Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal

Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, summarizes the arguments for immediate withdrawal at http://counterpunch.org/arnove01302007.html. You can see and hear him speak on this subject at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2841284427199107681.

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Among the hundreds of thousands protesting the war in Washington, DC on 1/27/2007

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Troops Out Now

Remarks at Anti-War Rally 1/27/2007, Austin, TX

At this turning point in the anti-war movement, I’m honored to be here helping to kick off the Austin event. We are part of something big: Hundreds of thousands of people have gone to Washington, D.C. to demand more than a non-binding resolution from Congress. Many thousands more—students, workers, veterans, families of troops stationed in Iraq, and soldiers themselves—are gathering around the country to demand of our leaders, both Democrat and Republican, that they bring the troops home now.

It will take all of us together to send a message that cannot be ignored by our rulers. It takes resistance to stop a war—resistance in the occupied country, resistance inside the military, and resistance in the streets across this country and around the world.

We march today because the devastation the U.S. occupation has wrought is criminal and, I dare say, apocalyptic. You probably know that more than six hundred fifty thousand Iraqis are dead as a result of the war and occupation. It is a staggering number. As Mike Ferner calculated in an article in Counterpunch, the carnage in Iraq, if carried out in the United States in the same proportions, would mean that every person in Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee, Fort Worth, Baltimore, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia would be dead.

It is little wonder that the war itself has galvanized sectarian violence inside Iraq and sparked massive and violent resistance to the occupation. It has radicalized what’s left of an entire generation of Iraqis. As one U.S. soldier explained of the intensifying resistance to U.S. forces, “I’d fight back too.”

Both Bush and the Democrats say we must stem the violence but actually have suggested, in Barack Obama’s words, that it is time for the Iraqis to “step up.”While Democrats and Republicans may find common ground in blaming the Iraqis for the disaster the U.S. created, we must be very clear in demanding troops out now because the cause of the violence cannot be its solution. From Abu Ghraib to Falujah to Haditha, U.S. forces have been guilty of atrocities against the Iraqi people. In its attempts to set set up a U.S. friendly government, the U.S. set out to create and deepen sectarian differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims as part of the divide-and-conquer logic of occupation.

There were no terrorist forces to speak of based in Iraq before the occupation. The U.S. occupation drew what few there are now. The war itself has brought massive death and destruction, provoked resistance, and caused the collapse of the country into civil war.

Yet against all reason and against the wishes of the American people and the Iraqi people, Bush in his towering arrogance is planning to send more of our young people to Iraq to the slaughter.

We must do everything in our power to stop him. Some of you may be thinking, we demonstrated before and we marched before, and it didn’t make any difference. And it is true that demonstrations alone cannot stop a war. But today we march at a moment of real opportunity. Do you feel it? The Bush administration is on shaky ground. The Democrats and Republicans who once sang God Bless America together on the Capitol steps now find themselves bitterly divided. The Iraqis are fighting back, while growing numbers of U.S troops like Lt. Ehren Watada are refusing to fight. Defending war resisters is crucial to our movement, because this kind of resistance actually can stop a war.

And so in the gaping cracks of the war machine split open by resistance on all fronts, our voices are amplified.

The U.S.admitted defeat in Vietnam when facing resistance on the ground, organized mass rebellion in the ranks of the military, splits in the ruling class over the direction of the war, and a mass movement they could not ignore. This is the kind of movement we must build now. We must demand unflinchingly the immediate and total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq—and full reparations for the Iraqi people.

An imperialist army can never bring freedom with the slaughter. We must demand that Bush get the troops out now–not in six months, not in a year, but right now–and we must do it loudly. Now is the time for our voices to be heard.

