Saturday, September 30, 2006

Darrell Anderson, Katie Couric

Remember that today's the day Darrell Anderson is scheduled to leave Canada and return to the United States. This was a topic that was discussed at length in the Iraq discussion group last night. There's a lot of concern that he'll be a one day story for the media and then be forgotten. If you've seen what's passed for coverage of other war resisters and, in fact, all Iraq related topics lately, you're probably aware of why that fear exists.

As many noted last night, the only thing that can and will change that is to make sure you don't treat him like a one day topic. That would be by discussing him today and then reducing him to a footnote days later. What he's doing matters. (It would matter if he had decided to stay in Canada. Either choice is valid.)

If you've participated in an action against the war and the next day wondered where the media coverage was, you know how the media tends to drop stories. It's up to us to keep the issue of Iraq alive. He's planning to hold a press conference today. Probably, he's planning to hold it on the Canadian side of the border since he may be arrested the moment he steps onto American soil. Hopefully, that will get attention. If it does, there needs to be a follow up. But after the long vacation from Iraq that media took this summer, I'm not expecting much.

CounterSpin, to their credit, critiqued the big three networks Friday in a way that demonstrated their televisions got more than one channel. Let's hope that's a sign of things to come. Katie Couric is not above criticism but the idea that each week I'm going to get "The Katie Report" will make me drop that show. I have no need for that.

It doesn't strike me as informed and it strikes me as sexist that each week someone needs to inform of what "the woman" did wrong while the male anchors receive a pass.

I realize her becoming an anchor (the sole female anchor of network news and the first -- Barbara Walters, Elizabeth Vargas and Connie Chung were billed as co-anchors) was news but I'm also aware that CounterSpin itself criticized the media frenzy involved in Katie-Katie-Katie! by the rest of the media. That's one more reason it was so disappointing to get "The Katie Report" in the last few weeks.

I have noted here before that I have an ex-boyfriend at CBS. That was tossed in my face in an e-mail that came in Thursday. As though the only reason I'd object to the coverage was because, years ago, I was involved with someone at the network. You figured me out. Next week, I'll be discussing a certain sports team because I also dated their assistant coach years ago.

My objection was not to the fact that Couric was criticized. She's worthy of a critique. She should be critiqued. My objection was based upon the fact that it was Katie Couric critiqued while the other two were getting a pass. They weren't doing great work, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson (although Gibson managing not to fall asleep on air might have been seen as an "accomplishment" considering his past history).

But there was an over emphasis on Couric that wasn't fair. I don't care for network news. I honestly am not crazy about independent media lately. I think they blew it on Iraq all summer long. If someone wants to offer an opinion/critique, even if I disagree, that's their opinion. I can note my disagreement and, sometimes, I do here. More often than not, I don't. But with Couric, she has been slammed from the start. The biggest objection was that she was a morning talk show host going to the big desk. Well so did Charlie Gibson and no one batted an eye.

The excuse that he used to do news was no excuse at all. Unlike Couric who moved up over the years, Gibson elected to go from news to a morning talk show. It's also true that his becoming anchor meant that a man who was injured in Iraq was stripped of a job (which hardly shows compassion for reporting from areas of conflict) and that a woman was demoted because she was pregnant (which is illegal). Had that been addressed or had the story been what happens when two morning talk show hosts become anchors, I wouldn't have objected.

Instead, I felt and feel, Katie Couric was held to a different standard. That's not right and, as a feminist, I won't be silent when I see sexism in action. In addition to that, I was also aware that some at CBS feel they're targeted by CounterSpin. Like C.I., I've been aware of that for some time. I really don't know a great many reporters (except through C.I.) from other outlets and was willing to dismiss that feeling as sour grapes. But when we were in DC, especially at a party on a Friday, I heard that from reporters, editors and producers of other outlets. If that is the image, and it is, it undercuts CounterSpin's critiques and undercuts the aims of FAIR.

