Thursday, June 23, 2005

Indymedia roundup

Last Sunday, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has put her regular army and her militia on red alert. Dozens of members of autonomous regional zapatista governments, the Councils of Good Government, fled to the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. From now on they work in a clandestine and nomadic manner. The offices of the autonomous municipalities and regions have been closed. Members of civil society who are in Chiapas right now are urged to leave rebelious territory, or stay at their own risk. The motivations for the red alert are unknown right now. It is very likely that the shooting war, that cost hundreds of lives in january of 1994, will be resumed.

The above was sent in by Juanita, Rafael's "Zapatistas: War in Chipas likely to resume?" (NYC Indymedia). Rafael's article also offers a history of the Zapatistas.

Democracy Now! has also reported on this:

Zapatistas Put on 'Red Alert'
And, Mexico's Zapatista rebel army has put its forces on red alert but it is unclear what has prompted the action. The leader of the Zapatistas, Subcommandante Marcos said in a statement on Monday they were grouping their fighters together, temporarily closing down their radio station and pulling out of villages they govern. The statement said, however, that all of the social services provided by the Zapatistas would continue. They did not give a reason for the moves in the southern state of Chiapas. The last time the group declared a similar "red alert" was in 1997 after paramilitary forces massacred 45 people in the village of Acteal.

Alex e-mails to note "Philly IMC is the place to be for what went down" at the BIO protests. There are a number of articles (photos, audio) up at present. With the announcement that Charles Sherrouse was due to be released, hopefully more articles will be posted in the next few days.

On the issue of protest, the G8's approaching and Indymedia will own that coverage (and not just because the mainstream doesn't want to touch it). Indymedia UK is a good resource to check out and currently they have "G8 Summit Quicklinks."

And what about the Downing Street Memo, you naturally ask? (No, there's nothing natural about that, I just didn't have a transition.) Thanks to Lana, we have input on how the story is being covered in Australia. She e-mails (from Melbourne Indymedia) caracoles' "The 'smoking gun' on Iraq and not a corporate journo in sight"(from June 16th):

It has now been 6 weeks since the Downing Street Memo was published by the Times in London and provided irrefutable evidence that the US, UK and Australian governments lied to us about the invasion of Iraq. Up until now the response of the corporate media and opinion makers has been virtually inaudible.
The memo contains meeting minutes from the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002, which show that the US had decided to invade Iraq many months before the supposed attempts to find a peaceful solution. It also shows that the US did not see Saddam Hussein as a threat more significant than North Korea, Iran and Libya, and that the intelligence would be "fixed" to allow the justification for the war. The following is taken from the minutes: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. 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." It can only be assumed that similar documents exist inside the Australian government showing a clear and deliberate plan to lie to the general populace about the reasons for the war. What is most interesting is the corporate media response to the memo in Australia and in the US. There has been virtual silence on it in the US media, while in Australia, to the best of my reading and searching, it has only rated a few lines in the Corporates or on the ABC. This provides a really clear example of how the mainstream media acts as a de facto government propaganda machine. What could be more news worthy and worth a headline than "Government caught out lying to send young to die"? But I haven't seen it and don't expect to such is the level of subservience of the media in Australia. I have collected a series of links that give more background and also explain a campaign in the US to get the media to cover the story. What an indictment it is when people have to run a popular campaign to get the media to cover a story that shows its government is lying.

On the subject of media coverage of the Downing Street Memo, I want to drop back to The Third Estate Sunday Review roundtable:

