Thursday, June 22, 2006

WBAI's Law and Disorder covered Mumia Abu-Jamal and David Gilbert

"7 Marines, Naval Corporal Charged With Murdering Iraqi Civilian" (Democracy Now):
The US military has charged eight service members with the murder and kidnapping of an unarmed Iraqi. Hashim Ibrahim Awad was pulled from his home last April in the town of Hamdania. Military investigators believe the Marines shot him and then planted a shovel and an AK-47 rifle at the scene to make it appear he was an insurgent. Awad was in his 50's with a lame leg and bad eyesight. His family has alleged a small group of U.S. servicemembers offered them money in exchange for supporting the Marines' version of the killing. The charges were announced Wednesday at California's Camp Pendleton, where the servicemembers are being held. If convicted, the suspects could face the death penalty.
Marine spokesperson Colonel Stewart Navarre: "It is important to note that the charges are accusations, against the individual, and the accused is presumed innocent. All marines are trained in the law of armed conflict, and are expected to fully comply with it. The marine corps takes allegations of wrongdoings by its members very seriously, and is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations."

In The Third Estate Sunday Review's "When War Hawks Lied," we wrote:

Look if you will at the faces
Don't you dare turn away
This is the war that was heavily sold
This is what we get when
War Hawks Lie

Get the feeling that a lot are turning away? I do. I can't believe that there are eight charged with such an awful crime and we get so little on it. I didn't even hear anyone talking about this for the longest today. I went into work this morning and said, "I'm just going to wait and see how long it takes." If it wasn't brought up by lunch, I'd bring it up. It was ten o'clock before someone brought it up. I heard about Mark Cuban saying the NBA was rigged and a lot of talk wondering if he was right (most felt he was) and whether or not he'd sell off his team (Dallas Mavericks -- though one guy participating thought Cuban owned the LA Lakers -- he was trying to act like he followed basketball). I heard about internet predators. After 20 minutes of that from the woman and the man whose desk was closest to mine, I had to pipe up and say "Brian Doyle." Who, they asked? The deputy press secretary of Homeland Security until he was busted in April when he got soliciting sexual relations with a child online.

At ten, the boss came in. He was going desk to desk and saying hi. He stopped at mine and said, "Please tell me you heard about the troops being charged." He'd gone desk to desk and found no one who had. Sort of tells you what we get out of our corporate news.

"Senate Rejects Minimum Wage Increase" (Democracy Now):
Back in the United States, the Senate rejected a measure Wednesday that would have raised the minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade. The proposal called for a 40 percent increase from the current wage of Five Dollars and Fifteen cents an hour. A study released this week by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the real-dollar value of the minimum wage is now at its lowest level in more than fifty years. But Congress has not rejected all federal pay hikes: last week, House lawmakers voted to increase their salaries by more than Three Thousand Dollars. It was their seventh straight pay raise.

Hey, I could use a three thousand dollar raise. I think I got 3% in the last pay raise. And no, that didn't add up to three thousand dollars. Add in that my insurance went up 2% in January so I really only got a 1% bump. C.I. put this item with "an excerpt from Antonia Juhasz' The Bush Agenda: Invading The World, One Economy at a Time (page 100):"

Just compare CEO pay to that of the average worker. Twenty years ago, U.S. corporate CEOs earned on average forty-two times more than production workers. Today, they earn a whopping 431 times more. Put another way, if the average production worker's pay had kept pace with that of CEOs, he or she would be taking home more than $110,000 a year instead of less than $28,000. Likewsie, the average minimum wage earner would be taking home over $23 an hour instead of $5.15. Imagine what one could do with an extra $18 an hour -- perhaps afford a better place to live, child care during work hours, or health insurance for the entire family.

Mike and I are teaming up tonight because Elaine has Thursday's off. Be sure to visit Mikey Likes It! I'm covering the third segment of WBAI's Law and Disorder and Mike's grabbing the second. Ruth will grab the first (she says "hopefully" because she's playing with the format of her report and trying to make them "less chatty" and "more focused"). I love her reports anyway she does them. But I know from just grabbing my segment that there's so much more to cover than I have time for.