This week's show contains a strong interview with Michael Ratner speaking of Bully Boy's being granted the right to tyranny by the Congress. I recommend you check it out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the British military officers say out-of-Iraq, Medea Benjamin asks are you willing to "Give Peace a Vote"?,
is the US military writing off Al-Anbar Province, and tomorrow war resister Darrell Anderson is set to return to the United States.
CBC reports that, after eighteen months in Canada, war resister Darrell Anderson is readying for his journey home with his wife, Gail Greer, stating, "He needs to be home. This is not his home." [Note: CBC continues to list his wife as "Gail Green." US news outlets, other Canadian outlets and her film credits list her as "Gail Greer." If Gail Greer is not the correct name, we'll note that in a future snapshot.] Darrell Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson elected to self-check out of the US military and, as Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and others during this illegal war, head to Canada. Once there, he applied for legal status but, as with other war resisters, the government did not grant asylum. (This in marked contrast to Canada's actions during the Vietnam era.) Anita Anderson, his mother, tells CBC "there is no front line" in Iraq and that soldiers "are not supposed to be fighting this fight of war." If not arrested Saturday when he returns, Darrell Anderson intends to drive to Fort Knox where he will turn himself in. Information on Darrell Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
Meanwhile, in England,
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reports: "Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan. They believe there is a limit to wath British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsiblity for their own security, defence sources say." The report comes as Bonnie Malkin (Guardian of London) notes that "former foreign secretary Jack Straw has described the situation in Iraq as 'dire,' blaming mistakes made by the US for the escalating crisis." Straw has words of praise for former US Secreatry of State Colin Powell which is only a surprise to those who never noticed their mutual admiration society until today. The report that military officials want British troops out of Iraq (and into Afghanistan) has already led to a denial from Defence Secretary Des Browne who, AFP reports, denied the report on BBC radio.
While the truth battles spin, Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary general of the United Nations makes a call of his own.
Paul Vallely (Independent of London) reports
Malloch Brown has stated that it was Tony Blair's Iraq policy that "fatally undermined his position as Prime Minister and forced him to step down" and Vallely also quotes an unnamed "UN source" who declares of Blair, "But Iraq has finished him. Mr. Blair seems not to appreciate just how disliked and distrusted he is in other nations."
In the United States,
Reuters reports: "The U.S. Congress on Friday moved to block the Bush adminstration from building permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or controlling the country's oil sector, as it approved $70 billion for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) noted Wednesday when reporting on recent polling of Iraqis, ". . . the Program on Itnerantional Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found . . . 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country." Noting the polling, Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "The writing is on the wall -- and on page after page of report after report. All leading to the same inescapable conclusion. Iraq has made us less safe; it's time to bring our troops home." What will it take for that? Not buying into the fear mania, which is a topic Huffington addressed with Andrea Lewis today on KPFA, The Morning Show [and is also the topic of On Becoming Fearless, Huffington's new book]. [Remember that KPFA broadcasts are archived and you can listen to them, free of charge, 24/7.]
The US Congress' decision comes as
Robert Burns (AP) reports Army Col. Sean B. Macfarland ("commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division" in Iraq) stated that the resistance in Al-Anbar Province will not be defeated by American forces and will "probably" continue "until after U.S. troops leave the country". Most recent actions in Al-Anbar have revolved around Ramadi which is being carved up into a series of Green Zones (to little effect). [Currently at Alive in Baghdad, there is a video report on a man who was "Falsely Arrested and Abused In Ramadi.]
In the most noted violence in Iraq today, Kadhim Abdel has been shot dead.
CNN reports that "the brother-in-law of Judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa, was driving in Ghazaliya on Friday with his son aged 10 and another 10-year-old boy when their car was attacked. Both boys were wounded." The Australian combines AP and Reuters to note: "It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were related to judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad." (That statement is actually all AP.)
AP reports that a police officer died ("and two civilians injured") from a bombing in downtown Baghdad; while two Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in Anah from a roadside bomb (with two more wounded).
AFP reports that two police officers were shot dead in Dura. CNN reports that four people were shot dead in Balad.
AP reports that eight corpses were discovered in Iraq, three were discovered in Baquba and that two corpses "were pulled from the Tigris River in Suwayrah". AFP reports that two corpses were discovered in Kut. (The Times of London ups the Baghdad corpse count to ten.)
In peace news,
BuzzFlash declares the Dixie Chicks this weeks Wings of Justice winners for using their voices to speak truth to power. In 2003, the Chicks were savaged by some (and Diane Sawyer attempted a public shaming). They didn't back down and, to quote a song off their new, best selling CD, they're "not ready to make nice." [Click here for Kat's review of the CD.] The Dixie Chicks stood strong and a lot of people stood with them. There's a lesson in that.
CODEPINK is celebrating it's fourth anniversary on Sunday and Andrea Lewis spoke with Medea Benjamin about that today on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Addressing the organization's latest action -- Give Peace a Vote! -- Benjamin noted that: "We have November elections coming up and then we have presidential elections coming up and unfortunately If we don't translate the silent majority voice that's against this war into a voter bloc, we're going to be faced with another opportunity to vote for two major parties giving us war candidates. So Give Peace a Vote!is a way to say, 'I will not vote for anybody that does not call for an end to this war and no more wars of aggression.'"
Speaking with Kris Welch today on
KPFA's Living Room, Daniel Ellsberg noted the upcoming World Can't Wait protest (October 5th -- day of mass resistance), his being named as the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the importance of speaking out.
As noted by
James Glanz (New York Times) and Gritte Witte (Washington Post) this morning, American contractor Parsons has a 1/14 success rate for their construction projects in Iraq --- actually less than 1 in 14 because, as Witte notes, ""The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs." With that in mind, pay attention to Janis Karpinski (writing for The Huffington Post): "Our silence will beget more of the same and worse. We must find courage. We must stand up. One of the ways to do this is by screening and sharing a new documentary I appeared in called Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers -- which calls for a stop to the shameful war profiteering this administration has allowed to occur. We must speak up. We must because we are Americans and we know better than this. We can move beyond the shame only when we stop this from getting worse and participate in making it better."
Finally, next week, Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, hits the road again to raise awareness on his son -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. After an Article 32 hearing in August, Ehren Watada awaits word on what the chain of command will do with the findings (court-martial, discharge him, ignore the findings . . .). Here are Bob Watada's speaking engagements for Monday through Friday of next week:

