Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Amy Goodman interviewed Arundhati Roy; Gore Vidal on KPFA's The Morning Show Weds.

I'll be rushing through this because Rebecca phoned to remind that the Dixie Chicks' new CD came out today. So I'm going to try to get this posted and then go grab a copy. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts which will probably be more formed and informed than my own.

"Video May Tie Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib Abuses "(Democracy Now!):
Court martial proceedings have begun for an Army sergeant accused of using military dogs to threaten detainees at Abu Ghraib. The trial of Sgt. Santos Cardona may expose who within the Pentagon's chain of command ordered soliders to abuse and torture detainees at the Iraqi prison. For the first time Major General Geoffrey Miller is expected to testify about what happened at the prison. Until now Miller has refused to publicly speak about his role overseeing interrogations at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. Meanwhile it has now been revealed that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld directly communicated with Miller and other senior defense officials by video-teleconference about interrogation matters in November and December 2003. Lawyers for Sgt. Cardona are attempting to obtain copies of these videoconferences to use as their defense.

Why are we only now learning that Donald Rumsfeld and Geoffrey Miller were communicating via video-teleconference. I'm not remembering that detail in the Taguba Report. Was Antonio Taguba allowed to review the communications before writing his report? Was the Senate informed of this when they were looking into the issue when the photos first broke?

I actually do buy the "few bad apples" argument. I just don't believe they were the low hanging fruit. I think the "few bad apples" were sitting at the top: Miller, Sanchez, Rumsfeld, Bully Boy and Cheney. Bully Boy has disgraced the nation before the world. But note the next item.

"Bush Warns of 'Erosion of Democracy' in Venezuela & Bolivia" (Democracy Now!):
President Bush warned Monday that Venezuela and Bolivia are suffering from what he described as an "erosion of democracy." Bush's comments come a week after the U.S. cut off military sales to Venezuela and three weeks after Bolivia announced it would nationalize its natural gas resources. Bush said he had a message for Venezuela, Bolivia and other nations in the hemisphere. President Bush: "I am going to continue to remind our hemisphere that respect for property rights and human rights is essential for all countries in order for there to be prosperity and peace. I'm going to remind our allies and friends in the neighborhood that the United States of America stands for justice; that when we see poverty, we care about it and we do something about it; that we care for good -- we stand for good health care. I'm going to remind our people that meddling in other elections is -- to achieve a short-term objective is not in the interests of the neighborhood."

I think the erosion of democracy is taking place in this country. Projecting democratic calamity onto other countries (which, in both cases, have leaders who are democratically supported and were democratically elected) can't hide the damage Bully Boy's done to our own country. We're given the false choice of security or liberty. Without liberty, there's no security. People like to say, "Without security, there's no liberty." But they rarely make the other point. Robert Parry's "Liberty Over Safety" makes that point, quite clearly. Just as the nation's gone from "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" to "Fear everything!" we've also gone from "Give me liberty or give me death" to "Take anything, take it all, just let me cower."

"Day of Action Organized to Save Public Access & Net Neutrality" (Democracy Now!):
In media news, a national coalition of community media organizations is organizing a day of action to save public access television and protect net neutrality. Protests are planned for Wednesday in New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco. Protest organizers are calling on Congress to reject the COPE Bill which would effectively end what is known as "net neutrality" the concept that Internet users should be able to access any web content without restrictions of limitations imposed by their internet service provider. Another provision of the bill would cut back the obligation of cable TV companies to devote channels to public access and fund the facilities to run them.

I'm taking in part in action tomorrow. I had an open slot that I was going to use to catch up on some things when Sunny asked if it was okay to take some time tomorrow to participate? I told her we'd shut down the office and I'd go with. This is important and "net neutrality" has gotten attention but just as important is public access. If you watch TV (I really don't) and this isn't stopped, be prepared for getting your "community" reports from areas other than your own city or town because if public access dies, you're left with nothing but big media and most of it won't be covering your area or providing a platform for voices in your area.

Amy Goodman did a wonderful interview today which isn't a surprise by any means, but the person she was interviewing is one of my favorites. I'm choosing this section of the interview because there seems to be some confusion on the part of one commentator about Bully Boy's visit to India (he has argued Bully Boy was embraced by all but some fringe elements).

