Saturday, June 03, 2006

news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts

"New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi" (Democracy Now):
New evidence has emerged in the case of another alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US troops. The BBC has obtained video footage bolstering accusations first made by Iraqi police that US troops murdered eleven civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon has insisted only four civilians died in the incident and that they were killed when their home collapsed during a gun battle. But according to the BBC, the new video shows a number of dead adults and children with visible gunshot wounds. Democracy Now covered this story in March. We spoke with Knight Ridder reporter Matthew Schofield in Baghdad. He first obtained the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of the civilian killings.
Matthew Schofield: "We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women. Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets. They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot."

So that's some news, from a great news source, and now I'm putting up a joint post that four of us worked on. Hope you like it.

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Rebecca: So this is a joint entry and it was planned to be C.I. and myself and then I started thinking, "Why don't we see if Cedric wants to take part?" C.I. was fine with that but said that Betty should be invited because she's "trapped under Thomas Friedman" at her sight which is very true. So we invited both and it's now a joint entry of four people. When it was just the two of us, I asked C.I., "Will this be in lower case?" That is how I do it at my site and C.I. responded, "Are you going to type it up?" So no lower case if you're reading this at my site.

Cedric: That's Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty's site is Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. does The Common Ills and is part of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and I'm Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

Betty: Cedric and I are helping with the note taking and typing so it's not all falling on C.I. I'm thrilled to be invited to participate and even more thrilled not to have to figure out what idiotic mess Thomas Friedman's made for Betinna to clean up.

C.I.: Betinna is the main character in Betty's online, comic novel. This weekend may, or may not be, the fiction edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Rebecca and I had discussed that and how a roundtable wouldn't be possible if it was the fiction edition, where short stories and other things are highlighted, and we wanted to address a few things. Cedric had noted something in an e-mail to me and in a phone call to Rebecca so we knew he was on the same page, to recap on why he was invited. Elaine and Mike weren't invited, nor was anyone else, but that was due to the fact that they have their own pattern for posting and also I'm not sure that they're posting this evening. If they do, it will be late because Elaine has plans. So they may be posting on Saturday instead.

Rebecca: Betty was our cut off. Four people we could handle. Besides the fact that she's always looking for a way to post an entry about anything other than Thomas Friedman, we were also curious about what she would think about the topics discussed. Add in that she got a promotion at her job and wasn't sure she'd be able to do a post this week as she got used to the new responsibilities and we really wanted to include her. But four is our cut-off for this. Anymore and Jim would be saying, "I think this should be a piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review."

Betty: I think the easiest way to start this off is to note Rebecca's grandmother's because she wrote about her last night in "more marine news and talking about my grandmother." As a result, I'm sure people are concerned. I read C.I.'s entry this morning and saw that everything was fine, then went to read Rebecca's entry and it still made me anxious, even knowing that her grandmother was fine.

Rebecca: She called me out of the blue and asked me to visit. We usually talk on the phone several times a week and see each other at least once a week. If she'd called Thursday about wanting to get together next week, it wouldn't have surprised me but when she called Thursday and asked me to come over that day, I was expecting either good news or bad news, and worried about it being bad. We had a nice visit and discussed a number of issues, personal ones, current events, etc. But near the end of the visit, I kept asking her if something was wrong because I was sure she had to have some bad news that she was waiting to break. When none was forthcoming, I worked myself up into a state of worry where I was convinced that she had some bad news about her health and this was one of those "Everything's fine" moments where, only after, you realize that the person was trying to say goodbye.

Cedric: But that wasn't it.

Rebecca: No. She phoned this morning and she was just very disturbed by the news of Haditha.

C.I.: Just to set the stage, November 19, 2005 something happened in the Iraqi town of Haditha. The military's official version, which the mainstream press was happy to parrot, was that 'insurgents' had attacked American troops, a roadside bomb had gone off, taking the lives of 15 Iraqis and a United States marine, following the explosion, 'insurgents' had began firing on American troops and, in responding with gunfire, eight insurgents were killed.

Cedric: Give an example of two who ran with the official version because you covered it this morning.

C.I.: Writing for the New York Times, Edward Wong and Hassan M. Fattah contributed "Road Bomb Aimed at Convoy Kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Iraqi Province" which offered nothing but 'officials say . . .' There is no correction to that item currently. If you access the article online, they've still not provided a correction.

Rebecca: And before we go any further, explain that paper's ads because I understood it in the second entry but you were on the phone with me for both entries and I don't think they were written the way they would have been if I hadn't been jawing your ear off. FYI, when I called C.I. I was blubbering and it took about ten minutes before I calmed down enough to explain that everything truly was fine, I was just filled with relief that my grandmother was okay.

C.I.: Hold on. Let me grab a paper so I can read it word for word. The ad runs all the time. It's an ad for the New York Times run in the pages of the New York Times. Okay, this is Tuesday's paper because I just looked at the backs of the sections to avoid flipping through them to find it. It's probably run since, more than once. They run it all the time. On Tuesday, the full page ad appeared on B8 which was the back page of "The Arts" section. It's a black and white ad, full page. You see the "T" and maybe the "i" of the "Times" in a square with an arrow, like the on you have with your computer mouse, resting on it. Big letters: "College students, meet your new research assistant." Smaller letters: "Looking for help with that research paper? Find it at TimesSelect, the premium service at With TimesSelect, you'll get access to 25 years of articles from The Times -- articles on politics, history, science, art, business, sports and just about any other subject you're assigned. And TimesSelect also offers e-mail alerts whenever a new article on your subject appears." Either in the same size or slightly bigger: "Find out about our special university discount for students and faculty." Then: "Visit" Then: "TimesSelect" with "" beneath it. This ad runs all the time.

Betty: So the point of the ad is that they're telling college students and, let's face it, high school and middle school students, that a subscription to the Times will provide you with accuracy but if you're trying to find out about Haditha and you search that looking for November, what you find is Wong and Fattah's article which still has no correction to it?

C.I.: Correct. And in case anyone's been asleep for the last few weeks, the official version has come undone. Civilians were killed. For more on that, you can listen, watch or read the transcript of "Haditha Massacre: Was it an Isolated Event and Did the Military Try to Cover it Up?" from Tuesday's Democracy Now!

Cedric: Before we go any further, can I ask what the service, the paper's, provides?

C.I.: I can't tell you the full service because I rarely go to the website. Links to articles we discuss each morning are usually coming from members' e-mails. There are tiers. For instance, the op-ed columns are now "behind the wall." You can't access them without paying for them. The opposite of the Wall St. Journal which makes those available to everyone at their website but makes people pay for news content. The first tier, as I understand it, is somewhere around fifty-five dollars for a year. That allows you to read the content online, new content, and allows you to search a certain number of articles, I believe. I subscribe to the print edition and the way it works for me is, if I log in, I can see anything in that day's paper with no charge, I can also see anything in the last seven days for free. After that, for anything older, I'm able to see 100 articles a month for free -- articles in the archive that I would be charged for otherwise.

Cedric: Okay. Sorry to go off topic.