Ward Churchill’s dismissal hearing held last week amid protest

Press release Issued by
Open Letter From Concerned Academics:  http://www.criticalthinking.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OPPOSITION MOUNTS AS SHOWDOWN APPROACHES OVER THE FIRING OF WARD CHURCHILL
Dismissal hearings for University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill were held  this past week.
Ward Churchill appeared before the Privilege and Tenure Committee with many witnesses speaking in his behalf. The committee will have 30 days to issue its findings to CU president Hank Brown.  Brown will weigh the findings and make a recommendation to the Board of Regents.
Opposition to his dismissal is growing on campuses across the country. The firing of Churchill, a tenured professor and former head of the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Boulder, is increasingly being seen by those in academia as an attack on academic freedom, dissent and critical thinking that must be stopped.  In a recent statement the Colorado branch of the American Association of University Professors notes “we believe that the investigation [into alleged research misconduct] now is widely perceived to be a pretext for firing Churchill when the real reason for dismissal is his politics.” The AAUP statement raises serious questions and concerns over the handling of the Ward Churchill case, and calls for the reversal of the decision to fire him.
This growing movement of opposition to the firing of Professor Churchill includes some of this country’s most prominent scholars and public intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Derrick Bell  and Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University.  In an essay recently solicited by the journal of the International Studies Association entitled “On Behalf of Robust Academic Freedom”  Professor Falk writes, “The relentless pursuit and persecution of Ward Churchill is a revealing instance of the witch-hunting McCarthyist ethos that is currently threatening academic freedom.”  And he concludes, “When academic freedom is threatened, the most sustaining response, is vigorous defense on principle”.  In August, Anthropology Today published an editorial entitled “Education and the Dangerous Professor: The Challenge for Anthropology” written by University of Denver Anthropology Professor Dean Saitta.  Richard Delgado’s recent review of Ward Churchill’s latest work On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, published in the American Indian Law Review, makes it quite clear that the attacks are a result of Ward’s political speech.
On September 29 –30th  “The Emergency Summit Of Scholars And Activists Defending Critical Thinking And Indigenous Studies” was convened in  Lawrence, Kansas.  It produced a resolution written to the P&T Committee calling on the University of Colorado Boulder to reinstate Professor Churchill because of a deeply flawed investigation
Thousands of academics have signed petitions and visited websites spawned by this movement to defend dissent and critical thinking in academia, now focused on the case of Ward Churchill, including Ward Churchill Solidarity Network, http://www.defendcriticalthinking.org/, http://www.teachersfordemocracy.org and more.
There is also increasing student activity in support of Ward Churchill. In December of 2006 a student group was formed at the University of Colorado called Students for Academic Freedom (SAF).  On December 16, they held a press conference  to protest the “politically motivated” investigation of Churchill, and to call for him to receive the UCB Alumni Association Teaching Recognition Award that he won in 2005 which was withheld pending the outcome of the investigation.  An SAF spokesperson said “We are prepared to take organized action against the administration between now and the month of February to ensure that our demands are met,”  “If this process goes forward, it would set a precedent that, despite the traditional peer review process, and despite tenure, professors must always censor the conclusions of their research to popular acceptance, or face harsh repercussions. This threatens the nature of academia. This precedent should send a shock wave of fear to all professors nationwide.”

Natsu Saito, Law professor at Georgia State College of Law and wife of Professor Churchill, wrote in a recent letter, “We are at a critical stage with respect to CU’s attempt to fire Ward Churchill.”  Academics across the country are increasingly speaking out to say that Ward Churchill must not be fired.  The Open Letter From Concerned Academics issued at the beginning of this case and signed  by over 600 faculty stated: “This attack is intolerable and must stop now.  The precedents already set in this case – that a professor can be publicly pilloried and threatened with dismissal for what he writes – must not be allowed to stand.  The University of Colorado Board of Regents must drop any effort to fire Churchill… and repudiate its actions up to now; and all colleges and universities must reaffirm, in word and deed, their commitment to defend critical thinking.”

Media Contacts:
Ruth Hsu – e-mail: rhsu@hawaii.edu
Ph:808-595-018
Henry Silverman – e-mail:silverma@msu.edu
(517) 339-3357
Dean J. Saitta e-mail  dsaitta@du.edu
home: 303-871-2680
Fax: 303-871-243
Vinay Lal – e-mail: vlal@history.ucla.edu
Ph: 818-990-1719

Ken Bonetti – e-Mail: kenecon2004@yahoo.com
720-985-5364 (cell)
720-565-9291 (land line at home)
303-492-8291 (work)
Dana Cloud – e-mail: dcloud@mail.utexas.edu
Ph: (512) 471-1947
Matthew Abraham – email matthew.mabraha2@gmail.com
Ph: 773-682-9322

