December 2, 2005

Published by the Boulder Daily Camera
This is a 'Plan'? No, it's a Repetition of Irrelevant Platitudes
Editorial  

President Bush says the American people deserve a "clear strategy for victory" in Iraq. So why won't he give us one?

On Wednesday, the president released his "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." Speaking to graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Bush was surrounded by imposing, blue signs touting his "Plan for Victory." The prop was as convincing as his "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Some news stories described the 35-page "strategy" and Bush's speech as "detailed." That is true only if verbosity is equated with detail. Bush delivered only long reiterations of previous speeches. more...

December 1, 2005

Incident at Oglala, 30 Years Later
The Long Struggle of Leonard Peltier
By JOE ALLEN and PAUL D'AMATO

Leonard Peltier, one of America's longest-serving political prisoners, turned sixty-one-years-old on September 12, 2005. Peltier has spent nearly thirty years in federal prison, the result of one of the most infamous political frame-ups in modern U.S. history. He was convicted of killing two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Believing he could not receive a fair trial in the U.S., he fled to Canada. The Canadian government extradited him in 1976, and he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to two life terms in 1977.

Many of today's progressive-minded people will find themselves unfamiliar with the details as well as the significance of the Peltier case. This is a tragedy, given the widespread opposition to the Patriot Act and the heightened fear of political repression by opponents of the Bush administration. The rush of events since 9/11, instead of bringing the Peltier case back into focus, seems to have pushed it further into the margins of political consciousness, where it has unfortunately been for two decades. This is something that needs to be corrected. more...

November 30, 2005

Life on Death Row
By WALTER A. DAVIS

Unless Governor Schwarzenegger grants clemency Tookie Williams will be executed at San Quentin on December 13th. (Those who do not know about Williams and his work should consult www.tookie.com. And for a petition on his behalf and other actions see www.savetookie.org.) One reason arguments for clemency based on rehabilitation so often fall on deaf ears is our lack of knowledge of what it is like to live on death row and what happens existentially to human beings in that situation. (I'm hopeful that I can find some way to get this essay into Governor Schwarzenegger's hands. And any help from readers will be appreciated. The holiday season begins: wouldn't it be wonderful if this year some of it were about peace on earth and good will toward all human beings?)

The following essay takes the form of a dramatic monologue. It is based on two meetings I had in May of 2005 with a man who's been on death row in San Quentin for the past 15 years. The meetings (one lasting 75 minutes; the other two hours) were face to face in booths over a telephone with a plexi-glass partition between us. I was not permitted to take either pencil and paper or a tape recorder to the meetings. Indeed, had the authorities known I planned to write this work I would not have been permitted inside San Quentin. Additionally, I met with the lawyer who represented the inmate in the appeals process for 10 years, a private investigator who does field work in connection with the appeals process, and an attorney who has done extensive work documenting conditions within California's prisons. I also read the court transcripts of the inmate's original trial and penalty phase trial as well as a number of secondary sources on prison life. The inmate's appeal of the death sentence is now at the Federal level. For that reason I have been advised by attorneys not to use his name and to take other steps to disguise his identity. Within the terms of that restriction what follows is a factually complete document. There are, of course, over 600 inmates currently on death row in San Quentin. more...

November 29, 2005

UP IN THE AIR
Where is the Iraq war headed next?
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH

In recent weeks, there has been widespread speculation that President George W. Bush, confronted by diminishing approval ratings and dissent within his own party, will begin pulling American troops out of Iraq next year. The Administration‚s best-case scenario is that the parliamentary election scheduled for December 15th will produce a coalition government that will join the Administration in calling for a withdrawal to begin in the spring. By then, the White House hopes, the new government will be capable of handling the insurgency. In a speech on November 19th, Bush repeated the latest Administration catchphrase: „As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.š He added, „When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.š One sign of the political pressure on the Administration to prepare for a withdrawal came last week, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News that the current level of American troops would not have to be maintained „for very much longer,š because the Iraqis were getting better at fighting the insurgency.

