Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Nepal: All communication links were cut after the King Gyanendra's announcement of suspending parliament and fundamental rights, on Tuesday, 1st"

At 10am on Tuesday, February 1, 2005, Nepal's King Gyanendra gave a televised address in which he sacked the country's coalition government, dissolved the ministries and suspended fundamental rights under a State of Emergency. Citing Article 127 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990, the King constituted a council of ministers under his own chairmanship. During his 40-minute speech to the nation, he heaped scorn upon Nepal's political parties for allegedly destroying the country's infrastructure. According to the King, despite having had adequate opportunities to resolve the state's ongoing conflict with Maoist insurgents, or call an election, the political parties had failed the people of Nepal. Laying claim to the glorious history of the Shah dynasty, Gyanendra stressed the age-old relationship between King and subjects and promised to restore multi-party democracy within three years.
As the speech came to a close around 10:40am, all fixed and mobile telephone lines were cut, and non-satellite internet connections were down by the end of the day. By noon, the Kathmandu Valley was effectively sealed off from the rest of Nepal and the outside world: Tribhuvan International Airport was closed, with all incoming flights diverted elsewhere, and the main road arteries out of the Valley were blocked by security forces.
Despite these draconian measures, the city was calm, with most shops remaining open through the end of the business day. There were rumours of a curfew, which sent schoolchildren scurrying home in the mid-afternoon, but these were unfounded. Armed security forces in riot gear were deployed across the city, and there was little obvious protest against the King's move.

So begins a report by Sara Shneiderman and Mark Turin on UK Indymedia and so starts our Thursday Indy Media Review. (Formerly known as the Alternative Weekly Review.)

D.C. Indymedia has an article by darpa entitled "Three Activists Arrested For Protesting Torture at the Supreme Court:"

So far, two people have been arrested protesting torture at the Supreme Court. Apparently, the First Amendment ends at its steps.

Have you heard about that yet? I hadn't. But go to the link and check out the photos in case, as is frequently the case, our mainstream media fails to report this news to us.

NYC IMC has an article about Lynne Stewart's conviction earlier today:

In a blow to the ability of lawyers to defend clients suspected of terrorism, a jury in Manhattan today found radical lawyer Lynne Stewart guilty of aiding terrorists.
She was found guilty on every charge as were co-defendants. Many of the harshest charges against Stewart were originally dismissed, but in a surprise move, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft filed new charges against the lawyer.

NYC IMC also has news of a film, Mandate, about the inauguration protests.

The National Security Archive has posted the memo of Richard Clarke's first warning to Condi Rice:

The National Security Archive today posted the widely-debated, but previously unavailable, January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice - the first terrorism strategy paper of the Bush administration. The document was central to debates in the 9/11 hearings over the Bush administration's policies and actions on terrorism before September 11, 2001. Clarke's memo requests an immediate meeting of the National Security Council's Principals Committee to discuss broad strategies for combating al-Qaeda by giving counterterrorism aid to the Northern Alliance and Uzbekistan, expanding the counterterrorism budget and responding to the U.S.S. Cole attack. Despite Clarke's request, there was no Principals Committee meeting on al-Qaeda until September 4, 2001.

Funny, isn't it, how the New York Times with their so-called scoop today missed out on this?
(Link to the National Security Archive post was found on BuzzFlash -- see the things you'll miss out on if you don't check in with BuzzFlash?)

Indymedia Ireland has "A Different Kind Of 'Route Irish':"

In 2004 more than 158,000 US Troops flew through Shannon Airport, most on their way to Iraq. During much of that same period of time approximately 5,500 US Troops have deserted, gone into hiding, sent to jail and some have escaped to Canada.
What if the funnel to Iraq, called Shannon Airport, were to be transformed into a sanctuary for US Troops resisting the Iraq War by requesting asylum in Ireland?
Audio of the press conference on launch of invitation to make Shannon a Sanctuary of Peace for US Military Resistors.(32/2005)
This is the new effort by the
Dublin Catholic Worker and other anti-war activists and politicians announced in Dublin on Feb 3rd - the second anniversary of the Pit Stop Ploughshares disarmament of a US Navy Plane at Shannon.

