Thursday, March 22, 2007

KPFA, Flashpoints, who gets so speak on the news

Oh, Lord, it's back. Sarah Olson. Worse than before. I hate that woman. I'm at C.I.'s and we're listening to KPFA's Flashpoints. I said, "I know you wanted us to back off, but she's doing more damage." C.I. said, "She is. Let's see about hanging her with her own words this weekend." So we'll be taking on the myth that Brave Sarah was never going to testify. Sorry, Sheldon, sorry, John. But that's not reality. Love your work on other things but Sarah Olson is not the woman you've promoted. I'd love to think we were going to go over all her words, but I'm sure we'll make it a short feature.

Which is cool because we already have a long feature. Jim, C.I., Ava and Jess were riffing on a topic today and I jumped in. Dona screamed, "STOP!" We all looked at her wondering, "What's her problem?" She had a pen and paper and was trying to take down what we were saying. So we've got the spine for a very funny piece. It's a parody. Jim made a joke about a book and C.I. and Ava began making comments in the "author's voice" and that's where we all got in on it. We've already e-mailed the notes/spin out to everyone so they can add input. Wally called to say he's got about twenty ideas and that he couldn't stop laughing at the stuff Dona had taken notes on. We're also hoping to get a pretty deep piece (we'd like to do two) written for this Sunday's The Third Estate Sunday Review so a light, funny feature is a good thing to have for the mix.

Though I had to hear Sarah and, I believe, the guy who insulted Ehren Watada, I'd still recommend tonight's KPFA's Flashpoints for Nora Barrows-Friedman reporting on the occupied terrortories. My comments about wrong words resulted in 5 e-mails and when I type "terrortories" I'm doing that on purpose. To live there is to live in "terror." So that was great. And Dennis did an incredible interview with Alexander Cockburn.

Sarah's boy said he signed the Appeal because he wanted better health care for the returning veterans. For the record, this is what Appeal says:

As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

It's starting to remind me of that petition Christian Slater gets the entire school to sign in Heathers. No one seems to know what they're signing. Which is why Sarah's boy Jeff can say he signed it due to the Walter Reed conditions. Buy a clue.

I think Sarah fits in well with the people who don't like Ehren Watada because she doesn't have a high opinion of him either. Oh, but we're not supposed to know about that, right? We're all supposed to look the other way on that. Even though it's her own public words. The Myth of Sarah, The Journalistic Martyr. I don't like the airhead (which might not be fair, she's quite calculating) and you better believe I will be fighting for a strongly worded piece this weekend. C.I. plays "in fairness" and that's not a complaint. C.I.'s very good about trying to see the other side. But I'm not in the mood for "in fairness." Not after all the lies we've been forced to endure about The Journalistic Martyr. I wonder if all her defenders read her press because if they do, they didn't just get it wrong, they lied.

Guns and Butter! I just remembered I was supposed to address that! I'd forgotten. And I was winding down so let me do it quickly. It airs on KFPA once a week (Wednesdays) for an hour, Bonnie Faulkner is the host. Dr. John McMurtry was the guest and he spoke about how 9-11 in terms of systems. It was a really powerful and historical presentation (he took it all the way back to Lincoln decrying the rise of corporations during the 1800s).

Oh God, Leigh Ann Caldwell is again pimping for the Pelosi bill. Tell the people the truth, there is no pull out in the bill. There are ways for Bully Boy to override bringing the troops home. As C.I. slyly pointed out, NPR has provided more honesty on this than KPFA's news teams. I'm sick of the lies. I also love how the only Congress member who got to speak was Jim McGovern who supports it. And how Leigh Ann Caldwell left "news" to give "editorial" which was this big ass excuse for why the Dems can't put forward a strong bill. So Leigh Ann editorialized -- and didn't offer a dissenting voice that said, "Wait a minute . . ." -- and she only presented one House Rep speaking -- someone who supports the Pelosi measure. How is that Free Speech, Leigh Ann?