Endorsed  by:
Matthew Abraham
Professor of English
De Paul University
Elizabeth Ammons
Harriet H. Fay Professor of Literature
Tufts University
Andrew Austin
Associate Professor
Social Change and Development
University of Wisconsin-Green

Bob Buzzanco
Professor of History
University of Houston
Ken Bonetti, Academic Advisor
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO

John M. Cammett
Professor Emeritus, History
John Jay College and the Graduate School – City University of New York
Dana Cloud
Professor Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas

Sandi E Cooper
Professor of History
City University of New York at Staten Island and The Graduate School
Frank Deale
Associate Professor
CUNY Law School
Flushing, New York
David Gabbard, EdD
Professor
Dept of C&I
College of Education
East Carolina University
Philip Gasper, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair
Department of Philosophy & Religion
Notre Dame de Namur University
Belmont, CA 94002

John Gorman,
freelance journalist
author King of the Romans,
Sondra Hale, Professor
Anthropology and Women’s Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Ruth Hsu
Associate Professor of English
University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Alan Jones
Dean of Faculty
Pitzer College

Daniel Jordan, PhD
Sociology Instructor
Ventura Community College
Ventura, CA
Christine Karatnytsky
Scripts Librarian
Billy Rose Theatre Division
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Katherine Callen King
Professor of Comparative Literature and Classics
UCLA
Vinay Lal
Assoc Prof/Chair, Center for Southeast Asian Studies
UCLA
Tom Mayer
Professor
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado at Boulder
Peter McLaren
Professor
UCLA
Kerby Miller
Professor of History
University of Missouri-Columbia

Kamala Platt
Professor
University of Texas-PA

Peter Rachleff,
Professor of History,
Macalester College

Dean J. Saitta
Professor, Department of Anthropology
President, Faculty Senate
University of Denver

Henry Silverman
Professor and Chairperson Emeritus
Department of History
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Peter Spitzform
Assistant Library Professor
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405
Michael Vocino
Professor of Film Media
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881
Nancy Welch
Professor
Department of English
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405
Tim Wise
Author, Anti-Racism Educator

Free Rodney Reed

The Framing of Rodney Reed: Innocent on Texas’ Death Row

Imagine this scenario: Two police officers are sharing a beer in grassy ditch off a highway in rural Texas. At their feet lies the body of a young woman killed elsewhere—strangled with something like a belt. The police officers discuss how they can shift blame for the woman’s death away from a fellow officer, who had been heard to threaten to strangle her with a belt if she cheated. The men work to incriminate the woman’s lover, a Black man who will end up on Texas’ death row.

Perhaps this is sensational fiction. It reads like a bad crime novel. But Rodney Reed sits on death row in Texas for the murder of Stacey Stites, his case surrounded by mystery. Evidence not introduced at trial casts serious doubt on Reed’s conviction. Investigators found two beer cans at the scene of the crime containing the DNA of Giddings officer David Hall, and Bastrop Police officer Ed Samela. Three months into the investigation, Samela died of an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound. The defense was never made aware of these findings.

Other evidence implicates Stites’ fiancé, former Giddings police officer Jimmy Fennell. In October, the Court of Criminal Appeals sent Reed’s case back to the trial court to hear testimony from Martha Barnett, who said she saw Stites and Fennell in a convenience store parking lot around 5am the morning Stites was murdered, and from Dallas police officer Mary Blackwell, who said she had heard Fennell bragging during a police training class that he’d strangle his girlfriend—with a belt—if she ever cheated on him.

Few were surprised when the presiding judge, State District Judge Reva Towslee Corbett, the daughter of the judge who originally sent Rodney to death row, advised against a new trial.

In the next several weeks, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), which is not bound by Towslee Corbett’s decision, will decide if Rodney Reed, who has been on Texas’ death row since 1998, should receive a new trial. Reed’s appeal attorneys, Morris Moon of the Texas Defender Service and former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Morris Overstreet have sought a new trial on the argument that prosecutors withheld vital evidence, rendering Reed’s counsel ineffective.

There are many other troubling aspects of the Reed case. For example, the only piece of evidence connecting Reed to Stites is a semen DNA sample taken from her body–easily explained by a well-corroborated, consensual sexual relationship between the two. However, the Reeds could not afford a lawyer, and Rodney’s court-appointed defense team failed to call witnesses who could not only attest to the relationship, but also provide an alibi for Rodney.

