Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Democracy Now: Hugo Chavez, Wangari Maathai, Ken Wiwa; vanden Heuvel, Somerby, Richard Behar for Project K (Media Channel) ...

UK Forces Attack Iraqi Jail To Free Two British Troops
New questions about Iraq's sovereignty are being raised after British forces attacked an Iraqi jail on Monday because they believed two detained British commandos were inside. British troops opened fire on the jail in Basra and used six armored vehicles to smash down the jail's walls as helicopter gunships flew overhead. The provincial governor of Basra described the British assault as "barbaric, savage and irresponsible." The Associated Press reported 150 prisoners escaped during the siege. As the British raided the prison, Iraqis started attacking the British vehicles with firebombs and rockets. One of the British armored fighting vehicles was set ablaze. Photos showed a British soldier on fire climbing out of the hatch and jumping to the ground, as a crowd pelted him. An Iraqi official said that the British soldiers were arrested after they had fired at an Iraqi police officer. At the time the British soldiers were undercover and dressed as Iraqis. After the prison was breached in Basra, the two soldiers were found not to be in the jail but in a nearby house. The British Army attempted to downplay the incident claiming that the men were released after negotiations. The government said it feared for the lives of the British commandos after discovering they had been handed to "militia elements". The British attack on the Iraqi jail came one day after British forces arrested three members of the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Two Iraqi Reporters Assassinated
Also in Basra, an Iraqi reporter working for the New York Times was found shot dead on Monday. The reporter -- Fakher Haider -- had been handcuffed and taken away from his home Sunday night by four masked men. Last week a 28-year-old Iraqi reporter for the newspaper As-Saffir, was kidnapped in the northern city of Mosul. Police found her body the next morning with a single bullet wound to the head.

30 Disability Rights Protesters Arrested on Capitol Hill
In other news from Capitol Hill, at least 30 activists associated with the national disability rights group ADAPT were arrested Monday for refusing to leave House and Senate offices. They were protesting Congressional plans to slow the growth of Medicaid spending by $10 billion over the next five years. On Sunday about 100 protesters - most of them in wheelchairs - rallied outside Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's Washington home.

The above three items are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today and were selected by Abhilasha, Heath and Alabama. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for September 20, 2005

- UK Forces Attack Iraqi Jail To Free Two British Troops
- Two Iraqi Reporters Assassinated
- $1 Billion Reported Stolen from Iraq Defense Ministry
- Commission Recommends Mandating ID Card to Vote
- Katrina Evacuees Forced To Leave Again To Escape New Storm
- Mississippi Sues Insurance Companies Over Hurricane Policies
- Top White House Aide Arrested
- 30 Disability Rights Protesters Arrested on Capitol Hill

Venezuela's President Chavez Offers Cheap Oil to the Poor...of the United States

We play the rest of our conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He spoke with Democracy Now! in his first interview in the United States. We ask him what evidence he has for his charges that the Bush administration has attempted to assassinate him and he reveals for the first time, details of a plan to offer of cheap oil to the poor...of the United States.

Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai and Son of Executed Nigerian Activist Ken Wiwa Discuss Oil and the Environment

We take a look at oil and the environment with Ken Wiwa - the son of Ken Saro Wiwa who was executed in 1995 by the Nigerian military dictatorship and Nobel Peace prize-winner and leading environmentalist Wangari Maathai.

Mayra e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Who's Really Screwing Up America?" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

If you want to understand how the right debases our political culture, take a peek at Bernard Goldberg's screed 100 People who are Screwing up America (And Al Franken is #37), which, as of yesterday, was number five on Sunday's New York Times bestseller list. The author of the best-selling books Bias and Arrogance has another smash hit on his hands--and it comes with all the vitriol and truth-twisting you'd expect from a man who's profited enormously from his role as cog in the right-wing smear machine.

Goldberg rails against liberal villains who, he claims, are out to weaken the very fabric of America. Who's Number #2? That dangerous radical Arthur Sulzberger, scion of New York's establishment and publisher of the New York Times. According to Goldberg, Sulzberger has "done more than anyone to destroy the confidence of millions of ordinary Americans in the fairness and basic integrity of the so-called mainstream media." He's got to be kidding.

