Monday, April 18, 2005

Democracy Now: Elena Poniatowska and Paco Ignacio Taibo; Matthew Rothschild, Amitabh Pal; Bob Somerby (addressing Bumiller)

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching):

Headlines for April 18, 2005
- Catholic Cardinals Meet to Elect New Pope
- U.S. Activist Marla Ruzicka Killed In Iraq
- Bolton Accused of Withholding Reports From Powell & Rice
- Sen. Hagel "Troubled" by Allegations About Bolton
- Second GOP Lawmaker Calls Delay to Step Down
- NYC To Pay Out $230,000 to Settle RNC Charges
- NY Prosecutors To Drop Charges in High Profile RNC Arrest
- Israel Clears Soldier involved in UK Journalist Killing
- 2,000 Pay Tribute To Chicano Leader Corky Gonzales

An Hour with Mexican Writers Elena Poniatowska and Paco Ignacio Taibo on the Mexican Elections, the Zapatistas and President Bush
In Mexico, turmoil and confusion continue to surround the upcoming presidential election. Last week, the Mexican federal Congress voted to impeach one of the leading candidates from his job as mayor of Mexico City. The politician -- Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador -- is now facing arrest over a minor four-year-old infraction. Once an arrest warrant is issued, he could lose his political rights and be barred from running for the presidency. Lopez Obrador has been comfortably leading opinion polls for next year"s elections to replace Mexican President Vincente Fox who cannot run again.
Today we look at this and other major issues in Mexico today with two of the country's best known writers: Elena Poniatowska is a founder of the newspaper La Jornada and Mexico"s first feminist magazine, "Fem." She is the first woman to win the Mexican National Award for Journalism. Paco Ignacio Taibo is a leading Mexican author. He has written more than 50 books, including novels, short stories, and essays, and is particularly known for his detective novels. He recently completed a novel with Zapaitista leader Subcommandante Marcos.
We also hear a new recording in English by Marcos recorded in the jungles of Chiapas.

Matthew Rothschild writes about a frightening court case in his latest "This Just In:"

It was not your usual judge's order in a case about the potential termination of parental rights.
Last October, Judge Barry Tatum of Wilson County, Tennessee, gave a Mexican woman, who is accused of neglect, six months to learn English up to the fourth-grade level or else he would proceed with the trial that could force her to relinquish her 11-year-old daughter.
The six-month period is up on Monday, April 18, and the judge has set a hearing on Monday to determine whether the woman, who speaks Mixteco, has learned enough English.
"The court specially informs the mother that if she does not make the effort to learn English, she is running the risk of losing any connection--legally, morally, and physically--with her daughter forever," the judge wrote in his original order, according to news accounts. "If the mother is able to learn English, she will be able to speak with her daughter for the first time in a substantive manner and will show her that she loves her and is willing to do anything necessary to connect with her."
The woman's attorney, Jerry Gonzalez, told The Progressive that the ruling was "outrageous and unconstitutional." He added, "It's in violation of every juvenile rule, every statute, and the constitution--no matter how you want to interpret it."

Also at The Progressive, Marcia e-mails to note Amitabh Pal's Blog:

The collapse on April 11 of a Bangladesh garment factory that has killed at least 30 workers emphasizes once again the need to reform the global economy(
The nine-story structure collapsed after a boiler exploded. Hundreds of workers remain trapped beneath the rubble, with the chances of survival for most of them appearing slim.
This is a snapshot of the toll of corporate globalization.
The complete suspension of basic rules for a factory that exported clothing mainly to the United States, Belgium and Germany is breathtaking. Not only was the factory allegedly in violation of even minimal safety standards, but apparently it was built absolutely illegally on swampland, a fact that local authorities seem to have woken up to only after the ghastly tragedy (
Which American companies were purchasing clothing from this factory from hell?
"No one knows," says Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights ( Kernaghan points out that one of the ironies of the globalized economy is that workers can rarely read the labels of the companies they are sweating for, making it impossible to get such information from them. The owners (in this case, reportedly the son-in-law of a ruling party member of parliament) most often abscond after such disasters. And, sure as hell, the Western companies enjoying low-priced goods courtesy of the factory's disdain for the lives of its workers aren't going to issue press releases advertising their connection to such a factory.

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somberby is addressing the press' refusal to let go of a tall tale (also known as a lie) once they've created it. But before moving to that, what better way to ease into such a topic then to address the Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader? From today's entry:

THROW THE BUMILLER OUT: It's the journalistic car wreck that just keeps on happening! In this morning’s New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller pens her weekly "White House Letter"--and this time, it's Dear Leader's love of baseball that provides the setting for the soft-soap sponge-bath she hands George Bush every week.
Bumiller's vacuous method is on full display this morning. As usual, she picks a fatuous, feel-good topic: Bush's great love for the national pastime. Then she quotes a string of Bush admirers about the fabulous personal qualities we can see from his history with the sport. A former deputy baseball commissioner says that Bush was "the ideal baseball owner." Bush's Number One Shill, long-time friend Roland Betts, is rolled out to describe the skillful way his buddy promoted the Texas Rangers. (Betts is IDed as a business associate.) Meanwhile, completely unremarkable facts are hyped. ("To this day, I can still recite the starting lineup of the 1954 Giants," Bush is quoted saying.) And a warm sponge-bath of feel-good imagery takes us right back to the cradle:
BUMILLER (1/18/05):
Mr. Bush's first exposure to baseball was as an infant in the lap of his mother...
This is propaganda so stupid and crude that it would have embarrassed the Chinese Commies. To date, Bumiller hasn't portrayed Dear Leader swimming rivers under enemy fire, but she does grind out the feel-good reports every Monday morning. (And most likely Betts is working up a story along those inspiring lines.) And yes, the Times kept presenting this clownish feature all through the 2004 campaign. And no--the paper provided no corresponding feature about the wonders of Candidate Kerry. Anyone would have thought of that--except the great minds at the Times.
Of course, like any competent flack for Mao, Bumiller airbrushes every episode which might distract from Dear Leader's goodness. What can we learn about Bush from a review of his baseball career? She doesn't mention the land-grab he engineered in Texas, in which working-class citizens were bullied into giving him and his partners free land and a shiny new stadium (see
THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/16/02). For the record, complaints about this episode are hardly a left-wing fever dream; in June 1999, conservative Byron York wrote a cover story for the conservative American Spectator in which he went into great detail about the unseemliness of this matter. York said that "the record of Bush’s rise to wealth" was "topped off by a taxpayer-subsidized baseball bonanza that may leave some Republicans feeling queasy about how their candidate got rich." But because it might bother even Republicans, Bumiller knows it must be disappeared. After all, Bumiller isn't fair-and-balanced; Bumiller writes about a Dear Leader. Result? If dogs like York need re-education, they can get it in the Times every week.

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