Culture Project presents
a new play based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States.
November 10 - December 16
Opening night, November 18, with special appearance by Howard Zinn
This fall, Culture Project stands with activist scholar Howard Zinn, asserting that "the world is topsy-turvy" and that "things are all wrong -- that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, and that civil disobedience is not only necessary, but required."
At a time when voices of dissent have been relegated to "free speech zones" and diminished in the mainstream media, REBEL VOICES brings to life inspirational and challenging stories of protest from U.S. history -- and today.
The play, in its debut at Culture Project, combats hopelessness by igniting the forces responsible for arousing change and celebrating the indomitable human spirit. REBEL VOICES is a testimony to the strength of the individual voice, as told through first-hand accounts from people who have shaped the course of U.S. history, often struggling against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Featured voices include Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X, as well as lesser-known figures like Maria Stewart, a pioneer Black abolitionist from the early 1800s, Stella Nowicki, a union organizer in the 1930s, and contemporary voices such as Iraq war resister Camilo Mejía and Patricia Thompson, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.
Performance poet Staceyann Chinn and acclaimed musician Allison Moorer will lead the permanent cast, which will also feature a host of rotating special guest performers. Confirmed guests already include Wallace Shawn, Ally Sheedy, Eve Ensler, and David Strathairn.REBEL VOICES is written by Rob Urbinati, with Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, and directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati.
$21 in previews,
$41 after November 17
By phone: 212.352.3101
Ovation Tx: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/22301
In person:55 Mercer Street
Between Broome & Grand Streets
New York, NY 10013
Box office hours: Sunday, 1 pm - 5 pm; Tuesday - Friday, 7 pm - 8 pm; Saturday, 10 am - 1 pm and 7 pm - 8 pm
Previews start November 10
Opening (with Howard Zinn) November 18
Through December 16, 2007, only!
Saturday, 9 pm; Sunday, 5 pm; Tuesday, 8 pmWednesday matinees at 12 pm starting November 28
I'm starting with the above (and just copy and pasting from C.I.). Community member Lynda guessed in an e-mail today that I would. She also wondered if Howard Zinn had ever ticked me off?
Yes, he actually has. He's the most important voice to me and has been for decades. But, yes, he can tick me off and he did in an interview with Amy Goodman once. She was asking about people going to Vietnam (or possibly about people going to Iraq as they had during Vietnam) and he laughed, "You mean like Jane Fonda?" That ticked me off. That really ticked me off. I didn't think Jane Fonda's trip was worthy of laughter from the left. I think it was and still is worth supporting. It honestly surprised me to hear Zinn, of all people, making such a comment -- which struck me as "catty" at best.
Zinn's smart enough and old enough to know how important that trip was. With the right-wing smearing over that, it's especially important for the left to stand up and it surprised me that Zinn elected to instead it turn into a ha-ha. Suprised me and offended me.
A carefully researched and gracefully written companion volume to Jane Fonda's autobiography, Mary Hershberger provides a valuable service by reproducing transcripts of the movie star's broadcasts in Hanoi, and she has pored through official documents to describe in detail the FBI's covert attempts to discredit her. Altogether, an important contribution to the literature on the Vietnam Era, acknowledging the inspiration provided to a whole generation by Jane Fonda's courageous protests against the war.
That's a blurb from the book jacket of Mary Hershberger's Jane Fonda's War: A Political Biography of an Antiwar Icon. I agree with the blurb on that 2005 book. I would assume Howard Zinn does as well because those words are attributed to him.
I should note that the book is not that "carefully researched". In a roundtable on this at The Third Estate Sunday Review, C.I. hit the roof. (C.I. would agree with that term.) It wasn't a book discussion, it was a roundtable. C.I. had gifted us all with this book and Jane Fonda's Words of Politics and Passion (both put out by The New Press, which C.I. is very supportive of). A HUGE error appears in the book and Betty brought it up because she'd heard the story from C.I. sometime before and was surprised the book didn't get it right. The error is huge and C.I. left the discussion. The only time C.I.'s ever been so angry that there's been a need to walk out. I know that anger (and love it). I should probably add, before I do the excerpt, that the topic of Darrell Anderson was being discussed prior. Anderson had made some statements that were turning off a number of people. That had to be addressed. I couldn't address it in detail because I'd have to resort to examples (from my own professional practice). C.I. was attempting to explain where Anderson was coming from and make sure Anderson got a fair hearing. There were a number of points that I could have backed C.I. up on were it not that some patient might think I was referring to them (when I wasn't, but history repeats) so I had to be very careful about my statements. In addition, Mike had a statement of strong support (he was the only one) that I asked him to pull. It described a situation a veteran I was treating had gone through. Mike didn't know that but if it had gone up, it might have led the patient to think, "She just blabs about her patients to anyone." So without explaining who or why, I asked Mike to please pull his comments. He ended up pulling many comments because I couldn't explain to him which one needed to go.
