Saturday, March 19, 2011

The never-ending Rainbow Tour







A CBS news reporter was attacked and sexually assaulted while stationed in Egypt to cover the events there. We'll call her "Ms. Logan" for right now -- that's not an insult to Logan and you'll understand after an excerpt why we're doing that. The February 24th snapshot noted that Diane Rehm asked Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara about the fact that "Al Jazeera Arabic did not cover" the assault on Logan. He begged off at the time and stated he'd be happy to address it at a future date, after he was able to pursue the topic and gather some information. On The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) this morning, that day finally arrived during the second hour.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim, the last time you were on this program, we asked you about why the sexual assault of Laura Logan in Egypt was not reported by Al Jazeera You said you'd give us an answer the next time you came on.
Abderrahim Foukara: So, I mean, I'd be happy to report my findings, so to speak. What I've been told is that there was some debate about how the Laura Logan story should be reported and if it should be reported at all. For Al Jazeera English, there were people who wanted to, in one way or another, report the story. And there were others who thought that the focus should remain the revolution in Egypt rather than what happened to an individual journalist, although many other journalists had come under attack in Cairo. There are actually people who knew -- there's one particular individual who is the managing director of Al Jazeerra English, who knew Sarah Logan personally from his time at CBS. He knew her personally. She's a former collegue of his. And the decision eventaully was made that because Al Jazeera English broadcasts to 120 different countries, not just the United States, that they would go with the revolution at the focus not what happens to individual journalists.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim Foukara. He's Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic. When we come back, we'll open the phones, read our e-mail, look at our Facebook postings and your Tweets.
First, let's note that in the previous conversation -- which was now being 'updated' -- it was agreed by both that Al Jazeera English had reported on Logan's assault but Al Jazeera Arabic had not. Second, Al Jazeera -- either English or Arabic -- was not going to have an exclusive interview with Logan. All they were going to do was a 30-second headline in a series of headlines. That would not have changed the focus. Foukara's a damn liar and Diane's a damn fool. Al Jazeera was posting Nir Rosen's 'reporting' days after his apology tour. Don't pretend the two weren't connected.
And don't pretend that a "f**king fool" (ABC News correspondent) who refers to "Laura" and "Sarah" Logan did a damn bit of research on anything. L-A-R-A. Not "Laura." And that brings us to the idiot that is Diane Rehm (though at CBS News, she's being called worse than "idiot" right now). She made a point to raise the issue. And she didn't know the woman's name. Lara Logan's name was given three times on the third hour of The Diane Rehm Show and neither the host nor the guest knew Lara's name.
How stupid can you be? Diane's been all over the media in the last weeks, talking about how NPR needs tax payer money to continue the high quality journalism. Diane, you can't even get Lara Logan's name correctly. You want to pretend you're offering high quality journalism? Really, Diana Reeves?
What a stupid, stupid woman. Is it any wonder that as the Iraq War's eight anniversary arrives, Diane-Diane-Dana can't find Iraq for week five? Week six? Yet, as Ava and I noted at Third Sunday, last week Diane Rehm wanted to grand stand and present guests who claimed -- in a discussion of the costs of wars -- that the American people had forgotten the Iraq War. No, the American Gas Bags have forgotten Iraq.
March Forward! has not forgotten the Iraq War or avoided addressing the realities. Their latest includes the following:
On March 19, 2003, U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in an attempt to force the oil-rich country to accept imperialist rule. "National defense" and "building democracy" were simply lies to mask the real aim of the war: the de-nationalization of Iraq's oil. Eight years later, over 1 million Iraqis are dead, millions are refugees and living conditions have deteriorated to the point that last year Baghdad was rated the least livable city in the world.

Although the invasion began in 2003, Iraq has been the target of U.S. aggression since 1991, when tens of thousands of civilians died in the "Gulf War." This was followed by genocidal sanctions that led to 1.5 million deaths, including half a million children under the age of 5.

This brutality, however, did not succeed in forcing the Iraqi people to surrender their sovereignty. Starting in 2002, the Bush administration began a racist, fear-mongering campaign to drum up support for an outright invasion. The claim that Iraq was harboring terrorists or developing weapons of mass destruction were obvious lies, but nevertheless politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties overwhelmingly voted to authorize the war.

