Friday, March 04, 2005

Democracy Now!: For-profit health care in jails and prisons, Syria; Ruth Conniff and Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive

Headlines for March 4, 2005
- Syria Set to Announce 'Partial Pullout'
- Bush to Increase Dissident Funding in Iran
- Chertoff Sworn in, Bush Remembers bin Laden
- U.S. Used Banned Weapons in Fallujah
- Iraq Prisons Bursting at Seams
- Marine Suicides Up 30%
- London Mayor Calls Sharon "War Criminal"
- Cuban Cardinal Questioned By Homeland Security

Harsh Medicine: New York Times Exposes How Private Health Care in Jails Can Be a "Death Sentence" for Prisoners
We take an in-depth look at the for-profit health care in prison and jails in this country. The New York Times published a series titled "Harsh Medicine" based on a yearlong investigation of Prison Health Services, the nation's largest for-profit provider of prisoner medical care, that exposes how inadequate care has resulted in death and suicides by prisoners. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Once-Jailed Syrian Father and Son Warn U.S. Attack Would Destroy "Not Only the Regime But the Country Itself"
We continue our coverage of Syria with two Syrians who were once jailed in Damascus: a father and son. Leading human rights lawyer, Haythem al-Maleh, joins us from Syria and his son Iyas joins us from Dallas.

Ruth Conniff has a wonderful column in The Progressive entitled "Standing Their Ground."
I've corrected a post from Wednesday that quoted from the column but didn't link to it. (I was using the print version and hadn't noticed it was available online. That doesn't, however, excuse my ignorance in not noting that it was from The Progressive since although many members know Ruth Conniff, not everyone does.) So let's highlight it again to make up for my error and to make sure everyone knows it's available online:

As the Bush Administration pushes forward with its aggressive plans to tear up the Constitution and launch its liberty jihad, Senator Barbara Boxer has stepped forward as the voice of Democratic opposition.
In her celebrated clash with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the confirmation hearings, Boxer quoted Martin Luther King Jr., in what ought to be the Democrats' new motto: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
The life began draining out of the Democratic Party the day it decided to take a pass on opposing the most aggressively rightwing Administration in history. Fortunately, Boxer and a handful of colleagues decided to reverse the trend by publicly repudiating Bush in what was expected to be a noncontentious confirmation process. In taking a principled stand against Rice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a few Democrats became the party's backbone.
The counterpoint to this position, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, took to the floor to endorse Rice and to caution fellow Democrats against giving aid and comfort to America's enemies by opposing Bush's nominees, or his policies. The criticisms of Rice, particularly her dissembling on Iraq, Lieberman said, "are all about the past."
"I don't hear any criticisms about where we are now or where we should go in the future," he said. (Memo to Joe: The war in Iraq rages on. Thirty-one Marines died in a single incident on the highest-casualty day of the conflict for the United States, the same day you were making your let-bygones-be-bygones remarks.)

When I noted Christopher Hitchens' article on the Ohio vote, I apologized for linking to it (due to the author). However, as many pointed out, I didn't link to it! I'd screwed up and forgotten to put in the link. But it had been stated it was from Vanity Fair and a link was provided to Vanity Fair so anyone interested in the article could find it by visiting the magazine's web site. With Conniff's article, not only did I forget to provide the link, I also hadn't mentioned it was from The Progressive. So I want to take the time to highlight it again and my apology to anyone who wasn't aware (due to my error) that Ruth Conniff wrote for The Progressive.

We'll highlight her blog as well. (She blogs each Monday at The Progressive web site.) Monday's entry was entitled "Wal-Mart Wins:"

The story about the failed organizing drive at the Loveland, Colorado, Wal-Mart lube shop is almost tragic.
The felicitously named Joshua Noble, the snowboarder who took on the world's largest private employer, managed to create a major stir with his campaign for a union. But in the end, he was no match for Wal-Mart, which has a team of corporate "human resources" employees whose job is to fly around the country in corporate jets, intimidating low-wage employees wherever there is the slightest whisper of labor-union activity.
It's the story of the little guy who lost. Noble, who has epilepsy, had a seizure on the day of the vote and couldn't fulfill his role as election observer. The company refused to let anyone take his place. It was the denouement of a long fight, in which Wal-Mart transferred six anti-union workers into the Loveland shop, and bombarded the workers there with anti-union propaganda. The employees who voted against unionization got the message. Not that they agreed with Wal-Mart's depiction of unions as greedy, feckless organizations that just take workers' dues, or felt the company was giving them a fair deal. They told the New York Times ( they were unhappy with their wages, benefits, and working conditions. But as Alicia Sylvia, who makes less than $9 an hour and can't afford the company's health insurance, put it, "The message we got was, 'you're a small bunch of guys, and you can stand out there and strike, and we're going to replace you.'"

Let's highlight Matthew Rothschild as well while we're at The Progressive. This is from his latest "This Just In" entitled "Fifteen Hundred:"

Fifteen hundred U.S. soldiers have now given their lives for George Bush's misbegotten war in Iraq.
Fifteen hundred families devastated, a pain that will never fully go away, a void now never to be filled.
Fifteen hundred soldiers, who leave mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands or wives, sons and daughters, all to grieve in their own personal ways for a tragedy born of a national disgrace.
And then there are the Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of Bush's war. At least ten times as many, maybe 70 times as many.
And our men and women are now dying at a rate of almost 100 a month, and are now being wounded at a rate of about 1,000 a month.

In his "McCarthyism Watch," Matthew Rothschild addresses "The Tragedy of Ward Churchill:"

The school’s chancellor, Jack Miller, showed real backbone.
"It is still my belief that the academy is at its best when it functions as a place for the free exchange of ideas," he said on stage before Churchill spoke. "I do not share the fear of words apparently becoming more prevalent in our society."
Churchill spoke for more than an hour, and at the end, he got a partial standing ovation.
And that’s pretty much how I felt. Half of what he said I wholeheartedly supported, and the other half I vehemently opposed.
His critique of U.S. foreign policy and of the bloodied roots of this country -- slavery and the genocide of Native Americans -- was right on target.
His insistence that every person, whether a U.S. citizen or someone in the Third World, deserves equal treatment and respect was obviously unassailable, as was his claim that the United States should not be able to kill with impunity.
He shook people up and made them look at the world from a different perspective, and that’s all to the good.
But the tragedy of Ward Churchill is that he tarnished his message with inflammatory language, shoddy arguments, and slippery prescriptions.
And so he makes an easy target for those in this country who want to attack the left, and who disdain free speech, and who disrespect academic freedom.