Mon. 10/2 8:30 am KPFK Sonali Kolhatkur
3729 Cahuenga Bl. West, No. Hollywood
Contact: KPFK 818-985-2711 email:
Tues 10/3 7:00pm ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
1800 Argyle Ave. #400, Los Angeles
Contact: Carlos Alvarez, 323-464-1636, email:
Wed. 10/4 12:00-2:30 pm Angela Oh's Korean American Experience Class
Life Sciences Bldg., RM 4127, UCLA Westwood Campus
Wed. 10/4 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
Contact: So Cal Library 323-759-6063
Thurs 10/5 5:00 pm World Can't Wait March & Rally
(March starts at noon at pershing S1/
Bob speaks in front of Federal Bldg 300 N. Los Angeles St. at 5:00 pm.
Contact: Nicole Lee 323-462-4771 email:
Fri. 10/6 7:00 am Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Bl., Los Angeles
Contact: Thalia 626-683-9004 email:
Fri 10/6 12:30 San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center
SFV Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St., Pacoima 91331
Contact: Phil Shigkuni 818-893-1851, cell: 818-357-7488, email

On a non-Iraq note, Lynda pointed out that a link was wrong this morning (and yesterday) so I'll note it here (it's corrected on the main site, but not on the mirror site)from
Ms.: Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we're doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it's important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We'd love to have your help!