Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Democracy Now: Lynching, the story behind "Strange Fruit;" Danny Schechter, Bob Somerby, Matthew Rothschild, Ruth Conniff, BuzzFlash

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching" as Marcia says)

Headlines for June 14, 2005
- HIV & AIDS Cases in U.S. Tops One Million
- Conviction Overturned for Death Row Inmate Thomas Miller-El
- Supreme Court Upholds Limits on Media Consolidation
- 30 Die in Iraq Bombings
- U.S. Military Officers: There is No Military Solution In Iraq
- Pentagon Analyst Larry Franklin Indicted

NEW FEATURE: Democracy Now! is now offering the program's daily news summary translated into Spanish. Los Titulares de Hoy

Senate Apologizes For Not Enacting Anti-Lynching Legislation, A Look at Journalist and Anti-Lynching Crusader Ida B. Wells
The Senate passes a resolution to apologize for its failure to enact anti-lynching legislation. We hear excerpts of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu speaking on the Senate floor and we talk about the history of lynching, focusing on pioneering journalist and anti-lynching crusader, Ida B. Wells. We speak with her grandson, sociologist Troy Duster as well as historian Nell Irvin Painter.

Strange Fruit: Anthem of the Anti-Lynching Movement
We look at the famous anti-lynching song "Strange Fruit," most famously sung by Billie Holiday. The song was written in the 1930s not by Holiday - but by a lyricist writing under the pseudonym Lewis Allan. The songwriter was actually Abel Meeropol, a school teacher and union activist living in the Bronx. He wrote the lyrics after being disturbed by a photograph of a lynching.

Mississippi Trial Begins in 1964 Civil Rights Killings
The trial of former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen has begun in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He is charged with the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers. We speak with the brother and mother of two of the victims, Ben Chaney and Carolyn Goodman. And we speak with the journalist who has been investigating the murders for the past 16 years.

From Headlines, we'll highlight this:

Court Denies "Enemy Combatant" Immediate Review Of Case
Also on Monday the Supreme Court decided not to hear an immediate appeal from Jose Padilla. The U.S.-born citizen has been jailed for the past three years in solitary confinement on a military brig even though the government has never charged him with a crime and he has never appeared inside a courtroom. The Bush administration originally accused Padilla of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States.

And Marcia e-mails to note this from Headlines:

Pentagon Analyst Larry Franklin Indicted
One of the Pentagon's top analysts on Iran has been indicted on charges that he leaked highly classified intelligence to employees of AIPAC -- the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- as well as an Israeli official. On Monday, the analyst Larry Franklin, pleaded not guilty to all six counts in the indictment. Both AIPAC and Israel have denied any wrongdoing.

Over at The Daily Howler . . . Bob Somerby's mind tracks eighteen different details at once and somehow manages to stay focused on all of them. Tomorrow, check out The Howler for his thought on the nonsense that passes for "news analysis" in this morning's New York Times. For today, we'll go to the Clinton section, or the Bill Clinton section (seriously, there's a great deal jammed in to today's Howler):