C.I.: No, it's a question that pops up in the e-mails and now I can pull that post it off the computer. That's what I know of it, what little I know. I'm sure, and I'll even give the phone number out, that anyone at 1-800-698-4637 can answer any questions on it and, if I got a number wrong on that, it's 1-800-NYTIMES.

Cedric: Thanks. If anyone's wondering, my nephew's doing a college course, this summer, he's still in high school, and he's nervous about the research paper that will be a part of the class.

C.I.: Well, instead of signing up for something, just call me and I'll e-mail whatever he needs. I really do not go online that often and have never had more than ten of my hundred alloted articles for the month. So let me know, he can then look at what it has to offer, and if he likes it, you can go on from there.Cedric: I will gladly take you up on that kind offer to test drive the Times. And I will get us back on topic by noting something, on Haditha, from the Iraq snapshot on Thursday. This was what a young girl, one of the survivors of what looks like a slaughter of Iraqis by US marines in November 2005 had to say: "They killed my father in the kitchen. They killed my mother, and my sister Noor. They killed her when they shot her in the head. She was only 15 years old. My other sister was shot with seven bullets in the head. She was only 10 years old."

Betty: That stuck in my head. More than any back and forth or "investigation is ongoing" or anything else, that stuck in my head. That little girl that Cedric quoted is only twelve-years-old. I forget her name.

C.I.: Safa Younis.

Betty: In front of her, she saw her father die, she saw her mother die, she saw two sisters die. Safa is just twelve-years-old. And that's what she saw. And if you spoke to other Iraqis, you'd probably hear some with similar stories.

Rebecca: Because this is the occupation.

Cedric: The illegal occupation. Dahr Jamail made a point on Tuesday's Democracy Now! about how this, Haditha, is getting attention but most of the other incidents haven't and, at this rate, won't. He specifically tossed ou Falluja and I want to note that. For a few reasons. First off, Jim, Dona, Ava, Ty and Jess always point to the Iraq coverage at The Common Ills as why they were reading from the first day.

C.I.: To cut you off for a second, it was the second day. There was a tiny post on a Friday, outlining the intent, as I saw it, and noting it would probably all be tossed aside quickly. Which it was. But when they say the first day, they mean the first day of real posts. But what happens is, I end up with e-mails saying things like, "It's so great that from your very first post, you were addressing Iraq." That's not true and if I come across those e-mails, I reply to correct that. So let me correct it here. It's the sort of thing that with a larger group, I'm biting my tongue on because there are more important things to discuss and everyone has a point to make. But this will go up at The Common Ills and I want it to be clear there.

Cedric: Okay, second day. What grabbed me was music. First thing I ever contributed for the site, December of 2004, was noting a song that I felt we should all take a moment to appreciate. On Falluja, all I had was what the mainstream provided. That's an issue I've learned about since. That is a huge issue to Dahr Jamail and to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! as well. They always note it. But the reason I'm noting it is because most people don't. That's really true. They ignore it. Or they tossed it out at the end of 2004 and 'moved on.' There are over, I googled, 200 entries at The Common Ills on Falluja. That's how you spell it, "Falluja." If you're highlighting and they spell it "Fallujah," that's how it goes up at the site, so I also searched that spelling. And I realize from trying to find stuff via google on my own site that google doesn't catch everything. But that's what it takes, it takes more than that probably, to get people to pay attention. You can't talk Iraq and not mention what happened in April of 2004 and in November of 2004.

Betty: I would agree with that. Rebecca called me when WBAI, during pledge week, had Robert Fisk's speech on the history of Iraq. That was a powerful speech and I was listening at work. The woman who had the desk next to me was listening and, after the speech, which may have been forty minutes long, she was asking me about Falluja. She knew the mainstream, rah-rah coverage and that's all she knew. She was under the impression that people had been allowed to leave in November, she didn't know about the April events, and that it was just Saddam Hussein's "gang" left inside. She didn't understand why "the British guy," that's what she called him, would go on about Falluja because wasn't that a "good moment" for the country?

Rebecca: So what did you tell her?

Betty: I told her about the fact that it wasn't just men. It was young boys and that many had tried to leave but were turned back. I talked to her about the use of white phosphorus, I talked about how the hospitals were under seige and not allowed to come to the aid of people. And -- are they talking about Mexico?

Rebecca: I'm listening to Flashpoints, sorry. Yes, Dennis Bernstein's speaking to a man named John about of the elections in Mexico. The election is July 2nd, by the way. Marcos and the Zapatistas.

C.I.: I'm not listening because I'm taking notes but I would guess it was John Gibler, independent journalist.

Rebecca: That sounds like the name.

Betty: Sorry to lose focus. But, just to tie what we heard in, that's on a Pacifica station. On a Pacifica station, you can hear that. You can't hear that on a lot of other stations.

C.I.: And we'll come back to that in the second half. There are three breaks planned if they're needed. This first one is the long one -- where, for Betty, she'll be sitting down with her kids for dinner.


Cedric: When we left off Betty was making a point about Pacifica Radio.

Betty: Rebecca had Flashpoints on and they were discussing the upcoming elections in Mexico in a way that was quite a bit more than the soundbyte manner of NPR. Cedric had brought up Falluja and some people have no idea of what happened in that city in April of 2004 and November of 2004 which led me to explain how I had listened at work to WBAI to hear Robert Fisk's speech on the history of invasions in and war on Iraq. A woman whose desk was next to mine before I got a promotion at work had been listening as well and what she heard was, really, a revelation to her. She does follow the news on cable, reads the Atlanta Journal-Constitution each day, tries to keep up and she was finding out that there was a great deal she hadn't been informed of.

Rebecca: Did she become a Pacifica listener?

Betty: Not yet. She has kids like I do and that's probably the biggest problem with listening online. If you're at the computer, and you only have the one computer, you've got a kid wanting to put in their Barbie game or whatever. Or else, you're all over the house running after them, in which case, there's little or no listening. But what did change was that she listens WRFG. At five o'clock, you can grab headlines, I do, from Democracy Now! as you're entering traffic after work and headed to daycare to pick up the kids.

Cedric: Could you give the information on where it is on the dial?

Betty: Sure. It's 89.3 FM, WRFG. [Atlanta.] So five to six, you've got it right there, on the airwaves and it works well there because in the morning, you're dropping the kids off and forget about paying attention to anything other than what's going on in the backseat. For me, the way it works out is that I'm alone in the car for the headlines and the first ten to fifteen minutes after depending on traffic. Then it's grab a parking spot, go inside and get the kids, come back and grab the last twenty-five minutes which, when it's hot like it is now, the kids are usually just listening along. They're tired and it's hot, in fact, today it was so hot there wasn't even any griping among them. So that's usually the whole make it home trip, that hour.

Rebecca: And your co-worker is listening to Democracy Now! through that station?

Betty: Yes. She's someone who tries really hard to keep up and we can grab that hour except on Friday when Democracy Now! starts a half-hour earlier but, to be honest, if it was on at the same time on Friday, the second hour would be lost on me in the car because there is no too tired on Friday, on Friday, the kids are always too alert, too active and too vocal to follow anything on the radio after they're in the car. Just a little over on the dial, and I'm not giving it's position, is WABE and I have no use for it. It's NPR. Drive time is the second of two hours of All Things Considered which, strange considering the title, really offers very little to consider.

