporate profit. Some days, like Mother's Day, are worse than others.
That Sunday morning, I was in Washington, DC--a city that I love as an exciting, energetic and supportive one--on the other hand, the corruption seeps into my soul and I can't spend too many consecutive days there. I am also comforted by the constant police presence as I am followed like a hawk by a paranoid force that is afraid I am up to something--which is usually true, but that's beside the point, everything I do is legal--and paranoid that I may expose another t-shirt with the truth written on it.
After breakfast with my sister, a Camp Casey friend from Texas, Randi Rhodes, Susan Hathaway from NYC, and Annie Nelson (Willie's wife), we headed down to Lafayette Park where Code Pink was sponsoring a "Mothers Say No to War" vigil where hundreds of male and female matriots gathered together to loudly, stridently, courageously, reverently, and oftentimes joyfully proclaim to the world and the illicit administration that we have had enough of the world's children being killed for no reason other than to garner obscene profits for the war machine.
We had a wonderful day opening with a prayer/memorial service for all of the people, including innocent Iraqis, that have been lost to Bush's gigantic ego and bottomless greed. At one point, I laid my head in my friend Hillary's lap and sobbed for the chasm of emptiness that is present in my life on a daily basis. Not only do I miss Casey, but I miss my other children. I miss the life we led before Casey was killed: A life that was dominated by the children and their activities. Now I am separated by a dimension from Casey and by distance from my others. I do this so they and the worlds' children won't have to go to war and die for a racket that is as old as time. It is a hard life that I have chosen but sometimes I feel that it has chosen me.

I've not made it home yet. To wait until I got home to do the entry would risk sitting down as I soon as I walked in ("for just a minute") and falling asleep. So I don't have my list by my computer of what song we're supposed to be noting this week (in addition to "And the War Drags On"). A friend does, however, have a copy of the Dixie Chicks new CD so we'll note her favorite song.

Sunday morning
I heard the preacher say
Thou' shall not kill
I don't wanna hear nothin' else
About killin' and that it's God's will
'Cause our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They're gonna be like us
So let's learn from our history
And do it differently
[I hope]
-- "I Hope" words and music by Emily Robison, Martie Maguire, Natalie Merchant and Keb' Mo',
from the album Taking The Long Way

Monday is a holiday and, on that note, Keesha steers us to a press release from Military Families Speak Out:

This Memorial Day Gold Star Families Say, "Honor our Loved Ones' Service and Sacrifice By Ending This War!"Families Challenge President’s Statement that Families of the Fallen Support Continuing the War
WASHINGTON, DC -- This Memorial Day Weekend, Gold Star families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq, who are members of Military Families Speak Out's chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out, are available for interview.
President Bush said, in remarks at the National Restaurant Association Convention in Chicago on May 22nd, "…the hardest job of the President is to meet with families of the fallen. And it's a -- it's my duty. But almost to a person, they say, whatever you do, Mr. President, complete the mission, lay the foundation of peace so my child had not died in vain. And I give them that assurance every time I meet with them. In fact, many Gold Star families say otherwise.
"It serves no purpose to have more and more servicemen and women die in an unjust and unjustifiable war, and have more families experience the unbearable and unending pain that my family has experienced," explained Celeste Zappala, mother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. Sgt. Baker was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004 while guarding the Iraq Survey Group as they searched for non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Elaine Johnson, who met with President Bush following the death of her son Darius Jennings on November 2, 2003 in Iraq and challenged him on his war policy, stated, "The best way to honor the memory of Darius and all of our loved ones is to end this war, bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get here."
Members of Military Families Speak Out's chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out whose loved ones have died as a result of the war in Iraq are available for interview over Memorial Day Weekend. To schedule an interview, contact Katya Kruglak, (703) 304-5075, or Nancy Lessin, (617) 320-5301.
For more information:
Military Families Speak Out:; Gold Star Families Speak Out

The e-mail address for this site is I almost forgot, two DFW (Dallas -Fort Worth) members wrote me about the Angelika. That's where the film Sir! No! Sir! begins playing tomorrow. I meant to do a search and grab the information but both Eddie and Billie (each in their own e-mail) noted it and saved me the trouble.

Angelika Film Center
Mockingbird Station,
5321 E Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206
Sir! No Sir! NR (85 min.)
2:15 PM 4:15 PM 6:15 PM 8:15 PM

Eddie wrote that it was easy to find and Billie advised that members should take the train because it stops right there. So if you're lost, go to Yahoo Maps or do what Billie advises and grab a train. That's the DFW area and we've got a number of members in that area. Four are already thinking about seeing it. If you can't afford a film or if you've already got other plans (I know it's a holiday weekend), forget it. But if you're able to consider seeing it, please do. It's a great film. (And don't put if off if you're wanting to see it. It's only booked for one week. It may be held over but that depends upon attendance.) We also have a number of members in these two areas where it beings playing on Friday (which is today if I wrote 'tomorrow' earlier, the film beings playing in the two areas below and DFW on Friday, today):

(minimum one week)
(minimum one week)

It is playing elsewhere as well and you can find out by clicking on Sir! No! Sir! and if you're saying, "Wait, I'm confused!" click on this Democracy Now! story "Retired Army Col. Charged With Sedition For Handing Flyer on Anti-War Vietnam Vets" to find out more about the movie and listen, watch or read an excerpt.

Lastly (for real this time), the Times entries may post late. I've still got to drive home and it's about two hours (as I finish this, not by the time stamp which is when the entry is begun, not when it's posted) before I normally begin the morning entries.