So that's the backstory for the excerpt I'm about to provide.
"Roundtable" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, January 21, 2007, "participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot."):
Jim: Okay. Betty had asked for something to be brought up. It's peace then, peace now, I'm guessing. But there's a new book on Jane Fonda entitled Jane Fonda's War by Mary Hershberger that Betty doesn't care for.
C.I.: I'm sorry, Betty.
Betty: No, I loved reading most of it. C.I. gave me a copy, I think most of us got a copy. Right?
Rebecca: Right. And I think I know what you're going to talk about. I've avoided noting the book at my site for that reason. I do enjoy the book of speeches and intend to note that. The speeches were collected and edited by Hershberger as well.
Betty: This is about the media. It's about the government. It's about a war on peace. Which is why I'm bringing it up. There's a section in the book that has no relation to reality and I know Dona's warning about time so what I'd like to do, if that's okay, is read the section that infurated me and have C.I. rebutt line by line. Is that okay?
Jim: Fine by me. C.I.?
Betty: This begins on page 52 and continues through page 53. The discussion is about how J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI attempted to smear those speaking out. This section focuses on Jean Seberg and C.I. has brought that up in roundtables and written of it at The Common Ills. What the woman presents in this book is not reality. Jean Seberg is pregnant, she's an actress famous for Breathless, among other films. She is publicly with Romain Gary. Both are White. The decision is made to discredit her. The FBI decides they will discredit her by stating that she's carrying the baby of a Black Panther which is supposed to send shock waves through the still racist America. Richard Wallace Held is the FBI agent Hershberger identifies as participating.
C.I.: But there were more.
Betty: Right. So he prepares a letter with a phony signature that won't be traced back to the FBI, the book tells you. "Held heeded the order and then sent his letter to Hollywood gossip columnist Joyce Harber under a false name, purporting to be a friend of Seberg's." C.I.?
C.I.: If Hershberger knows what really happened, that is a lie. More likely she's bought into the attempts to lynch Harber which allowed others to go scott free. Harber was not sent the letter. Okay, I'm taking a breath. Just to explain the importance of this, what will be done to Seberg destroys her. She will never recover from it. She will suffer under the stress and she will eventually kill herself. This isn't something to be tossed out or something to write about when you don't know your facts. I'll assume Hershberger doesn't know her facts. That sentence alone contains a huge inaccuracy. Harber was not sent the letter. She was given it. She was given it by Bill Thomas, then the city editor of The Los Angeles Times, and he wrote at the top of the letter something like, "Joyce, I don't know if you care, but this comes from a reliable source." Joyce Harber was not sent the letter. She didn't do a blind item, but I'm getting ahead, on some letter she was sent. An editor at the paper passed it on and vouched for it. That was Bill Thomas. Bill Thomas publicly admitted to that. He had to because the letter was in Harber's files and anyone could see Thomas' note that he'd scribbled on it. When he admitted to it he denied remembering anything about it. Bill Thomas was up to his neck in that. He also, just FYI, was the person who fired Joyce Harber from the paper.
Betty: "She didn't name Jean Seberg, calling her "Miss A," but she printed unique details of Seberg's life and career that made the identity of 'Miss A' obvious."
C.I.: Well the item could have described several. That's what a blind item is. The musical in the item is probably the biggest clue but many could have read it and thought, for instance, "Jane Fonda" and just assumed she'd signed to do a musical and they didn't know about it.
Betty: I'm going to hurry this along. "Newspapers and magazines around the country picked up the story, and an emotionally fragile Seberg attempted suicide. Doctors tried to save her baby's life by performaing a ceasearn section, but the baby lived only two days."