Melborne Indpendent Media Center highlights the case of Mamdough Habib (with a great deal of resource links) in their article "Mamdouh Habib claims Australian official watched abuse:"

Legal documents just released detail how an Australian in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Mamdouh Habib, was tortured and humiliated, including claims that an Australian official looked on. Mr Habib's American lawyer, Joe Margulies, alleged that Mr Habib received electric shocks, was beaten, kicked and subjected to water torture at the hands of his American captors.

And while we're in Australia, let's take a moment to note Common Ills community friend Luke and his blog wotisitgood4. Here's Luke on February 8th, in his post "goad daddy:"

* i think rummy said on stephanopolous "if iraqis get poorer, there'll be fewer kidnappings"
* stephanopolous asked rumsfled if there are activities going on in iran "not to my knowledge". rummy also said that bio weapons are as big a threat as nuklear - cos they can be multigenerational (kinda like DU, i guess). i mention this simply in juxtaposition that 43 is only playing the nulear card wrt iran.
* rummy also got offscript - i think stephanopolous mentioned that he'd been to a briefing or something, and rummy joked 'i hope u didnt get paid for it' - calling armstrongwilliams. ummm, donald, thats why they have a script...
. . .
* "This first black female secretary of state said US history had taught her that. "When the founding fathers said 'We the people', they didn't mean me."" ummm - when the non-braindead ams talk about the america they love, they also dont mean you.
* and speaking of sotu - the whole up/down vote on judicial nominations sounded scary. especially the ecstatic applause. over 2 u, drfrist.
* speaking of scripts, and speaking off-script, theres much handwringing about jmiller's appearance on hardball and her comment s re chalabi being offered the gooniverse by the ams. either miller is lying, or its a story that should be in the nyt. and if she is lying, why is she still at the nyt? (in fact, why is she there anyway? or more to the point, why is anyone there?)

The Providence Phoenix has an article entitled "Langevin’s big decision." Do you know the name Jim Langevin? If you don't, maybe you should check out Ian Donnis' article that Trina
e-mailed suggesting we link to :

The siren song of trying to take out US Senator Lincoln Chafee, with the prospect of significantly elevating himself and boosting the fortunes of Senate Democrats, seems likely to prove irresistible for Rhode Island’s junior congressman. Already, the Democratic establishment is coalescing behind Langevin, and two fundraisers, an event next Wednesday, February 16, at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC, and a February 28 gathering at the Rhode Island Convention Center, are each targeting a six-figure haul. Although Langevin remains officially undecided — spokesman Michael Guilfoyle says the three-term congressman will unveil his choice by April 1 — all indications suggest he will emerge as a formidable Democratic candidate.
As something of a nominal Republican, Chafee has cut an unusual path since inheriting the Senate seat long held by his father, John H. Chafee, after the icon of Republican moderation died in 1999. The scion of one of the state’s "Five Families" gets respect from many Rhode Islanders for his candor and independence, signified most clearly by how he was the only Senate Republican to vote against the war in Iraq, yet he also infuriates conservatives with his mushy support for the GOP. With Senate Democrats already stepping up efforts to challenge President Bush, replacing Chafee with a Democrat has become a national priority for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Campaign (DSCC) in 2006. And for someone like Langevin, it hardly hurts that J.B. Poersch, a longtime aide to US Senator Jack Reed, recently assumed the reins at the DSCC.
In Rhode Island, the level of interest in the Senate race can be seen by how Secretary of State Matthew A. Brown, whose intention to run had been palpable (see "
Brown edges steadily closer to Senate run," News, This just in, January 21), unveiled his campaign with an e-mailed news release and a series of interviews on Thursday, February 3 — quite an early point in the 2006 campaign. Former attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse is another possible candidate, but he has indicated that he won’t seek the Senate seat if Langevin does.