"Arundhati Roy on India, Iraq, U.S. Empire and Dissent" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush in India.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, the strange thing was that before he came, they wanted him to address a joint house of Parliament, but some members of Parliament said that they would heckle him and that it would be embarrassing for him to come there. So then they thought they would ask him to address a public meeting at the Red Fort, which is in Old Delhi, which is where the Prime Minister of India always gives his independence day speech from, but that was considered unsafe, because Old Delhi is full of Muslims, and you know how they think of all Muslims as terrorists. So then they thought, "Okay, we’ll do it in Vigyan Bhawan," which is a sort of state auditorium, but that was considered too much of a comedown for the U.S. President. So funnily enough, they eventually settled on him speaking in Purana Qila, which is the Old Fort, which houses the Delhi zoo. And it was really from there that -- and, of course, it wasn't a public meeting. It was the caged animals and some caged CEOs that he addressed. And then he went to Hyderabad, and I think he met a buffalo there, some special kind of buffalo, because there is a picture of Bush and the buffalo in all the papers, but the point is that, insulated from the public.
There were massive demonstrations, where hundreds of thousands of people showed up. But it didn't seem to matter either to Bush or to the Indian government, which went ahead and signed, you know, deals where this kind of embrace between a poorer country or a developing country and America. We have such a litany of the history of incineration when you embrace the government of the United States. And that's what happened, that the Indian government, in full servile mode, has entered into this embrace, has negotiated itself into a corner, and now continues to do this deadly sort of dance.
But I must say that while Bush was in Delhi, at the same time on the streets were -- I mean apart from the protests, there were 60 widows that had come from Kerala, which is the south of India, which is where I come from, and they had come to Delhi because they were 60 out of the tens of thousands of widows of farmers who have committed suicide, because they have been encircled by debt. And this is a fact that is simply not reported, partly because there are no official figures, partly because the Indian government quibbles about what constitutes suicide and what is a farmer. If a man commits suicide, but the land is in his old father's name, he doesn't count. If it's a woman, she doesn't count, because women can't be farmers. AMY GOODMAN: So she counts as someone who committed suicide, but not as a farmer who committed suicide.
AMY GOODMAN: Tens of thousands?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Tens of thousands. And then, anyway, so these 60 women were there on the street asking the Indian government to write off the debts of their husbands, right? Across the street from them, in a five-star hotel were Bush's 16 sniffer dogs who were staying in this five-star hotel, and we were all told that you can't call them dogs, because they are actually officers of the American Army, you know. I don't know what the names were. Sergeant Pepper and Corporal Whatever. So, it wasn't even possible to be satirical or write black comedy, because it was all real.

Arundhati Roy continues to speak out on issues that matter while The New Republican and other useless publications focus on "We can win in November!" They suffered from "War Got Your Tongue?" before and they continue to suffer from it. Now they want to waste our time playing psychics on the subject of the upcoming elections, playing king maker (or more likely "pawn maker"). However, considering The New Republicans "joke" of Arundhati Roy being on the receiving end of a 'bunker buster,' maybe it's just as well they waste everyone's time being a Democratic Party organ as the elections near. In the real world, there are real issues (and I'm not seeing any indication that the Democratic Party, in power or not, is going to address any of them).

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Arundhati Roy," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.
Didn't Bully Boy say corner turned?
The news didn't make it to Iraq apparently.
Throughout the country, bombs and drive-bys continued.
In Baghdad,
CNN notes the death of Ahmed Ali Hussein (professor at the University of Technology). The Associated Press notes a car bomb "at the entrance to a police station" that resulted in the death of at least five. CBS and the AP note the death, from a drive-by shooting, of a cigarette vendor. Three elderly people were shot dead -- "one of whom was blind, and another disabled." The AP notes that bombs claimed the lives of many and estimates that at least 23 died across Iraq today.
AFP notes that three corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes Hani Saadoun, one of the three found -- Saaoun had been twelve-years-old and was found "dumped ... bullet hole to his head and another through his chest .. . He had been whipped with cables, tormented by electric drills and his body dragged through the streets behind a car." Again, twelve-years-old, one of at least three corpses discovred in Baghdad today.

Reuters reports that four corpses were found ("handcuffed, blindfolded and shot dead") in Ain al-Tamur. In Kiruk, as noted by Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show and by the Associated Press, high school teacher Nazar Qadir was killed in a drive-by shooting. The AP and CBS note a drive-by "near Baqouba" that resulted in, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, the death of three "Iraqi laborers." A second drive-by in Baquba resulted in the death of three more.
In, Balad Ruz,
CNN notes the death of a child ("and wounded another person") following a roadside bomb exploding "outside a courthouse." AFP reports that in Mosul, "a family of blacksmiths" were the fictims of a drive-by with four being killed and one wounded -- a second drive by claimed the life of a former Baath party official. Reuters notes that two were wounded in Najaf from "four mortar rounds."
In other developments in Iraq, the
AFP notes that Hussein Shahristani, newly installed as the Iraqi Oil Minister, is already doing the job that corporations have been waiting for (addressing the concerns that led the US to get nervous about the previous Iraqi prime minister): he's welcoming them and planning to "launch wide-raning contracts with international oil companies."
Outside of Iraq?
Today in London,
KUNA reports, Hero Ibrahim Ahmad addressed the Women in Business International Conference -- Ahmad is "wife of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani."
In the United States, the
Associated Press notes that the White House has "played down prospects of major troop withdrawals from Iraq in the near future." Also in the United States, Marilyn Elias reports (for USA Today) on a link a health survey has noted between PTSD and physical health in Iraq veterans. The survey of close to 3,000 soldiers who had been back in the United States for at least one year found that "17% of the soldiers had PTSD symptoms." And finally, Australia's ABC notes that Cindy Sheehan is attending a peace conference in Australia and urging Australians to send the message to John Howard that he works for them.

I need to wrap up if I'm getting out the door and to the store (for the CD), but please read
Dahr Jamail's "Easily Dispensable: Iraq's Children" at Truth Out. He's writing about the malnutrition. Also, (as C.I. noted) Gore Vidal will be on KPFA's The Morning Show tomorrow. I'm not sure if it will be as a guest or a broadcast of a speech he's given but it should be worth hearing regardless.