A high-level Pentagon war planner told me, however, that he has seen scant indication that the President would authorize a significant pullout of American troops if he believed that it would impede the war against the insurgency. There are several proposals currently under review by the White House and the Pentagon; the most ambitious calls for American combat forces to be reduced from a hundred and fifty-five thousand troops to fewer than eighty thousand by next fall, with all American forces officially designated „combatš to be pulled out of the area by the summer of 2008. In terms of implementation, the planner said, „the drawdown plans that I‚m familiar with are condition-based, event-driven, and not in a specific time framešųthat is, they depend on the ability of a new Iraqi government to defeat the insurgency. (A Pentagon spokesman said that the Administration had not made any decisions and had „no plan to leave, only a plan to complete the mission.š) more...

November 28, 2005

Abuse worse than under Saddam, says Iraqi leader
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said. more...

**********

Cheney Led Cheerleaders of Iraq Invasion
by Carl Hiaasen  

The loudest cheerleader for invading Iraq is on the stump once again, defending the bloody, bogged-down occupation and lambasting its critics.  

Getting a war lecture from Dick Cheney is like getting dating advice from Michael Jackson.  

The last time the United States went to battle, Cheney stayed far out of harm's way. His only wounds from Vietnam were the paper cuts he got from opening his five -- count 'em, five -- draft deferment notices.  

''I had other priorities in the '60s other than military service,'' he explained to a reporter in 1989.  

Thousands of other young men applied for student deferments in the Vietnam era, or received draft lottery numbers that were never called (mine was 44). However, none grew up to be vice president of the nation, peddling a contrived war that somebody else's kids would have to fight.  

Nobody pushed harder than Cheney for a military strike against Saddam Hussein. Nobody was more cocksure about the presence of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear components. Nobody was more emphatic about a secret alliance between al Qaeda and Baghdad.  

And nobody was more consistently wrong. more...

November 27, 2005

Having a Great Time, Wish You were all Here!! Or Throw the Bitch in the Ditch
by Cindy Sheehan  

I was feeling very down when I was flying to Waco yesterday. I did a lot of crying and missing Casey on the way out from Sacramento. I am not at the place in my grieving yet where I can look at all of our good times and feel grateful for them. Remembering many, many happy Thanksgivings past only made me feel worse, not better.

So, I called my sister (one of the Crawford 12 jailbirds) when I was on a short layover in Dallas to ask her who was picking me up. She wouldn't give me a straight answer saying that "don't worry, someone will be there." So I told her not to worry about it, I would take a taxi to the Peace House or rent a car. I was DEFINITELY feeling sorry for my poor little self.

Well, after the very short flight from Dallas to Waco, and after a luggage misunderstanding on the tarmac, I walked into the terminal in Waco. Lo and behold, there were dozens of people there to welcome me and lots of press. Most of the people (including the press) were old Camp Casey friends and my spirits lifted and I felt strangely at home. more...

November 26, 2005

One Small Thanksgiving Story
By Stuart Heady    

Alan Pogue, a photographer who has pursued the use of his camera as an extension of the mercy work he did on the battlefields of Vietnam as a US Army medic, went to Amman just after the hotel bombings to usher Alaa' and her parents through the process and accompany them to the hospital. Alan and Cole Miller, who lives in Los Angeles, comprise most of No More Victims, an effort to save one child at a time from the fate of living with untreated war wounds. Why only one child at a time? Because that is one better than none.

Alaa' Khalid Hamdan and her mother Zaynab (or Zainab) Mohammed Assi, 25, were injured in their home at a party for a group of children under 10 years old. A US tank crew was randomly shelling the area in Anbar Province near the Jordanian border on May 3, 2005. more...

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November 5, 2005 - November 11, 2005
November 12, 2005 - November 16, 2005

No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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