Although Baghdad fell just a few weeks after the invasion, popular Iraqi resistance bogged down occupation forces and challenged the U.S.-backed regime. The fighting escalated and in 2007 the Bush administration announced the "surge," involving increased troop levels and cash payments to buy off the formerly anti-occupation Awakening Movement. Violence declined but the Iraqi people never fully accepted foreign rule.

The war continues today, by virtue of both the physical presence of U.S. forces and the economic and social devastation caused by nearly a decade of occupation. Although combat operations have officially been declared "over," 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.

While the withdrawal from Iraq is supposed to be completed by the end of 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has strongly hinted that the deadline will be ignored. Rep. Adam Smith, a high-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said that the number of troops still in Iraq after the end of this year "could be 20,000." Permanent U.S. bases and compounds are set to remain.

Occupation brings death and suffering

The Iraq war has led to a staggering number of deaths. According to the results of a 2008 study by the UK-based Opinion Research Business, 1,033,000 people have died as a result of the war. This is consistent with the findings of a study conducted by The Lancet, one of the oldest and most respected scientific journals in the world.

But even this figure does not truly convey the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the invasion and occupation. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.7 million Iraqis, about 15 percent of the population, have been forced to flee their homes. 2.7 million are internally displaced and 2 million have left the country entirely; 5 million Iraqi children are orphans.

Corruption is rampant at all levels of the illegitimate Iraqi government. A 2009 document issued by the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity reported 5,031 complaints of corruption the previous year. However, out of over 3,000 cases sent to courts, only 97 officials, less than 3 percent, were convicted. Iraq was ranked the fourth most corrupt country in the world in 2010.

Excluding Baghdad, about 30 percent of the population does not have access to potable water. In the capital the figure is slightly lower, around 25 percent, but much higher in some rural areas, at roughly 50 percent. Iraq is only capable of producing slightly more than half of the electricity it needs, leaving most Iraqis without power on a regular basis.

Outright unemployment stands at 15 percent, but rises to 43 percent if the underemployed are included. Young people are especially affected by joblessness and 23 percent of the population lives on less than $2.20 a day.

Iraq is now poisoned with the remnants of depleted uranium and chemical weapons. Staggering levels of birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality has labeled parts of Iraq with a fallout "worse than Hiroshima" -- or, worse than the worst fallout in history.

Those who fantasized that somehow U.S. intervention would create a better life for the Iraqi people than under the government of Saddam Hussein are left looking at the biggest humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and civilian casualties at genocidal proportions.

