Friday, September 30, 2005

Democracy Now: CPB, Public Access, New Orleans; Phoebe Connelly, Barbara Lee, Dahr Jamail, Mary Geddry, Dave Lindorff ...

No, you aren't crazy, those of you e-mailing with that question and yes, there were posts this morning for those e-mailing with that question. I have no idea what happened. From e-mails, at approximately ten a.m. EST, the two entries for this morning ("Other Items" and the editorial) as well as the last two from last night ("Indymedia roundup" and "Indymedia roundup focus on Iraq") all disappeared for one hour. I have no idea what happened.

We do have copies of the editorial should it disappear again. That's thanks to Pru who noticed it had disappeared and grabbed it from a crossposting in England. Again, I don't know what happened and since e-mail after e-mail is asking that question, I thought it best we get that noted before anything else. Now, let's move on:

Chavez Blasts US Over Posada
In international news, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is striking back at the US following a judge's refusal to hand-over Cuban-born militant and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela. The judge said he would not send Posada to either Venezuela or Cuba, saying he could face torture in either country. Caracas has officially requested that Posada be extradited to face charges over the bombing of a Cuban civilian airplane in a 1976 bombing that killed 73 people. As President Chavez arrived at the airport in Brazil for a regional summit, he blasted the U.S.: "They protect him (Luis Posada Carriles) and besides allege, in a cynical way, that they're protecting him against Venezuela because Venezuela is going to torture him. That's to say, the government of the United States is protecting the number one torturer in the history of Latin America, the Bin Laden of Latin America. It's a cynical and sham government, whose mask falls more everyday and it's left in front of the world with its Dracula molars full of blood."

More Than 1,100 Imprisoned in Burma
The United Nations reports the government of Burma continues to imprison more than 1,100 (eleven hundred) political prisoners, including Nobel peace laureate and pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. A report delivered by a UN human rights envoy to the General Assembly documented forced labor, sexual violence, extortion and expropriation committed by troops in the ruling military junta. Meanwhile, outside the United Nations several Burmese pro-democracy activists have entered the thirteen day of a hunger strike. This is Burmese refugee, Han Lin: "It is time that the United Nations to take effective action against the Burmese brutal military regime. It is time. We Burmese people cannot be suffering anymore because the real situation in Burma gets worse."

Gov't Knew NOLA Levee Was Weak
Now to the ongoing crisis in New Orleans. NBC News is reporting on documents it has obtained that show that the US Army Corp of Engineers was warned in the late 1990s that there were major construction problems with the 17th Street Canal but that those warnings were ignored and construction moved forward. The breaking of that levee a month ago led to much of the flooding in New Orleans. A 1998 ruling, by an administrative judge for the Corps' Board of Contract Appeals, shows that the contractor, Pittman Construction, told the Corps that the soil and the foundation for the walls were "not of sufficient strength, rigidity and stability" to build on.

NOLA Police Investigated Over Looting
Meanwhile, the New Orleans police department says it is investigating a dozen officers in connection with looting during Hurricane Katrina. News reports in the aftermath of the storm put officers at the scene of some of the heaviest looting, at the Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District. Some witnesses, including a Times-Picayune reporter, said police were taking items from shelves. The acting Police Superintendent Warren Riley said at a news conference that incidents in which officers took Cadillacs from a dealer's lot were not looting because the officers patrolled in the cars. This comes as reports are emerging about the systematic exaggeration by the authorities of rapes, murders and other violent crimes allegedly committed by civilians.

The above items are from today's Democracy Now!'s Headlines and were selected by Zach, KeShawn, Jonah and Lily. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for September 30, 2005
- Judy Miller Freed After Agreeing to Testify
- $100K Bounty for Info Leading to Arrest of Gov't Officials
- Roberts Sworn in as Chief Justice
- DeLay Court Date Set
- Chavez Blasts US Over Posada
- Judge Orders release of More Abu Ghraib Pics
- Gov't Knew NOLA Levee Was Weak
- NOLA Police Investigated For Looting
- Bill Bennett: 'You Could Abort Every Black Baby In This Country, And Your Crime Rate Would Go Down'

Longtime GOP Fundraiser and NPR Critic Elected to Head CPB
Longtime Republican fundraiser Cheryl Halpern was elected the new chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting earlier this week. Halpern has overseen such government-funded media projects as Voice of America, Radio Marti in Cuba and Radio Free Iraq. She has also accused National Public Radio of anti-Israel bias. We speak with Celia Wexler of Common Cause.

Local Public Access TV Under Attack From Trio of Congressional Bills
Local public access television across the United States is being threatened by legislation introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Critics say the bills could eliminate the only source of funding public access providers receive and would take away control from local governments. We speak with Anthony Riddle of the Alliance for Community Media and George Stoney, who many consider the father of public access.

New Orleans Evacuees Blast Lack of Any Aid or Relief Weeks After Katrina
A month after hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, displaced New Orleans residents at the Radisson Hotel in New York City speak out about the lack of aid they have received and the continued difficulty of receiving any type of relief from the Red Cross.

