Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Democracy Now: Robert Parry, Michael Ratner, Galloway's speech, Antonio Villaraigosa, the Kwangju Massacre; Somerby, Lindorff, Rothschild

Democracy Now!: (Marcia: "always worth watching"):
Headlines for May 18, 2005
- Los Angeles Elects First Latino Mayor in 130 Years
- Bush Administration Moves Toward the Weaponization of Space
- U.S. Officials Arrest Anti-Castro Cuban Militant in Miami
- CIA Assassinates Al Qaeda Suspect in Pakistan
- Rep. McDermott Calls for Depleted Uranium Investigation
- Ex-Haitian PM Neptune Enters 2nd Month of Hunger Strike
- Media Reform Group Calls For Ouster of CPB Head Tomlinson
- Protesters Gather Outside Halliburton Shareholder Meeting

U.S. Arrests Anti-Castro Cuban Tied To 1976 Airline Bombing
Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles was arrested in Miami shortly after he gave a press conference. Despite having been jailed on terrorism charges in Venezuela and Panama, Carriles managed to sneak into the United States in March in order to seek political asylum.

Attorney: Former Detainees Have Repeatedly Accused U.S. of Desecrating Koran at Guatanamo
In August 2003, 23 Yemeni detainees reportedly tried to commit mass suicide after a guard stomped on the Koran. In addition, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights reported former detainees said they saw the Koran being thrown into the toilets. Three British citizens released last year from Guantanamo reported similar treatment of the Koran in a 115-page dossier on the conditions at the detention camp.

British MP Galloway Slams U.S. War in Iraq & Ties to Saddam During Senate Testimony
On Tuesday British politician George Galloway testified in Washington as part of the Senate's so-called oil for food scandal. Galloway said "This is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth." [includes rush transcript]

Los Angeles Elects First Latino Mayor in 130 Years
Antonio Villaraigosa, a son of a Mexican immigrant, defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Hahn. Villaraigosa took about 59 percent of votes against 41 percent for Hahn, who beat Villaraigosa in a bitter 2001 election. [includes rush transcript]

25 Years Ago: The Kwangju Massacre in South Korea
Democracy Now's Juan Gonzalez looks back at the 1980 pro-democracy uprising that ended when South Korean soldiers opened fire. The official body count was 500. Some human rights groups have estimated the number of dead as high as 2,000. Despite his public policy of supporting human rights, U.S. President Jimmy Carter refused to back the pro-democracy protesters in South Korea. [includes rush transcript]

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's addressing Newsweek, the Times coverage of Janice Rogers Brown and other topics. We'll focus on the Times coverage (but read his points regarding Newsweek -- they are worth reading) for the excerpt below:

NO FILIBUSTERS ON SUBSTANCE: As Dems prepare to filibuster that first pair of judges, the national press keeps it short and sweet. This morning, Neil Lewis profiles Janice Rogers Brown in the paper of record. Incredibly, this is his only attempt to examine the claim that Brown is a judicial activist:
LEWIS (5/18/05): The Supreme Court case cited most often for the idea that Justice Brown might inject her views into court opinions is San Remo Hotel v. San Francisco in 2002. The majority upheld a requirement, intended to maintain low-cost housing, that owners pay a fee to demolish a residential hotel. In her dissent, Justice Brown said the city had engaged in theft of the property. ''Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery,'' she wrote. ''Turning a democracy into a kleptocracy does not enhance the stature of the thieves, it only diminishes the legitimacy of the government.''

Incredibly, that's the entire discussion of the San Remo case, and Lewis mentions no other case where Brown is alleged to have inappropriately "injected her views" into court decisions. If readers want to know what this fuss is about, they'll have to take their business somewhere else.
But then, Lewis gave the same cursory treatment to Justice Priscilla Owen on Monday. [. . .]
Do you want to know why people claim that Brown and Owen are activist judges? To all appearances, you won't find out from reading the Times. We can find no news reports in the past six months which examine this question in more detail--and this morning, Lewis gives you exactly one paragraph. But so it goes in our modern press corps--a cohort with an almost pathological aversion to exploring matters of substance. This week, Democrats will talk and talk about the activist pair. Providing balance, the Times keeps it brief.

From CounterPunch Seth e-mails Dave Lindorff's "The Plot to Make the PATRIOT Act Even Worse:"

The administration has been arguing for renewal or for making the provisions permanent, but a coalition of conservative and liberal groups calling itself Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, has expressed hopes of convincing a majority of the Judiciary Committees of both House and Senate to modify those and several other rights-threatening measures in the PATRIOT Act before sending the renewal legislation to the full Congress in June.
This surprise move by the Intelligence Committee, which is packed with senators from both parties who have not been particularly friendly to civil libertarians, appears to be an end run by supporters of the White House.
Says Lisa Graves, intelligence lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, "This is an effort by the administration to get everything they want. It is an outrage." Graves says the move suggests that the administration and its congressional backers fear that they could lose in the Judiciary Committee, and are hoping to present the bill they want as a fait accompli and then call anyone who tries to weaken it "soft on terror."
"This is a radical bill," Graves says of the Intelligence Committee work-in-progress. She says her sources tell her that besides making the controversial sunset provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent, the Intelligence Committee version of the revised act would greatly expand one of its most dangerous provisions, the administrative subpoena. "It would allow administrative subpoenas for virtually anything held by a third party, such as bank or phone or medical records, with only the merest unsubstantiated hint of a foreign connection." Equally troubling, she says, the Intelligence Committee version of the bill would strip out a current bar on using warrantless administrative subpoenas in cases that involved primarily protected First Amendment activities, such as legitimate political protest.

Beth e-mailed to note Matthew Rothschild's latest "This Just In" entitled "The Newsweek Retraction:"

Newsweek's retraction of its story about the U.S. interrogator at Guantanamo flushing a Koran down the toilet raises serious questions about the state of journalism in America.
The threshold question is whether the initial story was true.
"We are not in a position to know that," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, told the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Whitaker explained that the anonymous high-level government source the magazine relied on could not reconfirm the story in all its details, though the source said "he thought he had still seen something," Whitaker said.
Of course, there are issues of journalistic practice at stake here, as well. Should journalists use anonymous sources, and should editors run a story based on only one such source? In Newsweek's defense, it did ask the Pentagon for comment, even showing the whole story to a senior Pentagon official who did not take issue with the Koran bit, according to Whitaker.
But beyond Journalism 101, there is something much more troubling here.
Did Newsweek cave?

Please note, those who read "This Just In" regularly (which includes myself), this is a lengthier one than usual. The cut off point for the pull quote seemed to fall naturally with "Did Newswee cave?" Click the link to read the rest.

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Note: The title of this post has been corrected. Michael Ratner, not "Radner" as I wrongly typed. Since nothing after "Michael" is contained in the URL for this post, I was able to change the title. That's not always the case. When changing a word in the title would change the URL, the correct spelling is noted in the entry.