If Goldberg's nasty mud-slinging was confined to one guy or one book, we could shrug it off. But he represents a far wider problem. How do people like Goldberg get away with pouring their toxic waste into our weakened political and media circulatory system? One reason, as Nation columnist Eric Alterman tells us, is the mainstream media's willingness to roll over. The right's truth-twisting pundits and commentators distort and debase our political culture. And they rarely get called on it by the so-called MSM.

The above can be paired with Bob Somerby's "The NYT praised Coulter's footnoes. It should have looked a few up" (The Daily Howler, July 22, 2002):

When the New York Times' Janet Maslin reviewed Slander, she had some good solid fun with a footnote. "[O]ne bit of proof that Phyllis Schlafly is treated dismissively by the left comes from a People magazine review of The Muppets Take Manhattan," she chuckled. Indeed, just how eager was author Ann Coulter to slam the press corps' treatment of Schlafly? She went all the way back to 1984 to cite the Muppet movie review, which included a jab at the Illinois icon. Of course, Coulter's text doesn’t say what she's citing. You have to read the footnote to see how far she went to find a vile slam at the right.

Maslin has some fun with this footnote, but gives too much credence to others. "A great deal of research supports Ms. Coulter's wisecracks,” she writes--apparently not understanding how much of this "research" has simply been made up by Coulter. Do reviewers ever fact-check books? If Maslin had checked the "780 footnotes" she approvingly cites, she might have seen--and she might have told readers--how much of this book is just false.

As we've seen, if Maslin had fact-checked Slander's first page, she would have found instant dissembling (see the DAILY HOWLER, July 11). Page two? The same sad result. But Coulter loves to mask bogus claims with a footnote. Indeed, when Coulter limns Schlafly, she does it again. She slams the press corps' performance:

COULTER (page 40): [T]he mainstream media ignore Schlafly when not deploying their trademark elitist snubs. Revealing true facts about Schlafly would inevitably result in unfavorable comparisons with inconsequential feminists. Not one of Schlafly’s books has ever been reviewed in the New York Times. Schlafly is preposterously demeaned with articles reporting that she is trying to remain "relevant."

That last claim is duly footnoted; Coulter cites a Chicago Tribune piece from 8/1/96. (Her charge is plural, but there's only one cite.) But in fact, the Tribune's profile of Schlafly--by the AP's Jim Salter--is flattering from beginning to end.


Jonah e-mails to note Leigh Saavedra's "Today, the Anti-War Movement Goes on Trial" (CounterPunch) about the St. Patrick Four:

The following month the four were tried for criminal mischief. Nine of the 12 jurors voted to acquit them, and after 20 hours of deliberation, the judge declared a mistrial. At such declaration, the crowded courtroom gave the four a standing ovation. The district attorney said that he would not prosecute them again, expecting that another jury would yield the same verdict.

A year later, however, the U.S. government decided to retry the four peace activists, this time on the more serious charges of conspiracy. Technically, they are charged with conspiracy to impede "by force, intimidation, and threat" an officer of the United States, and three lesser charges. The trial begins Monday Sept. 19, and if the four are convicted, the penalty could be up to six years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

This will be the first federal conspiracy trial arising out of civil resistance to the invasion of Iraq. It will also be the first federal conspiracy trial of antiwar protesters since Vietnam.

When Dan, Clare, Peter, and Teresa cut themselves and drew their own blood to make a powerful statement about the feared invasion, they were not alone. A month earlier, throughout the world, primarily in Europe but including such remote places as Antarctica, people appeared by the millions to demand that no such war be started. The UN Security Council had not sanctioned it, so that aside from the immorality of attacking a sovereign country without the means to defend itself, the invasion was illegal both through lack of UN approval and through the breaking of the Nuremberg Principles, ratified by the U.S. in 1950.

Since that day, much has happened. The people of the world, even in those countries whose leaders side with George Bush, such as Britain and Italy, remain staunchly against the invasion and occupation.

[. . .]

Further details about the accused and about the case can be found here. Also at the site is a letter of support that people may sign, and contact information for those who want to expose this event and show their objections not only to the invasion and occupation of Iraq but also to the retrying of four people who attempted to do their part in stopping the invasion of a sovereign country.