C.I.: There are so many lies in that I don't know where to start. Harber wrote for The LA Times. Her column was also syndicated. Those who carried her syndicated column picked it up as they normally did. It did not cause anything like what that woman describes in her book. Rebecca told me not to read that because she knows how I am about Seberg. Not to read the book. I'm glad I didn't. Is Flyboy listening?
Rebecca: Yes. Why?
C.I.: See if he'll speak for a minute.
Flyboy: Sure. What's up?
C.I.: I've talked in roundtables about this and written about it at The Common Ills. Betty knows and everyone else knows what happened. I'm thinking you may not.
Flyboy: Not really. Just what Betty was reading and Rebecca telling me, "Oh my God, C.I. is going to be furious." That was when she was reading the book.
C.I.: You heard what Betty read. Could you tell me the events as the author portrays them?
Flyboy: A gossip columinist at an LA paper writes that Jean Seberg is pregnant by a Black Panther. Jean Seberg tries to kill herself. The baby dies.
C.I.: Thank you. That is such a f**king lie -- and I just told one member last week I'd try to watch my own language in these editions. I do not take kindly to anyone lying about Jean Seberg. Rebecca said skip the book or you'll be pissed. Jean Seberg went into the hospital in August. The trauma at that time was Newsweek, not The Los Angeles Times. When the Harber blind item ran it was May of 1970.
Betty: May 19, 1970 according to the endnote.
C.I.: Thank you. Sebergs ends up in the hospital in August, after Seberg o.d.ed on sleeping pills, which was not thought by all to be a suicide attempt, she was taken to the hospital. While she was in the hospital, Edward Behr wrote up a bit on her for Newsweek. He maintained that he included the 'news' that the baby's father was a Black Panther in his cable to Newsweek's NY headquarters because he was just trying to prove he was 'on' the story and in the know but it wasn't for publication. In the cable he does mark that "Strictly FYI". That ends up running in Newsweek. Kermit Lasner will offer the laughable excuse that he had no idea how that piece of shit made it into the magazine because he'd had a scooter accident at lunch. Newseek printed, August 24th issue, 1970, that, this is a quote, I damn well know what they printed: "She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in Ocotober is by another man -- a black activist she met in California." That's what got picked up everywhere, including in The Des Moines Register, Seberg's hometown paper. Now that book is supposed to utilize government documents and the FBI had Seberg's phones tapped, including her hospital phone, so they knew very well that her state of mind was frantic after Newsweek published the item. She lost the baby because of the Newsweek article. I question everything that Betty quoted including the timeline. Newsweek printed it, it got picked up everywhere, Jean Seberg lost her baby, and Romain Gary was quite clear whom he blamed when he wrote "The Big Knife" which was published in France-Soir. This was a very huge thing, in press on both sides of the Atlantic. It's still a huge deal to many and one of the main reasons I never link to the piece of crap Newsweek.
Betty: I knew it was wrong. We've discussed this and it's addressed in "Spying and Seberg" but I had to wonder how an author gets it that wrong? Maybe because it's a little easier to go after a dead gossip columnist than it is to go after Newsweek?
C.I.: To be honest with you, that's exactly where I went as well. Joyce Harber was scapegoated for that thing which she never would have read if the city editor hadn't vouched for it. Bill Thomas got off scott free. But what Harber did was a bit of gossip. In a blind item. Newsweek, not a gossip publication, printed a lie in their magazine and that set off a wave outside of any gossip community. They knew what would happen when they did that, both to Seberg and in terms of being echoed throughout the press. That was nothing but corporate media going after a peace activist. It's exactly the kind of crap they've always done and for an author of a book published by The Free Press to either not know or to avoid telling readers the actual truth is just disgusting. It's the August 24, 1970 issue of Newsweek. Anyone who doubts it can get their ass to a libary and utilize the reels or microfiche.
Dona: I just want to note that this wasn't true, it was something created by the FBI, and, therefore, it needs to be asked how a Newsweek reporter in France got hold of the information? So now we're on the topic of the media. Okay, everyone, we're taking a break. C.I. just walked off in disgust.
Jim: And we're back. Before we move on, do you want to add anything C.I.?