I'm stopping here because I really don't enjoy slamming KPFA. I love KPFA but, let's be honest, they've been more interested in offering cover for weak ass Dems than in telling listeners what the Pelosi measure really does. That's shameful. It was also shameful to refuse to let Medea Benjamin speak (Leigh Ann summarized). Again, even NPR let Medea speak. But Medea's very clear that the Pelosi measure is a joke and it probably wouldn't do good for the cover KPFA's provided if Medea got a soundbyte.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 22, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Canadian police continues to take orders from the US military, Operation Happy Talks sinks in the midst of a Green Zone presentation, and the spinning never ends in Congress.

Starting with news of war resisters. Joshua Key and
Kyle Snyder are among the war resisters who have sought asylum in Canada. Several weeks ago came news that the police of Nelson, BC -- on the orders of the US military -- took Kyle away from his home, handcuffed, wearing only a robe and boxers while bragging that he was being taken back to the US. Though there were efforts to obscure what happened, Joci Peri had already admitted that the arrest resulted from orders/request by the US military. That was then. Today, the Globe and Mail reports that on March 13th, "three plainclothes officers visited the home of a Toronto family . . . looking for Joshua Key. Mr. Key, 28, is a former combat engineer with the U.S. army who fled to Canada four years ago. According to the group, the officers identified themselves as being with the Toronto police and said they wanted to ask Mr. Key some questions about allegations he mae in his autobiographical book, The Deserter's Tale." The War Resisters Support Campaign sees the two issues as related and feels the Canadian police are yet again doing the bidding of the US military.

In his new book
The Deserter's Tale, Key shares his thoughts on life in Canada:

Although some Canadians have disagreed with me, and one man in British Columbia even threatened to put me in a boat and drag me to the American border, most of the people I've met in this country have treated me well. Yet it remains to be seen whether I will be allowed to stay in Canada. Just as this book was going to press, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board rejected my application for refugee status. However, I am appealing that decision in court and will not give up my fight until I have explored every avenue to make Canada a permanent home for my wife, our children, and myself. I also believe the other men and women who have deserted the American armed forces because they do not wish to serve in Iraq should be allowed to stay in Canada. I believe that it would be wrong for Canada to force me to return to a country that ordered me repeatedly to abuse Iraqi civilians and that was later found to be torturing and humiliating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison. I don't think it's right that I should be sent back to do more of the same in Iraq, or that I should serve jail time in the United States for refusing to fight in an immoral war.
Some thirty years ago, under the leadership of the late Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian government welcomed draft dodgers from the Vietnam War. The current Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has not looked favorably on such refugee claims made by recent deserters of the American army. My case is unusual because I am the first deserter in Canada to argue that I went AWOL after being ordered to take part in a steady stream of human rights violations in Iraq. Still, I am not optimistic about my future, and it is challenging to live in shadows of doubt. At some point soon, I could be told to pack my bags and leave. Any day now my family could be completely torn apart.

The excerpt is from pages 226-228 and no where in the passage does Key worry about Canadian police doing the bidding of the US military because he shouldn't have to. The Canadian police is not supposed to do the bidding of the US military nor is extradition possible due to someone going AWOL from the US military.

Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to the issue of politics, today
Democracy Now! hosted a debate beween US House Rep Lynn Woolsey and MoveOn -- or a stand in for the group who was unidentified as such. Robert Borosage frequently works with ("collaborated with MoveOn" is the way the mainstream media usually reports Borosage's connection). To repeat, ". . . and Robert Borosage co-director of the Campaign for America's Future" is a huge understatement. Lynn Woolsey:

My position is that on November the 11th, the Democrats were voted into office as the majority to do bold actions to bring our troops home. And I just don't believe that this supplemental does enough. It is $100 billion more to pay for the President's surge for his escalation of this war. There are virtually no enforcement measures in this legislation that will make the President do anything that we're telling him to do. Of course, we want our troops trained, ready and rested, but guess what, he gets to waive all of that. And in each one of the benchmarks, needs to have -- if the benchmarks had good solid enforcement, I'd be more than glad to bring -- I would hope we'd bring the troops home date in sooner, but I'd go all the way to August if I thought what we were doing had enforcement. What I would rather we do is spend this money to keep our troops safe, escalate our training of the Iraqi security, and then bring our troops home so they can be home by Christmas with their families.
But more important than that amendment, there should be stronger enforcement in the bill, so that each step along the way, where we're saying to the President, one, the troops have to be trained, rested and equipped -- we shouldn't be giving him waivers. He can waive those, and he will.
Then, when we say at each date certain that we want the benchmarks -- we're going to measure the benchmarks that the President has set and that the Iraqi government is supposed to have met, when they haven't met those benchmarks, there is nothing in there that says, "And now, here's what we're going to do: we're going to sequester the money, we're going to now put that money in place to bring our troops home, because obviously the Iraqi government isn't living up to the benchmarks." And then, when we get to the end of August 2008 and the war is still going on, we're going to say to the President, "Alright, now you have to bring them home." The only way we can force him to do that in this bill is to sue him.

