Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Democracy Now: the death of Dorothy Stang . . .; ACLU; Goodman; BuzzFlash

As always, a lot of news from Democracy Now! and we'll highlight the item on Camilo Meiia later today.
Headlines for February 22, 2005

- Earthquake In Iran Kills Over 500
- Israel: We Must Be Prepared to Strike Iran
- Bush Calls on Syria To End Occupation of Lebanon
- Iraq Women No Better Off Now Than Under Saddam
- Up to 500,000 Face Identity Theft Due to ChoicePoint Error
- Conscientious Objector Sgt. Camilo Mejia Released From Jail
- Army Falls Short of Recruiting Goals
Bush Calls for "New Era of Trans-Atlantic Unity" Between the US and Europe

Two years after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described Germany and France as "problems" and part of "Old Europe," President Bush travels to Europe to try to mend ties and increase cooperation. [includes rush transcript]
Good Pills, Bad Pills: Dr. Sidney Wolfe Condemns FDA Advisors For Backing the Sale of Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra Despite Known Dangers

The FDA panel proposed that the drugs be sold with an FDA "black box" warning. Vioxx is now expected to return to the market even though nearly half the FDA panel voted against it being sold. Its manufacturer Merck voluntarily withdrew the painkiller drug in the fall. Studies have show as many as 55,000 people may have died from taking the drug. [includes rush transcript]
Murder in the Amazon: A U.S.-Born Nun and Environmentalist is Gunned Down in Brazil For Opposing Rainforest Logging

We go to Brazil to speak with a friend and colleague of the slain nun Dorothy Stang. Her killing has brought new interest in the struggle to preserve the Amazon rainforests. Last week Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed decrees setting aside 8 million acres to create two massive new rain forest reserves. [includes rush transcript]
Have you checked out the ACLU site today?

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department admitted today that information it had retroactively classified could be released to the public and did not pose a threat to national security. The American Civil Liberties Union said the revelation could aid government whistleblowers in their efforts to fight unlawful dismissals.

"The Justice Department’s long-overdue admission goes to the core of the ACLU’s allegations that the government is going all out to silence whistleblowers to protect itself from political embarrassment," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, who is representing former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds in a lawsuit challenging her termination. "This is hardly an isolated case, as numerous national security whistleblowers can attest. The government is taking extreme steps to shield itself while gambling with our safety."

In May 2004, the Justice Department retroactively classified information presented two years earlier by the FBI to the Senate Judiciary Committee during two unclassified briefings regarding Edmonds, who had repeatedly reported serious security breaches and misconduct in the agency’s translation program. An executive summary of the Justice Department’s Inspector General report into her termination concluded that Edmonds was fired for reporting the misconduct, and that her allegations, if true, could have potentially damaging consequences for the FBI.

That's from "Administration Blinks; Admits Retroactively Classified Information Not Harmful to National Security" and make a point to read the full press release.

Marcia wrote:  "You are forever citing Ellen Goodman as intelligent and possessing common sense.  I don't dispute that.  But I also don't think you've ever linked to her."  My apologies,I think Marcia may be correct.  So here's Goodman's latest at The Boston Globe:

IS IT TOO late to put a family trademark on the New Deal? The way things are going, the founding father of Social Security will be an icon for the crowd that wants to unravel it. All that's left is for the Bush administration to change its theme song from ''Hail to the Chief" to ''Happy Days are Here Again."

First, we had vague and fond references by the 2005 president to his 1930s predecessor. GWB makes FDR sound like a favorite ancestor whose charming-if-dusty old ideas just need a brush-up to ''serve the needs of our time."

Next, the conservative group Progress for America actually used FDR footage in an ad to privatize Social Security. This alone was enough to force grandson James Roosevelt into defending the real FDR from the revisionists.

Undaunted conservatives then scrambled the words and meaning of the late, great president to say that FDR himself endorsed ''personal accounts." The notion that FDR was a closet privatizer was promoted with a straight face by a Wall Street Journal columnist, then by William Bennett, and, not surprisingly, by Fox News's Brit Hume, who isn't one of those journalists on the Bush payroll -- he just plays one on TV.

Soon, I am sure, Roosevelt will be Photoshopped into the White House portrait next to Bush. Or we'll have a pixelated, colorized FDR, smiling jauntily in the background while the president repeats the words he offered a New Hampshire audience this week: ''We're developing an investor society."

From BuzzFlash, check out "Is Anyone Listening to the Whistleblowers?" by Teresa C. Chambers:

The plight of whistleblowers -- those employees who sound the alarm about anything from dangerous conditions in the workplace to missed or ignored intelligence regarding our nation’s security -- is a story that seems to grow stronger and with more frequency every day. My guess is that those stories have always been there; I suspect I am just paying closer attention to them now.

You see, I joined the “ranks” of whistleblowers more than one year ago when, on December 2, 2003, a major newspaper printed a story in which I confirmed for them what many of us already knew -- we, the members of the United States Park Police, could no longer provide the level of service that citizens and visitors had grown to expect in our parks and on our parkways in Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco. The world changed for all of us on September 11, 2001, and the expectations of police agencies across the country grew exponentially overnight. As the Chief of the United States Park Police, an organization responsible for some of America’s most valued and recognizable symbols of freedom, I knew it was my duty, as chiefs of police across the country do every day, to inform the community of the realities of the situation.

For being candid -- for being "honest" -- while still being supportive of my superiors, I was, without warning, stripped of my law enforcement authority, badge, and firearm, and escorted from the Department of the Interior by armed special agents of another Federal law enforcement entity last December (2003). Seven months later, the Department of the Interior terminated me.