Ava: I want to address something Ruth brought up in relation to the Downing Street Memo. She noted that a reporter for The Guardian went on NPR's Morning Edition and didn't even mention the memo even when discussing Tony Blair's political problems. She noted that here, in the United States, we're under the impression that the British press has been all over this. And while some have, some haven't. This resulted in e-mails to her. They couldn't find a single article that had been written about it in The Guardian. Ruth did find one. I wanted to read something because Pru and Gareth and other UK community members have backed Ruth up on this but I spoke to her Friday and there's still criticism. No one can find anything, again only Ruth and her granddaughter have been able to find one article from The Guardian written by them, so I want to note, for the record, this online chat from The Washington Post with Michael Smith who has been the one breaking the stories on this at The Sunday Times of London.
One point I would make though, everyone keeps saying it is continually making waves over here. We at the Sunday Times are not going to let it go but no-one else is interested in the U.K. press. The Washington Post came to it late but look at everything it is doing now. Ignore today's silly editorial article. The Post is now working away at this and I know they are planning to try to do more on it. Sadly there is no sign of the New York Times changing its sniffy we told you this already view!
Now there's a lot in there to chew on --
Ty: And chat on! Because this our Sunday chat & chew.
Ava: Right but C.I. and I have both spoken to Ruth and there have been some very angry e-mails to her for stating what is indeed the obvious, The Guardian hasn't led on this.
C.I.: Right and maybe the attitude comes from looking to the overseas press which is traditionally braver than our domestic media -- possibly just when it comes to covering the US which is a foreign country for them -- and apparently Ruth risked demolishing one of their treasured myths. The Guardian is a good newspaper in many ways, but it is also a partisan newspaper. It stands with Labour and that may be why they haven't pursued this story the way they should have. Obviously, Tony Blair's struggling and Jack Straw's being readied as the replacement, much to Gareth's disappointment, I might add, but the memo doesn't just implicate Tony Blair. There are ministers who are not Clare Short and did not step down. It could also be something as simple as not wanting to pursue a story that a competing paper, The Times of London, owns. But for whatever reason, The Guardian hasn't heavily pursued this story. And that reality upsets people and a number of visitors have decided that they're going to kill the messenger, in this case Ruth.
Jim: I think it comes down to a lot of people in the US not grasping that The Guardian is partisan. Historically, in this country, we had openly partisan papers. In the lead up to the invasion/occupation, Americans who knew they were the victims of Operation Happy Talk went elsewhere for their news. And they didn't realize that partisan papers exist. It's been so long since we've had them here. What we have now is a corporate media that operates to protect itself.
Ty: There's nothing wrong with being a partisan paper or an openly partisan one. But it's been so long since we've had that in this country that we go to The Guardian and read some hard truths there and think, "They cover every important story." They're a partisan paper, there's nothing wrong with being that, they're openly partisan. But I think it's a shock to a lot of the people who've been going to the site.
Dona: Because they don't the paper's history or the history of the press. Even our own history in this country, they don't know. But I mean, that's Michael Smith who's broken every story on this and I'd say his comments are informed and very damning actually.

Tina e-mails to note friendofzanetti's "Tenants occupation in Glasgow" (Scotland Indymedia):

Yesterday, Tuesday the 21st of june, tenants from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee occupied the offices of 'Communities Scotland' to protest the run-down of basic services and the erasure of publicly-funded housing in Scotland. They sent out a message that they are organised and willing to resist New Labour's privatisation agenda for housing in Scotland.
In Glasgow yesterday, tenants from housing estates in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee completed an audacious occupation of the ‘Communities Scotland’ Building in Highlander House, 58 Waterloo Street, right in the centre of Glasgow's financial district. Around thirty protestors and a video crew from pilton video in edinburgh, casually made their way upstairs to the community Scotland boardroom, where they ‘sat-in’, singing songs and demanding that their voices be heard. Communities Scotland representative’s sat ashen-faced as the tenants argued their position, and a demand was made for an immediate consultation with Malcolm Chisholm, the Communities Scotland minister who oversees the stock transfer from council to 'private' landlords.

