Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Iraqis protest, Take Back America silences protest

Please read Rebecca's "jason." Also, please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"More Than 1,000 Protest Bush in Baghdad" (Democracy Now!):
The President's visit was protested in Baghdad. Earlier today, more than one thousand people took to the streets calling on the US to withdraw from Iraq. The demonstrators waved Iraqi flags, carried signs and chanted slogans including "No, No to the occupiers."

When even Iraqis, living under an illegal occupation, have the courage to protest the Bully Boy, why can't you? The answer is you can. With less cost or risk. The only thing that keeps someone silent is themselves. Maybe it just hasn't reached your boiling point yet? If so, I'm scared to picture what your boiling point must be.

"GOP Rep: Wife in DC At "Greater Risk" Than Iraq Civilians" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, a Republican Congressmember is coming under criticism for making comments downplaying the dangers of life in Iraq. Speaking Monday on the House floor, Iowa Republican Steve King said: "My wife lives here with me, and I can tell you… she's at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq."

Well then, what's keeping you here, Steve King? And if you truly believe DC is so unsafe, what bills have you put forward to increase safety in DC? Better question, why is his wife in DC if it's so unsafe? If he cared for her safety, wouldn't he ask her to stay in Iowa? He's only been in the House a short time (elected in Nov. 2002) so it's not as though they've lived their entire adult lives there.

King's a vile little man who feels Abu Ghraib was nothing more than "hazing." Maybe he thinks that if his wife were in Iraq, she could join a sorority?

"State Department on Suicide as a 'Good P.R. Move'" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive):
"Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good P.R. move," [Colleen] Graffy said of the deaths. Drawing on knowledge gleaned from work "on improving the United States' image abroad, especially in Islamic countries" (a detail The New York Times pulled from her State Department bio), Graffy elaborated on her remarks on the BBC show "Newshour": “It does sound like this is part of a strategy--in that they don't value their own lives, and they certainly don't value ours; and they use suicide bombings as a tactic."
The Bush Administration hurried to distance itself from its diplomat's remarks. But why bother? When Abu Ghraib and Haditha are our calling cards in Iraq, and John Bolton, who said it wouldn't matter if the top ten floors fell off the U.N. Secretariat building in New York, is our representative to that body, what difference does it make if State Department officials start making light of deaths in U.S. custody, and referring to all of those Arab-terrorist types as an undifferentiated group of suicide-bombing fanatics? Isn't this what the war on terror is all about, anyway? Simplifying a whole mass of different peoples into one big "them" that we're fighting "over there" so we don't have to fight them here? (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia--what's the difference?)

So that's a column of Ruth Conniff's that I can agree with 100%. On the other Ruth, I did a correction for her this evening. I had no idea that C.I. wasn't allowed to read Ruth's Public Radio Report. I asked, "How was it posted?" Ruth thinks C.I. will hate it and asked that it not be read until Friday. She wondered if C.I. had held to that. I told her that I'd call. C.I. hasn't read it yet but stressed that was Ruth's space and she could write whatever she wanted?

It is. I think C.I. will love it and if you've missed it, please read it. You'll probably love it as well. (Unless you are Ruth Conniff, in which case you probably won't.) I'm sorry, the war's gone on way too long and we're the only ones who can stop it. Giving nonsense answers doesn't help anyone. ("Nonsense answers" is my word. I listened to the episode.)

We need to be serious. We can have fun, we crack wise, but we don't need to fluff. Here's a highlight about some who can't be serious. It was apparently more important to have Hillary Clinton attend their event (and grab the publicity her attendance would garner) than to address reality.

"Peace Activists at Hillary Clinton's Speech Try to Take Back 'Take Back America'" (Medea Benjamin, CounterPunch):
The Take Back America conference, an annual event held in Washington DC this year from June 12-14, is supposed to be a venue for prominent progressives to gather and debate the major issues of our day. Their aim is to "provide the nation with new vision, new ideas and new energy." But choosing New York Senator and probable presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a keynote speaker and then stifling dissent against her pro-war position hardly seems the stuff of a new vision for America.
The peace group
CODEPINK is widely known for bringing its anti-war message to the halls of power, including inside the Republican National Convention and at President Bush's Inauguration. But it has also targeted Democrats such as Hillary Clinton who support the war. "We have a campaign called Birddog Hillary," says CODEPINK's New York coordinator Nancy Kricorian. "We follow her around the entire state asking her to listen to the voices of her constituents and stop her support of Bush's 'stay the course' policy in Iraq. So far, she hasn't been listening." Fearing that CODEPINK would openly confront Clinton on her pro-war policy, the organizers of Take Back America entered into negotiations with CODEPINK a few days before the conference. "We had lengthy discussions where they pleaded with us not to protest during her keynote breakfast address," explained Gael Murphy, one of the cofounders of CODEPINK. "Instead, we were told that we could distribute flyers explaining Hillary's pro-war position to the crowd inside and outside the hotel, and we would be called on to ask her the first question after the speech. We agreed."
However, when CODEPINK showed up on Tuesday morning in advance of Clinton's speech, the security guards refused to allow them to pass out flyers, even outside the hotel. "Take Back America violated the agreement from the moment we arrived," said Ms. Murphy. "Even though we had a table inside the conference, burly security guards blocked us and informed us that it was a private event, that we were not welcome, and they escorted us out of the building. We telephoned the conference staff who then told us that we couldn't enter the hotel, couldn't leaflet the event, the hallways-anywhere. They went back on their word and tried to quash even peaceful, respectful dissent."