C.I.: I think that works just reading, but what anyone reading will miss is that on "strange, considering the title, really offers very little to consider" was delivered in Betty's parody of NPR.

Betty: My "White voice." Everyone on NPR sounds exactly the same. And they also have this way of speaking at the end of the piece that seems to be an attempt to make you go, "Hmmm."

Cedric: No matter what the stories is, they always think they're "Things That Make You Go Hmmm."

Betty: If I can stay on that for just one more second, in Atlanta, the PBS problem, the Whiteness of it all, is brought home even more because all the programming seems geared to White people and about White people. To give an example that people brought up today at work, tomorrow there will be a special on skincare --

Rebecca: What?

Betty: I'm not making that up. The woman's name is Adrienne Denese and everyone's making fun of her at work. It's going to teach us how to avoid aging -- public monies for Mary Kay basically. But who is that audience? There's a saying, I bet Cedric knows it --

Cedric: "Black don't crack."

Betty: Right. I mean, African-Americans do get wrinkles. But it's just one more example of WPBA causes the very large African-American community in Atlanta to scratch their heads and wonder who they think watches?

Cedric: Do you watch a lot of public television?

Betty: I don't have cable. Or "satellite" since that's now the big thing. Don't have it, won't have it. If broadcast TV ends, the kids can watch their DVDs. TV's never going to be something I'm going to waste money on. Not with three kids. So when we get home in the evening, they'll watch Arthur and I'll work on dinner. In the morning, they're watching Maya and Miguel. Teletubbies is really too young for them. And I really think they should move Sesame Street much earlier. It broadcasts at ten a.m. I don't think most kids catch it.

Cedric: And it's probably the only show for kids where there's actually different races.

Betty: Right. And you get asked that by your kids. I used to lie and say Francine, on Arthur, was "mixed." But my oldest got too smart for that. With the hair on the characters on Arthur, when kids get to a certain age, they know it's drawn White. I've really gone off topic, sorry.

C.I.: Don't apologize. These are points worth making. Someone needs to be saying it and good for you for doing so.

Cedric: Because there is no "public" in public television. It's White with a few guests brought on. That's all they are, guests. And that's not how it was when I was a kid but these days you're more likely to see a Big Red Dog, Clifford, than you are to see an African-American character. And, as Ava's pointed out, Maya and Miguel is a fifties show airing today. Maya's not really that active. Miguel's the adventurous one and Maya's basically saying, "Oh you boys, be careful." There's a lot of social conditioning going on with that show. The muppet characters on Sesame Street really were a breakthrough and that's obviously one person's idea and never what PBS wanted to reflect. On their own, they go for White characters in gender roles. Even when the characters are animals, they have characteristics that clue you in that they're White, either the bits of hair that are drawn on their heads or the person hired to voice the character. But let's get back to the war.

C.I.: Wait, no. For this section, let's focus on race. At The Third Estate Sunday Review each week we've tried to fit time in to address the topic but it hasn't been possible and if it is a fiction edition, there won't be a roundtable or an easy way to address it outside of fiction, so since that's a topic that's come up, let's stay on it.

Cedric: Well, we're always wanting to discuss KPFA's The Morning Show, there are many shows but that's the program most of us have started noticing really will address race.

Rebecca: The hosts are Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari. It's a two hour broadcast, Monday through Friday.

Cedric: I really like Andrea Lewis. Betty had a good phrase for her.

Betty: "Down home." She's just really comfortable on air. She can do the serious interview or she can be funny. She's just really down home on air and I have to say thank you to Kat here because my chances of hearing online are limited, Kat knows that and makes a point to put in a cassette most mornings and I get a weekly shipment. Kat always apologizes that she doesn't have time to turn the tapes into a weekly best of but she'll note which things she thinks I'll really enjoy. When I'm cleaning the house on the weekends, I'm listening to The Morning Show. And not to take anything away from Philip Malderi who does a fine job himself but, as a Black woman, I listen and wonder why we don't have a thousand Andrea Lewises all over the airwaves. What we get instead is a lot of women with an attitude on air that translates as, "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to prove to you that Black women can speak and think." Andrea Lewis is just down home. Like most non-Whites, it's never occurred to her, nor should it, that we can't have an opinion and express it.

C.I.: That's a point that Ty really wanted made, when we've talked about this for The Third Estate Sunday Review. That the relationship on air between Andrea Lewis and Philip Malderi is very much an equal one, Malderi is White, and that there's a balance there that you don't get very often. For those who've never heard the show, it's two hours, like Rebecca pointed out, and it's a morning show that has news breaks, anchored by Sandra Lupien, and they have guests on who discuss issues of the day and the arts. And among the many issues they are comfortable addressing is race.

Cedric: And I agree with that summary you just gave but I want to add to it because you listen to Pacifica and when you say that, it's going to make sense to people who listen to Pacifica. They're going to understand even if they don't listen to KPFA. But if they're listening to commercial radio, they're going to be nodding, if they think they get it, and thinking, "Soul Food on the radio!" They're going to be thinking it's Tom Joyner or something where there's this one big guy, and it's always a guy, surrounded by a lot of people on air who basically say, "You are so smart, tell us more."

Rebecca: Or they're going to be thinking, it's a bunch of ha-ha, "And then I went to the beauty parlor and, girl, let me tell you."

Betty: I was just thinking that. I'd call it the shuck-and-jive hour, shows like that. And in terms of radio, that's really often all you get. The thing Ty's pointed out where the Black staff member or co-anchor is basically there to say, "You White Guy are so smart and I am so lucky to be at this mircophone with you." Where they're scraping and bowing the whole time. They may do it for jokes or, if it's a more serious program, they may do it from a kind of eternal wonder position. But that's your one model and then you have the loud laughter, "So she comes up to me in front of all the ladies at the beauty parlor saying, 'It's not a weave. I have my hair processed.' And I said process! Girl, looks like your hair done been served! Ah-huh. Ah-huh. Ah-huh." On Fraiser, they had a character called Dr. Wendy and she was that type. Look, I'm from the south. There are women like that, I know them and some of them are wonderful friends, but that's one of two types we get and there are so many other types. You just don't hear them.

Cedric: And to fall back to Tom Joyner, he does the male of that character over and over and then his voice will get a little higher and it will be the and-now-we-get-serious moment. When we were all in California, Ty would be asking, "Who is that woman?" about Andrea Lewis. Over and over. And his point was, because by the first day, he knew who she was. We'd all be listening as we went here and there and all over, but his point was, this is an African-American woman that is like many women we know, she's smart, she's funny, she's obviously educated, and where is she on the radio? She's on KPFA and good for that. But where are women like her otherwise? I'm sure there are other women like that because she's not some creature that just landed on the planet. But I mean, what we get instead is "Gossip to Go with Flo."

C.I.: Florence Anthony.

Cedric: C.I. told me last week, when I brought this up, that Flo had gone to Howard University and graduated from there and I was shocked because --

Betty: Wait! Flo, went to Howard University?

Cedric: Yeah.

