Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Democracy Now!: Sharon & Abbas; the Bully Boy's budget; Eye on the Prize; Anne Garrels; Terry Gross interviews Bill Maher; and Occupation Watch

Democracy Now! "always worth watching" (Marcia) is up to its usual (continued) high standard of delivering news today.
Headlines for February 8, 2005
- Sharon & Abbas Hold Summit & Agree to Ceasefire
- Senate Committee Oks Chertoff as Homeland Security Head
- Kuwaiti Detainees Report Torture at Guantanamo
- In Iraq, Hundreds Protest Mosul Election Problems
- Nepal Troops Attack Rebel Camps
- Boston Priest Convicted of Raping Boy
- Anti-war Group Issues "Peace Tax Returns"

Sharon & Abbas Hold Summit & Call For End of Violence
In the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in four years, Israeli Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas verbally agreed today to end four years of fighting. Since the intifada began in September 2000, about 3,600 Palestinians and 1,050 Israelis have been killed in fighting.

Bush's New $2.5 Trillion Budget Boosts Pentagon Spending, Slashes Domestic Programs
President Bush sent Congress a federal budget yesterday that some say reads like a hit list against almost every social program paid for by US taxpayers. It calls for the elimination of some 150 government programs. One out of every three of the targeted programs concerns education.

Copyright Issues Block Broadcast of Award-Winning Civil Rights Documentary "Eyes on the Prize"
"This is analogous to stopping the circulation of all the books about Martin Luther King, stopping the circulation of all the books about Malcolm X," said Lawrence Guyot, a prominent civil rights leader with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. "I would call upon everyone who has access to 'Eyes on the Prize' to openly violate any and all laws regarding its showing." We talk to Guyot about a national grassroots effort to screen "Eyes on the Prize" today.

Two NPR links (and note, these are audio only -- I believe you can pay for a transcript -- isn't that strange -- National Public Radio -- Public. For us. But we have to pay for a transcript?), one mentioned this morning.

"Blast Outside Iraqi Army Recruiting Center Kills at Least 21" by Anne Garrels is the segment from today's Morning Edition (on NPR). In it, Garrels speaks of reports from Najaf that Shiites were "paid to move into Sunni areas and stuff ballot boxes" and that in Mosul "15,000 people" are saying they were prevented from voting.

I listen to Terry Gross and I know from e-mails that some people really enjoy Bill Maher so I'm going to note that today's Fresh Air included Gross interviewing Maher. (I'm not endorsing Maher's statements. That's not me trying to appear "respectable" -- the ship sailed on that long ago -- that's me saying that I think he's heard to much Operation Happy Talk based on his brief comments on the Iraqi elections. He's entitled to his opinion, but I disagree strongly and those who have e-mailed about the elections will also find that they disagree as well. He says, for instance, the Bully Boy "finally won one." I'll stop here before I launch into my own personal analysis of Maher and leave it at, I've never watched his shows for an obvious reason. Listen at your own risk if you're a Maher fan. If you enjoy Terry Gross' interview style, I do, then you can probably handle the interview regardless.)

In honor of Maher's comment's we'll link to Occupation Watch's story by Sabah Jawad, "The vast majority of Iraqis want the US to get out:"

The initial claim by the US-installed regime of a 72 percent turnout was revised downwards to 57 percent of registered voters — but they refused to say how many Iraqis were actually registered.Only one in nine of those exiled in the West from Iraq actually voted. No one can seriously claim they were kept away by an insurgency thousands of miles away. There are many other flaws in this election. But the biggest hypocrisy of George Bush, Tony Blair and their supporters is their attitude now to the central question in Iraq — the occupation. The clearly expressed will of over 80 percent of the people of Iraq is for an end to occupation. Yet that was not on offer in the election, and is not on offer now from the occupiers. So much for their claims to be installing democracy.

And we'll note "No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis' hostility to US occupation" by Sami Ramadani:

With the past few days' avalanche of spin, you could be forgiven for thinking that on January 30 2005 the US-led occupation of Iraq ended and the people won their freedom and democratic rights. This has been a multi-layered campaign, reminiscent of the pre-war WMD frenzy and fantasies about the flowers Iraqis were collecting to throw at the invasion forces. How you could square the words democracy, free and fair with the brutal reality of occupation, martial law, a US-appointed election commission and secret candidates has rarely been allowed to get in the way of the hype. If truth is the first casualty of war, reliable numbers must be the first casualty of an occupation-controlled election. The second layer of spin has been designed to convince us that an overwhelming majority of Iraqis participated. The initial claim of 72% having voted was quickly downgraded to 57% of those registered to vote. So what percentage of the adult population is registered to vote? The Iraqi ambassador in London was unable to enlighten me. In fact, as UN sources confirm, there has been no registration or published list of electors - all we are told is that about 14 million people were entitled to vote.