We'll return to WalkOn shortly; however, on
Morning Edition, David Welna reported on (among other things) the 20+ CODEPINK activists who chanted in the House of Representatives dining hall yesterday "Don't Buy Bush's war!" and spoke with Medea Benjamin who explained, "We think that if the Democrats spend another $100 billion on this war, it's basically their war. They can't keep blaming Bush. So we're saying if you buy it, you own it; don't buy it!"

Returning to the issue of,
Danny Schechter (News Dissector) notes: "The biased 'poll' that MoveOn emailed to its 3.2 million subscribers read like a Soviet ballot. How many of the 3.2 million subscribers MoveOn claims even voted in this slanted survey? A tiny minority, I'm sure, although MoveOn has not responded to my request for that information. Many liberal strategists inside the Beltway believe that what the House leadership is doing is smart and practical politics. In fact, it's power politics of the worst sort, a cynical 'Let It Bleed' strategy that abandons efforts to half the war and is geared toward getting Democrats elected in 2008 by continuing to blame the continuing war on the Republicans." John Stauber (PR Watch via Common Dreams) notes the figure that voted in the poll: "Yesterday MoveOn misleadingly claimed that the results from their recent member survey showed overwhelming support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill on Iraq. 'The results are in from our poll on whether to support Speaker Pelosi's proposal on Iraq: 84.6% of MoveOn members voted to support the bill,' according to MoveOn. However, this claim flunks the smell test and is far far from accurate. MoveOn is engaging that oldest of PR games known as 'lies, damned lies and statistics.' The truth is that 96% of MoveOn's 3.2 million members did not even bother to vote in their member survey. Most of MoveOn's members probably ignored and failed to open the email, since nothing in the subject line indicated it was particularly important. MoveOn informed this reporter that about 126,000 people voted in what I pointed out to them was a very biased pro-Pelosi poll. The MoveOn question essentially provided a choice of Pelosi and peace (Yes), or Republicans and war (No). Gee, guess how that one gets answered? The real news is that 96% of MoveOn's huge list did not vote with them to support the Pelosi bill. When MoveOn says 84.6% of their members chose Pelosi's bill, they mean 86.4% of the measly four percent of their members who bothered to open their email and respond. A polling of members in which 96% do not vote is no polling at all." To repeat, the 126,000 figure was noted on page A14 of Tuesday's New York Times.

While WalkOn provides cover, many still object.
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) has posted an open letter from Cloy Richards (former Marine and son of Tina Richards) which concludes: "Either way the ball is in your court. Will you make the bold adjustment necessary by voting no against the supplemental, or will you support this bill simply voting along party lines and exposing your true cowardice? Make the right choice and vote your conscience -- thousands of lives depend on it." Also weighing in is Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Santiy with an open letter (at Truthout) signed by their steering group (Ray Close, Larry Johnson, David C. MacMichael, Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley) which concludes: "Domestic politics is not part of our portfolio, but as American citizens, parents and grandparents, we will permit ourselves this observation. We note that the amendment offered by Congressomwan Barbara Lee, mandating the supplemental funding be used exclusively for the 'safe and complete withdrawal' of all US troops and contractors from Iraq not later than December 31, 2007, offers the most realistic approach in terms of what the US can accomplish on the ground in Iraq. The main difference boils down to the saving of thousands of American and Iraqi lives this year, with little-to-no chance for the administration to diddle Congress. Your draft legislation makes the dubious assumption that the president believes the Constitution still applies to him -- and that he should be taken at his word. Rather, his behavior has shown that he has little but contempt for Congress, which he has had little trouble manipulating -- at least until now. Again, what remains indisputably in your quiver is the power of the purse. This is your chance to use it, and save an untold number of lives in the process. You may wish to let the chips, rather than our soldiers, fall where they may." As Rep Woolsey noted, Democratic House leadership has decided there will be no amendments. As noted Tuesday, other groups speaking out against the Pelosi backed measure include Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. In addition, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is asking that people call their Congress members (202-22403121): "Instead of true accountablility on the war, this week Congress may give the President and Vice President more than $100 billion to keep the war going through the end of their term. More war, more civilian deaths, more U.S. soldiers killed or maimed. Less money for housing, for health care, for education, for seniors here at home as we borrow money from Beijing to keep the war going in Baghdad. Instead of accountability, the appropriations bill will mandate the privatization of $6 trillion in Iraq oil assets, and it will provide money which can be used to attack Iran in an attempt to grab another $6 trillion in Iranian oil assets for the oil companies. We must support the troops, stop the war, end the occupation, and support HR 1234." (To read HR 1234 -- in PDF format -- click here.)