Pru e-mails to note "Big Brother is Watching" (Sheffield IMC):

While people are busy being hooked on watching yet another Big Brother series on TV the fiction rapidly moves towards reality. The UK already has more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world. Your emails can be read and the history of your websurfing analysed without a court order by six government agencies and the Police. Your land line can be tapped. Your mobile phone acts as a tracking device and vehicles can be tracked across the country through number plate recognition software. The Police now have the power to access your NHS records without having to establish that a criminal act has taken place. The measures taken by the UK government in the name of the "war on terror" have severly damaged civil liberties and human rights.
The slide towards a Big Brother state accelerates further this week. The G8 Justice and Interior Ministers meeting in Sheffield discussed avenues for advancing the the so-called "war on terror", national security and combating international crime and illegal immigration, all of which are likely to have further negative impacts on civil liberties. For the UK goverment part of this strategy is to introduce a national identity scheme making it a legal requirement for its citizens to carry ID cards.

Zach e-mails to note passin' it on's "Radio Free Brattleboro Shut Down by Feds" (Santa Cruz Indy Media):

At 6:58 a.m., June 22, 2005, armed with a warrant issued by a Burlington magistrate, United States Marshals entered the studios of radio free brattleboro and seized its broadcasting equipment. The seizure of equipment and shutdown of rfb's local broadcasts under authority of a warrant issued in Burlington comes while an action is still pending before Judge J. Garvan Murtha in the federal court in Brattleboro.
Radio Free Brattleboro Shut Down By FedsContact: James Maxwell, Esq. (802) 257-1299Larry Bloch (802)254-9106
At 6:58 this morning, June 22, 2005, armed with a warrant issued by a Burlington magistrate, United States Marshals entered the studios of radio free brattleboro and seized its broadcasting equipment. The seizure of equipment and shutdown of rfb's local broadcasts under authority of a warrant issued in Burlington comes while an action is still pending before Judge J. Garvan Murtha in the federal court in Brattleboro.

In March of 2004 radio free brattleboro filed for an injunction in the District Court in Brattleboro, asking the Court to prohibit the FCC from seizing equipment. The United States District Attorney, representing the FCC, filed a reciprocal action for injunction to shut down the radio station. These dueling actions were finally whittled down to one action and the rfb request for injunction was dropped,due to the following statement in a filing made by the United States:
In its suit, rfb seeks to enjoin the FCC from seizing its equipment or from stopping it from broadcasting without a hearing. Because neither of these eventualities are threatened, the suit is essentially moot.
The FCC has chosen not to try to seize the equipment of rbf but to proceed by way of a preliminary injunction. Thus, there is no controversy about imminent seizure of equipment for this Court to remedy or enjoin. Moreover, since rfb is receiving a hearing on March 15 [2004], it will not be stoppedfrom broadcasting without a hearing.
Thus, the matters that it asks to be remedied do not need a remedy.This constituted the Government's assurance that it contemplated no seizure of rfb's equipment and rfb did drop its own action for aninjunction.
In April of 2005, with matters still pending in the U.S. District Court in Brattleboro, rfb received a letter from the U.S. Attorney' s office in Burlington stating that the FCC was prepared to pursue other law enforcement remedies . Rfb was puzzled by this new threat, as it had dropped its original action for an injunction because of the Government's assurance that the regular court process in Brattleboro would be the venue for the dispute.
Accordingly, rfb replied to the U.S. Attorney's office stating:The radio station has continued operating because the FCC's complaint to the court has yet to receive a ruling either on the preliminary or permanent injunctions you [FCC] seek. Your review of the file doubtless informs you that rfb originally applied for an injunction to bar the FCC from exactly the action you now contemplate, under 47 U.S.C. 510.
The station voluntarily agreed to a dismissal of its complaint for injunction because of the pending injunction petition put in by the FCC. In the given posture, I do not believe this district court or any appeals court will say that rfb was obliged to shut down: shut-down is precisely the question for which we await the judge's answer. Your threatened action is, therefore, an end run, is it not?
On May 3, 2005, the Government filed for summary judgment in the case pending in Brattleboro. Radio free brattleboro responded to that motion and therefore the FCC's case asking for an injunction to shut down rfb remains, today, in the hands of Judge Murtha in Brattleboro.Radio free brattleboro's attorney, James Maxwell, commented:
"This is on one level no surprise. The FCC has run out of patience with the regular court process in Brattleboro and has gone elsewhere for the relief it seeks, namely, a chance to get the U.S. Marshals into the station to grab the equipment. Radio free brattleboro has a case with substantial and legitimate legal issues pending in the federal court here in Brattleboro, and the station has also applied to the FCC for a waiver to broadcast, and it has repeatedly stated that when the newly licensed 100-watt station is up and running it would step aside. Rfb does not operate in defiance of government but rather from the belief of its members and listeners that community radio is essential to good government and democratic process. Radio free brattleboro has always stressed to the public and to the FCC that it will adhere to FCC guidelines and will serve the public whether licensed or not."
Nevertheless, it is very much a surprise that the FCC has done an end run around the court here in Brattleboro and obtained a warrant from Burlington even while diverting our attention by applying for summary judgment here. It has undertaken these clever maneuvers, in my opinion, not because it must shut down the station but because it can shut down thestation. For there is no harm whatsoever being done by rfb, while there surely is harm being done to a civil society by the broadcast and cable and satellite conglomerates whose idea of serving the public is to process entertainment, information and advertisements for mass consumption, which is to say for no one at all. It's a sad and disappointing day, but of course we will explore our options.