Betty: What a waste. There are some people at work that listen to her "Gossip to Go" thing. She also does that magazine . . .

C.I.: Black Elegance Magazine.

Betty: That's it, thank you. But I mean, for an educated woman to be doing that? God, I'll shut up before I start sounding like Bill Cosby.

Cedric: (Laughing) I know exactly what you mean. When C.I. told me that, I was just floored, Flo at Howard University? So why does she want to come off like the loud woman screaming into her cell phone on the bus?

Rebecca: I'm sorry, I don't know her. Fill me in.

Cedric: It's just a waste of a few minutes each day as she summarizes whatever made the gossip page in the New York Post --

C.I.: Where she used to work.

Cedric: That would explain why she plugs it. It's just trash. And Betty's "Ah-huh, ah-huh, ah-huh" really applies to her. If she were in Vegas, she'd be screaming, "Drum roll!" after every sentence but she's not funny. There are women like her and they can be very nice women. I'm not picking on that so much as I'm pointing out that that's what we get instead. We get a million Flos and if there are Andreas, we have to search high and low, long and hard just to find them.

Betty: Because, and I'll wrap up on this, when that's one of two types presented and only two types are presented, Flo doesn't come off as Flo but as one more touring in a never ending minstrel show.

Rebecca: I know we want to get back to the war, but we've just talked about portrayls or, maybe, access is the better word. Do we want to talk about anything else since Betty just pulled a Dona and said "wrap up"?

Cedric: Yeah, but that would probably be better to hold on. In terms of topics. I mean, you know what we're talking about, Rebecca, but there are a lot of people who will be scratching their heads over this and thinking, "Wait? They don't all go around grinning and laughing every minute of the day?" Probably not in this community, but there are people who have really strong stereotypes. And I don't just mean racists. There are people who -- I don't know how to word it.

C.I.: How about this. Colin Powell is seen as a living miracle because he can speak and think. And it's a bit late in the game that that should come off as somehow an exception to a race. But in terms of who is given access and the mainstream media and who is denied, Colin Powell stands like a giant just for how he carries himself because, despite reality, strides made still aren't reflected in the media?

Cedric: Yes. Yes, I'd agree with that.

Betty: I would too. I'm not a fan of Powell's and I know no one here is. But he comes off as an exception only because White America isn't presented with more reality.

Rebecca: Well, if I can add on a few more seconds here, can we talk Powell without talking Harry Belafonte since, if the mainstream media created Powell as the "good one," they spent a lot of time demonizing Belafonte recently?

Betty: I'm glad you brought that up because I read C.I.'s thing responding to someone's impression that this community had a war with The Nation. I don't think there's any more ridiculous claim. But if someone wants to toss that out, I'll toss back, "Is there a war with Black people?" There's Patricia J. Williamson and then whom? And I'll be honest, that thing of Katrina vanden Heuvel's pissed me off.

C.I.: She wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post and an expanded version was at her blog, Editor's Cut. She's the editor and publisher of The Nation. Cedric wrote about it, so he should probably do the set up.

Cedric: Well, she wrote a piece about the way people are talking, the political discourse. And to prove that it was on all sides, she included many examples, one of which was Harry Belafonte. You didn't agree with the column?

C.I.: Me? No. I noted that here. I don't buy into the tone arguments. People should speak in their own voices. That includes Flo. The problem is when the range of voices is so narrow that a wide variety isn't presented. But people should speak in their own voices. She was, KvH, calling out to our better natures, that was the theme of the column. More power to her but I think we need a lot more voices and they need to speak in the way that suits them. I wrote about it because she got trashed online, basically called a hypocrite, and I didn't see it, the column, as being hypocritical when contrasted with a TV appearance either the same day or the next day.You were offended by the inclusion of Belafonte in the examples and I honestly hadn't read the examples.

Cedric: I had a real problem with that, more so than the tone argument. I didn't think it read "reasonable." I thought she'd entered into, unwittingly, racially charged territory and that it was a mistake on many levels to have included him in her call outs.

C.I.: Because he was already under attack and had been for a lengthy period. He'd even been disinvited to the Coretta Scott King funeral. So for the publisher of The Nation to join in the chorus of tsk-tsk Belafonte was upsetting.

Cedric: Right. And that sets it up. Harry Belafonte was trashed and there was no reason for someone on the left, considering all that he'd gone through, to engage in, "He shouldn't have."

Betty: And it's not that he's above criticism. It's that there was a reaction, which she probably wasn't aware of, in the African-American community of "back off." We were tired of it. We were tired of the nonsense. I didn't speak to anyone who wasn't tired of it and sick of it. Whether they had grown up admiring him, as I did, he's an important person in my family, or whether they didn't care for him, they were sick of seeing him trashed. To her credit, she was comfortable with him in terms of being able to discuss him as she would anyone else. You could argue, and I hate this term, that she was "color blind." I hate the term because I don't think we can afford to be because we don't have racial parity in this country. But I think she was comfortable enough with him, in terms of her thoughts of him, I didn't think she hated him, to treat him as she would anyone esle. But where she came into the dialogue, because possibly she wasn't aware of what was going in, the reaction to the trashing of him, it was, my attitude, "Back off."

Cedric: The comfort factor was something I hadn't given her credit for and hadn't thought of it so I'm glad you brought that up. That's probably true. To her, it was probably one more example of how a statement or statements, and I agree with his statements, but there's a reaction, like Betty said, that she was completely unaware of. And my attitude was, and still is, I don't need you to tell me your non-endorsing opinion of this African-American who is under attack. This wasn't Michael Jackson where someone was accused of a crime --

Betty: Again!

Cedric: (Laughing) Again. This is someone who has lived his entire life in a way that uplifts so many of us and encourages so many of us. At a time when he was under attack, I didn't think her including him was helpful, needed or wanted.

Rebecca: It was personal, the attacks on Harry Belafonte and the reaction. And it's easy to say, "Well, that's how I would treat anyone." But I don't think that allows for the reality of the attacks or the reality of the times or, for that matter, the mood of the country. I disagreed with the entire column. For me, "I'm not ready to make nice," like the Dixie Chicks sing. I have no interest in being seen as "reasonable." We don't live in "reasonable" times. My reaction was, "Why is she including him?" I didn't see his statements as equivalent to others included. And maybe I'm remembering this wrong but it seems like only days after Amy Goodman was interviewing him on Democracy Now! and he was talking about the reactions to his comments and then I got even madder that he was included in the column.

Betty: I loved that interview Amy did. But back to Katrina vanden Heuvel, I think she is trying to rally and to inspire and that is needed in these times. I don't fault her for that. I don't even think it occurred to her that including Belafonte would be hurtful, nor do I think it was intended as such. But I do think it struck many as hurtful and it's something that bothers me even now.

Cedric: Just to repeat, and then we can close, one more time, I want to thank C.I. because I was really bothered by it and thought, "Well I can't write about this. The community, and that includes me, likes Katrina vanden Heuvel. " And that only made me more upset. So I called C.I. for input and was told, "Write it. I'll link to it. Just write what you feel and speak in your own voice and it's not a problem." I appreciated the support.

