Thursday, September 29, 2005

Democracy Now: DeLay, Filiberto Ojeda Rios; The Black Commentator, Robert Parry, Danny Schechter, Rebecca ...


Reuters Protests 'Long Parade' of Media Deaths in Iraq
The Reuters News Agency says the conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq, including increasing detention and accidental shootings of journalists, is preventing full coverage of the war from reaching the American public. In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate. The letter from the agency's Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise these issues with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday. Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq." At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in Iraq since March 2003. U.S. forces acknowledge killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled who was shot by American soldiers on Aug. 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. The Pentagon says the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth Reuters journalist, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a U.S. sniper. Schlesinger said the Pentagon has refused to conduct independent and transparent investigations into the deaths of the journalists, relying instead on inquiries by officers from the units responsible, who had exonerated their soldiers.


Civil Rts Lawyer Constance Motley Baker Dies at 84
And finally, the first African American woman to serve as a federal judge has passed away. Famed civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley died Wednesday in New York. She was 84. As a young lawyer, Motley represented Martin Luther King Jr. After a brief political career, she began a distinguished four-decade span as a judge in 1966, becoming the first black woman appointed to the federal bench. Motley earned her degree in economics in 1943 from New York University, and three years later, she obtained her law degree from Columbia Law School. In 1945, she became a law clerk to Thurgood Marshall, who was then chief counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In the late 1950s, Motley took an interest in politics and by 1964 had left the NAACP and become the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate. In 1965, she became the first woman to serve as president of the borough of Manhattan, where she worked to promote integration in public schools. In her career, she worked on some of the nation's most famous civil rights cases, including preparing the draft complaint in 1950 for what would become Brown v. Board of Education. From 1961 to 1964, Motley won nine of 10 civil rights cases she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.


SEC Opens 'Formal' Investigation of Frist
As Republicans scramble to defend Tom DeLay, there were significant developments in a scandal involving the Senate's top Republican, Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has given subpoena power to investigators looking into potential insider trading by Frist of shares of his family's corporation the Hospital Corporation of America. The SEC has officially changed the investigation's status from informal to formal. The nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights estimates that Frist made between $2 million and $6 million by selling his HCA holdings just before stock values plummeted in the face of a bad earnings report.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now!'s Headlines and were selected by Susan, KeShawn and TyDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for September 29, 2005

- DeLay Hammered By Indictment
- SEC Opens 'Formal' Investigation of Frist
- New Orleans Death Toll at 896
- ExxonMobil Charged With Price Gauging
- Karen Hughes Confronted Over Iraq Occupation
- New Report Says US Viewed as 'Dangerous Force'
- Reuters Protests 'Long Parade' of Media Deaths in Iraq
DeLay Hammered by Campaign Finance Indictment, Steps Down as GOP Majority Leader

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday indicted House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R - Texas) and two political associates, charging them with a conspiracy to violate Texas campaign finance laws. House Republicans gathered within hours of the indictment becoming public and chose Rep. Roy Blunt (R - MO) to replace DeLay as majority leader who was forced to step down because of House rules. We speak with the executive editor of The Texas Observer and independent journalist Doug Ireland. [includes rush transcript - partial]
FBI Killing of Puerto Rican Independence Leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios Sparks Outpouring of Anti-US Sentiment

We continue our look at the FBI killing of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. His killing has sparked an outpouring of anti-U.S. sentiment in Puerto Rico and fears that the Bush administration will launch a new crackdown on the Puerto Rican independence movement. We go to Puerto Rico to speak with a spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Socialist Front and an independent political analyst.
Brady e-mails to note "CBC Monitor: Watchdogs of the Black Caucus" (The Black Commentator):

For the first time in history, an African American group has graded the Congressional Black Caucus's legislative performance on a curve that reflects the Black Political Consensus. The results were startling. Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis, registered only a five percent positive grade, based on his votes on nine "bright line" issues that came before him in this legislative session. David Scott, the Black Congressman from suburban Atlanta, did little better. Scott rated only a ten percent positive score.

Ford and Scott led the field of what the CBC Monitor called "The Derelicts of the CBC."

"They are derelict in their duties to their Black constituents," said Leutisha Stills, who oversaw the study of the CBC's legislative behavior, this year. "The CBC Monitor is based on Black people's political views. Other organizations rate legislators in ways that dilute African American opinion -- that discount our view of the world. Such a methodology diminishes the profound lessons that Black people have learned in our centuries of struggle. We must hold our own people to account for their political actions."

Jared Ball, a Washington-based journalist who called the CBC Monitor into existence, insists that accountability is paramount. "There are now 43 Black representatives in Congress," he said, "one of them a Senator. They must be held to a standard. That's what the CBC Monitor does: establish a standard."