C.I.: Just that if you feel the press led to the death of Seberg's child, I do, and that it was a government plot, which has been established and someone needing a source can comb through Richard Cohen's columns, he's written very strongly about it, after the FBI records became public, at The Washington Post, you name the people involved. This is the sort of cowardice we see too much of it, if it's not ignorance, a refusal to go after the big targets because you're scared. It makes my blood boil. Betty's right, it's really easy to go after a gossip columnist. It's a lot more difficult to go after Newsweek for some. But the reality is that it was Newsweek in August, not Harber in May that printed the lie and printed Jean Seberg's name by it. It was a government plot against Seberg and running to hide behind gossip columnists sure does allow Newsweek breathing room. When the government decides to destroy someone and when you can prove that it was a plot to destroy her, carried out by the FBI, with J. Edgar Hoover's approval, you tell the truth about it. You don't write, "OH MY GOD! JOYCE HARBER RAN A BLIND ITEM AND IT DESTROYED JEAN SEBERG!" The blind item worried her. Newsweek destroyed her. There's a difference.
Mike: A big difference. Like chasing after the ghost of Judith Miller while Michael Gordon continues to sell the war. It's easy, no one's going to challenge you, and, to the uninformed, it looks like you've done some work.
That's a lengthy excerpt and, language warning if you go to the link to read in full, the "f" word is not censored as I did above. C.I. was asked about that (and maintains a work place friendly policy at The Common Ills) and C.I. said, "Leave the f-word in."
C.I. was correct, it was a big f**king deal. This nonsense about Joyce Haber's blind item (which she was fed by an editor at the paper) completely ignores that Newsweek didn't do a blind item, that Harber's came out months before the miscarriage, the Newsweek's is what landed Seberg in the hospital. On that, you are talking about people C.I. knew (Seberg, certainly, but also the LAT people and Newsweek) and that is not a "dead issue" or "cold case" for C.I. It never has been and it never will be. Most importantly, reality is not blaming a gossip columnist for a blind item while ignoring that Newsweek reprinted their own version of the lie months later, that Newsweek's lies sent Seberg to the hospital (that Newsweek was obviously fed that lie by the CIA, not the FBI), that Newsweek was named in real time as the cause in an angry column by Jean's then husband.
C.I. really wanted to support that book (and, again, gifted all of us with both books). Rebecca warned, when she came across that section, "Don't read the book." Betty didn't know about that when she brought it up. I'm glad she brought it up because who else would call that nonsense out but C.I.? Howard Zinn's blurb doesn't call it out.
Who else has the memory to cite the week, all these years later, Newsweek ran that crap?
That is not the only reason that Newsweek doesn't get linked to at The Common Ills, but it is the main one. (C.I. made an exception for Anna Quindlen's column on war resisters and that was the only exception C.I. has ever made.) I don't think any of the rest of us link to the magazine. (I know Rebecca and I don't because we know that story well and the way it enraged C.I. in real time.) The FBI did go after Jean Seberg. So did the CIA. A reporter for Newsweek in France being fed the item (which did happen) didn't come from the FBI. It came from the CIA. It's really sad that an otherwise strong book elects to lie (and I'll call it a lie) instead of telling the truth. I agree with C.I. and Betty, it's a lot easier to go after a (dead) gossip columnist than it is to go after Newsweek which is still around today. But the reality is that what author Mary Hershberger blames on the gossip columnist (the miscarriage, the outing) was done by Newsweek. There is actually a great deal more I could say on the subject of what was done to Jean (and C.I. could say a whole lot more) but I'll leave it at that.
It's really amazing because those of us who lived through it should remember it. Now, granted, I remember it because C.I. was so enraged (I think I met Jean twice, she was a very sweet woman, but C.I. knew her very well). But reality has faded out from the picture. It's not just Hershberger. As Kat noted a month after the roundtable, KPFA was broadcasting the "Harber did it!" nonsense when the reality is Newsweek did it. Harber ran a blind item, Newsweek -- alleged news magazine -- ran a CIA fed item intending to destroy Jean.
I wasn't sure I had an entry tonight. Seriously. I was planning to note Lynda's question both because she was a community member and because she was right that I was going to note the Zinn and Arnove play.
But in reply to Lynda's question, yes, as much as I love Howard Zinn and appreciate him (more than any other voice), he can tick me off. He did when he chose to smirk and laugh about Jane Fonda with Amy Goodman.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another US airstrike kills more civilians, what do you know -- the PKK was in Iraq (even a headquarters), and more.