C.I.: Don't be silly. We all support one another in the community. We're going to take the second break and then return to the issue of the war.

Back to Iraq

Betty: We looked over the other two sections and the first one was our intro and the second was about race. In this section, we're going back to the war. And we're going to start off with Rebecca talking about her grandmother.

Rebecca: The news of Haditha, and this was before othe incidents began breaking in the news, just really upset her. The alleged crimes upset her, but what upset her even more was the reaction. Which is "oh, that bad Bully Boy!" She wondered if this was how our own "descent into hell" as a nation really began. And she is under no illusions that the last six years have been beneficial to Americans or the Constitution or the world. There's an effort to heap all the blame on the Bully Boy. He is to blame for setting the tone and creating the conditions under which the alleged abuse would have taken place. But she's bothered that those who are alleged to have participated in crimes are not responsible for their own actions.Cedric: Which is how it's playing out in the discussions. Not with Michelle Malkin who's on a tear that the media's just going after the military. They're not. They're not even going after the accused. We're running behind --

Betty: My fault. It was supposed to be a short break, but one of my kids had an upset stomach.

C.I.: Not a problem. I used the time to run to the store.

Cedric: Yeah, no one was just sitting there thinking, "When is Betty getting back?" Rebecca and I ended up deciding that we'd do Mike a solid and open with a Democracy Now! news item when we posted this at our sites and Rebecca also noted that if this is tagged, we should do it at the top like Betty's been pointing out for some time because long entries don't get read, although mine never get read.

Rebecca: Hold on one minute. Sorry, I wanted to check something. C.I. published and republished Friday morning while we were on the phone together and the tags were never read in terms of showing up.

C.I.: Tags, quickly. I don't mind spending time exploring the real topic but I don't want to waste it on tags. There are people who never get read and they contact Technorati and get no reply nor is anything done so that they are read. I don't like tagging, it takes up too much time and Rebecca's the one who discovered it and thought it was a way to get the word out on the community. If it's not showing up anywhere and that continues, I'll stop tagging gladly. It's been a hassle from day one. The time it takes could be spent cross-posting at the mirror site or on any other number of things.

Rebecca: Okay, so Cedric got cut off, sorry.

Cedric: No problem. I was going to note the Hannah Arendt quote that went up at The Common Ills Friday: "Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing." Who is guilty? If the Haditha reports are true, who is guilty?

Betty: Because in the coverage, it's Bully Boy alone. I have no problem with directing his share of the blame to him, and it's big, his share, but at what point are we going to stop saying, "Oh, well these things happen." That's what bothered your grandmother, right?

Rebecca: Yeah. She was very bothered by that. In Abu Ghraib, it became a lot of "Oh, but we can't punish these poor soldiers because they're not responsible and they're getting all the blame."

Cedric: If I hire the assasin, I'm just as guilty as the person who did the killing. So it's perfectly well and good to portion out to Bully Boy but the idea that we're going to look the other way on the individuals who may have actually killed someone is really sad.

Betty: I think there's responsibility at both ends and on up the chain of command between. And instead, I feel like, and I'm more disappointed in the left here, there's this attitude of, "We must not criticize the soldiers involved."

C.I.: That attitude . . . One of the things that's often asked is, "Where is the outrage over this war?" A lot of people are outraged. But it's equally true that there's a lot of attempts to divert that outrage and to tap it down. Abu Ghraib was a scandal on many levels but what happened to it? It became this elephant in the room that we can only talk about in the most general terms.

Cedric: I wrote this down from something you put up on Friday: "Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said 'Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat.'" I think I got the implication but I was hoping you'd talk about that.

C.I.: What that reminded me of first of all was Rumsfeld's idiotic comment about the looting, how it was just one vase. And we know that it was easily over 14,000 pieces that were stolen. People should have been outraged about the looting but instead it became, "Oh well, these things happen in a war." These things happened because the concern was with protecting other things, such as the oil fields. By the same token, Abu Ghraib became a "these things happen." And here comes Rumsfeld to talk about an alleged massacre and to say, "These things happen." And the fear is, he'll be successful at it because no one wants to call out the individuals who allegedly did the killing. That's sad and it's honestly sick.

Rebecca: Which was my grandmother's feeling, that's what had bothered her so much and why she called and asked me to visit that day. If it's not called out, it creates another lowered expectation, another pass. We're no longer appalled by Abu Ghraib and the next massacre will be a yawn. A shrug. It's like Betty said, it's the left here that's refusing to confront the reality. They're too busy directing all the blame to Bully Boy and letting off the accused perpetrators of the act.

C.I.: And if, in the face of these allegations, can't express disgust and can't draw a clear line that says the behavior is not acceptable, for any reason, under any reason, then what are we saying about ourselves and about our country?

Betty: Well you saw, and Elaine covered this, you saw the usual bullies, and the left has bullies, come along and say, "Oh don't you dare call those men 'baby killers!' I will come after you if you do!" Well what did they do? Are we going to invent new terms to avoid calling killing "killing"? Is that where we are now? Have we all left the reality based world?

Cedric: And this on the day that someone got sentenced for Abu Ghraib.

C.I.: He didn't really. I almost included in that in the snapshot but I assumed everyone knew it. Santos Cardona was sentenced to X number of days of hard labor. I think it was something like seventy days. He'll lose about $600 dollars a month for twelve months. His lawyer is calling it a win for Cardona. And it is. It's very much a win for him. He's found guilty of a multitude of crimes and he's basically walking. I believe his lawyer pointed out that the hard labor doesn't include any prison time. While it's one thing for your heart to go out to the people put in that situation and to say that people being punished shouldn't be just the low-level ones, it's another to say, "Go torture Iraqis and don't worry because there's no real consequences." But that's the message. By the same token, this effort to point only to the top sends a message.

Rebecca: What does everyone think about the investigation into Ishaqi?

Betty: That's where the BBC just got a hold of the tape and, from the tape, it appears that a slaughter went on but that, Friday, the military finished their investigation into the events and cleared everyone, right?

Cedric: I don't know what to think about that.

C.I.: I think we were played. I think the administration knew they had a scandal with Haditha. At which point they floated to the press that there was another scandal being investigated.

Cedric: Why do you say that?

C.I.: The story for the weekend is "Military cleared!" That's the headline. Look at tomorrow's papers and see how many run with that, I bet many will. There are three scandals right now and most people are having trouble, if they're not following it closely, keeping up. They'll see "cleared" and they'll think it's Haditha or they'll think, "Oh, that's that scandal." They probably won't know Haditha by name.

Cedric: So you think it was leaked on purpose?

C.I.: I think that's very likely. You've got a scandal breaking. Suddenly you want to leak about a supposed ongoing investigation into another? No. If you wanted to leak, you would have leaked while it was ongoing. It's only after Haditha captures attention and it's known that a finding, and they knew what the finding would be, that Ishaqi is leaked. It was damage control, plain and simple. What do you think, Rebecca, you're the one with the p.r. experience?