Furthermore, Jimmy Fennell failed two lie detector tests in which he was asked “Did you strangle Stacey Stites?” The police and medical examiner botched the investigation of physical evidence in the case. Despite the fact that Stites was driving Fennell’s truck the day she was killed, and despite evidence that her body had been transported in the truck, police returned the truck to Fennell before conducting a complete forensic analysis. A fingerprint dusting of the truck had only produced two sets of prints: Fennell’s and Stites’. At the trial, the prosecution had the audacity to dismiss Reed’s missing fingerprints, suggesting that he was able to clean only his fingerprints from the truck. Upon receiving the truck from police, Fennell immediately sold it to an out-of-state buyer, while denying he had done so.

Stites’ body was missing for two hours before arriving at the medical examiner’s office. When it did show up, it had bruises and burns not present at the scene of the crime. Moreover, labels used to ship evidence to California for DNA testing by the defense did not match shipping company records.

Although shocking, Rodney’s case is anything but unique in a criminal justice system marked by race and class bias. Reed—a Black man of less than modest means living in rural Texas—was convicted by an all-white jury. His relationship with Stites, a white woman, was taboo in this context. His original trial lawyers, who are Black, publicly stated that they were afraid to stay overnight in Bastrop during the trial, yet they were still expected by the courts to mount the most rigorous defense possible.

Today, Black men constitute just over twelve percent of the nation’s population, but occupy nearly half of the spots on U.S. death rows. Furthermore, nearly all of those sentenced to death relied on notoriously inadequate court-appointed attorneys or (in states other than Texas, which has no public defender system) public defenders without the necessary resources to investigate and defend capital cases.

As Rodney and his family await the CCA decision, local activist groups, led by the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), are working to raise public awareness about the Reed case. The case has received a significant boost in visibility with the award-winning documentary State vs. Reed. These next few weeks are crucial in the fight for justice for Rodney Reed. The judges on the Court need only briefly survey the existing analysis and discussion surrounding this case to see that there is a consensus supporting a new trial for Reed.

The fight goes well beyond winning a new trial for Rodney. The United States is alone among industrialized democratic countries in its use of capital punishment, and Texas has become an icon for this barbaric practice. Rodney Reed is only one of 391 people on death row in Texas, many of whom have experienced the similar miscarriages of justice. If we see the flaws in Rodney’s case, we must begin to call the entire institution into question.

Readers may write the CCA on Rodney’s behalf (at Court of Criminal Appeals, PO Box 12308, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711) and sign a petition online at http://www.freerodneyreed.org. Our legislators, Governor Rick Perry, and all those vying for office in the upcoming elections must also get the message that the costs of the lives ruined by the death penalty far outweigh any benefit in carrying on Texas’ tradition of executions.

rodneyprison.jpgMore information about the CEDP can be found at http://cedpaustin.blogspot.com
and http://www.nodeathpenalty.org

Rad–and red–history in London and Lyon

My love Katie Feyh and I spent a couple of weeks over the winter break in Europe, splitting our time between London (where Samantha Hutchinson-Cloud, our lovely and wonderful teenager, was performing with her high school marching band in the London New Year’s day parade) and Lyon, France. (Katie has been conducting her dissertation research into the practices of Russian hip-hop in Moscow since September, and this trip was a reunion. Katie’s blog, if you want to know more, is at katyusha@wordpress.com .)

Here, in the interest of saving dozens of retellings of our adventures, is a brief summary of our trip with some pictures and links to informative sites. European cities–by virtue of being old and also by virture of witnessing a tremendous range of political struggle–have much longer and deeper political histories and spaces than those in the U.S.

In London, we ran into Samantha and her bandmates from Anderson High School in Austin, Texas as they entered the Westminster Central Hall, where they performed along with several other bands for a large crowd, including a number of mayors and other dignitaries. Our British friend Basher joined us for this and other adventures in the city.

Samantha and Katie at concert hallSamantha and Katie at concert hall

Band at Westminster Central Hall, London

(click to see photo)

p1000230.jpgThe New Year’s Day Parade was fun and even quaint–not a corporate sponsor in sight, as Samantha’s dad pointed out to me. I think we figured out that because the U.K. does not have high school marching bands, they have to import them from the U.S. for such a big parade. The bands were all terrific, but I have to say that the Anderson High School Band was the best.