Head of Small Relief Agency Blasts Red Cross "Money Pit"
We speak with Richard Walden, president and founder of Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based relief agency. In an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times this week titled "The Red Cross money pit," Walden writes that despite, "Giving so high a percentage of all donations to one agency (The Red Cross) that defines itself only as a first-responder and not a rebuilder is not the wisest choice." [includes rush transcript]

Jennifer e-mailed to note Phoebe Connelly's "Witnesses to War: Military families bring the cost of war to students" (In These Times):

At 7:45 am on the second day of school, Karen Meredith, a founding member of Gold Star Families For Peace, sat in front of a senior sociology class at Thomas Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side. "I am not anti-military, my son was a fourth generation army officer," she told the class. "But I believe that this administration is not using the military in a way many of us in this country think they should."
The visit was part of the "Bring Them Home Now Tour," a combined effort of Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Vets Against the War and Veterans For Peace that spent the end of August and early September crossing the country.
The group advocates immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq and demands that elected officials account for starting and supporting an unsubstantiated war.
The tour began in Crawford, Texas, at "Camp Casey"--the site of Cindy Sheehan’s vigil. In three contingents--north, central, and south--the tour wended its way to Washington, D.C., for the September 24–26 mobilization sponsored by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). At Kelly High School, three parents of slain soldiers, Al Zappala, Karen Meredith and Juan Torres, gave presentations. Each went to a different classroom, speaking to the first three classes of the day.
Karen Meredith, mother of Sgt. Ken Ballard, spoke quietly, at times nearly drowned out by the cars passing in the street below. "When he was killed I asked the government for a photo of his body being returned," Meredith said. "You may not know but the government doesn't let us see the caskets coming home. This administration does not want us to see that because they don't want us to see the human cost of war. If we see these caskets every night, whether we know the person or not, we can still see what is happening to this country: We’re losing children."

Maria e-mails to note something from In These Times as well, Barbara Lee's "Permanent Occupation:"

If you are inclined to believe the president, we will be in Iraq, in his words "as long as necessary, and not a day longer." Members of the Bush administration, including the president, have been at pains to dispel any notion that they have plans for a permanent military presence in Iraq.
On April 13, 2004, President Bush said, "As a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation and neither does America."
On February 17, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, said, "We have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases in Iraq."
The circumstances on the ground, however, tell another story. On March 23, 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported on the construction of 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq. The May 22, 2005, Washington Post described the military's plan to consolidate military personnel in Iraq into four massive "contingency operating bases." According to the Congressional Research Service, Emergency Supplemental funds appropriated for military construction in Iraq for fiscal years 2001–2005 total more than $805 million, with the vast majority, more than $597 million, coming in the 2005 fiscal year.

Liang e-mails to note Dahr Jamail's "Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometric Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policy" (Iraq Dispatches):

In November 2004 the world watched -- periodically, depending on the focus of the media gaze -- as the US Marine Corps engaged so-called 'insurgents' in a brutal battle in Fallujah, Iraq. For all their high-tech weaponry, precision munitions, and exceptional training, in their search-and-destroy mission occupation forces all but obliterated Fallujah. During the month-long siege of Fallujah by American forces more than 200,000 residents fled the city. Out of the these ruins, occupation forces argued they were erecting a 'model city', replete with a high-tech security infrastructure centered on biometric identification strategies to manage returning citizens. Returnees are fingerprinted, retina scanned, and issued a mandatory identity badge displaying the individual's home address and collected biometric data. In this context, the gratuitous destruction of Fallujah appeared, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld often retorts when pushed on current events in Iraq, to be precisely 'according to plan'.
It is trite to say that we live in interesting times; not so trite, however, are the meditations of many contemporary thinkers and writers surrounding the way modern liberal politics embody what is increasingly known as 'the state of exception'.

Erika e-mails to note Mary Geddry's "Why I Marched" (CounterPunch):

When I was a little girl and again as a young woman dreaming about having children I never, ever, even for a heartbeat imagined that I would ever be the mother of someone who had killed somebody. But I am. There in Iraq in the dusty, sun-baked rubble that was once the City of Mosques, Ar Ramadi, Iraq, my son repeatedly engaged an enemy, sighted down the barrel of his weapon, opened fire and ended lives.
John, now a corporal in the Marine Corp, returned from his second tour in Iraq in March. The transition from patrolling Route Michigan, one of the most dangerous highways in the world, to visiting with his mother in Oregon was more difficult than I would have thought.
Once, while chatting about his future, his plans, his experiences, the lid of a large dumpster at a nearby building slammed shut. John catapulted to his feet. His instincts, his brain, ready, alert, searching, assessing, calculating. His body was coiled and tense. The flesh on his face flattened against his skull and a vein appeared on his forehead, pulsing. His hands appeared to reach for a machine gun that was, thankfully, not slung over his shoulder.
The moment lasted only nano-seconds before he realized he wasn't in Iraq. Yet, in less than a second his face had registered fear, anger, hatred, relief and finally self-deprecation. My heart ached as I watched him.
Knowing I was powerless to erase the experiences and memories that led to my son's reaction, I entered the anti-war arena. Many other things have contributed to my emergence as an opponent of this war. My son's near brushes with death. My belief that my son and his fellow warriors are being used as targets and security guards to allow Halliburton and similar corporations and individuals to plunder the assets of Iraq. The anger I feel when I see the burden this war has permanently imprinted upon my son. Knowing that the war had no basis in fact, that my son and his fellow Marines and soldiers are being used have all contributed to why I went to Washington, DC last weekend.