Rebecca: I agree with that. Look at Haditha where the leaks revolve around charges. It's not completed yet but they have a sense of where it's headed. The Ishaqi one, they knew where it was headed, it was, as you point out, winding down when it was leaked. This was damage control and it's a laughable investigation and one that should have been prevented from releasing a conclusion since the conclusion was written prior to the BBC's announcing that they had just gotten a hold of a tape. That's a bit like a jury coming back in with a decision while someone who's been watching the trial stands up in the court room and screams, "It wasn't him! I killed her and here's how!" I can't imagine a judge would say, "Shut up and sit down. Jury deliver your verdict." They would investigate the person's claims. The fact that the BBC broke the news of the tape, I believe Thursday evening our time, and Friday morning the conclusions of the investigation are released indicate that it was damage control because a real investigation would say, "Let's look at that tape." But it was judged important to do damage control and the results had to come out on Friday so that all weekend people could say, "Oh, they were cleared." Confusing Ishaqui with the other two investigations.

Betty: I didn't know that the man sentenced on Friday wasn't going to be serving time. For Abu Ghraib. That's really sad. And it does send a message which says there are no serious consquences. If you're serving and you say, "I'm not going to do that because it's wrong and I don't want to go to prison," the logical reply, now, is, "Oh, but you won't go to prison." And I think that gets at the problem. When all we're doing is saying, "Oh, it's all the Bully Boy's fault!" and when we're refusing to say, "These actions are horrible, they're criminal, and they must be punished," we're saying that we'll tolerate anything and look the other way because, darn it, nobody better use a word like "baby killer."

Rebecca: I think you're exactly right and to get back to the "Where is the outrage?" -- when even the left won't express their disgust and their outrage over torture and killing, then go ahead and pack it in. Don't expect the cheerleaders for the Bully Boy to express outrage. We've gone from the nonsense of everyone is guilty, Hannah Arendt's point, to one where "Only the Bully Boy is guilty." And that's only by the left. Others don't even offer that much. So another massacre happens and people are a little less shocked, a little less appalled. The war's never going to end if we're all going to supress our outrage over crimes and make a point to say, "Oh well, the Bully Boy put them there! It's his fault!" He started the illegal war, he trashed our understanding of warfare from just and unjust wars on down the line, he set the tone. But the people participating in war crimes need to be held responsible. Whether it's someone who commits one in Iraq or Bob Kerry with his war crimes in Vietnam which we're also supposed to just forget because he gave a p.r. conference where he owned up to being "troubled." Too bad other war criminals, at other times, didn't realize all they had to do was say, "I'm troubled by my actions" and they'd get off scott free as well. There's no sense of scope or magnitude, just a lot of idiots weighing in with, "Look what the Bully Boy has caused!" Well what has he caused? Can we talk about that? Can we talk about the actual events and expect to be allowed to hear that war criminals must be held accountable at every level? I don't think so. My grandmother who can see hope in any situation doesn't either. That's why she really feels that our reaction to Haditha, as a nation, may be the real beginning of a "descent into hell." Bully Boy's done awful things but the difference here is that we're confronted with murder and our attitude is, "We can't and mustn't talk about the actions of the ones who allegedly killed. We must only talk about the Bully Boy." If that's where we are, then forget about right and wrong. People can do whatever they want in Iraq and they should know now that the right will look the other way and the left will play Pin-the-blame-on-the-Bully-Boy. It's very sad. And he may have pushed the nation into lowered expectations on accountability, but the nation's responsible for embracing it.

C.I.: Unless anyone else has a closing thought, I think Rebecca just covered it all in her summary?

Betty: Nothing to add. Thanks for inviting me.

Cedric: Just to back up Rebecca, if you're okay with this, get used to more because there was a huge failure to discuss it, just a rush to blame Bully Boy. A rejection of consequences and an ignoring of the fact that Iraqis died. Or maybe it doesn't matter when it's Iraqis? The message that was sent out was very disturbing. Can I use the slogan?

C.I.: Cedric's referring to a slogan that we avoid at The Common Ills because it's a p.r. created slogan created in order to avoid discussion and debate. Go ahead.

Cedric: "Support the troops." In what? And which troops? The left proved that they could do so blindly as they bent over bakwards to avoid discussing what happened on the ground as they rushed to carry every bit of the blame to D.C. Not a proud moment.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Quick post

Mike calls in a panic. Am I blogging? Yes. But I was waiting for his interview with Kat to go up so I could link to it. He's still typing it. Has been for over three hours now. He's a slow typist. I told him, "Calm down, I'll post something now."

"US Troops Kill Pregnant Iraqi, Cousin" (Democracy Now):
In other Iraq news, US troops shot and killed two Iraqi women Wednesday -- one of them about to give birth. The women were in a vehicle rushing to the hospital where one of the victims, Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, was to deliver her baby. US troops said their car failed to stop in a prohibited zone despite warnings. But Jassim's brother, who drove the vehicle, said he never saw or heard any warnings. Doctors failed to save Jassim's unborn baby. She was the mother of two children. Her cousin was also killed in the attack.

That's how you do it. If you read C.I.'s "NYT: Selective memory on Basra and Burnsie blusters (again)" this morning, you know that the almighty John Burns couldn't name either woman. The headline screams about "two women" but Burns can never name them. He also can't provide anything other than what the military told him. It's like being on a jury and just getting to hear the prosecution's side. It's not reporting. Up above, that's reporting.

Two women died. One was pregnant. They're both dead now. How does that make you feel? Occupation cheerers want to keep cheering?

Kool Aid drinkers may get their jollies from this.

"US Admits Shooting Afghan Demonstrators" (Democracy Now):
In Afghanistan, the US military has admitted it fired directly into a crowd of demonstrators during an anti-US protest held in Kabul Monday. The Pentagon initially claimed soldiers had only fired into the air. An Afghan police commander told the New York Times the shootings killed 4 people. The protests broke out after a US military vehicle spun out of control and smashed into several cars, killing three people. At least 14 died and 160 were wounded in the protests.

Had enough of war cheerleading yet? Ready to get serious? Ready to face the fact that Bully Boy needs to be impeached?

"Critics Say Supreme Court Ruling Limits Government Whistleblowing" (Democracy Now):
The Supreme Court has issued a decision critics say will severely limit whistleblowing by government employees. In a 5 to 4 vote, the Court ruled the First Amendment does not protect public employees from punishment for complaining to their superiors about possible wrongdoing in the workplace. The decision was handed down in the case of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos, who says he was disciplined for accusing a police officer of lying to obtain a search warrant. Steven Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU, said: "In an era of excessive government secrecy, the court has made it easier to engage in a government cover-up by discouraging internal whistle-blowing."

This is frightening but not as frightening as it would be if we had a corporate press that actually pursued stories. Seen much on Sibel Edmonds on ABC or in the New York Times? Nope. The only thing sadder than the Bully Boy's War on the Press is seeing how the press is happy to go along with it. Which reminds me, still think Bully Boy won the 2004 election? Go read
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s " Was the 2004 Election Stolen?Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House" (Rolling Stone).

This is a quick post. I planned on blogging about Kat's interview but it's not up yet. Check
Mikey Likes It! later tonight for it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The backstory

What I'm writing tonight, if I quote someone, I've got their permission.

