Monday, June 04, 2007

Give it up for Amy Goodman

First, thank you, thank you and thank you. I feel like I'm Angelina Jolie or something with all the notes of praise coming in for "Kat's Korner: Those Jones girls." I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. Thanks to C.I. because I almost trashed that review. I was half-way through it and had doubts so I read it to C.I. and C.I. said, "Kat, that's wonderful. Keep going, don't start over." I still had my doubts but (a) people enjoy it and (b) people get that it's acting as a set up for the two CDs. Remember to read Betty's "Nicky K's Desperate Hours."

Now if you read my post Saturday ("Thing get rough for the Modern Day Carrie Nations"), you're ready for the highlight. If not, please read Stephanie Strom and Lydia Polgreen's "Advocacy Group's Publicity Campaign on Darfur Angers Relief Organizations" (New York Times) and "Our Modern Day Carrie Nations" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). This is from today's Democracy Now!, "Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur: 'The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency':"

AMY GOODMAN: The simplifying of the conflict by the US media, you write extensively about this, who the sides are.
MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Well, I was struck by the fact -- because I live nine months in New York and three months in Kampala, and every morning I open the New York Times, and I read about sort of violence against civilians, atrocities against civilians, and there are two places that I read about -- one is Iraq, and the other is Darfur -- sort of constantly, day after day, and week after week. And I'm struck by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq. And it puzzles me, because most of these students, almost all of these students, are American citizens, and I had always thought that they should have greater responsibility, they should feel responsibility, for mass violence which is the result of their own government's policies. And I ask myself, "Why not?" I ask myself, "How do they discuss mass violence in Iraq and options in Iraq?" And they discuss it by asking -- agonizing over what would happen if American troops withdrew from Iraq. Would there be more violence? Less violence? But there is no such agonizing over Darfur, because Darfur is a place without history, Darfur is a place without politics. Darfur is simply a dot on the map. It is simply a place, a site, where perpetrator confronts victim. And the perpetrator's name is Arab, and the victim’s name is African. And it is easy to demonize. It is easy to hold a moral position which is emptied of its political content. This bothered me, and so I wrote about it.
[. . .]
MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Well, let's begin with the numbers of the dead, OK? The only group in a position to estimate how many people have died in Darfur is UNICEF, because UNICEF is the only one that did a comprehensive survey in 2005 in Darfur. Everybody else only knows the piece of ground on which they work and will then extrapolate from it, like any other NGO, like Oxfam or Medecins Sans Frontieres or World Food Program. The WFP estimate was 200,000. Out of these 200,000, the WPF report tells you that roughly about 20% died of actually being killed, of violence, and 80% died mainly from starvation and from diseases. And normally in our understanding of genocide, we put both those together and look at them as a result of the violence, because the violence prevents the medicine going in, etc., except in the case of Darfur, it's not a single-cause situation.
Darfur is also the place which has been hit hard by global warming. The UN commission which sat on global warming very recently spoke of Darfur as the first major crisis of global warming. In other words, from the late 1970s you have had a significant desertification, and you've been having in the north of Darfur basically a situation where people's simply entire livelihoods are destroyed, and which has been one of the elements, because it has driven the nomadic population in the north down into the south. So how many people are dying from desertification? How many people are dying from the violence that has been unleashed through this civil war in Darfur?
Second element in this is that there's a civil war going on in Darfur.
[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned Congo. What about the comparison of the conflicts and the attention given to each?
MAHMOOD MAMDANI: Well, no two comparisons are exactly alike, of course. We know that. But to the extent that numbers are being highlighted, the numbers are huge in Congo. The Congo estimates are four million-plus over several years. The Darfur estimates go from 200,000 to 400,000. So why no concern about Congo? Congo involves, again, multiple causes, like Darfur. It's a huge place. But in Kivu province, where I have been, the conflict has been very Darfur-like, in the sense that you've had proxies being fed from the outside, the Hema and the Lendu. You have the recruitment of child soldiers. You have two states in the region arming these proxies: Uganda and Rwanda. But both states are allies of the US in the region, so there's nothing said about it.
The most recent example is Somalia. We can see that the civilian suffering is going up dramatically in Somalia since the intervention, Ethiopian intervention force. And we know that the Ethiopian intervention force had at least the blessings of the US, if not more than that -- I'm not privy to the information. And nothing is being said about it. So one arrives back at the question: what is the politics around it? And I'm struck by the innocence of those who are part of the Save Darfur -- of the foot soldiers in the Save Darfur Coalition, not the leadership, simply because this is not discussed.
Let me tell you, when I went to Sudan in Khartoum, I had interviews with the UN humanitarian officer, the political officer, etc., and I asked them, I said, "What assistance does the Save Darfur Coalition give?" He said, "Nothing." I said, "Nothing?" He said, "No." And I would like to know. The Save Darfur Coalition raises an enormous amount of money in this country. Where does that money go? Does it go to other organizations which are operative in Sudan, or does it go simply to fund the advertising campaign?
AMY GOODMAN: To make people aware of what's going on in Darfur.
MAHMOOD MAMDANI: To make people aware of what is going on, but people who then, out of awareness, give money not to fuel a commercial campaign, but expecting that this money will go to do something about the pain and suffering of those who are the victims in Darfur, so how much of that money is going to actually -- how much of it translates into food or medicine or shelter? And how much of it is being recycled?