By the CBC Monitor's standards, seven Congressional Black Caucus members are derelict. The worst malefactors, including the aforementioned Harold Ford (D-TN) and David Scott (D-GA), are Sanford Bishop (D-GA), at 25 percent, Albert Wynn (D-MD), at 30 percent, Artur Davis (D-AL), 40 percent, Gregory Meeks (D-NY), 45 percent, and William Jefferson (D-LA), at 55 percent.

These men have failed our people, and sold out to other interests.


Donnie e-mails to note Robert Parry's "'Frog-Marching' Bush to the Hague" (Consortium News):

Federal authorities "frog-marched" Private Lynndie England in handcuffs and shackles off to prison to serve three years for her role in abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

The 22-year-old single mother from West Virginia joins a group of nine reservists punished for mistreating Iraqis, some of whom were stripped naked and forced to pose in mock sexual positions. England appeared in photos, pointing at a prisoner’s penis and holding a naked Iraqi by a leash.

While England's punishment fits with George W. Bush's pledge to prosecute military personnel for wrongdoing in Iraq, a larger question is whether low-ranking soldiers are becoming scapegoats for the bloody fiasco that Bush created when he ordered the invasion in defiance of international law. Pumped-up by Bush's false claims linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, U.S. soldiers charged into that Arab country with revenge on their minds.

In a healthy democracy, the debate might be less about imprisoning England and other "grunts" than whether Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other war architects should be "frog-marched" to the Hague for prosecution as war criminals.

The international community also has largely shied away from the issue of Bush's criminality, apparently because of the unprecedented military might of the United States.

If the leaders of a less powerful nation had invaded a country under false pretenses -- touching off a war that left tens of thousands of civilians dead -- there surely would be demands for war crimes prosecutions before the International Criminal Court at the Hague. But not for Bush and his War Cabinet.

Similar Complaints

Ironically, Lynndie England's sentencing at Fort Hood, Texas, on Sept. 27 came as new evidence surfaced that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was not just the work of some deviant prison guards on the night shift at Abu Ghraib. Army Capt. Ian Fishback and two sergeants alleged that prisoners were subjected to similar treatment by the 82nd Airborne at a camp near Fallujah and that senior officers knew. [See Human Rights Watch report.]

On the same topic, be sure to check out Elaine's "The gloom of the world is but a shadow" (Like Maria Said Paz) which Lloyd says is his favorite entry "from anywhere" this week.  Elaine's great.  (Grab the George is great glasses -- private joke for Elaine.)
Liang e-mails to note Reporters Without Borders' "Government tries to throttle independent media still holding out:"

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a series of measures adopted by King Gyanendra’s government in the past few days that discriminate against the independent press, especially directives determining how state advertising will be allocated to the media.

"Nepal's independent media have in turn been the victims of threats, discrimination and repression but they have continued to resist all of the government’s arbitrary actions," the press freedom organisation said.

"King Gyanendra is trying to realise his dream of doing away with Nepal's vibrant independent press, which has been rejecting his dictates ever since his 1 February crackdown," Reporters Without Borders added, appealing to the international community to step up support for the independent media "in order to save one of the kingdom’s last surviving democratic gains."

On 27 September, the information and communication ministry issued a set of directives on the assignment of state advertising entitled "One Door Advertisement Policy," in which the government asked all state entities to place advertising only with media that "respect the nation, the nationality and the monarchy."

An annual report issued by the Press Council on 22 September contained a ranking of 322 publications by sales in which several that are critical of the government, including the magazines Chhalphal and Ghatana Ra Bichar, were demoted from category A to category B although they have a sizable circulation.


Martha e-mails to note Danny's latest "What Did Roberts Do in Florida?" (News Dissector):


As Judge John Roberts inches closer and closer to confirmation as Chief Justice, what little debate there has been about his suitability to serve has focused on his opinions -- or, more precisely, the lack of them -- on a variety of issues. We know about his legal training and "achievements" -- or lack of them -- but not about his role as a White House political operative.

Specifically, what role did Roberts play in the Bush campaign in 2000 in Florida, where 175,000 votes went uncounted? Was he part of the obstruction of the recount that was carried out by a small brigade of militant GOP protesters who had been organized by the just-indicted House GOP minority leader Tom DeLay? DeLay was known for "bare knuckles" politics that often "skirted the ethical edge," according to the Associated Press.

We know that Roberts, who has been pictured as a moderate-tempered and restrained jurist, was in Florida in 2000 as part of the GOP hit squad that planned to get President Bush elected at all costs.

That decisive protest run by intensely partisan GOP staffers and Congressional aides was ordered by hard right-wing Republican Congressman John Sweeney to "shut it down," according to the Miami Herald's reporter. There were reports that UN Ambassador John Bolton was in that mob.

Was Roberts there too? If he was, if he was part of that action faction/affinity group, then his image as a man of detached and scholarly calm needs a second look. If he wasn't, what exactly did he do in a campaign characterized by disenfranchisement and dirty tricks?