You could have turned the above into five hours of discussion easily if you gave a damn about the Iraq War but, clearly, Diane Rehm doesn't. Tomorrow A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Last night The Lawyer's Guild (KPFK) devoted significant time to the Iraq War. (Click here for the archives, scroll down and you have 58 days from today to listen to it before it goes offline.) Public radio could use a lot more Jim Lafferty and a lot less Diane Rehm. Jim's guests included March Forward's Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran. Excerpt:
Jim Lafferty: Mike Prysner, let's get you into this discussion, my friend. Both you and Dick Becker [A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Richard Becker] of, as I mentioned, protests this coming Saturday against the US wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- And, by the way, listeners, I'm proud to say that here in LA, KPFK is the media sponsor for the March 19th antiwar protest. The war in Iraq's now eight years old, the war in Afghanistan ten -- the longest war of our country. I can't help but wonder, Mike, if these wars would have gone on for as long as they have or ever been started in the first place if so many of those Middle Eastern countries weren't run by governments beholden to the United States anyway. Do you have a thought on that?
Mike Prysner:Uhm, well, yeah. I mean basically the goal of the United States in the region, we know that the Middle East is home to the vast majority of oil and natural gas reserves. And the United States, whether it's through directly military intervention, whether it's through backing dictatorships or enacting sanctions to try to overthrow independent countries, the main goal in the region is controlling the oil and the natural gas reserves. And there's a variety of different tactics used to do that but that's the primary goal of US domination in the region. That's what its military is used for. That's the purpose of the wars. The purpose of every other client-state that it backs there.
Jim Lafferty: Sure. Well two-thirds, Mike, two-thirds of the American people, as you well know, think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, that we should get out, that's been true for some time now. So a fair question for somebody dropping in from another planet might be, so why is it that in this supposed democracy the government of the people keeps on fighting the war they don't want?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. We never really got to vote on whether or not we [should] invade Iraq. In fact, the actual voting was done in the streets when there was the largest anti-war demonstration in history, when there was the biggest outpouring of people ever to stop the war from happening. That's where the real was happening. But, you know, these decisions of who we bomb, who we go to war with -- you know, if we're going to bomb Libya, if we're going to stay in Afghanistan -- these are decisions that we have no say in at all. These are decisions that are made behind closed doors with virtually all the same people who were there during the Bush administration -- are retained through the Obama administration, all the generals and civilian advisors in the Pentagon. So essentially we don't really have a democracy. What we have is a rule of the rich, a government that serves the interests of those oil giants and those Wall Street CEOs that stand to gain billions of dollars in profits from having access.
Jim Lafferty: Mmm-hmm. And yet as we proved in Vietnam -- and I for one believe we can still prove again -- we can overcome that -- what we might call, that deficit of democracy or that lack of democracy -- overcome that with a long enough and a hard enough fight, a militant fight, a fight that finally builds enough of a massive movement both within the armed services themselves -- and certainly you're going to talk about that in a minute -- within the armed services themselves there's little stomach for these wars, build a massive, big enough movement in the streets over and over again so it finally becomes impossible. I noticed even today that in this new Congress, [Dennis] Kucinich was able to pick up another 22 or 26 votes to the 40 or 50 or whatever it was votes that he got last time for getting out of Afghanistan. So even there there's a certain weakening of will, if you will. Mike, I understand though that this year the protests focus a great deal on the sky rocketing cost of these wars at a time when so many Americans are out of work and social services are being so drastically cut. Will that be true of the demonstration here in LA, Mike Prysner?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. And, you know, since the economic crisis in 2008 there's been a really accelerated attack on working people. You know, our rights and our benefits and our pay, these are things that were always under attack but, of course, when there's an economic crisis for the richest people in the country, that burden has to be shifted to the people who are the most vulnerable. So in the past two years or in the past three years, you know, unions, public sector workers, workers in general have lost their jobs, have lost their benefits, have lost their pay increases, have lost access to health care. Students, we know, we saw massive demonstrations last year, students are having tuition go up. Upwards of 40% in some places and this is really ridiculous.
Jim Lafferty: Yep.
Mike Prysner: And all the while, while things keep getting harder and harder at home, we're watching upwards of $700 million every single day being spent on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan alone. You know, this doesn't even count the entire military budget to sustain this network of 800 military bases around the world. And so, absolutely, we have to make these connections. These issues are absolutely linked. They're inextricably linked. That all of the attacks against working people at home and all of the cuts to benefits, health care and education are coming because this government needs all this money to do other things -- to bail out the banks and to fund these criminal wars abroad.
Jim Lafferty: Yeah. Well in fact -- I know for a fact, I mean it's no secret -- that the entire deficit, the total deficit of all 50 states combined is about 127, 129, billion dollars. That's a tidy sum, to be sure, but chump change when compared with the one trillion dollars [$1,000,000,000,000.00] spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The LA protest starts at noon at Hollywood & Vine. And as Jim pointed out KPFK is the official media sponsor. They are the only, THE ONLY, Pacifica radio station to promote the protest all week long on the main page of their website. Ron Kovic will be among those participating in the LA action and you can find more details at the LA A.N.S.W.E.R. website. KPFA isn't promoting the Bay Area protest on their website, WBAI is not promoting the NYC event at their website (and someone needs to explain why the Left Forum thought this was the weekend to compete with the NYC event -- we'll again note the NYC event at the end of this snapshot). A KPFA friend has passed on numerous complaints that the station is receiving and Ava and I will probably include those in some way in a piece we write for Third on Sunday. KPFA's silence is not accidental and it has not gone unnoticed by the listeners whose money they are desperate for. Don't worry, there's always time for the Bay Area Entertainment calendar, just not time for peace news despite the fact that peace issues were the sole reason Pacifica Radio was created. KPFA and WBAI are about as far from their roots these days as a bottled blond.
Tomorrow's the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Eight years ago, the illegal war began and it continues. Despite claims that it has ended (that was the press coverage that ended, not the war), despite claims that it ends at the end of the year. While so many are silent, the must-read report today is Lara Jakes (AP) report: "Despite a security agreement requiring a full U.S. military withdrawal by the year's end, hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers will continue to be in Iraq beyond 2012."

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