Remember those groups (and
CODEPINK) and individuals because, short of impeachment, Bully Boy's not budging. So when the 'benchmarks' roll around and nothing happens, remember that they were toothless and non-binding. They were warned. The media's been warned as well but still a large number (big and small) present the Pelosi backed measure as one that promises a withdrawal. Robert Parry and Greg Palast spoke with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday and one of the points Parry was making had to do with the complicity on the part of the Democratic Party and the willingness of the media to ignore their watchdog role. We've seen that (I'm arguing, not Parry) in the way the Pelosi backed measure has been 'covered' (big and small). [For other topics, especially Alberto Gonzales, that Parry and Palast addressed, see Rebecca's post.]

Lance Selfa (ISR) observes that the "no-confidence" vote in November 2006 has allowed the Democrats to hold hearings but "they continue to vote to support the war at its current level while proposing various scenarios for troop redeploymnet in the future. At this point, only a few liberals have tabled bills asserting Congress's right to cut off funds for the Iraq adventure. While these fund cut offs will give manyr annk-and-file leberals hope that their 'vote to end the war' will succeed, Democratic leaders, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) to foot-in-the-mouth Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden (D-Del.) have been far more cautious -- and in Biden's case, dismissive -- of these proposals. All of this positioning shows that the Democrats have embraced the recommendations of the establishment-dominated Iraq Study Group as their road map out of the Iraq debacle. . . . The Democrats, and some Republicans, are providing a vehicle through which sections of the ruling class (embodied in the Iraq Study Group) are expressing their vote of no confidence in the Bush administration and its failure in Iraq. There are many indications of this: an increased willingness of the media to expose Bush's lies; the votes against the troop surge in Congress; open addmission from generals and admirals that the Bush plan will not work. But it is crucial to recognize that this opposition to Bush represents the ruling class's concern with saving, rather than burying, the U.S. imperial project. These forces are worried that continued failure in Iraq will weaken the U.S. military overall. They fear that Bush's unilateralism and clumsiness has wrought a political cost in the 'soft power' of the U.S. (i.e. it's ideological, policital, and cultural influence) across the world. So while leading Democrats are bashing Bush's escalation in Iraq, they remain hawkish in their crticisms of Iran, unshaken in their support for Israel's most outrageous atrocitieis, and quietly supportive of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' call to increase the size of the armed forces by almost 100,000. This is not to mention that leading liberals and Democrats are the ones clamoring for 'humanitarian intervention' in the Darfur region of Sudan. The problem for the Democrats is that they can only play the role of virtual opposition for so long."

And that, especially "virtual opposition," pretty much says it all.

Today, United Nations Secetary General Ban Ki-Moon surprised many by visiting Baghdad (not part of the itenary presented).
AFP reports this was Ban Ki-Moon's first visit and reminds of the August 19, 2003 attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad. As the United Nations Development Program notes, "The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19th August and futher attacks on UN facilities prompted the withdrawal of most international UN staff from Iraq, including senior UNDP personnel. As a result, some projects were scaled down or put on hold."