Starting with war resisters. Ehren Watada is the first US officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. After months of hearing from the military brass that they wanted to work towards a solution (they were just delaying -- thinking if they could delay until deployment, Watada would go to Iraq), he went public in June of 2006. In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) rigged a kangaroo court where Watada would be court-martialed for refusing to deploy but would not be allowed to explain to a jury (Watada chose to go with a jury of his peers) why he made the decision he had. Despite the rigged court-martial, the third day (when Watada would take the stand for the defense) found Judge Toilet calling a mistrial over defense objections to provide the prosecution with a do-over even though the Constitution forbids double-jeopardy." The Watada National Steering Committee has a message at Courage to Resist:
On the weekend of Oct. 26 - 27, we will be participating in or holding demonstrations in support of Lt. Watada. This is the weekend of the Oct. 27 nationwide day of action called jointly by United for Peace & Justice and International A.N.S.W.E.R. We will be reaching out to them to work jointly where we can, or to have local events in cities and towns where they are not having an event.For more information, please go to our website , contact us online , or phone us at 877-689-4162.Local groups who wish to support Lt. Watada can help by holding events or speaking about his case at events you are already planning, holding press conferences, writing articles in the media, or writing letters to the editor of your local media. In newspapers, the letters to the editor sections are among the most widely read sections of the paper. Letters must be short or they will not be published due to space; see the length of letters currently published in your local paper for examples.
That is this weekend. Watada is first Iraq War officer to resist. Stephen Funk is the first public resister of the illegal war. Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq veteran to publicly resist the illegal war. From November 10 through December 16th, his voice will be featured in a new play at Culture Project as it presents Rebel Voices the new play which is based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. Along with Mejia, the voices of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (opening night) and poet Staceyann Chinn and musician Allison Mooerer will hed the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum) and actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little). The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.
Turning to war resisters who have gone to Canada. Last week Bethany "Skyler" James and Michael Espinal went public about their decision to relocate to Canada. Going public makes the US nervous, hence the need for spin. Over the weekend Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star) reported on the statements issued by John Nay, United States Counsul General to Canada, who insists that there's nothing any war resister needs to fear about America. His spinning also revealed an ignorance of the official US policies on COs which Nay (National War College graduate) insisted was "hard" for anyone signing up to claim afterwards that they were. It was one joke out of another from Nay -- certainly the most laughs he's ever gotten outside of his comb-over. In the Canadian parliament, Alex Atamenko delivered another appeal that the government begin granting asylum to war resisters in a speech that many see as a response to some of Nay's ridiculous claims (Atamenko specifically mentioned the glossy ads that gloss over the realities of war) and a speech that was warmly received. Meanwhile the War Resisters Support Campaign is staging an event tonight and tomorrow. First up, a Halloween Masquerade ball at the Budda Bar tonight, in Toronto, with doors opening at eight p.m. Tomorrow night Michelle Mason's breakthrough documentary . Breaking Ranks will be screened at the University of Toronto's Claude Bissell Building from six to eight p.m. followed by a question and answer session with war resisters.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
The National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."
Turkey and northern Iraq still simmer with tension. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explored the topic today with professor Juan Cole:
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go today's top story: tension remaining high on the Turkish-Iraq border, following the killing of seventeen Turkish troops by Kurdish militants over the weekend. How significant is this?
JUAN COLE: Well, it's extremely significant. I mean, imagine what would happen in this country if a guerrilla group based in a neighboring country came over the border and killed seventeen US troops. That would be a war. And the Kurdish guerrilla movement, the Kurdish Workers Party, based now in Iraq, but originally from Eastern Anatolia, from the Turkish regions, is conducting a guerrilla war against the Turkish military. It is being given safe harbor by Kurdish politicians on the Iraqi side. And, in essence, the United States has created this situation in which a NATO ally -- people forget Turkey fought alongside the United States in Korea; it's got troops in Afghanistan -- a NATO ally of the United States is being attacked and its troops killed by a terrorist organization, so designated by the State Department, that essentially has US auspices. The US is responsible for security in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: And how connected is the US to the PKK, or is it at all?