From the New York Observer, Woody e-mails this column by Joe Conason ("Bush Talks Trash About U.S. Bonds") on social security and the Bully Boy's inability to sell his "ponzi scheme" (Woody's term -- Woody also asks Frank in Orlando "to send in your own links if you're not happy about what's covered"):

It's easy to measure how rapidly the Social Security scheme is sinking when Mr. Bush makes a promotional trip to Montana, as he did last week, and is still unable to persuade either of the state’s Senators, Democrat or Republican, to sign on.
Hesitation among politicians of both parties is understandable, because this deal stinks so badly. Essentially, the President and his advisors want the U.S. government to borrow additional trillions of dollars to create a system of private investments that will impose new risks and costs, but won’t compensate for huge benefit cuts. The only way to sell the privatization plan is to withhold the unappetizing details and try to scare everyone into going along. That strategy had worked perfectly when the President decided to push us into war with Iraq, and he must have felt confident that the same rhetorical bullying would work again.

Rita e-mails Brian Morton's "Ice to Eskimos" from The Baltimore City Papers which addresses the long history of animosity towards social security on the part of the GOP:

Let's not beat around the bush here: Conservatives hated the New Deal in the 1930s, they hated it in the 1970s, and they hate it now. And, for the first time in almost a quarter century, they see an opportunity to kill the greatest and most successful program that came out of it. In the '30s, the right wing called Social Security "socialism." The Los Angeles Times recently quoted a Texas Observer story about a young George W. Bush, who, while running for the House of Representatives in 1978, argued that Social Security would go bankrupt in 1988 if people weren't allowed to take their money out and invest it themselves. Ronald Reagan had to back away from Social Security twice -- when he proposed benefit cuts in 1981 (which lost the GOP a load of seats in Congress in the 1982 elections), then when he was challenged on it by Walter Mondale in the 1984 debates.
In 2000, at a Iowa campaign event, Ed O'Keefe of ABC News pointed out that Bush actually used the now-verboten term "privatization" when he said "What privatization does is allows the individual worker -- his or her choice -- to set aside money in a managed account with parameters in the marketplace." Since then, Republican pollsters have told their candidates that the word "privatization" -- exactly what the Republican plan is -- brings up high negatives among voters. In the last month, the GOP language police has turned away from the word "private accounts" as well. As blogger Joshua Micah Marshall has quipped, there is now a "speech code" being enforced by the Giant Republican Media Wurlitzer that is attempting to force the mainstream media to use whatever terminology the president uses, else be accused of bias or partisanship. So now the president uses the warm and fuzzy phrase "personal accounts."

Rita notes: I would have e-mailed it in anyway because it's a good article but if someone's not seeing an issue covered, they should e-mail a link on it, write their own thing about it to be posted here or e-mail in to request coverage. This is an interactive site.

Trevor e-mails "SOCIAL INSECURITY: Jim McDermott Challenges Bush's "Me" Generation" by Sandeep Kaushik from the Seattle Stranger "because it's a good article and Frank in Orlando seems to be having a fit over the coverage of social security here. I really don't need to read exactly the same topic that I'm seeing on every blog, but here's the bone I'll toss you, Frank. And I don't think anyone's linked to this story yet."

From the article:

You're going to be hearing a lot about Social Security in upcoming months. Most of it is going to be false. You're going to hear arguments that purport to show that a radical and hasty revamp of America's most successful government program--specifically, the partial privatization of the system--is required to save the system. You will also hear that liberals, because they are blindly wedded to an anachronistic ideology of self-sacrifice for the common good, or are so warped by their hatred of the president, don't care about fixing the system. That too will be false.
You will hear a lot of this tendentious spin from President Bush, who dreams of entrenching in the 21st century a conservative "ownership society" to rival the liberal New Deal consensus of the 20th century, and not incidentally, to take the Democratic Party's signature domestic policy achievement of the last century and turn it into the centerpiece of the grand Republican vision that will extend his party's hegemony for decades to come.
Yes, liberals are going to fight the president on this. Not because they oppose reform (which they don't), or hate the president (which they do), but because Social Security has a proven track record. It works.
Just ask Seattle's Representative Jim McDermott, a liberal's liberal, who, when he is not appearing in Michael Moore movies, sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, where much of the impending legislative battling over the president's push for private accounts will take place. McDermott acknowledges that the system faces a fiscal crunch of moderate, and easily correctable, proportions. Reform the program? Sure. What he will oppose--as he should--is the president's self-aggrandizing desire to blow up a social insurance system that over 70 years has saved countless millions of the nation's elderly from the grim debasements of poverty.