Ban Ki-Moon met in the heavily fortified Green Zone with the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, where the two intended to hold a press conference . . .
AFP reports that Ban Ki-Moon had just stated, "As we see an improvement in the situation on the ground I'm considering to increase the presence of the United Nations," when a mortar round landed, Ban Ki-Moon had "an involuntary flinch," and "a column of smoke and dust" filled "the sky near the northern edge of the Green Zone". NPR reported that he "flinched and ducked down" behind the podium. Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) observes: "Ban was shaken. He ducked, looking shocked. Maliki and Ban took one more question before the session ended." Canada's CBC reports: "Small chips of debris floated down from the ceiling above the UN chief after the explosion rattled the building in the Green Zone. Al-Maliki's security officials said it was a rocket attack. The explosion caused a crater one metre in diameter and about 50 metres from the building where the news conference was in progress". Not only did the UN Secretary General boast of the progress (right before the attack) but Al Jazeera reports that al-Maliki boasted as well, "We consider it [the visit] a positive message to the world in which you [Ban] confirm that Baghdad has returned to playing host to important world figures because it has made huge strides on the road toward stability." Call it a wave of reality splashing their Operation Happy Talk right back at them.

Other violence? It has gone on. Even if it's yet another day when pretty much all the orgs seem to be on holiday.


Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) notes that "a roadside bomb and a car bomb killed one and injured three in the Amiriya neighborhood" in Baghdad today.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports "in Basra, police said gunmen on a motorcycle killed a postgraduate female student at Basra University outside her home Wednesday night. The motive was unknown." Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) notes an attack, in Dora, upon a mini-bus that left one person dead and two injured.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports: "In the volatile city of Baqouba northeast of Baghdad, the bullet-ridden body of a kindapped official and mother of three was found dumped on a street after masked gunmen stormed her house Wednesday night and took her away handcuffed, plice said. Ilham Namik Shahin, 43, was a Shiite member of the Baqouba provincial council."

Today, the
US military announced: "While returning to base after conducting combat security operations, a MND-B patrol was attacked with small arms fire in a western section of the Iraqi capital, killing one soldier." And they announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." For the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, ICCC puts the count at 3228, AFP's count is 3,225 and AP's count is 3227.

UNICEF is calling attention to the continued sorry state of water in Iraq, 4 years after the US invaded and occupied the country and "millions of Iraqi children still find that safe water is no easier to access" and quotes Roger Wright stating, "Iraq's young children are particularly vulnerable to diarrhoea, which can easily kill or lead to severe malnutrition and stunted growth. Latest reports suggest we are already seeing an increse in diarrhoea cases, even before the usual onset of the 'diarrhoea season' in June."

Yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the release of Ahmed Shibani, an aide to Moqtada al-Sadr who had been held by US forces for over two years. Today,
BBC and Reuters report that al-Maliki met with Shibani on the same day, Al Jazeera reports, that US forces arrested Qais Khazali and Laith Khazali for the weekend kidnapping that led to the death of US service members -- Qais Khazali is described as "[a] former leading supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr".

A subject touched on in the last few weeks is who gets left behind?
Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on an Iraqi translator, Ansam, for the US military who has considerable support "from a Marine brigadier general, several colonels and a number of other officers" advocating that she be allowed entry into the US after she has served "at least six troop rotations at Camp Fallujah, the Marine base in Anbar province". McClatchy Newspapers offers excerpts from eight letters written by US military officers in support of Ansam. This is a good time to again note John R. MacArthur's (writing for the Providence Journal) commentary on withdrawal of US troops also means planning who gets withdrawn.

from Veterans for Peace:

Tuesday, March 20, members of Veterans For Peace, along with Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out, launched the Veterans For Peace Convoy through the Southeast. Over 15 people loaded onto the Mendicino Chapter 116 Impeachment Tour bus and the Wheels of Justice bus and traveled to Columbia, SC, home of Fort Jackson. There they participated in a vigil outside of the state capital building.So far, a large part of this convoy has been in reaching out to those currently serving in the military. Copies of the
Appeal for Redress, the GI Rights Hotline information, and copies of "Sir! No Sir!" and "The Ground Truth" are being distributed military personnel as they travel through the military towns.The convoy is set to arrive in the Gulf Coast on Sunday, March 25th.[Contribute to the Gulf Build/Convoy See the convoy schedule]