Please go to the Web site. Please sign the letter. And if you're near Binghamton, N.Y., please consider attending the trial and lending your support.

Brad e-mails to note Grace Lee Boggs' "The Fire Next Time" (The Boggs Center):

Hurrican Katrina gives us another opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves and begin the re-ordering of priorities necessary to prevent recurring natural, social and political disasters like 9/11, the Iraq war and New Orleans.
The fury of Katrina, followed by the racist, classist, subhuman herding of the black, poor and elderly into the Superdome and convention center, left without food, air, water and toilets and to war against one another, while government officials at all levels (including blacks) ran around like Keystone cops, has created a crisis of biblical and constitutional proportions.
We must seize this opportunity to ask ourselves and one another "Why has this happened? Where do we go from here?"
Forty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr., agonizing over the twin disasters of the Vietnam War and the urban rebellions, called for a radical revolution of values.

Ruth notes a heads up to WBAI programming tomorrow morning:
  • WEDNESDAY, September 21
  •

    6:00-9:00 am: Wakeup Call
    Hurricane Katrina - How immigrants have been affected, and the reflections of Howard Zinn: The death of a major Jamaican politician who was slated to replace Prime Minster P J Patterson: Part 2 of our conversation with Jennifer Harbury on the US role in torture; Ken Wiwa on the price of oil.

    In addition to listening live (over the airwaves in New York City, online for others), you can also listen to the archived broadcast (or podcast) via the Wakeup Call web site.

    KeShawn e-mails to note Conrad W. Worrill's "Education, youth and the Millions More Movement" (The Chicago Defender):

    The movement to implement an appropriate African-centered curriculum in predominately African in America inner city schools is critical to the on–going struggle for the liberation of African people in this country.† We must continue to demand that the truth be taught as we continue to struggle to build the Reparations Movement in America.

    If this movement is to be successful, just like the impact of the youth in the 1960s, it will be the youth of this era that must rise up and take leadership in changing America’s public school systems to teach the truth. Specifically, we encourage the youth to become active in the Reparations Movement and take leadership. One way this can occur is by encouraging young people to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Oct. 14-16 in Washington, D. C., and participate in helping build the Millions More Movement.

    Throughout the country, Africans in America are now becoming more sensitive to challenging the racist and white supremacist basis of the African public school curriculum.

    We'll also note Theresa Fambro Hooks' "Defender honors 100 years of history, newsmakers at Centennial Retrospective Black Tie Gala" (The Chicago Defender):

    Seven outstanding newsmakers whose lives, deeds life's work positively impact the African American community received signal honors at Saturday's Chicago Defender Retrospective Black Tie Gala. The wonderful evening of revelry and recognition highlighted the Defender’s 100th birthday year. The paper was founded by Robert Abbott on May 5, 1905.
    The 2005 inaugural celebration, staged at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, honored such nationally renowned luminaries as John H. Johnson (posthumous), founding publisher of the Ebony and Jet magazines (Johnson Publishing Co.), and Eunice W. Johnson, JPC's secretary-treasurer and producer-director of the Ebony Fashion Fair, the Robert Sengstacke Abbott Business Entrepreneurship Award; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the John H.H. Sengstacke Outstanding Leadership Award; John H, Stroger Jr., president, Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Louis E. Martin Politics, Education, Philanthropy Award; Tavis Smiley, radio-television host/commentator, the Ethel Payne Communications Award; Melody Spann-Cooper, president of WVON Radio and chair of Midway Broadcasting Corp., the Audrey Weaver Media, Entertainment Arts Award; and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ; the Lu Palmer Religion, Community Activism Award. Presenters were Lerone Bennett, the Rev. James Meeks, Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown, Lyn Hughes, Dr. Carol Adams and Cliff Kelley. Awards for honorees not present were accepted graciously by Linda Johnson Rice, Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow and Jeri Wright.

    Today, Wednesday and Thursday, Media Channel is presenting a three-part series. Here is an excerpt from part one, Richard Behar's "Project 'K' Meets Project 'A' - Part I:"

    The death of Paul Klebnikov, the Forbes magazine editor shot 10 times as he left his Moscow office in July 2004, was a blow to press freedom and transparency in Russia. That his killing remains a mystery is an ongoing challenge for investigative journalism worldwide.

