Monday, July 25, 2005

Democracy Now: labor unions, Bruce Shapiro; Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Emily Gertz, Salim Muwakkil . . .

Ex-UK Official Links Bombings to Iraq Invasion
Meanwhile in Britain -- the country's former Foreign Minister Robin Cook has become one of the country's highest ranking officials to link the string of recent bombings to the Iraq war. Cook told the BBC "There have been more suicide bombings in the two years since we invaded Iraq than in the 20 years before it... undoubtedly it has boosted terrorism."
Teamsters & SEIU Prepare to Leave AFL-CIO
Two of the largest unions in the AFL-CIO are expected to withdraw from the labor federation today in one of the largest shakeups in the history of the American labor movement. The move comes as the AFL-CIO is marking its 50th anniversary at a major convention in Chicago. Over the weekend, four unions announced they would boycott the convention to protest the direction of the federation. Later today, two of these unions -- the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union -- are expected to announce they are leaving the federation altogether. Two other unions -- United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE -- are also on the verge of leaving. These four dissident unions represent nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members. They have launched a new organization called the Change of Win Coalition. Anna Burger, chairman of the new coalition said Sunday "Our differences have become unresolvable. Today will be remembered as a rebirth of union strength in America." The dissident unions had long criticized AFL-CIO President John Sweeney for not investing enough in grassroots organizing. However backers of Sweeney have warned that the dissident labor groups are playing into the hands of opponents of organized labor. Sweeney said, "Common sense tells us that a union movement divided against itself risks losing the fight for workers' rights."
The above are from Headlines on today's Democracy Now! and were selected by Trina and RoyDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 25, 2005

- Teamsters & SEIU Prepare to Leave AFL-CIO
- 88 Die in Bombing At Egyptian Resort
- Innocent Man Shot Dead in London Subway by UK Police
- Ex-UK Official Links Bombings to Iraq Invasion
- 40 Die in Suicide Truck Bombing in Iraq
- Pentagon Refuses to Hand Over Abu Ghraib Photos
- Cheney Lobbies GOP Senators Not to Pass Anti-Torture Bill
- Report: NFL & NBA Jerseys Made By Sweatshop Workers
- New Latin American Television Network Officially Launched
Two Unions Expected to Quit AFL-CIO in One of the Largest Shakeups Ever in the American Labor Movement

Four of the nation's largest labor unions have announced they will boycott the AFL-CIO convention this week to protest the direction of the federation. Two of these unions - the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union - are expected to announce they are leaving the federation altogether. We go to Chicago to get a report from the convention.
Hate Crimes Soar in Britain as Police Defend "Shoot to Kill" Policy

A wave of anti-Muslim, Arab and South Asian hate crimes are sweeping Britain in the wake of the July 7th Subway and Bus bombings. Race and religion-based attacks are up 500% and communities of color are concerned that law enforcement authorities are also racially profiling targets in their anti-terrorism campaign. We go to London to speak with the Islamic Society of Britain. [includes rush transcript]
Bush Met With Judge Roberts One Day Before Crucial Ruling on Guantanamo Military Tribunals

As the Bush administration refuses to hand over documents written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, we talk to Yale University professor Bruce Shapiro about Roberts' crucial ruling on military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees, his views on abortion and much more.
Father Jean-Juste Arrested in Port-au-Prince, Held Incommunicado

Haitian Priest Gerard Jean-Juste, a leader in ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party, was arrested last week and charged with the assassination of journalist Jaques Roche even though he was in Miami at the time of the murder. Father Jean-Juste is now being held incommunicado. We go to his lawyer, Bill Quigley, who just returned to Louisiana from Port-au-Prince. [includes rush transcript]
 Barbara picks the excerpt for Bob Somerby's latest Daily Howler:

STEPHANOPOULOS GETS IT RIGHT: George Stephanopoulos got it right in yesterday's interview with John McCain. On Friday, former CIA agent Larry Johnson aimed an unflattering blast at McCain. And omigod! Stephanopoulos broke every known press corps stricture! Speaking with McCain, he played the tape of Johnson’s attack, then asked the solon to comment:

STEPHANOPOULOS (7/24/05): Let's turn to Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation. A number of former CIA officers have come out very strongly criticizing this leak, saying it's endangering national security, endangering our sources, and certainly very unfair to Mrs. Wilson. I want to show you what one of them, Larry Johnson, said at a hearing organized by the Democrats on Friday.