My segement was on prisons. First up, host Heidi Boghosian talked about her recent visit with Mumia Abu-Jamal who is on death row (25 years) and deserves a fair trial -- something he's never gotten. She was visiting him on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. (Host Michael Smith pointed out that all four hosts are members -- Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner are the other two hosts.) The National Lawyers Guild is going to file a friend of the court brief for a new trial. She spoke of two of the many issues in his trial. There is the issue of the racism in the selection of the jury. And there's the prosecutor telling the jury that their sentence (their verdict) was "reviewable, there will be appeal after appeal." That last one is the issue the National Lawyers Guild is going to be filing their brief on because the Supreme Court has found it "clearly influences" the jury. Boghosian said that with the other issues this is "grounds for reversal" of the conviction. (Wrongful conviction in my opinion.)

She also talked about how, at his prison, there are random searches of cars in the parking lot and how "they swab your hands" inside testing "for the presence of drugs."

Michael Ratner guessed that this will be heard sometime in the fall. You can hear Abu-Jamal on Free Speech Radio, by the way. He does commentaries. If you read Amy Goodman and David Goodman's Exception to the Rulers (great book) you know that NPR wanted him to do commentaries but then chickened out when there were some protests. He does them now on Free Speech Radio.

David Gilbert was who Michael Smith visited. I don't know much about his case. Chesea Boudin is Gilbert's son. That put a face to it for me because I got to see Boudin give a speech. (Smart guy.) He was transporting bank robbers ("trying to liberate funds to fund a movement -- Black Liberation Army"). He and Kathy Boudin (Chesea's mother) were waiting in a parking lot in a U-Haul during the robbery. Those who committed the robbery then met up with them because the police would be looking for African-Americans who committed the robbery and Gilbert and Boudin are White. They were stopped by the police for some reason (maybe it was a checkpoint set up) and during the encounter, the robbers came from the back of the U-Haul and began firing and three police officers were killed. Michael Smith explained that during the sentencing, Gilbert refused to take part saying that he was a political prisoner, that the people involved were prisoners of war and that "I don't recognize the authority of your court" before turning his back. The court came down extremely hard (severly) and sentenced him to three terms of life.
Michael Smith said that the earliest Gilbert would be eligible for parole was in 2056 and right now he is already sixty-one years old. I'm not remembering him from the movie Weather Underground which I did see. C.I. gave me Thai Jones' A Radical Line (great book) but he's got only on two pages in that book. The longer of the two is where Thai Jones is talking about how he is a child living undercover with his parents (Jeff Jones and Eleanor Raskin). This is page 271:

He and Eleanor were both listening to the radio in their bedroom when the announcer flashed in with breaking news: a botched armored truck robbery in Rockland County, two police-officers and a security guard dead, four unidentified people -- two whites and two blacks -- in custody. My parents looked at each other and had the exact same thought: I bet they're friends of ours.
"No matter how this unfolds," Jeff said to her, "our lives are not going to be the same." There was no explicit reason that the trail should lead to us and nothing we could do to avoid trouble. Jeff and Eleanor took me to school and then went to work. The story of the Brink's robbery developed throughout the day. The suspects' names were released and that initial hunch had been correct: Kathy Boudin, Judy Clark, and David Gilbert were old, old friends.

Michael Smith and Michael Ratner talked about how Gilbert has written a book called No Surrender. You can also find some of his writings by clicking here.

Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! PSYCHIC CASEY SAYS 'HONEY, THEY SHRUNK THE ARMY!'" and I'm closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq. Elsewhere some merely strike poses.
In the United States, the Senate has said "NO!" to US forces leaving Iraq by July 2007. As the so-called coalition continues to break apart with other nations deciding to pull their troops out of Iraq, one might think the issue would garner a serious debate. Always one to posture, John McCain (Senator from Arizona) declared: "The United States, with our Iraqi partners, has the responsibility to see this through" apparently auditioning for the role of passenger on the Titanic. Russ Feingold (Senator from Wisconsin) stated: "It is time to tell the Iraqis that we have done what we can do militarily." Instead of addressing that reality, most preferred to posture; however, 13 senators did vote in favor of the proposal John Kerry and Feingold were supporting (troops out by July 2007). The other (weaker and, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, "nonbinding") proposal much supported by Democratic Party hacks such as DiFi and Harry Reid? It lost in a 60-39 vote. In Vienna, the Bully Boy faced questions about Iraq. "What's past is past," declared the Bully Boy on the issue of Iraq. What's past? How about what's passed? The 2500 mark for American military fatalities. As Amy Goodman noted today on Democracy Now!, 2512 is the current fatality count.
While the United States Congress can't say "Withdrawal" and the Bully Boy can't even toss out a phrase correctly (it is: "What's done is done."), it's not suprising that it has become increasing harder for US military recruiters to meet the needed recruitment numbers. As the UK's Daily Mail notes, the U.S. Army's decision to raise the maximum age for recruitment, to forty-two, is the second time this year that the military has raised the age. In January, the maxium age was raised from 35 years-old to 40. Why the Army? As Reuters notes: "More than three years into the war, the Army continues to provide the bulk of U.S. ground forces in Iraq." Which is why military recruiters, when not stalking school campuses, attempt to recruit at NASCAR events.
Speaking to Fluxview, for their AWOL in Canada series, Christopher Mogwai noted that, "In the Vietnam era they didn't kick you out for drugs, now they do" so some choose any number of means to leave the service. Fluxview also interviews war resistors Darrell Anderson and Ryan Johnson.
Noting the charging of "eight US troops with kidnapping and murdering a handicapped Iraqi civilian," Demetri Sevastolulo and Neil Buckley (Financial Times of London) note that the speaker of the Iraqi parliment is asking "the US to investigate the killings of 'many innocent people' by American forces." According to CNN, Masmoud al-Mashhadani is specifically calling for "an investigation . . . into this week's U.S. bombing of a poultry farm in northern Iraq." This is the incident Amy Goodman noted yesterday where a human rights worker states that "two of the dead were young boys aged ten and twelve." As Al Jazeera noted: "The Association of Muslim Scholars said US warplanes bombed a house and a poultry farm in al-Bushahin village in northeast Baquba, then dropped soldiers to kill the survivors of the attack."
In Baghdad today, CNN notes a car bomb went off by a movie theater and two people were killed, five wounded. Reuters notes a motorcycle bombing, in Baghdad, which resulted in two dead and eight injured.
In Baquba, Reuters reports that Raad al-Mowla was wounded in a roadside bomb (al-Mowla is the governor of the Diyala province). The Associated Press notes a bomb in Jibla that resulted in the death of an unidentified civilian and an "Iraqi army solider." As Amy Goodman noted this morning, "at least fifty of the more than eighty [kidnapped] workers have been released or freed."
Reuters notes the discovery of 14 corpses of electricity plant workers who were "abducted and killed June 12". Associated Press notes that six corpses ("bullet-riddled bodies") were found in Kut. In Najaf, a police officer was shot dead, Reuters notes, and, in Dhuluiya, an Iraqi soldier was shot dead. Like the US Congress, John Howard (prime minister of Australia) plays baby Bully Boy and speaks of how things might get even riskier for Australians stationed in Iraq, Australia's ABC reports Labor leader Kim Beazley's response in Parliment: "Iraq is a quagmire and staying htere is not in our national interest. Make no mistake about it, we are opposed to the war in Iraq, we want these troops in Al Muthanna province home now."
While Japan used the Iraq government's decision to take over responsiblity for the Al Muthanna province as a sign to withdraw troops, Howard has decided to move Australian troops to other areas in Iraq. Though of little concern to the mainstream US press, the shooting by Australian security guards yesterday of three Iraqi bodyguards (one dead, two wounded) for Iraq Trade Minister Abdel Falah al-Sudany has resulted in an expression of regret from the Australian Defense Force and, today, has led al-Sudany to issue a statement that he "demands an apology and payment of compsenation." Reuters notes: "The incident could potentially embarrass Australia, which has been trying to imrpove trade ties with Iraq after Iraq suspended dealings with Australia's monopoly wheat exporter AWB over a kickbacks scandal."
Besides trade deals being put at risk (remember, it's the markets), Labor and Green reps in Australia says that the incident is another reason Australia needs to withdraw troops from Iraq. Kim Bezley stated, "The point is this: we shouldn't be there." Bob Brown, Greens leader, stated: "It should send a signal to this Prime Minister, who just does not seem to connect that we should be bringing the troops home. They shouldn't have been there, they should be brought home."
Speaking to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales on Democracy Now! today, Italian journalist Giulana Sgrena discussed the details of her kidnapping in Iraq as well as the details of the rescue that went wrong when US troops fired on her vehicle as it was enroute to the airport. During the interview, Sgrena stated: "So there are many things that we don't know and we would like to know. I don't want to accuse Mario Lozano to know who was in the car and to shoot because he knew that there, there were agents and me. But we want the prosecution just to know, to have more information of what happened, because we gave the information to the commander, the Italian one that was in touch with the American one in the airport, that we were on this road to the airport. And we know that they were monitoring the telephone that we used in the car, the Americans, and they were monitoring the mobile telephone on the satellite." Remember that: Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.)