    Times have changed since 1976, when Arizona investigative reporter Don Bolles was blown up in his car on the day of his eighth wedding anniversary. (He and his wife had planned to celebrate it by seeing a new movie called "All the President’s Men"). Journalists descended on that state in droves to pick up where Bolles had left off on his probes of organized crime and local politics. Led by Newday's investigative giant, Bob Greene, nearly 30 reporters from two dozen media outlets created a 23-part series. They were dubbed the Desert Rats. And their effort – the "Arizona Project" -- was proposed for a special Pulitzer, led to major reforms in the state and, in the words of then attorney general Bruce Babbitt, "dragged Arizona kicking and screaming into the 20th century." It also fueled a newly-formed national association of investigative reporters that now numbers in the thousands.

    The Arizona Project was "the finest hour in American journalism," concluded the American Society of Journalists and Authors. But Phoenix is not Moscow, and the investigative spirit of the 1970s is today a faint memory inside the growing number of newsrooms that are under pressure to produce fluff to make money in today's economy. Klebnikov, the 41-year-old top editor of the start-up Russian edition of Forbes, was one of the few journalists on the cutting edge of the nexus between Russian politics, big business and global organized crime. Unfortunately, for a society hooked on an endless stream of Laci's and Jacko's (note: Larry King's August interrogation of Pamela Anderson's breasts), the first American reporter killed in Russia was a story without a Nielsen audience.

    The media is under plenty of attack these days – some of it warranted, some of it clearly not. But there was a time when serious investigative reporting seemed to matter more. It certainly did 30 years ago, when the Bolles case made headlines and the Arizona Project made sure to keep it there. In June of this year, a bust of Bolles (something that failed to attract King's journalistic gaze) was unveiled at Phoenix's newly-reopened Clarendon Hotel, the scene of the attack, while his bomb-ripped white Datsun will go on display at a journalism museum scheduled to open in Washington in 2007 – a tribute to the 1,500 journalists who have been murdered in the line of duty. But will the name of the former editor-in-chief of Forbes-Russia mean anything by 2007, let alone 30 years from now?

    Third Party e-mails to note Ralph Nader's "The CEO's Chief Justice" (CounterPunch):

    As has been my practice with Supreme Court nominations, I early on requested to testify, sensing that corporate power subjects would not be given much attention. My request was turned down by Senator Patrick Leahy, who filled his 15 permitted witness slots with good people mostly concentrating on non-corporate issues of law and justice. I was permitted to submit testimony for the hearing record, which is on Democracyrising.us or Nader.org in its entirety.

    To emphasize the gravity of his nomination, several Senators noted that, given decent health, Judge Roberts could be Chief Justice for 40 years or until 2045. So then what was the rush with the hearings which started Monday and ended by Thursday afternoon? In fact, Chairman Senator Arlen Specter announced a short recess to let some Senators catch planes.

    The Committee called 30 witnesses, many of them from long distances, and gave them 5 minutes each to speak. Most Senators who remained that last Thursday afternoon and early evening did not even bother questioning them, thereby losing an opportunity to make important points, elicit more insights and further inform the millions of people paying attention to these proceedings.

    Quite disappointing was that during Panel Six, featuring such significant witnesses as former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, and president to the National Association of Manufacturers, John Engler, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy remarked, when his turn came to ask questions, "I'm sorely tempted, but no."

    In the future, it would improve the process for such nominations to have some witnesses go first, then receive the nominee, then have some witnesses follow. For forty years of projected tenure to head the Supreme Court, four rushed days were grossly insufficient, in both quality and quantity.

    Along with noting each of the three parts of Media Channel's series this week, I'll try to note an organization participating in the DC events this weekend. We noted CODEPINK yesterday. Today we'll go with NOW (and, as I pointed at The Third Estate Sunday Review in the news review, if you're looking for something in your own communities, call your local chapter of NOW to find out if anything's planned for your area):

    Stop the War NOW - Women Join Voices and Speak Out!
    Women are marching for peace September 24 in Washington, D.C. and around the country. NOW urges the U.S. government to end our military occupation of Iraq and invest proportionate financial resources in Iraq rebuilding, humanitarian relief and personal safety of the Iraqi people. Take Action

    The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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