JOHNSON (videotape): I wish there was a Republican of some courage and conviction that would stand up and call the ugly dog the ugly dog that it is. Instead, I watched last night, John McCain on Chris Matthews' Hardball making excuses, being an apologist! Where are these men and women over there with any integrity to stand up and speak out against this?

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to Mr. Johnson?

"Thanks, Larry!" McCain replied. We present his full response below.

It's true--McCain had been "making excuses" on Thursday's Hardball (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/22/05), and Stephanopoulos deserves a hand for challenging him with Johnson's statement. Let's be clear--McCain is often one of the Senate's more constructive members. But the press corps' pandering to McCain during Campaign 2000 was an utter embarrassment. Democrats and liberals need to starting insisting, right now, that the corps adopt a new approach during Campaign 08. No, they can't get up each day and tell the world how brilliantly honest the great solon is. And they'll even have to stop singing "Happy Birthday" to their dearest darling at his fancy birthday parties, as they did in a ludicrous incident at last summer's GOP convention (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/19/04). In short, they'll have to start acting like actual journalists, not like a bunch of store-bought shills recruited from McCain's PR staff. For most scribes, this will take a large adjustment. Dems should start demanding it now.

During Campaign 2000, coverage of McCain was absurd, a bad joke. Dems should start insisting--now--that the press treat McCain like everyone else. Yesterday morning, getting it right, Stephanopoulos took this strange new approach.

Somerby's also discussing press coverage of Patrick Fitzgerld, Meet the Press, Chris Matthews and much more.

Carter e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's latest entitled "Torture and Lies: Who is Accountable?" at her Editor's Cut:

Hinchey was the second of three speakers at a Town Hall event this afternoon co-sponsored by The Nation and (He joined former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman--who was brilliant in laying out the legal process available to hold administration officials responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib, as she wrote about in her recent Nation article--and Air America's Randi Rhodes--who alternately made the crowd laugh and wince with her scathing and funny debunking of Administration spin and lies. Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.Com skillfully moderated.)

"Torture and Lies: Who is Accountable?" was the question. Hinchey, who has represented a largely conservative district in upstate New York since 1993, answered unflinchingly. "Never have I seen such an unlawful Administration, one with such arrogance toward the rule of law. Their activities are criminal."

Hinchey spoke passionately and eloquently about the significance of the Downing Street minutes and the need to hold this President and Administration accountable for taking the country to war on the basis of lies.

Wally e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "John Roberts and the Smirking Man:"

Practically from the day he left Harvard Law School, Roberts has donated his brain to the Republican Party and to corporate interests.

When he was just 26, he began work as a Special Assistant to Reagan's Attorney General William French Smith. A year later, he moved over to the White House as Associate Counsel to the President, where he served until 1986.

There, at least on the busing issue, Roberts was even to the right of Theodore Olson (who led George W. Bush’s 2000 legal team). In 1984, Olson was Assistant Attorney General, and Olson did not believe the Reagan Administration should endorse rightwing legislation that would have prohibited judges "from ordering busing to desegregate schools," according to an article in The Washington Post by Jo Becker and Amy Argetsinger. But Roberts argued in favor of the legislation, saying that Congress could prohibit school busing on the claim that it "promotes segregation rather than remedying it, by precipitating white flight." (See

From 1989 to 1993, he was Bush I's Deputy Solicitor General, where he helped formulate the Administration’s legal positions and then advocated them before the Supreme Court. It was in this capacity that he argued that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, among other reactionary positions.

Roberts reappeared in Florida after the 2000 elections to help out Jeb Bush with the legal shenanigans that ensured his brother the White House. "The governor's office issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that Roberts had come to Tallahassee, Fla, at his own expense during the recount, and said he advised Gov. Bush on his responsibilities under Florida law in the disputed Presidential election," wrote William E. Gibson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

But the bellwether case that's really raising the hair on the back of conservationists' necks is one that involves a little-known critter, and the potential for a significant challenge to the foundations of federal environmental law.