Martha notes the video scans (from Danny Schechter's film Counting on Democracy about election 2000). The Senate just confirmed Roberts (78 to 22 vote).  Too bad they couldn't be bothered to explore realities.  Check out Danny's entry and get angry. Read Delilah's "Wire Hanger Day" (A Scrivener's Lament) from yesterday and further increase your anger. Need more, check out George E. Curry's "Roberts Outmaneuvered Democrats" (The Chicago Defender) and note the concluding paragraph especially:
Olson had written in one memo that opposition to court-stripping proposals would be viewed as a "courageous" act. Roberts wrote in the margin of the memo: "real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not kowtow" to progressives.
Now, 23 years later, it is not an issue of conservatives kowtowing to liberals. Rather, it is progressives lacking the backbone to stand up to conservatives.
Cindy e-mails to note Rebecca's "christine & pop politics" (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude):
with ms. when nothing else changed, you always had fresh content from christine. i get the print edition of the magazine so i honestly only went to the website because of christine.

and i hope they realize that and that she was appreciated.

she gave you a feminist critique. which doesn't mean every 1 always agreed with her because there is not 1 feminist critique.
c.i. and ava both hit the roof 1 time when jim was putting something about 'the feminist critique' and they had to walk him through on how there isn't 1 feminist critique of tv shows, let alone of everything out there.

but christine would offer her opinions and steer you towards some show to watch or a cause to support. she was 1 of the handful of people i saw blogging about the issue of animals in new orleans after hurricane katrina. she didn't just write an entry either, she went down there.

she was an important voice and she really was the voice of the website because her content was new. so i hope she was appreciated and that she left because she felt it was time to focus on her own site (pop politics).
Marcia e-mails to say she really enjoyed "The First Post" and that she's excited to have Seth blogging.  If you haven't checked out Seth's BRAND NEW SITE, it's called Seth in the City.
Julia e-mails to say she loved Mike's interview with Betty (at Mikey Likes It!) and that she wasn't bored by talk of the children at all (Betty, at one point, feels she might be "boring" because she's speaking of her children).  Here's one of Julia's favorite parts::
[Mike]: Your kids loved Kat.

I know. From the first moment. They're usually stand offish until they get to know you. But really, they took one look at Kat and they just ran over to her from the second they saw her.

Was it hard interviewing people with your kids?

I told everyone that I had done it before and I could do it again --

Right because you helped with
The Third Estate Sunday Review piece on the rallies in March.

(Laughing) I was the Atlanta correspondent! But some people don't want to talk to anyone and I can understand that because these days who knows who is anyone is? You might be FBI or something. But I found that the kids were an icebreaker and also tended to calm people down. That was true in Atlanta and that was true in D.C. The only problem I had was in the middle of one interview, they go charging off. They're not like that and I'm rushing after them and see
Kat and think, "Okay, that's what's going on."

They really loved her.

I know. It's so cute because my youngest calls her "meow" and "kitty cat." My daughter just loved
Kat's hair. I don't think it was anything but that. Kat has all that long hair and it's so shiny and wavy. I told Kat, "Tell her to quit playing with your hair" but Kat said it didn't bother her.
We're getting a red headed Barbie after church tomorrow.
Let's note the opening of Betty's latest entry, "Thomas Friedman's Endgame Should Start With A Shower" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man):
Stepping over discarded juice boxes, half-eaten fruit roll ups, empty sacks of mini-Oreos, a beheaded Furby and an assortments of Bratz, I asked myself, "Betinna, what the hell you getting yourself back in, girl?"

Before I could answer, there was Thomas Friedman, arms akimbo, looking like a smelly yetty, roaring, at the top of his lungs, "Mommy!"

Usually, I just hear that during the gut-check-time sex he's so fond of.

"Betinna," I asked myself again, "What are you getting yourself back into?"

It all started last week. Gail Collins called. She was concerned about Thomas Friedman's columns of late. "America hater" was one of the kinder terms that letter writers had been calling him and she didn't understand his "Third World lust" for Singapore that had so suddenly sprung up.

Could I explain it to her?

I could try. She said we'd meet at Elaine's and gave me directions. I was so excited. I'd heard of Elaine's but Thomas Friedman had never taken me there or anywhere really where you didn't have to carry your own tray to the table.
And remember to check out Cedric's "Back Home and Blogging."
Lastly, Blake e-mails to remind everyone that "the community was ahead of the New York Times last week because we knew about Chris Thompson's 'War Pornography' so hopefully everyone remembers tonight is Indymedia round up." 
Or Indymedia 'round,' as it ends up when I'm really tired.   
The e-mail address for this site is  Wait!  Almost forgot, important poll will run in tomorrow morning's gina & krista round-robin.  You need to have voted by 5:00 pm EST (per Gina) if you're wanting to be included.

Yahoo! for Good
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