Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Democracy Now: Alfredo Palacio, Greg Palast, Robert Baskin, John Perkins; Somerby on Newsweek, vanden Heuvel on SEIU, Ford & Gamble on CBC

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

Headlines for May 17, 2005
- Iraqis Accuse U.S. of "Bombing Whole Villages" Near Syrian Border
- Newsweek Retracts Koran Desecration Story
- More Evidence Emerges U.S. Did Desecrate Koran At Guantanamo
- Military Jury Convicts Soldier For Abu Ghraib Abuses
- Luis Posada Carriles Gives Interview to Miami Herald
- George Galloway To Testify Before Senate Over Iraq Kickbacks
- Voters In Los Angeles Head to the Polls

Is there another Hugo Chavez in Latin America? An Exclusive Interview with Ecuador's New President
In a Democracy Now exclusive, investigative reporter Greg Palast reports from Ecuador where he interviews the country's new president, Alfredo Palacio, and takes a look at whether he will join the popular leftist movements in Latin America or will continue the neoliberal program of his predecessor. [includes rush transcript]

Natural Gas Issues Ignite Mass Antigovernment Protests in BoliviaTens of thousands of protesters in Bolivia marched on the capital La Paz after President Carlos Mesa's attempt to push through a law giving large corporations and investors greater control of the country's significant natural gas resources. [includes rush transcript]

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions
We play an interview with, John Perkins - author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" - who says he says he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then taking over their economies. [includes rush transcript]

Investigative Journalist Recalls Leaving CBS After Encountering Fierce Resistance to Re-Air Expose on Nike Labor Practices
We play a speech by Roberta Baskin, the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. For years, Baskin was an investigative journalist working for CBS. She eventually left after she encountered fierce resistance to re-air her story on Nike's labor practices in Vietnam. And we hear response from a senior official of CBS's owner Viacom.

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby addresses a number of things but we'll go with the opening (regarding Newsweek) item:

E UNUM, PLURIBUS: As in the earlier case of Dan Rather, we're puzzled when liberals, centrists and Democrats seem inclined to vouch for Newsweek in its recent blundering. Here, for example, is a pungent passage from today's New York Times, from a front-page report by "Kit" Seelye:
SEELYE (5/17/05): Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek, said in an interview that the magazine was retracting the part of the article saying sources told Newsweek that a coming military report would say interrogators had flushed a holy book down the toilet to unnerve detainees. As it turned out, Newsweek now says, there was one source. And Mr. Whitaker said that because that source had ''backed away'' from his original account, the magazine could ''no longer stand by'' it.

As we've told you, your modern "press corps" has many slippery techniques for making weak stories seem stronger. (No one knows this any better than Seelye.) One of the slickest techniques was put in play here--the turning of one into many. Newsweek now says it had one source; in its original item, it claimed it had "sources." This pluralization of the single is a familiar press corps technique, and it's the mark of a cheat--of a fake, a dissembler. And by the way, these dissembling techniques have been widely used for the past dozen years against an array of Big Dems.
Who knows? The substance of this story may turn out to be true. And White House outrage is a gimmicked-up posture. But Newsweek made a serious accusation against the U.S. military--an accusation it can’t back up, in which it embellished its number of sources. Dems shouldn’t rush to defend such conduct. They ought to take this as a teaching opportunity--a chance to tel the public that, despite what you hear about "liberal bias," this is exactly the sort of thing that has routinely been done to our leaders.
Oops, sorry--we almost forgot! That would force career "liberal" writers to bite the hands that may one day feed them. So liberal career writers won't say these vile things. There's no reason why amateurs shouldn't.

Sam e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's Editor's Cut:

As I wrote in March, charismatic SEIU leader Andy Stern has been anything but shy about triggering the most far-reaching strategic debate in labor in more than a generation. And while I disagree with some of SEIU's argument about what is to be done, I admire Stern's call for dramatic structural changes, his openness to remake labor's traditional ties to the Democratic Party and create new institutions and alliances for working people. His sense of urgency, even desperation about the future of labor is admirable and welcome.
On Monday, SEIU--along with its insurgent allies, including the Teamsters, Laborers and UNITE HERE --issued an unprecedented joint statement of principles, "Restoring the American Dream: Building a 21st Century Labor Movement That Can Win." (Click below to find Andy Stern's blog, and then scroll to the end where he encourages you to read the unions' joint proposal.)
Together these unions represent 5.5 million members, and the majority of the major organizing unions in the private sector. (The UFCW was also involved in drafting the statement and will take it to their executive board meeting for endorsement; the proposal is also being discussed with the Carpenters Union.)

Keesha e-mails to note The Black Commentator's "Black Caucus Conservatives Attempt to Clone Themselves:"

Corporate funding and influence have succeeded in placing the most rightwing members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in key positions that empower them to recruit and fund other business- and Republican-friendly Black candidates. Unless independent mechanisms are created to finance progressive CBC incumbents -- and nurture challengers to the corporate contributions-rich members -- the rightwing faction will replicate itself, and the Caucus will lose all but ceremonial value to Black America.
Corporate-led members already exercise an effective veto power in the CBC, preventing the Caucus from taking positions on "bright line" issues vital to African Americans, but deemed inimical to wealthy interests. History will record that the CBC definitively lost its ability to act as a body on behalf of its national Black constituency last month, when 15 members voted with the Republicans on at least one of three critical measures: bankruptcy, repeal of the estate tax, and energy. (See chart in BC, "How to Fix the Fractured Black Caucus,"
April 28, 2005.)
Six members make up the core of defectors from the historical Black Political Consensus – deviants from the CBC's proud 36-year progressive tradition: Harold Ford, Jr. (TN), Artur Davis (AL), David Scott (GA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Albert Wynn (MD), and William Jefferson (LA). All but Jefferson are members of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and/or the Blue Dog Coalition, vehicles for corporate funding and intrigue in the Democratic Party. Having reached critical mass with the election of Alabama's Davis and Georgia's Scott in 2002, the corporate-allied faction's influence is greatly enhanced by the DLC's institutional and financial clout.
Rep. Albert Wynn chairs the Caucus's Political Action Committee, through which he can direct funds to incumbents and candidates. The congressman from Washington, DC's relatively prosperous Maryland suburbs is the DLC's key operative in the Caucus -- which is doubtless the reason he sits in the money-chair. Wynn scored a grand slam for the Republicans in April, siding with the GOP on all three "bright line" measures, as did Bishop, Scott, and Jefferson.

(The above piece is by "BC Co-Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are working on a book to be titled, Barack Obama and the Crisis of Black Leadership.)

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