Margot e-mails to note Kristen Lombardi's "Stirring Up the Toxic Dust" (Village Voice):

Eugene Ruchalski probably never dreamed he'd say anything nice about Hillary Clinton. A lifelong Republican, he served five proud terms as the highway superintendent in his hometown of Boston Hills, a Buffalo suburb. At 68, and set in his ways, he admits to entertaining conservative ideas about what he calls "women in politics."
Yet lately, his opinion of New York's junior senator has been changing. He counts himself among a select group of Buffalo-area residents for whom Clinton has become a crusader. Ruchalski's father was one of thousands of employees exposed to radiation at 36 mills in western New York. In his case, it was at the local Bethlehem Steel plant, now defunct, in the late 1940s and early '50s. Many of those workers got sick.
Now, when Ruchalski meets with the others, he hears about all the work the senator is doing to bring his family justice. "If she can deliver for us," he says, somewhat sheepishly, "she can guarantee herself a vote." His.
Anyone wondering why Senator Clinton has gotten so popular upstate, with positive numbers pushing 70 percent, need look no further than the Bethlehem Steel families. Their lives changed for good in 2000, when the federal government admitted that workers in 350 mills nationwide had "rolled" uranium to make nuclear bombs--but never knew it. On lunch breaks at Bethlehem, they blithely sat around on piles of the radioactive stuff, eating their sandwiches and inhaling a deadly dust.
Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, created by Congress, retired workers who got sick, or their survivors, could apply for a $150,000 payment from the government. To date, 1,218 Bethlehem families have filed claims with the Labor Department and the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, the two agencies that administer the program. The old Bethlehem Steel plants--located in South Buffalo, Lackawanna, and Hamburg--have drawn the most applications not only from New York, but nationwide.
The response has not been great. Of the current claims, only half, or 632, have made it through the first screening for eligibility. Of those, up to 383 claims--more than 60 percent--have been denied.

Brady e-mails to note Steve Perry's "Gagging Dr. Dean" (Minneapolis City Pages):

