Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Democracy Now!: Syria, Haiti, Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib; Marie Cocco; Bill Scher (Liberal Oasis); Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler)

Democracy Now! always worth watching (as Marcia says). And note, the third segment (on Brooklyn jails) features Nancy Chang who is a community favorite.

Headlines for March 1, 2005
- GOP Congressman Calls for Nuking Syria
- Kidnapped French Reporter in Iraq Pleas For Life
- U.S. Criticized Plans to Use Landmines in Iraq
- Ex-Detainees in Iraq & Afghanistan Sue Rumsfeld
- Judge: U.S. Can't Indefinitely Detain Jose Padilla
- Israeli Court Orders Investigation Into Brian Avery Shooting
- World Council of Churches Calls For Divesting From Israel
- Paul Wolfowitz Considered to Head World Bank
- U.S.: Abortion Is Not International Human Right

Pro Syrian Lebanese Government Resigns Amid Mass Street Protests
In an unexpected move, the Prime Minister of Lebanon announced his resignation in front of the country's parliament Monday, effectively terminating the rule of the current Syrian-backed government, as tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated outside. We go to Beirut to get a report.

Haitian Police Open Fire on Thousands of Marchers Calling for Return of Aristide
In Haiti, police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who marched through the Bel-Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince Monday to mark the anniversary of the coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and call for his return. We go to Haiti to speak with attorney Bill Quigley who attended the march.

Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib: Detainees in Post 9/11 Sweep Allege Abuse in New York Detention Center
Some of the Middle Eastern immigrants arrested in the days after 9/11 have alleged abuse at the hands of guards at a detention center in New York City. In a class action lawsuit, they detail these allegations, including humiliation, sleep deprivation, physical and sexual abuse. We speak with the New York Daily News reporter who broke the story, the attorney in the suit and we go to Egypt to speak with one of the plaintiffs.

Custer Battles: Why Won't the Justice Dept. Intervene to Reclaim Millions From Military Contractor in Iraq?
Two company whistleblowers are charging in a lawsuit that military contractor Custer Battles defrauded the Coalition Provisional Authority of tens of millions of dollars during work in Iraq. The Justice Department has declined to intervene in the suit. We speak with the Alan Grayson, the attorney in the case and investigative journalist, Pratap Chatterjee.

Check Marie Cocco's column in Newsday today, "Back Home, Social Security status is quo:"

Then, there was Helen Tid-ball, 85, who rose stiffly with her cane to give her own testi-mony. "I've been paying into Social Security since 1939, up through the '80s," she said. "I think its one of the best things the government has ever done. I've known people who lost everything and had to go back on Social Security."
This is how it's gone for Republicans who used the congressional recess to test the churned-up waters on Social Security. If there is a constituency for monu-mental change outside of right-wing think tanks and the White House political shop, it is awfully hard to find. The moment 'Enough' reaches the elite takes us back to the future - to 1995 to be precise - when the ideologically inspired Contract With America ran into a simple truth: People do not hate government perse. They rather like government programs that work, especially when they work for middle-class people such as themselves.
While members of Congress were home getting hammered, White House political operatives were meeting with business lobbyists to devise a $20-million push for privatization. It may fool some people, somewhere, but not where it now counts. That is in the cloakrooms of Congress, where members compare notes about what happened in the school cafeterias back home.

At Liberal Oasis, Bill Scher's making a worthy point:

Sadly, we are on the same path in Iraq.
US troops are in Iraq, with the mission to stabilize the country and prevent, or suppress, a civil war.
An Iraqi government is being stood up with our direct assistance and influence.
A reconstruction is being led by our companies and workers.
And no one thinks our troops are going to leave any time soon.
It may take years before a beaten-down, balkanized people come together in common cause.
And such an uprising may have nothing to do with the current insurgency.
But this sort of
“quiet occupation,” as Syria’s was called, can only end badly for the occupier.

Also please check out Bob Somerby's latest Daily Howler -- here's an excerpt:

So what was Biden talking about when he enthused about add-on accounts? As Krugman explains in this morning’s column, add-on accounts are a perfect way for Dems to get hustled by Bush. Almost surely, any such "add-on" accounts would turn out to be replacements --replacements for cuts in SS benefits. Dems should stop this silly utopian posturing and spend their time trying to accomplish one task -- the safeguarding of future SS benefits, the benefits Bush wants to cut.
Why did Biden enthuse in this way? Again, say that one key word: Unprepared. He didn't know the cost of Bush's private accounts. He didn't know when the future shortfall occurs. He used Bush Lingo when he said that the trust fund has "already been spent." And he seemed to be lazily unprepared when it came to this slippery subject too Big Major Dems are snoozing hard as they fumble their way through this fight. Biden's performance was a pure mess -- and his lazy response about add-on accounts was one more part of the problem.