Yesterday, we all put stuff up at our sites. Under different titles. We all worked on it. And it was supposed to provide everyone with an easy post. For some of us, it did. For C.I. and Dona, it didn't.

Rebecca had a topic and some stuff for it. But she wasn't pleased about how the writing turned out. She e-mailed that intending to call (C.I.) but that didn't happen because she couldn't get a line to this country. What ended up happening was C.I. waited for stuff to come in, Rebecca wasn't the only one having problems, and then Dona called and they both ended up having to deal with it. For them, it was an all nighter.

That wasn't what anyone planned. Elaine organized the whole thing to make it easy for everyone and she was especially hoping it would mean an easy period for C.I. Dona points out that after the The Third Estate Sunday Review was completed, she went to sleep.

C.I. still had to do The Common Ills. And then had other things to do. And? Then it was night time and time to work on "And the war drags on . . ."

The plan had been as follows.

*Everyone would come up with their item either by themselves or working with others. ( worked together).

* You could do it when it was good for you. You then either just e-mailed it in or e-mailed and it called. Ava, Jess and C.I. were going to smooth it over and since there were over 3 of them, it was thought that they would be able to knock it out quickly.

* After they finished it, they'd e-mail a copy out, people would wake up, log on, copy and paste and -- boom -- easy entry for everybody. After midnight, they could post it at any time they wanted.

Instead, problems came up.

*Ava and Jess were in the mountains with friends and dealing with a very old phone system. (How old? So old the place they were staying had a party line.) They weren't able to dial in on the laptop. So they weren't able to hunt down their items on time or to assist with smoothing over the post.

* Rebecca had sent her item in. The noted she wasn't happy with it and that she'd call with changes. She wasn't able to get through for hours. (Rebecca: "I should've just e-mailed in what I wanted to change but instead I got caught up in a power struggle of, 'I will get through! I will make this call!'")

* Ty's links in his e-mail ran together and had to be tracked down. (It was known that Ty wouldn't be by a phone -- it was a romantic weekend for Ty.)

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but that was the basically it.

I found out when I woke up early Monday and checked my e-mail. I didn't have the post. I figured it was an oversight and went to the other sites to grab it from one of them. When no one had it up, I called C.I. intending to hang up if it rang more than a few times. C.I. grabbed on the 1st ring and explained a) on the phone with Dona and b) they were still working and had been working all night.

At which point, I called Mike. He was asleep and his mother couldn't wake him up (she tried repeatedly, he was out). Instead, Trina ended up putting off her own stuff (preparing the lunch for everyone in their family that was coming over) to hunt down some stuff.

Trina and I were able to turn out an item building on what we knew Ty was trying to write about before his links ended up running all the way through his e-mail.

Wally, Jim and Mike had done their item but I was comfortable calling Mike because I knew he was at home. Wally and Jim weren't. (Wally was at his grandfather's and Jim was spending the holiday with his father and step-mother.)

I couldn't get ahold of Elaine. She'd spoken to C.I. Sunday night. She was the first one to complete her item. She phoned to be sure it made it through and then she stayed on the phone while C.I. was doing the "And the war drags on . . ." entry.

After that, she unplugged her phone (she was covered in the case of a work emergency but there shouldn't have been one) and had her cell phone charging in the kitchen.

I did wake up Kat because I knew she'd want to be. (I also know to give her a second to gripe when she answers the phone. I'm not making fun of her, she'll tell you that herself. If the phone wakes her, don't hang up, just give her a few minutes to gripe and then she's awake and ready for whatever reason you called.) I made the decision not to call Betty because, although I knew she'd want to help, I also knew with three small children, she needed to sleep as late as possible on a rare day off from work.

By the way, Ava and Jess had worked with Dallas when they couldn't log in on the laptop and Dallas had hunted down links and helped them with their section.

Dona says the plus is that what was completed was a lot tighter because while she and C.I. were waiting, they wrote and rewrote every sentence repeatedly. They also were able to grab Afghanistan because that was breaking while they were on the phone. They were trying to provide Ty's links (which messed up in the e-mail) by going to the news sources they thought he might use and Dona said, "There's a thing on BBC identified as 'Breaking.'" C.I. was at Reuters and looking at an article on the same story. Which was how we all ended up having the Afghanistan item.

Dona also asked me twice to note that she went right to bed Sunday morning after The Third Estate Sunday Review was up and completed. Her point, and it was Elaine's concern as well, that what was supposed to be easy for everyone ended up being an all night thing for C.I. All night from Saturday morning.

C.I.'s only comment was to note that Ava and Jess went through the state they were in to help out C.I. with something on Monday. C.I. was needing to go through personal papers as well as thin out a number of things, including magazines. That was the plan for Monday afternoon. It needed doing. It may not seem like a big thing but I'll note that C.I. got a pair of shoes 2 weeks ago. Needed them (walking shoes) for over a month but there was never time. So Ava and Jess cut short their plans because they knew that technical problems had interfered with the plan and they wanted to help out. (Jess says it took five hours and they still "really weren't done.")
(Jess also says he made out like a bandit and that next time, we should all try to show up for that because a lot of things were boxed up to be donated and a lot of things were tossed but anything that Jess or Ava liked, C.I. insisted they grab it.)

So that's the story behind the post that went up everywhere Monday. Jim said I should write it up and post it because it's something they would like to note at The Third Estate Sunday Review but wouldn't have time to.

If you're wondering about race, I'm pushing for that. C.I., Betty, Ava and basically everyone is pushing for that. But we haven't had time to note it. We're hoping to grab it shortly.

Had everyone gotten sleep and rest over the holiday (Dona didn't, no matter what she says, and obviously C.I. didn't either), the plan was to make this the fiction edition. That's not up in the air. (If it's postponed, it will be done later.)

There are always things we want to do and never get time. Then there are things we do but don't think they're strong enough (either for the writing or the topic) to make it up at the site (they go into the print edition -- and Ava and C.I.'s "TV commentary: About the women" is much longer in the print edition.).

We had thought we'd have time to do a number of things last Saturday; however, Ty brought up Wikipedia. To write "Crapapedia: Kids don't use it to research papers! " required a lot of research. C.I. could spot errors and tell us where to go but we still had to do research and there's a large number of things we researched that didn't make it in. How that worked was we were all researching for hours and then we wrote it. It took hours and hours because we had a lot more information than we used. (Point, there were even more mistakes than what we noted, we just noted the biggest ones.)

That's how it goes every weekend. I'm not complaining. But there's always a story that comes up that we think, "We have to do this." So we do it and then we're behind schedule due to all the work it takes.

Monday, May 29, 2006

News for the day

Good morning, it's Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2006. Here are a collection of news stories put together by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Dallas.

Starting with the Iraq snapshot.