"A major question needs to be [Roberts'] views on the federal government's authority under the commerce clause [of the Constitution] to protect clean water, endangered species, and other vital resources," said Glenn Sugameli, senior legislative counsel with Earthjustice, a nonprofit public-interest law firm.

He's referring to Rancho Viejo LLC v. Norton, a 2003 case before the D.C. Circuit Court in which Roberts questioned the constitutionality of protecting California's arroyo toad from a planned development under the federal Endangered Species Act. In particular, Roberts argued that the federal government's enforcement powers under the commerce clause might not apply in this case.
 This opinion rang alarm bells for green advocates because most of the nation's keystone environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, derive their power from legal rulings that have upheld the constitutional authority of Congress to broadly regulate interstate commerce. Many legal attacks on the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws are now aimed directly at diminishing the scope of power Congress can wield under the commerce clause.

In Rancho Viejo, Roberts dissented from the majority decision that upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's authority under the Endangered Species Act to protect the toad. In what are fast becoming the most famous words ever written by a judge in a minority opinion about an amphibian (and, let's face it, the funniest), Roberts questioned how interstate commerce was relevant to the case of a one-state species: "The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating 'Commerce ... among the several States.'"

Legal decisions for decades have upheld the federal government's right to regulate air, water, wild species, and other parts of the shared environment under the commerce clause. While some experts have said that Roberts was not arguing to overturn Rancho Viejo, but rather to send it back to a lower court to find a better legal foundation for protecting the toad, his manner of dissent may indicate that he adheres to the conservative "New Federalist" legal philosophy that would limit the federal government's ability to enforce cornerstone national environmental laws by giving more power over policy to state governments.

"No court has ever upheld a similar constitutional challenge to any federal wildlife statute," said Sugameli, "so the context in which he wrote this is troubling. This is a very important issue which may have implications for Clean Water Act provisions that protect water and wetlands, and other potential environmental issues."
Oliver e-mailed to note Salim Muwakkil's latest "So Very Sorry:"
Occasionally I speak publicly about the racial disparities that afflict the prison-industrial complex. I often end my talks with an observation about how racial lynching once was accepted by white Americans because they assumed that the mostly black male victims were guilty.

African Americans had been so thoroughly demonized by the media of those days many whites considered lynching a public service. We marvel at our former acceptance of such racist injustice. But in the future we’ll look back on our current apartheid system of criminal justice and shake our heads in disbelief.

I thought about this when the Senate passed a voice vote apology for its inaction in the face of a documented 4,743 lynchings from 1882 to 1968. Most of those mob murders were of black men in the South.

During that period about 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress. Although three bills passed the House, the Senate, dominated by filibustering Dixiecrats, always said no.

On June 13, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution, sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and George Allen, (R-Va.), that apologized to the victims and survivors for its failure to act.

Donald e-mails to note that on KCFC this morning he heard a great interview with Jane Mayer regarding her New Yorker article "The Experiment."  KCFC is an  associate Pacifica station and carries some programming from KPFA (KCFC also originates its own programming).
The program Donald heard Mayer on was KPFA's The Morning Show (hosted by Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari).To hear Mayer discussing the article with Lewis and Maldari click here.  (For a summary of Mayer's "The Experiement" click here.)
Lastly, Marci e-mails to note Ryan Lenz's Associated Press article entitled "Guardsman Pleads Guilty in Iraqi Death:"

An Indiana national guardsman pleaded guilty Monday to negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi police officer, a crime he was accused of attempting to cover up by shooting himself in the stomach.

Cpl. Dustin Berg, 22, who had been charged with murder, testified that he felt he did not properly assess the threat that he faced and acted rashly.

"I shouldn't have automatically considered him a threat," Berg said. "I misread the situation."

Berg, of Ferdinand, Ind., had changed his story multiple times during the investigation, initially saying the Iraqi had pointed an AK-47 at him to prevent Berg from reporting insurgent activity. On Monday, however, Berg said that Iraqi police officers as a matter of habit carried their guns with the barrels pointed slightly upward.

Monica Davey has previously covered this case for the New York Times.  You can find an excerpt from her May 23rd story (as well as link to the story itself) here.
(Brent, I've run out of time.  We'll note it this evening.)
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