Friday, April 15, 2005

Democracy Now: Debt Slavery, War Tax Resistance, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, The Black Commentator

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching).
Headlines for April 15, 2005
- Three Roadside Bombs Rock Baghdad
- Four Charged in UN Oil for Food 'Scandal'
- Bolton Faces More Allegations That He Tried to Fire Analysts
- Negroponte Confirmed By Senate Committee
- Controversial Judge Griffith Confirmed
- Bill Frist Says Dems 'Against People of Faith'
- Bush Doesn't Do E-Mail

Debt Slavery? Congress Approves Bush's Bankruptcy Bill
A major overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws won final congressional approval Thursday, in a move that will make it harder for Americans to rid themselves of debt by filing for bankruptcy. We speak with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and David Swanson of [includes rush transcript]

War Tax Resistance: Refusing to Fund War on Tax Day
Today is Tax Day - while millions of Americans are scrambling to file their income taxes on time, others are protesting the use of tax dollars to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by refusing to pay some or all of their taxes. We speak with a member of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. [includes rush transcript]

Chicano Leader Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales 1929-2005: "He was the Fist. He Stood For Defiance, Resistance"

Chicano political and civil rights activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales died Tuesday at his home in Denver, Colorado. He was 76 years old. We speak with his friend, columnist Roberto Rodriguez. [includes rush transcript]

Over at Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel's addressing "George Bush’s iPod Playlist."
Noting the New York Times story, she comes up with a list of songs that should be on the Bully Boy's iPod and asks for additional songs. We'll also include her p.s. because we didn't think Judith Regan belonged on the cover story either:

So, thinking of those thousands of empty slots on Bush's iPod, I'd like to nominate a few new songs for the leader of the free world's playlist. Here's my top ten:
Kid Rock, "Pimp of the Nation"
Eminem, "Mosh"
Beastie Boys, "It Takes Time to Build"
John Mellencamp, "To Washington"
George Thorogood, "I Drink Alone"
The Castaways, "Liar,Liar"
REM, "The End of the World As We Know It"
Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"
The Clash, "I'm So Bored with the USA"
And that old jazz standard, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"
I'm sure you readers have lots of better nominations. Please click
here to let me know what you think and we'll see what we can do about getting Dubya's IPod some new music.
P.S. Judith Regan Goes West: What was
that story about Regan and her new West Coast, Murdoch-financed, multimedia empire/salon doing on the front page of the Gray Lady yesterday? If the New York Times is going to do second-rate versions of New York Observer stories, could they at least drop in a graf about Regan's trsyt with Bernie Kerik down near Ground Zero.

As Francisco noted in his e-mail asking that this be highlighted, Cedric should be pleased to see one of the songs he picked as song of the year in our year-in-review on the list.

Tori e-mailed to highlight Matthew Rothschild's latest This Just In which is entitled "The Scandal of John Negroponte." From that This Just In:

According to a raft of recently declassified documents that can be found at the National Security Archive website, Negroponte frequently met with the head of the Honduran military, General Gustavo Alvarez. It was General Alvarez who oversaw the work of the notorious Battalion 316, which kidnapped and tortured hundreds of Hondurans and murdered at least 184, according to a prizewinning series by the Baltimore Sun in 1995.
In an October 13, 1983, cable, Negroponte wrote about an airplane trip he had just taken with General Alvarez, whose "commitment to constitutional government" Negroponte saluted. "Alvarez's dedication to democracy is frequently questioned by critics of our policies here," Negroponte wrote. "The critics are motivated either by a stereotype of political life in Honduras as unduly influenced by the military, in disregard of the facts, or out of sheer ignorance of the fact that Alvarez on repeated public occasions has pledged his complete loyalty to constitutional rule."
To put Alvarez's "dedication to democracy" in perspective, let's return to the Baltimore Sun's piece on Battalion 316.
"The battalion was organized by Colonel Gustav Alvarez Martinez, commander of the Honduran military, and remained under his authority after he became head of the Honduran armed forces in 1982 with the rank of general," the Sun reported. "Execution orders came down to the battalion from Alvarez" and a subordinate.
One member of Battalion 316, Florencio Caballero, told the Sun about the killing of a 35-year-old teacher and political activist. "By order of Alvarez, to be sure that no one would ever find his body, they took him from Tegucigalpa and stabbed him to death," Caballero said. "Then they cut his body to pieces with a machete and buried the pieces in different places along the road."
Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive notes that Negroponte's own cables and memos do not reflect any concern about these human rights abuses.
"Conspicuously absent from the cable traffic," writes Kornbluh, "is reporting on human rights atrocities that were committed by the Honduran military and its secret police unit known as Battalion 316. . . . Negroponte's cables reflect no protest, or even discussion of these issues during his many meetings with General Alvarez, his deputies, and Honduran President Robert Suazo. Nor do the released cables contain any reporting to Washington on the human rights abuses that were taking place."
There's a reason for that, as the Baltimore Sun noted. Had Negroponte reported on these abuses, aid to Honduras could have been cut off. So Negroponte insisted that the embassy reports to Congress not include any mention of the human rights abuses.

Lastly, Keesha e-mails in to note the conclusion of The Black Commentator's "Blacks Pushed Down and Out:"

So we see that dropouts are institutionally manufactured, not the inevitable product of some sickness in Black society. The Urban Institute report recommends each new student be provided "with a single lifetime school identification number that would follow him or her throughout his or her entire school career. Until this nation implements and carefully monitors such a system, we will never know exactly what happens to students."
It's a sound idea, but one that will never be accepted by the class that George Bush represents, who reject any social responsibility for life outcomes, even the outcomes of very young lives. Why get an accurate count of dropouts, when they -- like everyone else, in the corporate vision --- are on their own? A true accounting of the catastrophe might conjure up the words of President Lyndon Johnson to Howard University's graduating class on July 4, 1965: "We seek not just freedom but opportunity -- not just legal equity but human ability -- not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result."
Equality as a result, even a decent education as a result, died as a national purpose amidst the flickering embers of affirmative action, nearly two decades ago. Today, affirmative action is in a persistent vegetative state -- technically alive, but unable to impact the world around it. If results are not relevant, there is no point in getting a good count. No Child Left Behind, as administered by Bush, is a tool to fail and erase from the rolls not just individual youngsters, but whole school systems, so that the bells of total corporate freedom might ring.

What has been lost to America -- or never really found -- is the general belief in a social contract. The human deficit is immeasurable.

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[We'll be noting Bob Somerby's column today later tonight.]