For footage, go to http://www.keyetv.com/topstories/local_story_001104334.html. Here’s Samantha!

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Samantha got a whirlwind tour of the major attractions in London, and departed on January 3rd for home. Katie and I also saw the sights–including the Tower of London, site of much ruling class backstabbing–before moving on to Lyon for a week.

p1000034.jpgIt is fun to learn about members of the aristocracy doing one another in. While in London we visited the British Museum, where Marx famously sat on his boil-plagued ass to write Capital:

The Reading Room of the British museum

Katie and I located the sections devoted to Marx and other Marxists who followed in Marx’s footsteps–literally and figuratively:

Trotsky in the reading room

Lenin in the reading room

Katie in the reading room

Dana in the reading room

goddess.JPGThe British museum also boasted an excellent exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone, key to the hieroglyphs. I have photos–but better ones, and history, are at http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/ixbin/goto?id=OBJ67 and http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/menu.html.

0.jpgWe also visited the Tate Modern Museum with Basher. Here are Basher and Katie together at the Millenium Bridge:

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We visited Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery. It turns out a number of modern-day socialists (including the British Trot Paul Foot, p1000083.jpg, whom I had met) are buried near him. marxgrave.jpgWithout engaging in any religious or mystical sentimentality–or a cult of personality–it was good to see the memorial as a tribute to Marx’s revolutionary and inspiring influence on us today.

Revolution can be very arousing.
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These sexy ladies of Lyon surround a memorial to four leaders of the Jacobin Club, which constituted the left wing of the French Revolution of 1789. Remembered primarily and ideologically in official history as the executioners of the Terror, the Jacobins (whose numbers included Jeal-Paul Marat, Jacques Hébert, and

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Robespierre), the Jacobins in power completed the overthrow of the Ancien Régime and successfully defended the Revolution from military defeat. Today to be called a Jacobin is to be labeled a revolutionary. Hence we were thrilled to discover that our hotel was on the Place des Jacobins in Lyon.

Lyon is very pretty and damn old. It boasts a cathedral dedicated to St. John the Baptist dating from the 13th century, complete with an elaborate astronomical clock that defies description. Situated in “Old Lyon,” It also features some of the oldest stained glass windows in existence.lyon-cathedral-1.jpg (More info at http://www.dboc.net/lyon/oc_st_jean_en.php.) Overlooking the city is an enormous basilica called Fourviere, lyon-basilica.jpgwhich is not that old, dating from the 1870s. It’s pretty but it makes one wonder at the massive resources dedicated to mystical claptrap. The church does offer nice views lyon-view-1.jpg overlooking the city. Lyon also has a great art museum.

Much older than even the gothic cathedrals are the ruins of a Roman (think Julius Ceasar) ampitheater dating from 43 B.C.E. in the middle of Old Lyon. One can stumble across this ancient site, open to the public, walking downhill from Fourviere. It is truly mind blowing to think that these walls, steps, and engraved columns were crafted and trod upon by the contemporaries of Marcus Antonius and Cicero. katie-in-gaul.jpg

Of course, another empire invaded and occupied France much more recently.

For me the most exciting discovery in Lyon was that Lyon was a hub of resistance in France against the Nazis and the Vichy government from 1940-44. Hundreds of mostly young men and women died organizing against fascism and collaboration. In addition to numerous memorials around the city marking places where they died, there is a museum dedicated to the history of the resistance and the holocaust. Unlike most other holocaust museums, this one emphasizes fighting back and not just victimization. However, the book listing all of the names of people deported from France to concentration camps is very chilling. Before visiting the museum (due to my woefully inadequate primary education in world history), I had not known the full extent to which the Vichy government headed by General Pétain collaborated (fully) with the Nazis and undertook independent deportation and propaganda campaigns.

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The museum did not allow pictures inside, but one of the most interesting exhibits had to do with the ways in which the movement published and distributed underground resistance newspapers. You can find out more about the museum at http://www.lyon.fr/vdl/sections/en/culture/musees/centre_histoire_resistance_1/.

They say the food in Lyon is great. But the history and politics there were much more to my taste. As was the company.

Maybe Katie and Samantha will post their stories and photos or links thereto. And anyone else who cares to comment is welcome.