Monday, March 07, 2005

Democracy Now: Giuliana Sgrena, Afami Kaddour, Ciaron O'Reilly, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Joanne Bland . . .

Marcia notes that: "Democracy Now! covers with the Sgrena Shooting! They open with it. They're the best newscast, the only real newscast we have."

Headlines for March 7, 2005
- Funeral Held in Rome For Intel Chief Killed By U.S.
- Italian Journalist Says US Fired Without Warning
- Bolivia's President Quits Amid Protest Mobilization
- Coordinated Resistance Attacks Across Iraq
- Soldier Who Uncovered Iraq Abuse Sent to Psychiatrist
- Venezuela's Chavez Says Washington Plotting His Assassination
- Tsunami Lawsuit Filed Against US Government

Il Manifesto Founder on Sgrena Shooting: This Was an Attack on Unembedded Journalism
U.S. soldiers in Iraq shot at the car of Italian journalist - Giuliana Sgrena - killing the Italian intelligence agent who helped free her and wounding three others. Sgrena had just been released after a month in captivity by the Iraqi resistance. We go to Italy to speak with Luciana Castellina, a leading public intellectual and one the founders of Giuliana Sgrena's newspaper - Il Manifesto. [includes rush transcript]
Hizbollah Warns Against Withdrawal of Syrian Troops From Lebanon
As the the presidents of Syria and Lebanon meet to approve a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, Hizbollah calls for mass protests and warns of mayhem if Syrian troops leave. We speak with Lebanese activist Afami Kaddour about the current situation in Lebanon. [includes rush transcript]
Trial of Irish Peace Activists Opposed to U.S. Military Use of Shannon Airport Begins in Dublin
The trial of five peace activists began Monday in Dublin, Ireland. The five were arrested on February 3rd, 2003 on charges stemming from an action at Shannon Airport - a civilian airport that has been transformed into a pit stop for the U.S military. They face up to 10 years in prison. We go to Dublin to speak with Ciaron O'Reilly, one of the activists on trial and Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.
Remembering Bloody Sunday: Thousands Mark 40th Anniversary of Selma Voting Rights March
Today is the fortieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday - the historic voting rights march in Selma, Alabama when used billy clubs, tears gas and cattle prods to stop some 600 black marchers from reaching Montgomery in a bid for voting rights. We go to Selma, Alabama to speak with Joanne Bland, of the National Voting Rights Museum who attended the march 40 years ago.

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is looking at a number of things (all important, all interesting -- including some lousy performances on the Sunday chat & chews) but Billie e-mailed that she enjoyed the part on Nick Confessore (Washington Monthly) best so we'll note it:

Confessore's analysis was utterly laughable -- an insult to the intelligence of Monthly readers. According to Confessore himself, Bush was involved in "a facade of lies" -- but he made it sound like his "center-left" colleagues were being Top Pros when they refused to pursue that story! They were following their high-minded "value systems." They were refusing to "violate the strict rules under which Washington journalists operate." They were showing "cultural independence from politicians" and refusing to be "one-sided." And they were refusing to "take their cues about acceptable practice from conservative pundits" -- from the very conservative pundits Monthly readers correctly dislike. By the time Confessore got done, he had almost transformed his Silent Colleagues into Heroes of Modern Press Culture. What a stud! He praised Paul Krugman for dismantling Bush's lies. And he praised the rest of his cohort because they hadn't dismantled them!
Yes, Confessore made a set of silly excuses for the failures of the mainstream press -- and in the culture of the mainstream press, such fawning is always rewarded. Result? At long last, in late December, we got the good news. Confessore would no longer write for the low-budget Monthly; no, at age 28, our man had arrived; he'd now be employed by the New York Times, a paper that pays a good salary! "Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel Is Going the Way of the Pince-Nez," said the headline atop the scribe’s first report. Confessore, polite to the end, had arrived at a Great Destination.
Yes, writing dumb-ass stories about the Plaza is part of the road a young hustler must walk. But so is the road of December 02, when Confessore showed he was willing to fawn to the ways of a cowardly press corps. Even in the "liberal" Monthly, the bright young scribe knew to play by the rules. And two years later, his ship came in -- as it has done for so many young scribes who have made such a joke of your interests.