Hopefully, you enjoyed hearing from Mahmood Mamdani and you can also read his essay. And I'd recommend "Sorry George Clooney, but the last thing Darfur needs is western troops" (Guardian of London). I really enjoyed the interview with Mamdani and it reminded me of some points C.I. made in "Cindy Sheehan."

And speaking of C.I., here's today's "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, June 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Adam Kokesh goes on (kangaroo) trial, resistance within the US military continues to grow, a veteran enters his eighth day of marching to honor the dead in California, news (or 'news') of 2 missing US soliders and more.

Starting with
Adam Kokesh who was in Kansas City, MO today at the Marine Mobilization Command for a hearing to determine the status of his discharge. With Kokesh were his attorneys Eric Seitz and Mike Lebowitz as well as many supporters. The AP reports that the Yellow Rose of Texas, the bus carrying Kokesh and supporters from DC to Kansas City, had slogans on it: "Bring Them Home Now," "What Noble Cause?," and "Not One More!"
Kokesh was discharged from active duty (honorably) in November. At issue is the street theater he and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War participated in on March 19, 2007 in DC as part of Operation First Casualty -- an attempt to provide Americans with some idea of life in Iraq. Kokesh (and others) wore fatigues -- not dress uniforms.

The KPFA Evening News Sunday, Ruthanne Shpiner observed, "At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the US military." Kokesh explained to Shpiner, "So if I were to show up to a formation in what I was wearing to that demonstration an NCO would say first thing, right away, 'Hey Devil Dog, you're out of uniform.' So technically, yes, I was definitely out of uniform that day. By the regulations. However, what's really important here is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice should not be applied to the Inactive Reserve and it's being abused as such for political ends."

The hearing today is not expected to reach an immediate finding/decision. It is thought that they cannot issue a dishonorable discharge because that normally requires an Article 32 hearing. Normally? What is happening is so rare that there is no clear outcome -- happens when the military steps away from official guidelines to silence critics of the illegal war. The finding/decision is expected to come within two weeks.

Kokesh discussed what is considered likely with Shpiner, "Well there's two schools of thought about this and the first one is that if it were to be an other than honorable discharge and it would have effect of being my last official discharge from the military and it would have effect in determining benefits. I would lose all my rights to VA health care for the two years from the point of my discharge, I would lose the lifetime care for my two service related injuries namely my elbow . . . which I may need an operation on soon and my hypertension and I may have to pay back the educational benefits I received as a reservist going to college full time. But then there's another theory and this is untested because the case is so new and unprecedented that a discharge from the Inactive Reserve would have no effect on my benefits whatsoever."

When Kokesh speaks of losing educational benefits, this would include future as well as repayment for classes he took before serving in Iraq and after -- and courses he took while in Iraq, stationed in Falluja. Halliburton's not asked to return of the money they fleeced from tax payers, but the US government has no problem trying to pull money back from veterans.
Heather Hollingsworth (AP) reports that Kokesh has (rightly) called the hearing a "disgusting waste of government resources" and declared on a break in today's hearing, "More importantly, it's a case of fraud, waste and abuse and a disgusting waste of government resources. While Marines are dying every day in Iraq, they are spending time investigating members of the individual ready reserves for political activity."

Kokesh is not the only one the US military has gone after. Liam Madden and Cloy Richards have also faced threats.
In a video posted at David Swanson's AfterDowningStreet, Cloy Richards mother speaks of what her son has been through. Tina Richards explains that when the threats started coming in from the US military, Cloy -- who has served two tours in Iraq -- just didn't feel he had another fight in him after he and his mother had spent months and months fighting the VA so that Richards could receive treatment he needed and had earned. Tina Richards shared with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room May 24th that shortly after her son learned he was being deployed to Iraq for a third time, she found him with a shotgun, the barrel in his mouth. This is the type of person the US military would rather screw around with than help. Unless, of course, they see this nonsense as helpful.

Richards was speaking at last Friday's press conference. In
a video posted on YouTube from the same press conference, Kokesh explains, "When I participated in Operation First Casualty I was not intending to represent the government, the Department of Defense, the army, the marine corps or any other part of the government. I was representing myself as a veteran and Iraq Veterans Against the War. The voices of the recently honorably discharged veterans of this conflict are the most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation today. The fact that the marine corps is being used to intimidate those people is what offends me more than anything. As someone who loves the marine corps, has loved the marine corps, I'm particularly offended to see it used for political ends. Clearly, this administration has a case of selective prosecution. But I have to ask, to those proponents of the current administration's policies: If the cause in Iraq is so just and so righteous, why are you so afraid of the truth? Why is it necessary to silence the voice of veterans? To remove them of their credibility? To prevent them from wearing their uniforms while expressing their freedom of speech?"