Joni e-mails R. V. Scheide's "On His Own" from The Metroactive News & Issues. An article that "puts a face on the social security story" (Joni's words):

Stories like Huberty's, which are legion in the wake of the recent tech-bubble collapse, are not likely to be mentioned in George W. Bush's stepped-up campaign to partially privatize Social Security.
Social Security's raison d'être is to provide minimal retirement, disability and death benefits to lower-, middle- and upper-class individuals alike. It was never intended as a sole source of retirement income; rather, it's a government-guaranteed cushion against economic downturn.
Huberty lost most of his life savings in the stock market, but he still gets $700 a month from Social Security. Without it, he'd be financially sunk, or at least living back in Sonoma County with one of his three grown children.
President Bush paradoxically proposes that individuals be allowed to invest some of the money that goes to Social Security--the social insurance fund that partially protects all of us from stock market volatility--in the stock market. In his State of the Union address, the president explained how it would work: "If you are a younger worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for your own future," he said, comparing chalk to cheese by noting that the stock market has a better rate of return on investment than Social Security. "Best of all," he touted, "the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away."
No, the government can't take it away--but its value can sure be wiped out in a hurry, at any time, by a downturn in the market or an act of corporate malfeasance, which hit main-street investors like Huberty with a double-whammy in the case of Conseco's bankruptcy. Such economic catastrophes are the very reason Social Security came into being 70 years ago, and they haven't ceased to exist.

Ralph e-mails an interview done by Pamela White for Boulder Weekly, "The man in the maelstromWard Churchill speaks out on his controversial essay, the media frenzy and what the U.S. can do if it really wants to halt terrorism."

Ralph: "This is an important story and every day there are a hundred important stories. If someone wants something highlighted or discussed, all they have to do is drop a link via e-mail []. With Black History Month and everything else going on, the site can't be the we-cover-everything-that-happens-including-when-Bush-farts site. I'm against Bush's privatization of social security and there were plenty of links to The Daily Howler that helped me see that. I'm really hoping we can move on to other news because I doubt we need remedial work on explaining social security in this community. If someone does, they haven't been following Bob [Somersby] at The Daily Howler. I'm really interested in a number of issues and think social security has been covered well via links to The Daily Howler."

From the interview by Pamela White:

Boulder Weekly: What were you doing on Sept. 11 when you first heard about the terrorist attacks?
Ward Churchill: I was on the word processor working on an extended essay on American Indians in films, which I had been working on for some time... The phone rang. It was Kathleen Cleaver. She said, "Is your TV on?" I said, "No." She said, "Well, turn it on, because a plane just hit the World Trade Center." So probably within five minutes from the time the first plane hit I watched it in real time.
I suppose like everybody else, I was stunned... I knew it was real, but still there was this disbelief thing. And to be fair about it, that was probably affecting everyone, including the people who had set up the cameras and were filming the thing as it occurred -- probably more so for them because they were watching it for real.
But it struck me even before the first building came down that this was already being framed. It was proclaimed to be "senseless" before the first building came down, and senseless means "without purpose," and that seemed absolutely absurd to me on its face. How could they possibly know? There are planes being hijacked all over the country. Two of them have hit the World Trade Center. One of them has hit the Pentagon. There's another one loose. But whoever's doing this has no purpose.
And then there's the outrage: How can this happen? Well, there's various ways you could take it, like, "How did they penetrate the air defense?" But I don't think that's the nature of the question. That was not my sense. It was more like, "What could possibly provoke somebody to do this?" OK, that question and, "Why do they hate us?"
All of that [struck me] -- both the framing of it as being senseless and the amazingly stupid questions as to what would provoke somebody to do this.

[Note, the interview also contains a link to Churchill's essay "free of media spin."]

