Category Archives: White House

CNN iReport: Hunger Strike Goes On

I have finally decided what I do. It’s called First Amendment journalism and wherever I can find anyone exercising the right to peacefully assemble, petition the government, establish their religion, or just advocate for freedom of speech or press, I will be there.

Here is the second part of my series on the Hunger Strike at the White House. As I wrote on my Facebook page,

There is a common thread I can’t ignore as I continue to cover this story about a minority group in Iraq that is now a target of violence as the US prepares to pull out: minority groups of all kinds, gays, MEK, Kurds and more – are all likely to… become victims – as the majorities are given arms to establish Iraq as their own.

Here is the video. Let me know what you think.

Hunger Strike at White House

Last night I went down to the White House on a little walk. It was probably 80 or 90 degrees. Man was it hot. But when I got there, the heat quickly escaped my mind. As I approached the White House, I noticed the same flags, and a mass of people, that I came across in early August. It was a group of Iranian Americans, present now at the White House 24/7, for a duration of six months. You can imagine with this kind of presence, they have something to say.

You might not have heard of Camp Ashraf – so if that’s the case, let me fill you in. In the 1980s, a group of Iranians, the People’s Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), rose up against the Iranian regime. They demanded democracy and engaged in armed opposition of the government of Iran.

At the height of the opposition, some 3,400 members of the PMOI, also known as MEK, were placed in Camp Ashraf, just north of Baghdad. In 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, the MEK were all disarmed, in exchange for the U.S.’s protection of the camp. Now, as the U.S. pulls out, the MEK are vulnerable – unarmed, and targets of decades of animosity from the Iranian regime.

Two weeks ago, the Camp was brutally attacked.

“It means that after everything America has done, Iran really has the upper hand in Iraq,” Zahra Amanpour, an Iranian-American, told me.

What is the U.S. going to do? Do we have a responsibility to the MEK?

DADT March on the White House TODAY

Check it out. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is holding a march today to call for an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. (DETAILS  AT END OF POST.)

dont-forget-usDon’t Ask Don’t Tell(DADT) was a policy introduced under the Clinton Administration. In short, it prohibits any gay or bisexual servicemember from discussing their sexual orientation.  That includes any casual mention of a relationship, a family, you get the picture. Apparently it creates an “unacceptable risk” to the morale, good order and discipline of our military.

One of President Obama’s campaign promises was to repeal DADT, a policy that has since made it difficult to retain qualified servicemembers. As stated by Dr. Larry Korb, a former national security advisor and Senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington,

“…the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy continues to undermine their efforts to attract qualified men and women. Moreover, since its enactment, this outmoded law has cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of service men and women who were working to keep our country safe.”

For details on the March: Meet at Farragut Square at 2:00PM EST. You will then walk over to the White House and gather in Lafayette Park.

Good luck and have fun! I would be there on the group with my gear but your little sister only graduates from high school once. 🙂

Helen Thomas Learns Twitter

Helen Thomas meets Twitter. Well, I’ve introduced them once before. But this time on camera – and this time, armed with questions from you. She was a good sport and full of laughs, but then quickly turned the tables and asked me to ask you: who wants single payer health care?

Check out her latest column, Obama Running Scared, to learn what she means.

Your Fix with Helen Thomas #4: Drones and American Warfare

As CBS’s 60 Minutes called it on Sunday, May 11th, drones are America’s new “air force.”

Funny they said that. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Helen Thomas where she talked about the military’s use of drones. I was probing her on the defense budget – asking her how I can learn to study it well enough to know when something doesn’t add up. She told me she wasn’t an expert on budgets, but that she does know a little something about the sophistication of the weapons we are using.

After I came home to upload and watch the video, I got a little nervous. Was this kind of stuff classified? I had never heard any of it before. So I called her to make sure.

“No,” she told me, “this is all open information.”

Once again, the student had been schooled. How I love when that happens.

This video contains several references to Web sites and resources that I used to do research. All of the links can be found below. This video is available on YouTube, Yahoo! Video, Meta Cafe and Daily Motion. So get into it and pass it on.

Drones: America’s New Air Force, CBS News 60 Minutes, and CNET, May 10, 2009

Air Force to Build Up Its Drone Supply, Washington Post, March 19, 2005

Lobbying Spending Database, OpenSecrets.org

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

The Need for Watchdogs in Washington

The need for Watchdogs in Washington is more important than ever.

I recently had a conversation with a progressive news organization. They intrigued me by explaining how they are expanding their political coverage online. But employees, for the time, are to be based in New York City. Don’t get me wrong, I am currently wearing a tee with those exact letters strewn across it. But leave Washington at this moment in history? It would feel so wrong.

dc_wards_smallIt is a natural concern for all of us, as newspapers collapse and resources constrict, that American journalism is about to suffer. In an article in The New Republic called “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to an Era or Corruption),” Paul Starr wrote:  

“One danger of reduced news coverage is to the integrity of government…” He went on, “…corruption is more likely to flourish when those in power have less reason to fear exposure.”

Does anyone else think it is ironic, and completely illogical – that at a moment when the news media is finding it financially impossible to do their job, the government has more power and influence than ever before? Continue reading

100 Days in Several Ways

I feel guilty for not spending much time on my own blog, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading yours and yours and yours.

In any case, I am always reading what other blogs put together – so I have for you all my top posts around Obama’s First 100 Days.

Yesterday's Winner: International Media!

Obama’s global op-ed, “A Time for Global Action,” ran in over 30 newspapers and dozens of dialects yesterday. From the Sunday Times of South Africa to the Estado de Sau Paulo of Brazil, his 1,024 word essay asked the global community for help in “a new era of economic engagement to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.”

Another big moment for the international media came last night at Obama’s second live Prime Time press conference, when a dozen random outlets were called for questions. One of them was Agence France-Presse, (AFP).

CQ Politics reported:

The AFP correspondent might have been the only reporter to have squeezed any news out of Obama. He asked a basic question: what would Obama do to advance peace in the Middle East, when it’s likely the new Israeli government will soon be led by a prime minister not supportive of the two-state solution and a foreign minister who has insulted Arabs? Obama replied, “It’s not easier than it was, but I think it’s just as necessary.” No doubt, the first half of that reply will be splashed throughout the media in Israel and Arab countries, and be read as something of a no-confidence vote in Benjamin Netanyahu.

Who didn’t get called on? The New  York Times, USAToday and the Wall Street Journal to name a few.

Looks like bloggers aren’t the only ones edging their ways into the conversation. It appears international media, too, will give traditional outlets in America a run for their money.

Your Fix with Helen Thomas #3: Israel, Expectations, Twitter

Here is the next installment. I hope you enjoy. For links to the articles relevant to the video, check out the list below.

Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post, New York Times

Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper
March 11, 2009

spi

What are U.S. goals in Afghanistan?
Helen Thomas
March 12, 2009

Bush, top aides apparently home free
Helen Thomas
March 7, 2009

Thomas: Why shouldn’t Obama aim high?
Helen Thomas
February 26, 2009