West e-mails to note Dave Lindorff's "What Opposition Party?" (CounterPunch):

Iraq War going to hell, with U.S casualties approaching 2000 dead and 25,000 wounded, at a cost of $200 billion and rising.
Poverty in America on the rise in a period of supposed economic growth.
Republican Party a cesspool of corruption.
White House being investigated for outing undercover CIA agent.
Abortion rights under serious threat, with the Supreme Court being packed with right-wing judges.
New Orleans, just drying out from disastrous flood, being raped by White House-linked corporate pirates and scam artists.
Budget deficit topping half trillion dollars.
Gas and heating oil crisis looming, while oil companies reap record profits.
Bush poll numbers hit historic low as even some Republicans abandon him as an incompetent.
Oh yeah-all this and global warming and the end of human life as we know it.
Man, if you were an opposition politician looking to make a run for Congress next years, or for president in 2008, this would be a magical time.
But where's the opposition?

Who were the 22 Democrats who voted to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court? Carol runs down the list in "Their Big Bet" (A New Leif) and notes:

Twenty-two. In blackjack, that's what you call "going bust." You lose your bet. Luckily, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The Supreme Court is no Vegas, baby.

For more on the tragedy that is John Roberts (his confirmation or the person himself), you can also check out Seth's "Chief Justice Blues" (Seth in the City). You can also check out BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week for more on Roberts.

Are you someone planning to see the film Serenity? You'll want to check out Christine's take on what to expect and information Whedon in "Revenge of the Geek: Joss Whedon, Serenity and the Power of the Story" (Pop Politics). Christine's also noting Nora Ephron's op-ed in yesterday's Times in "Dear Bill: Letter From an Ex-Lover" and noting Katha Pollitt's reality check on the Times' Lousie Story in "The Stay-At-Home Revolution, Revised."

(Disclosure, I have no interest in seeing Serenity; however, I do have a friend who will profit from the film's success. If anyone else had noted the film, it wouldn't have been linked to. When it's Christine, we will note it. And if that confuses anyone, they should read Rebecca's "christine & pop politics." And Rebecca, what did happen to Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions -- which is the name of Lucy Hughes-Hallett book?)

End Zone e-mails to note two voices from "'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

17) Keelan, 19, college student, Florida: I'm here because of Cindy Sheehan. She faced down Bush and he cut & run. He ended his vacation and high tailed it back here. Then she blows into town and he's got to run again. She's like Linda Hamiliton in T2. She's that strong. Because she's not just one mother, she's all mothers. She's got the other mothers who've lost children and who might lose their children behind her. And she's not backing down and George Bush can keep running, but she keeps marching. The change is that she can't be taken out. She's not backing down or wimping out like Tom Daschle or any of the other wimps. She's spoken her mind and she's not said, "Oh, I'm sorry, maybe I forgot to kiss his boots." She's spoken out and she's stayed strong. She's awesome.

20) Patricia, 35, homemaker, mother of three, Maine: I'm here because of Cindy Sheehan. I took the attitude that the people in Washington knew what they were doing. I graduated high school and that's pretty much it besides raised my kids. And what would I do if I was in Cindy's shoes? My oldest is 16. Two more years more and he could be in Iraq. How do you justify him dying for a lie? My whole family's here. I tried to get some people to come from my church and my pastor said to me, "Bring the troops home isn't a plan. What's your plan?" What's my plan? What's my plan? Excuse me but nobody asked me for a plan when they decided to go to war. Senator Susan Collins didn't call me on the phone and say, "Hello, Patricia? This is Susan, look we're thinking about going to war. I was just wondering how would you do it? Do you have any plans in your pantry?" They're the big geniuses, they're the ones who are supposed to know what they're doing. My plan's real simple, start bringing our sons and daughters home. How? You put them on flights out of Iraq and get them back to their families. My plan may not be fancy but it's not based on any lies. They can't say the same. The change, for me, anyway, was seeing Cindy Sheehan on the TV. Hearing her story and knowing that could be me. That could be any mother. It made me think and it made me really ask questions that I hadn't wanted to ask.

End Zone wonders if I decided to stop noting the voices. That's not the case, I just forgot this morning. We'll note at least one tomorrow morning. The first entry this morning was a rush job and even so took a huge amount of time. (And thanks to three friends who were on the phone with me during that -- the typos are all my own but they were sounding boards on what to keep in and what to leave out.) And thanks to End Zone for picking two voices and catching what I'd forgotten.

Marci says that any member who hasn't watched, listened to or read transcripts at Democracy Now! should read Elaine's entry entitled "Democracy Now!" (Like Maria Said Paz) which explains several reasons the program is so important. Also we'll note that "Dating, pioneers" finds Cedric exploring a range of topics at Cedric's Big Mix.

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