JUAN COLE: Well, the United States doesn't like the PKK and doesn't have much connection to it, but the United States has allied with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders, who are the most reliable allies of the United States in Iraq: Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. And Barzani, in particular, it seems to me, just de facto, is giving harbor to, giving haven to, these PKK guerrillas. So the United States needs Barzani and needs his support. He's doing an oil deal with Hunt Oil, which is close to the Bush administration. His Peshmurga paramilitary is the backbone of the most effective fires of the new Iraqi army. They do security details in other cities like Mosul and Kirkuk. So the US really desperately depends on the Kurdistan Regional Authority and its paramilitary and can't afford to alienate Barzani. And since Barzani is -- behind the scenes seems to kind of like the PKK and does -- giving them a haven, the US is politically complicit in these attacks.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the deal with Hunt Oil?
JUAN COLE: Well, Hunt Oil, which is, I think, losing its bids in Yemen, is desperate for a new field to develop, and they are exploring a partnership with the Kurdistan Regional Authority in northern Iraq.
The oil. Always the oil. Allowing the PKK to get the kind of fawning press from the mainstream that no other armed resistance has seen in years (not since the US-based thugs the Contras). The War Comes Home's Aaron Glantz reported on the situation for Pacifica in April of 2004 noting a meet up in DC between the Turkish government and the US government when then US Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers stated, "This is an issue the coalition forces inside Iraq take very seriously. Let me assure you that there is very close collaboration with Turkey and that they [the PKK] will be dealt with appropriately." What followed was . . . nothing. Why?
In Glantz's 2004 report, he noted, "Iraqi Kurds, by contrast, have enjoyed the patronage of the United States for more than a decade and as a consequence have been able to build schools and media institutions where Kurdish is exclusively spoken." And governing elements have looked the other way as the region has been purged/'cleansed' of non-Kurdish elements such as a plethora of religious sects. But they have the oil and they've long had US support. While Falluja remains in rubble and Baghdad is just barely better off, the northern region hasn't seen the falling bombs from US air craft. And it's so strange that when the press wants to pimp the business opportunites in the region, they act puzzled about how 'peaceful' the region is. (Dubbing it 'peaceful' requires ignoring the attacks on sects and the 'honor' killings of women.) When the rest of Iraq has been torn apart by the illegal war and wasn't supported before the illegal war by the US, is it any surprise?
Bay Fang (Chicago Tribune) quotes an unnamed US official who states, "In the past, there has been reluctance to engage in direct U.S. military action against the PKK, either through air strikes or some kind of Special Forces action. But the red line was always, if the Turks were going to come over the border, it could be so destabilizing that it might be less risky for us to do something ourselves. Now the Turks are at the end of their rope, and our risk calculus is changing." So that was the 'red line' and now -- and only now -- the White House decides to act? BBC notes the announcement by puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, "Iraq says it will close the offices of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel group and will 'not allow it to operate on Iraqi soil'." All these years later. CBS and AP note that the announcement of the closing of PKK offices "contradicted repeated assertions by Iraqi officials in recent days that the PKK's presence in Iraq was restricted to inaccessible parts of northern Iraq that could not be reached by authorities" and that the Turkish military is "massing along the border". Flashback for those who've forgotten, last month's charges that the PKK were using American weapons came as US federal prosecutors were investigating whether Blackwater was selling US arms. Ben Holland and Mark Bentley (Bloomberg News) report, "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's forces may carry out strikes on Kurdish fighters in Iraqi territory in the next few days if the U.S. and Iraq fail to rein in the militants." They also report that the Turkish military striking does not have to mean on the ground forces, it could mean air strikes -- which would of course likely kill many civilians. But Bully Boy had a red line he was waiting on all these years, you understand.
Bully Boy has his own hands full when it comes to air strikes and the deaths of innocent civilians. Aseel Kami (Reuters) explains the US military has fessed up to killing innocent civilians in an air strike outside Baghdad early on Tuesday and they admit 11 civilians died. But, hand to heart, they insist that only six of the eleven were civilians and the rest were 'terrorists' or 'insurgents' or maybe the Apple Dumpling Gang using the six as "human shields". A lie but a lie that doesn't excuse the bombing and is still in violation of international law. Eye witnesses reports that there were two US attacks. The first killed two farmers with a third seeking shelter in his home which the next strike "destroyed . . . killing 14 people, including six members of Ibrahim Jassim family and five from another" according to Abdul al-Rahman Iyadeh and police captain Abdullah al-Isawi says the number killed is sixteen "seven men, six women and three children," Kami notes.