Operation First Casualty was street theater and many, including the US military and the press, seem to forget that this has already been addressed by the Supreme Court. As
we explained Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Schacht v. United States addressed this. In 1967, Daniel Jay Schacht and two other people participated in a dramatization against the then current illegal war outside a military recruiting center. In the production (unscripted), they used toy guns and squirted out a paint (red) meant to symbolize blood. Schacht was arrested for wearing military drags. (Schact was never in the military, that doesn't matter and didn't to the Court.) The US military maintained that it had the right to decide who wore their uniforms and who did not. The case made it to the Supreme Court which found that since the US military would allow uniforms and drag to be worn in "pro-war" plays, they had no right to say no to "anti-war" plays because, having allowed one group, it was now a free speech issue. To the cry that street theater was not "theater," Justice Hugo Black wrote, "Certainly theatrical productions need not always be performed in buildings or even on a defined area such as a conventional stage. Nor need they be performed by professional actors or be heavily financed or elaborately produced. Since time immemorial, outdoor theatrical performances, often performed by amateurs, have played an important part in the entertainment and the education of the people of the world."

Heather Hollingsworth (AP) notes that the US "military considered it a political event" and not street theater. The reality is the Supreme Court found the US military not fit to determine what was or wasn't a theater production. The reality is that in a more informed country, big media (including AP) would know what the hell was going on and that the Supreme Court ruled on this 37 years ago.

Turning to more war resistance,
Randy Furst (Minneapolis Star Tribune) reports on the Kamunen brothers. They are? Three brothers who decided to self-check out last Christmas. Luke Kamunen is now discharged from the military, his brothers Leif and Leo "plan to turn themselves in soon" and the three are among the 3,301 the US army admits self-checked out in 2006.

The movement of resistance within the US military continues to grow. It includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reported today on the 17 US service members who have been announced dead in "the first three days of June." Currently, ICCC's count of the total number of US service members who have died from the Iraq war since the start of the illegal war is 3496.

Attempting to remember them is an anonymous Iraq veteran who has now been marching in California for over a week. On
The KPFA Evening News Saturday, David Rosenberg noted Friday marked the veteran's "1200 loop around the State Capitol Building in Sacramento on Friday night the effort which began on Memorial Day is continuing this weekend with scores of supporters also walking laps for Americans killed in Iraq. The anonymous veteran talked about why he decided to take the action he did."

Iraq Veteran: I'm doing this as a way to focus on what we're doing and to focus on the soldiers that we're trying to remember. So right now, I'm representing Sgt. Travis M. Arndt who was 23 at the time of death. He died of a result of vehicle accident during a convoy operation in Kirkuk, Iraq on September 21, 2005. So that's my identity right now. I'm just doing this for the soldiers in a way to bring attention to the fact that we need to stop the war and stop killing and stop sending our soldiers over their to die and stop the innocent death of Iraqis as well. . . . Our group started by doing all the California . . . casualties and then we kind of spread it out to the community and allowed them to carry a soldier so that more people would get exposed to these individual soldiers and it's been a really touching experience for everyone. We've had a few people just break down and start crying, and saying 'I never realized, you know, like I read about this in the paper but it was just, 'seven soldiers were killed in this' but I never realized how much of a difference it is when you hold a specific soldier in your hand and read a little about him and then read about how tragically he was taken out of this world at the age of like 19 or 18, you know, in a lot of cases, or as the soldier I'm holding right now 23 years-old.

David Rosenberg noted, "The anonymous veteran says the group of anti-war activists will probably be at the state capitol through most of next week. The activist who are inviting people to join them usually start off about six in the morning and go to a little after ten at night."

As one veteran honors the declared dead, news or 'news' about the 2 US soldiers missing since May 12th surfaces.
Al Jazeera reports that a web posting by a group reported to be linked to al Qaeda is video of the 2 US soldiers and contains the photo ID cards of Byron Fouty and Alex Jiminez. CBS and AP report that the group and posted video (they display the ID cards for Fouty and Jiminez in a screen capture) "offered no proof for its claims that the soliders had been killed and buried" and that the US military is continuing to search for Fouty and Jiminez.

The month of May resulted in the deaths of at least 2,155 Iraqis according to the AP counted (noted on Friday's broadcast of
The KPFA Evening News). The increase in the deaths of Iraqis and of US service members comes as David S. Cloud and Damien Cave (New York Times) report on a one page (US military) assessment of the escalation which found that of the 457 neighborhoods in Baghdad, only 146 can be said to be under 'control' (US and Iraqi troops "maintain physical influence over").

It also comes as the daily violence continues.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person was killed in a Baghdad roadside bombing (12 wounded) and one person was killed in a Baghdad mortar attack (four wounded). Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing that injured three police officers, a Baghdad ambulance bombing that killed one (three wounded), a Yusufiya roadside bombing that killed a police officer (3 wouned), a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded a truck driver, a Baghdad bombing that killed 3 and left eight wounded and a Mosul truck bombing that injured 1.1


Reuters reports, "Gunmen killed a Chaldean Catholic priest and three of his assistants in Mosul on Sunday, police said on Monday. CBS and AP note an attack on minibuses in Baquba that left two passengers dead and eight more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 28 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters reports five corpses discovered in Khaldiya.

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, click here or e-mail" June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at: by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email" June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email" From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email" The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.