Annie's also concerned over the "loud, organized attacks and threats against Churchill" and she sends in this story from The Syracuse New Times entitled "Target: Hamilton The Clinton college finds itself in the cross hairs of a free-speech controversy" by Justin Park. The article deals with pressure being applied to prevent Churchill and Susan Rosenberg from stepping onto campus. It's worth reading and we'll highlight Rosenberg since we highlighted Churchill above (but there's a great deal on both and on the attacks on campus freedom):

Rosenberg was a member of 1960s radical organization the Weather Underground that promoted the violent overthrow of the government and she was indicted, but never charged, in a series of Brinks armored car robberies that culminated in the 1981 deaths of two Nyack police officers. She was later sentenced to 58 years in jail for possession of explosives and served federal time until 2001 when then-President Bill Clinton used his executive pardon powers to have her released. Since then she has worked on prisoner's rights efforts; that and her award-winning memoirs piqued Rabinowitz's interest in her as a Kirkland Project participant.
Yet the college was put under enormous pressure over her hire as an artist-in-residence for this semester and, ultimately, Rosenberg declined the college's offer saying the climate of controversy was not appropriate for teaching. At the college's monthly faculty meeting on Nov. 2, professors fired spittle back and forth debating the legitimacy of Rosenberg's hire and the principles of academic freedom. Local news outlets picked up on the controversy, followed by The Wall Street Journal and online conservative frother, FrontPageMagazine.
After finding its way into the media echo chamber, Rosenberg's hire was public enough to draw Rockland County police protesters to a Hamilton fund-raising event unrelated to either her or the Kirkland Project. Those protests, combined with alumni threatening to withdraw donations and prospective freshmen promising to go elsewhere, pushed Rosenberg into withdrawing, she said in a written statement, for the good of the college. Unfortunately, the definition of the "good of the college" is often governed more by the college's sources of income rather than the quality of education given to their students.
Rosenberg was then let go by New York City's John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she had worked since 2002 teaching thematic studies to future law enforcement professionals. College president Jeremy Travis, known for his national efforts on the reintegration of former prisoners into the workforce, cited increased media attention and protests when announcing the decision not to renew her contract.

KeShawn e-mails Saab Lofton's latest column from Las Vegas City Life:

This Black History Month, I'm highlighting books that deserve far more attention than our dominant culture has allowed them. Balcony Lights Music & Books on South Maryland Parkway is still in financial need, and one of the books I recently bought to help the shop was Who Killed Martin Luther King?
Ironically, it's the one tome I'll highlight this month written by someone white: James Earl Ray.
In the book's forward, the Rev. Jesse Jackson states: "Dr. King threatened the interests of the military-industrial complex and the ideology and mentality of the Cold War warriors."
Attorney Mark Lane, a former member of the New York Legislature, explains in the preface how Ray pled guilty only after "months of torture in a specially designed cell" and "threats to imprison his elderly father."

Lastly, we'll note The Fort Worth Weekly's "Let Them Eat Mandates: Legislators don’t need to look far for the causes of Texas kids’ problems" by Dave McNeely.

Billie: This is a story here in Texas, but you're seeing it all over the U.S. and it's a direct result of cutbacks in funding. With Bully Boy Bush increasing spending on military, military and military, it's important for us to realize that states are getting cuts in federal funds and no matter how much his lips move, taxes are raised because when the funds don't come to the states from the federal government, the states have to find a way to get them somewhere else. We're seeing the social net that protects us all be shredded and shredded.

From the article:

It is one thing for one level of government to tell another level to do something. It is another not to send along the funds to carry out the orders.
Those are "unfunded mandates," says Mickey West, the Palo Pinto County Judge who heads the Texas Association of Counties -- "that tell us what to do at the local level, but don't send the money to pay for getting the job done."
For the states, it’s like when the federal government orders higher school standards under President Bush's "No Child Left Behind," but then doesn't send along enough money to help kids catch up.
For the school districts, it's when the Texas Legislature orders higher testing standards, but doesn't provide enough money to accomplish the goals of the tests. That's one reason State District Judge John Dietz of Austin agreed with rich and poor school districts that the state isn't living up to its responsibility, and has ordered the legislature to put more money into public schools.
And for counties and cities, it's when the governor and legislature push responsibility for things like healthcare more and more onto local officials, but then talk about lowering the 10 percent allowable annual rate increase for property tax valuations. "The time has come to draw a line in the sand for the taxpayer," Gov. Rick Perry said in his State of the State address last month. "Let's cap appraisals at three percent."