In other violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombs that wounded two police officers and a Kirkuk car bombing that injured wounded one person. Reuters notes a roadside minibus bombing outside Baquba that claimed 3 lives (ten wounded).
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad attack where two police officers were shot dead as they guarded Al Mamoun Intermediate School (two more wounded) while "A foreign protection convoy shot and injured citizen Zirak Youness, 21, on a main road connects Kirkuk and Makhmour last night." Reuters notes that two infant girls were shot dead by Iraqi police today in Kerbala but, no tears apparently, the father's a suspected member of the militia -- which makes it a-okay to kill two babies, wound the mother and a sister.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad.and "Police found the body of Omed Hassan a member of the Kurdish security force known as Assayish near a cementary south east of Kirkuk last night."
In other news of violence, the US military announced yesterday that the Adhamiyah Islamic Party headquarters in Baghdad was targeted "with approximately 35 pounds of homemade explosives" on October 20th and identify it as "a political organization opposed to Al Qaeda" and whoe members "have allied with Coalition Forces in recent months to oppose terrorist groups operating in Adhamiyah." More officials targeted due to being seen as collarborators and yet, even with US military confirmation, the latest event in a continuing trend is not getting much press attetion." And the trend continues with the US military announcing today that 2 "employees of the city government were wounded when their vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in the eastern Adhamiyah neighborhood" yesterday.
Turning to the mercenary corporation Blackwater USA. Eric Schmitt and David Rohde (New York Times) report on two new reports -- one a US State Dept internal review, the other a report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The first (State Dept internal review) finds that the State Department provided no oversight of Blackwater or Dyncorp. The second focuses on DynCorp's spending of US tax payer dollars and finds that "the State Department had only two government employees in Iraq overseeing as many as 700 DynCorp employees," that the State Department is not sure what US tax payer money was spent on (at one point insisting that $387,000 was spent at hotels in Iraq and an x-ray machine purchased for $1.8 million was used in Iraq -- then coming back to insist they meant Aghanistan), etc. -- "A review of DynCorp's spending over the past year identified $29 million in overcharges by DynCorp" while a Defense Congracting Audit Agency report discovered "DynCorp had billed for $162,869 of labor hours 'for which it did not pay its workers'." DynCorp was put in charge of training the Iraqi police. For those who've forgotten, one reason Jordan was cut out of the police training (which it had been doing) was because it would be 'cheaper.'
"How you earn your money is no interest to the IRS. Now how can I put this in language you'll understand? We just want our cut." Anne Bancroft's lines from HeartBreakers come back to haunt Blackwater. Joseph Neff (McClatchy Newspapers) reports US House Rep and chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Henry Waxman has announced Blackwater "may have evaded tens of millions of dollars in federal taxes" because BlackWater -- unlike DynCorp and Triple Canopy -- has classified its employees as "contractors" -- thereby avoiding taxes, Social Security and Medicare payments: "The issue came to the attention of the IRS when a Blackwater guard working in Afghanistan complained that the company had classified him as an independent contractor. The IRS said Blackwater's classification was 'without merit' and ruled in March that the man was an employee." CNN notes, "By classifying workers in Iraq as 'independent contractors' rather than employees, Blackwater appears to have engaged in an 'illegal tax scheme' that avoided an estimated $31 million in employment-related taxes in the last year of its contract alone, said Rep. Henry Waxman on Monday" and that Waxman has advised Erik Prince by letter, "It is deplorable that a company that depends on federal tax dollars for over 90 percent of its business would even contemplate forbidding an employee to report corporate wrongdoing to Congress and federal law enforcement officials." Now does Blackwater CEO Prince think the American way is to cheat on your taxes? Over the weekend on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers spoke with Jeremy Scahill about Prince's p.r. blitz last week and Scahill noted, "It's almost I think part of the point here was to say, look, you don't understand really, American people, what we're doing for you. While you're enjoying comfort here in the United States, we're over there protecting our-- men in women in uniform, our diplomats. I think that there's a way that he wants to increase the mystique about the company and the operations of Blackwater." Is "tax cheat" supposed to be part of the red, white and blue that Prince couldn't shut up about in interview after interview?
anthony arnovehoward zinn
democracy nowamy goodman
eric schmittdavid rohdethe new york timesjoseph neffmclatchy newspapersbay fangthe chicago tribune
bill moyersbill moyers journalpbs