Sunday chat & chews! Good God, it's Monday so Bill Scher's doing his regular roundup over at Liberal Oasis. Here he's addressing Senator Barbara Boxer's appearence on Face the Nation:

Boxer, when asked why she “really believe[s]” that Bush would want to “destroy” Social Security, she wisely pointed to Hagel’s comments (video at Crooks and Liars):
...if you heard Chuck Hagel...he said on the one hand Social Security has been the best program we've ever had...
... But then he also said, this is a philosophical issue. This is about the role of government.
And that's really where you come down.
I mean, it is no great secret that since Social Security went into play, since Medicare came into play, the right wing of the Republican Party has been after these programs.
...Their plan of privatization will destroy Social Security. It's very simple.
You're taking funds away from the Social Security Trust Fund, putting them into these private accounts, turning Social Security from the guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble.
And worst of all, plunging us into the most extraordinary debt. Talk about the debt on our young people.

Also, In Dallas points us to "Why Was Giuliana Targeted -- Or Was She?" which is Danny Schechter's look at the various discussions on this story. Here's the opening:

No sooner was CNN's Eason Jordan and the issues he raised about the killing of journalists officially buried by the media than a dramatic new incident forced the issue back into public awareness. His ghost had risen even if his voice remains stilled.
Here we are approaching the second anniversary of the war and Bush was getting such a nice media bounce in the glow of the election coverage. Just yesterday, the Iraq parliament announced it will start work March 16 -- Freedom was so "on the march," breathing down the country's privatized future. . . .
And then, day after day, and even this morning, more violence by those faceless "insurgents" (that our media never tells us much about) claims more lives. We rarely hear about the daily violence of the occupation in terms of civilians killed or abuses committed.

Keesha asks us to check out Michael Shnayerson's "The Spoils of War" (Vanity Fair). From that article:

This time, she was sure, they were going to get her.
Bunnatine Greenhouse had been a huge nuisance since the buildup to the war in Iraq -- questioning contracts, writing caveats on them in her spidery script, wanting to know why Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR (formerly known as Kellogg, Brown and Root) should be thrown billions of dollars of government business while other companies, big and small, were shut out.
And Bunny Greenhouse wasn't that easy to ignore: she was the highest-ranking civilian at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Specifically, she was the officer in charge of ensuring that any work contracted out by the Army Corps to private industry -- from help in building bridges and dams and highways to support for wartime troops -- was granted in a fair and aboveboard way. For two years, Greenhouse had asked hard questions about why the head of the Corps, to whom she reported directly, kept giving exclusive, non-compete contracts to KBR that now amounted to roughly $10.8 billion. Greenhouse was fearless, and she was blunt. In the Corps's male hierarchy, it probably didn't help that she was a woman -- or that she was black.

On October 6, 2004, Greenhouse was summoned by the Corps's deputy commander, Major General Robert Griffin. She knew that the top brass was eager to finalize the Corps's latest contract for KBR, a $75 million extension for troop support in the Balkans. Already it had gone through several drafts, mostly because Greenhouse kept questioning the rationale for giving it to KBR without competitive bidding. What she didn't know was that her superiors had closed ranks against her.
When Greenhouse entered the general's office, he handed her a letter that explained she was being demoted for poor performance -- a curious indictment, given that she'd received high performance ratings before the war. The demotion would knock her down to the government rank of GS-15. That was like going from senior vice president in a Fortune 500 company to middle management. She could retire instead with full benefits if she liked, the letter went on to say. She was, after all, 60.
Greenhouse chose a third alternative: she hired a lawyer and began to fight.

And for ??? who e-mails wondering where "did some of these 'reporters' at the Times learn to write?" I don't know. But at Why Are We Back in Iraq, Ron's talking you through "How to Write Like Jeff Gannon:"

Gannon: "Last April, the House of Representatives passed the Social Security Protection Act of 2003. A Senate amended version of that bill that will close a loophole in the Government Pension Offset (GPO) will soon come up for a vote."
RSC Fact Sheet: "On April 2, 2003, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 743, the Social Security Protection Act of 2003 (a Senate-amended version of the bill will be considered this week)."
Gannon: "The GPO reduces Social Security benefits that a person receives as a spouse if he or she also has a government pension and did not pay into Social Security. The intent of GPO is to equalize the treatment of workers covered only by Social Security."
RSC Fact Sheet: "The GPO reduces Social Security benefits that a person receives as a spouse if he or she also has a government pension and did not pay into Social Security. The intent of GPO is to equalize the treatment of workers covered by only by Social Security..."