There's no excuse for that. The organization sold out and needs to be held accountable.

"Iraq Snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Dahr Jamail, Greg Palast, Gareth Peirce," The Common Ills):
Iraq snapshot.
In the United States, following
the actions of the so-called Take Back America leadership to silence the activist organization CODEPINK from registering their objections to war monger Hillary Clinton, Clinton's opponent in the primary, Jonathan Tasini, has issued his own comments at The Huffington Post where he wonders: "So, the question to real progressives through the country -- and funders who enable the organizations that want to stifle debate -- is simple: how are the progressives different than Republicans and pro-war Democrats if they suppress debate about the centeral electoral issue, the Iraq war?"
Hillary Clinton, though protected, was still booed. As was
George Bush Snr. in Harrogate Friday. The protests are not going away which is why the Granny Peace Brigade was back in Times Square last Saturday and why they have "announced [that] they are taking their anti-war tour to Washington."
Something that won't be taking place in Baghdad anytime soon is
the Arab League conference which has been postponed again. The conference has been postponed, again, due to the instability in Iraq (that would be the continued chaos and violence). As Amy Goodman noted today, a recent Pew Research Center poll has found a decline in support for US Policies. As Al Jazeera has noted, the poll finds that the US involvement in Iraq "is the biggest threat to Middle East stability."
A feeling that was shared by the protestors that rallied against the Bully Boy when he visited Tuesday. As Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show today, "some 2,000 protested" chanting slogans such as "Iraq is for Iraqis!" and calling for an end to the occupation. Today, as RTE News noted, protestors also made their presence felt at the Iranian consulate in Basra. Gulf News reports that they attacked the embassy and "set fire to a reception area of the building" as a result of a broadcast on "Iranian satellite station which they said had insulted a Shiite cleric in Iraq."
Meanwhile the photo-op sucked up a great deal of news space but few found the time to note that Bully Boy managed to grab time to lean on Nouri al-Maliki, occupation puppet, about Iran. Whether 'rebels' were discussed or not, the Turkish Press reports that al-Maliki desires "a dialogue with rebel groups." Roula Khalaf (Finanical Times of London) reports that "a national reconcilliation initiative that could include a conditional amnesty offer and negotiations with some some armed insurgent groups" is being prepared.
While al-Maliki's "crackdown" takes place in Baghdad, the usual violence occurs. Ceerwan Aziz offers an eyewitness account of one bombing for Reuters:
The blast sent shrapnel flying in all directions as huge balls of flames moved skyward. People fled the scene screaming and crying. The charred body of a dead man sat upright, engulfed by huge flames. A teenage boy was also on fire. He managed to grab a rod extended to him, and was pulled out of the inferno. I counted four bodies, but couldn't tell if they were dead or seriously wounded.
The Associated Press also reports four dead from the car bomb in Baghdad. Reuters notes two other car bombs in Baghdad today (this during the "crackdown"), one that claimed the lives of at least two (wounded at least seven) and another that wounded at least one person. The AP notes that a man driving his car in Baghdad was shot and killed while a roadside bomb (not covered by Reuters) took the life of one "police commando." This during the "crackdown," when, as the AFP points out, over "50,000 Iraqi and US troops patrolled the streets of Baghdad".
Outside Baghdad, CNN reports that four were killed, in Baquba, during a gunfire attack on "electronic stores" and that a skirmish of some form occurred in Diyala with officials reporting five dead and three wounded. In Mosul, the AP notes a roadside bomb that wounded four police officers. In Najaf, Reuters notes that "a construction contractor . . . working for the Iraqi government" was killed by "gunmen."
Meanwhile the WRA (Women's Rights Association) is reporting "a massive increase in reported cases of sexual abuse in Iraq." The report has found, among other things, that "nearly 60 women have been raped in Baghdad since February, while another 80 were abused in other ways." Note, that is in Baghdad only. That is reported rapes only. And that is only since February.