Say what you will about Howard Dean, but there's no denying he unites his party. A year and a half ago, when candidate Dean headed to Iowa with a big lead in the polls and a formidable grassroots fundraising system, the Democratic Party's avatars banded together to attack him with a verve and single-mindedness they never came close to matching in the general campaign against George W. Bush. During the run-up to Iowa and New Hampshire, functionaries from other Democrats' campaigns were dispatched to dig up dirt on the former Vermont governor; the most memorable thing they found was an old bit of Canadian video in which Dean made fun of Iowa's caucus system. That clip did more damage than most in the press corps realized--Iowans are ferocious about their caucuses--as did the daily verbal blows Dean suddenly faced from his opponents.
From the start, there was an element of overkill in the proceedings that marked them as more than the usual gang-up-on-the-frontrunner drill. Nationally, a flurry of prominent Democratic voices spent the waning months of 2003 fretting to any reporter who would listen that Dean was untenable, unpredictable, outside the mainstream. The D.C. press corps, which dislikes interlopers fully as much as party bosses do, happily amplified their complaints. On the night he lost Iowa, Dean tried to rally campaign workers with a supremely ill-advised and out-of-character cheerleading whoop--it sounded like a doctor from Park Avenue auditioning to play trail boss in a John Wayne picture--and he was finished.
Ten tedious months of the portable though not electable animatronic exhibit known as the John Kerry campaign ensued, concluded by a loss to a divisive and widely unpopular president and a further hemorrhaging of seats in Congress. The defeat was so un-spinnable as to force the party into a public show of soul-searching. Terry McAuliffe, the Clintonite fundraiser described by one colleague as a "human money machine," announced he would step down as party chair. The problem was that among the party's lower strata, where the troublesome but regrettably necessary local organizers and activists dwell, Dean was still the single most popular figure in the Democratic fold. A couple of weeks before the February vote for DNC chair, front-line party regulars sat down and had a good cry with Howard Fineman of Newsweek:
[W]ith the DNC meeting approaching on February 12, party insiders have been conducting an urgent, so far fruitless, search for a consensus Dean-stopper. The Clintons don't like Dean on substance or style, seeing him as too left and too loose-lipped. But they're being careful.... Last week the search for a surefire Dean-stopper (if there is one) reached new levels, Newsweek has learned, with several governors--among them Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bill Richardson of New Mexico--trying to gin up a last-ditch plan: Let Dean be chairman, but confine his role to pure nuts-and-bolts duties by layering him with a new 'general chairman' spokesman for the party. They abandoned the idea after realizing that they didn't have the votes to change the rules.... That left the anti-Dean forces with only one clear strategy: recycling the long list of his provocative statements.

Heed the last bit especially, because it goes a long way toward explaining what's happening now. For the first three months or so of his tenure as chair, Dean was strikingly absent from national view. His speeches and appearances were not touted on the DNC's web page or through national party e-mail lists. They were covered only in local media for the most part. Whatever scant national press he got came from riling up right-wing agitators, as when he made a drug-sniffing gesture while talking about Rush Limbaugh during an April speech in Minneapolis. What staggering insensitivity to mock a man with a medical problem! spluttered Matt Drudge. The top Republican flacks may lack all shame, but they have a first-rate sense of humor.
Next it was the Democrats' turn to declare open season on Dean. The catalyst was a series of "provocative statements" concerning Tom DeLay, the idle rich, and the Republicans' status as a white Christian enclave. As to the particulars of his remarks, more shortly. But first a brief roll call of some of the prominent Democrats who have damned the party chair with criticism or surpassingly faint praise lately. When Dean proclaimed that a lot of Republicans did not work for a living, it was too much for John Edwards: "The chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the party.... He's one voice. I don't agree with it." Also for Joe Biden, who seemed to speak from the same script: "He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats." Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee, a Congressional up-and-comer whose fate it will someday be to lose to Barack Obama in the Democrats' version of American Idol, said: "It may get to the point where the party may need to look elsewhere for leadership, because he does not speak for me." A guest at a party planning confab in the home of Clinton pollster Mark Penn later told Fineman, "There was a ton of positive energy at the house, except for the fear and loathing of Dean." Also piling on: Mark Warner, Ben Nelson, Dianne Feinstein, Barney Frank, Harold Ickes, and the press aide to Sen. Hillary Clinton. It's a pretty impressive field, encompassing most of the presumed or dark horse Democratic presidential candidates for 2008.
Two obvious questions, then. Why are so many of the most powerful Democrats afraid of Howard Dean? And can anyone so reviled by both D.C. party establishments be all bad?

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