In this, we hear a familiar message: Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss! Yes--conservative crackpots were loud and proud all throughout the Clinton-Gore era, but the mainstream press played an astonishing, active role in the process which led to Clinton's impeachment and eventually to Al Gore's defeat. Let’s go back to the very beginning: The Whitewater stories which gave the name to a political era started in the New York Times in early 1992; the Times has never explained the puzzling "journalism" involved in these reports, even after Gene Lyons' laid out the problems in Fools for Scandal (published in early 1996). This early work wasn't caused by wing-nuts--except to the extent that Jeff Gerth, the Times' lead reporter, took his "information" straight from wing-nuts in deepest Arkansas. But so what? Gerth's "reporting" went straight in the paper. And from that day right on to the end, the mainstream press played an enthusiastic role in the trashing of Clinton, then Gore--the remarkable conduct that eventually brought Bush to the White House. Do readers have the slightest understanding of the coverage of Campaign 2000, for example? The Washington Post and the New York Times plainly played the leading role in the press corps' two-year trashing of Gore. It's absurd to wish this away with a few silly comments about how the poor mainstream press corps "felt it had to pay attention" every time the RNC spoke--or to suggest, as Pangloss did, that the wingnut Clinton-hatred ended after Clinton’s impeacvhment. It did not. In Campaign 2000, the mainstream press directly channeled RNC garbage, from March 1999 on. We've documented this remarkable story again and again, in lengthy reports that are their for the clicking. But Blogger Pangloss just can’t seem to say it about his fair press corps. Can’t you just hear him? Kiss kiss!
To borrow from Atrios, "This is pure bulls**t.” Why does the Blogger kiss-kiss so much when he discusses the mainstream press? In the individual case of the Blogger, we don't have any way to say. But as a general matter, your fiery young liberal on-the-make journalists have long played this game, for an obvious reason. They will make their careers in the mainstream press corps, and they refuse to tell you about its real conduct. They sat on their hands and kept their mouths closed while the mainstream press corps brought George Bush to power. Now Pangloss pretends that this never occurred. Can't you just hear him? Kiss kiss!
Two key points: First, the mainstream press corps played a huge role in creating that historic "Clinton hatred." And it didn't end with Clinton's impeachment; it was then transferred directly to Gore, with the press corps spending the next two years attacking his run for the White House. But for whatever reason, Pangloss sees flowers all over the garden whenever he looks on his mainstream press corps. The wing-nuts did it, he now tells his readers. Can't you just hear him? Hey, rubes!

Martha e-mails to highlight Danny Schechter on debt relief:

Now on to something more important: African poverty and debt. We all read about the debt crisis that that shackles poor countries. (See my own article on the subject on
Mediachannel.org.) Will the debt be lifted, and what will it mean? Will it even happen? President Bush got into the act yesterday, reports the Washington Post:
"President Bush met yesterday with the leaders of five African nations and promised to work to speed future aid to the continent through an underutilized program that rewards poor nations that pursue political and economic reforms with substantial increases in development help."
And what are these "reforms"? They are usually described as anti-corruption measures but, in actual fact, mostly insure privatization and more corporatization as in opening the economy to more U.S. "participation" on favorable terms. In the old days, it was called imperialism. Notes George Monbiot today in the Guardian:
"To qualify for debt relief, developing countries must 'tackle corruption, boost private sector development' and eliminate 'impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign... in terms of looted resources, stolen labor and now the damage caused by climate change, the rich owe the poor far more than the poor owe the rich. Some of the poorest countries have been paying more for debt than for health or education. Whatever the origins of the problem, that is obscene."

Victor e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Cheney Loves Guantanamo:"

Dick Cheney just doesn't get it.
The Vice President appears untroubled by the torture scandal.
He said he was "offended" by Amnesty International's use of the term gulag, but he wasn't evidently offended by the practices that Amnesty was highlighting: the beatings, the hanging of people up by the ceiling, the sexual humiliation, the anal probes, or the forcing of detainees to lie in their own excrement.
Nah, that's not offensive to Cheney.
And so he's in no hurry to shut Guantanamo down, despite the stain, perhaps indelible, that it's leaving on the U.S reputation.

Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's "Downing Street's Smoking Gun:"

In the lead-up to the Iraq invasion there were many plainly false justifications for going to war. The President and his spokesmen repeatedly implied a connection between 9-11 and Iraq, for example. There were the manipulative references to "mushroom clouds." While many Americans, in public opinion polls, showed confusion about the Iraq/9-11 connection and whether Saddam posed a direct threat to the U.S., it's not like the relevant information wasn't widely available.
So now we get the Downing Street memo, a smoking gun if ever there was one. Read the short, clear text on the excellent website
As the times of London reported on May 1, the memo--minutes of a secret meeting of top British officials held on July 23, 2002, long before the invasion of Iraq the following March--states: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Lastly, BuzzFlash has upgraded their site and it now includes a drop down menu. Please make a point to check it out sometime this week.

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