In Baghdad Sunday, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan and at least one of his bodyguards is dead as a result of an ambush. al-Jadaan had been seen by some as an ally with the US administration. al-Jadaan and the bodyguard were among the at least nine Iraqis who were killed on Sunday, roadside bombs continued to be a party of Iraqi daily life and another daily feature continued as at least ten more corpses were found in Baghdad. There have been sixty American military deaths for the month of May bringing the fatality count to 2464 since the illegal invasion in March of 2003. In addition to American military helicopter pilots are missing, the AFP reports, after the helicopter crashed on Saturday. In Baquba, a new feature to the occupation emerged as three severed heads were flung out of a moving vehicle. Near Baquba, Monday has already seen eleven die from a bombing, Reuters reports. This as the United States Pentagon believes their investigation into the apparent slaughter of civilians in Haditha is winding down -- the estimated 24 civilians died in November. United States House Representative John Mutha maintains that what happened in November is as important as apparent attempts to cover up the events and to stall an investigation into them. United States Senator John Warner has stated that the Senate Arms Committee, which he chairs, will hold a full investigation into "what happened . . . when it happened . . . what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers."

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has failed to meet another one of his predicitions. He set a date for himself to establish his cabinet and he didn't meet it. He just managed to meet the constitutional deadline (May 22) for the cabinet but did so only by leaving posts vacant. Last week, he announced that he would be fill the vacant posts this weekend. Unless Iraq's having a three day weekend, he's again failed another of his own predicitions -- there remains no heads for the interior, defense and homeland security ministries.

This as Andy McSmith reports (Independent of London) that British troops in Iraq are now being attacked attacked sixty times a month since the start of the year, an increase of 26% since last year. This as the BBC reports that at least 1,000 British troops have deserted since the start of the illegal war.

In Indonesia, an earthquake on Saturday has now claimed the lives of at least 5115. Heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue. This as the Phillipines have been hit with an earthquake that measured 5.3 on the Richter scale -- no injuries or deaths are reported. The Indonesian earthquake was measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) immediately went on alert with news of the quake. Aid agencies, including the Indoensian Red Cross, began providing assistance on Saturday including foods; however, as noted earlier, heavy rains are preventing some attempts at rescue and relief. IPS reports that this is Indonesia's worst disaster since the tsunami in December 2004 and that doctors and medical supplies are in short supply. "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal for 12 million Swiss francs ($9.79 million USD/ €7.68 million) to support the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in providing assistance to the survivors of the earthquake." As noted on KPFA's Evening News Sunday, people are sleeping in the streets as they await emergency assistance and the United States government has pledged 2.5 million dollars while the Euopean Union has pledged 3.8 million dollars.
In the United States, fire fighters have discovered the body of another victim of last fall's Hurricane Katrina "in the rear laundry room" of a New Orleans house they were searching. The current official count of those killed by Hurricane Katrina is 1577.

In Afghanistan, a demonstration was held following a traffic incident. The BBC reports that four died when a US convoy entered rush hour traffic. The AP reports that three humvees were involved on the US side and quotes eye witness Mohammad Wali, "The American convoy hit all the vehicles which were in their way. They didn't care about the civilians at all." At least four demonstrators have died, shot by "U.S. and Afghan security forces."

Meanwhile, as the situation on the ground in East Timor grows more dangerous and deadly, the United Nations is relocating UN family members and non-essential staff to Darwin Australia. Last week, East Timor handed over security duties to Australian forces following shootings, houses being set on fire and other violence. East Timor's president and prime minister are holding talks to discuss resolutions to the current situation while crowds have gathered outside the presidential palace calling for the resignation of the prime minister. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Screscent Socities trace the current wave of violence to March of this year and are attempting to assist over 25,000 displaced persons. The IFRCRSS's estimates that 50,000 have left their homes due to the current violence. As the violence continues Australia's Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been quoted as saying,"The United Nations, though, was the lead agency in all of this and the United Nations was, it had planned to pull out in a month's time. So I think really it's a question of the United Nations in this issue of whether people pulled out or not. It was the lead agency, not Australia." Peter Lewis reports that the New Zealand embassy in East Timor had to temporarily relocate the the Australian embassay due to threats from "armed thugs."

Yesterday, though the San Francisco Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth's record for home runs. Bonds' 715 home runs now leaves him ahead of Ruth but behind Hank Aaron (755).

Though it seems long ago that Harriet Miers was in the running for the United States Supreme Court, those who remember the media coverage will remember Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. The media friendly Hecht has received an admonishment from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for "improperly using his position" to promote Miers in an estimated "120 newspaper, TV and radio interviews" after he offered his services to the White House as some sort of go-to-guy for the media. Hecht is appealing the admonishment. In other United States governmental news, Feminist Wire Daily reports Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia "by a 57-36 vote." The Washington Post once described Kavanaugh as "a protege" of Kenneth Starr. In The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal recounts David Brock's statement that while watching the 1998 State of the Union address, Kavanaugh hissed "b*tch" at the TV when Hillary Clinton was shown onscreen. The co-author of the Starr Report now holds a lifetime seat on the court.

In news on the NSA warrantless, illegal spying on American citizens, Bully Boy is attempting to invoke the "state secrets privilege" to stop legal actions. The Center for Constitutional Rights Shayna Kadidal notes, "The Bush Administration is trying to crush a very strong case against domestic spying without any evidence or argument. This is a mysterious and undemocratic request, since the administration says the reason the court is being asked to drop the case is a secret. I think it's a clear choice: can the President tell the courts which cases they can rule on? If so, the courts will never be able to hold the President accountable for breaking the law. If the Executive Branch can secretly squash legal challenges to its conduct like this, then American democracy as we know it is in danger." The administration filed papers Friday arguing that "New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets." Also attempting to quash legal actions that might lead to further embarrasment is AT&T "which filed a 25-page legal brief" arguing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action suit should be dismissed. The AT&T brief had contained redactions but a few simple computer steps allowed the redactions to be made visible. The brief does not confirm the existance of the secret room (reported on in Wired's "Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut" and "AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens, 31 December 2005") but argues that "'the same physical equipment could be utilized exclusively for other surveillance in full compliance with' the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

In other news, Amnesty is launching to highlight "governments using the net to suppress dissent."

In Cannes, director Ken Loach has won the prestigious Palme d'Or for his film on Ireland's fight for independence from England -- The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Reuters reports "The 69-year-old film maker told Reuters in an interview earlier in the festival that the Irish fight for independence against an empire imposing its will on a foreign people had resonances with the US occupation of Iraq today."

Amy Goodman noted the scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! (noted on Thursday's Democracy Now!):

On Monday, we bring you an exclusive interview with British Lieutenant Commander Steve Tatham, former head of the British Royal Navy's Media Operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf during the Iraq invasion. He’s author of Losing Arab Hearts and Minds.

In addition to being able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio, remember that you can listen, watch or read (transcripts) online at Democracy Now!

This morning on KPFK (time given is PST):

Uprising! --Weekday Mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 am
Coming up on Uprising on Monday May 29th: A memorial day special with Stephen Kinzer on Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

This evening on WBAI (time given is EST):

7:00-midnight: Building Bridges-Your Community and Labor Report
With Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash, a five-hour marathon special featuring Greg Palast's latest investigative book, Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Thought for the day from the Mamas and the Papas's "Too Late" (off the album The Papas & the Mamas) : "Cause when the mind that once was open shuts / And you knock on the door, nobody answers anymore/ When the love and trust has turned to dust/ When the mind that once was open shuts . . ." ("and no one can get in").