Friday, September 09, 2005

Democracy Now: Max Blumenthal, Jeremy Scahill, Mike DiFilippo; Tom Hayden, Marian Wright Edelman, Howard Zinn, Robert Parry, Bill Fletcher, Jr. ...

Democracy Now: Max Blumenthal, Jeremy Scahill, Mike DiFilippo; Tom Hayden, Marian Wright Edelman, Howard Zinn, Robert Parry, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Thulani Davis ...

U.S. Military Threatens Assault on Iraqi Town of Tal Afar
In Iraq, the U.S. military is threatening to wage an all-out assault on the town of Tal Afar in northern Iraq. The U.S. said it wants to rid the town of what it describes as insurgents.

UN Calls For Investigation Over Iraqi Death Squads
The United Nations is calling on U.S. and Iraqi officials to investigate reports of extra-judicial executions being carried out by pro-government death squads and systematic torture inside Iraqi police stations. Two weeks ago 36 bound and blindfold men believed to have been Sunni Muslims were found tortured and shot near the Iranian border. On Thursday, police said they found 14 more bound bodies near Baghdad.

73 Protesters Detained in Nepal
And in Nepal, at least 73 protesters have been detained over the past five days of demonstrations against King Gyanendra who seized complete control of the country in February. Some 5,000 protesters attempted to get into the capital city where anti-king rallies are banned.

Report: FEMA Head Fabricated Parts of Resume
More questions are being raised about the head of FEMA, Michael Brown. According to Time Magazine, Brown may have fabricated parts of his resume. Brown claimed that he worked in Edmond Oklahoma as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." In fact he was an administrative assistant to the city manager. One city official said he was essentially an intern. Brown also claimed that he was once the Director of Christian nursing facility in Oklahoma. But an administrator at the facility told Time that Brown was "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." In addition Brown claims on his resume that he won a prize for being "Outstanding Political Science Professor" at Central State University. But according to an official at the school, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student." Time reports these revelations raise new questions about how rigorously the White House vetted Brown before putting him in charge of FEMA. Most of his work experience prior to joining FEMA dealt with horses. He worked as the head of the International Arabian Horse Association for 11 years. He became the head of FEMA two years ago replacing his college friend, Joe Allbaugh.

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

Headlines for September 9, 2005
- Major Oil Spill Reported in Mississippi River
- Cheney Told "Go F**K Yourself" in Gulfport, MS
- Report: FEMA Head Fabricated Parts of Resume
- First Lady: Remarks Critical of President Are "Disgusting"
- 9/11 Commission Chair Criticizes Hurricane Response
- Grand Jury Indicts PAC Formed by Tom DeLay
- ExxonMobil Sees Record $10B 2nd Quarter Profits
- UN Calls For Investigation Over Iraqi Gov't Death Squads

Is the Government Trying to Stem the Tide of Images From New Orleans by Threatening Journalists?
Journalists covering New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina report that militarization in and around the city has hindered their work and threatened their physical safety. We hear from two journalists who were reporting in New Orleans recently.

FEMA Promotes Pat Robertson Charity
Soon after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, FEMA promoted a a list of charities on its website that were accepting donations for hurricane relief. One of the top three was Operation Blessing, an organization founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. We take a look at some of Operation Blessing's past dealings with Max Blumenthal of The Nation and Democracy Now! Co-host and Daily News reporter Juan Gonzlaez.

Cheney Visits MS After Halliburton Awarded $12M for Reconstruction in Gulfport
We get a report from Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill on Halliburton's role in reconstruction in the Gulf area, plus a survey of the current situation in New Orleans.

Democracy Now! Engineer Mike DiFilippo Lends A Hand in Alabama and Mississippi
Democracy Now! engineer Mike DiFilippo has been voluneentering with re-building efforts in Alabama and Mississippi. He joins us on the phone from Wiggins, Mississippi.

Betsy e-mails to note Tom Hayden's latest, "Quake Will Kill Children and Elderly in California" (The Huffington Post):

The Times brought back some of my worst memories from the Legislature with its report today that a California earthquake is third on a list of threatening national catastrophes, right after an attack on New York City and a hurricane on the Gulf Coast.
As I took my five-year-old to kindergarten this morning, the Times was reporting that 7,000 California school buildings lack seismic safety upgrades, despite the fact that the 1995 Northridge quake occurred just hours before our children would have been in their classrooms.
I tried for months to mandate a sufficient quantity of medical and food supplies at each school site, and was rebuffed because it was "too expensive."
Some may remember earthquake victims trying to get to hospital emergency rooms while those same hospitals were evacuating patients traumatized by the earthquake damage. Twenty-three hospitals were shut down by the Northridge quake.

"Welcome to hell" notes Trevor who highlights Kristen Gelineua's "Court: 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect Can Be Held" (Associated Press):

A federal appeals court Friday sided with the Bush administration and reversed a judge's order that the government either charge or free "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.
The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the president has the authority to detain a U.S. citizen closely associated with al Qaida.
"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

Welcome to hell. (Good call, Trevor.) On the same topic, let's note Juan Gonzalez's "Shell game at gas stations pays big" (New York Daily News):

On Sept. 1, just three days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, top executives at Shell Oil's Texas headquarters took a public stand against gasoline price gouging.
"We encourage our wholesalers and dealers to . . . practice restraint during these periods," the press release from Shell said.
The company even urged the public to contact local governments "if you feel a gasoline station is charging a price that is out of line with other stations in your market."
That same day, Motiva Enterprises LLC, Shell's oil refining subsidiary, hiked the wholesale price of gasoline for Shell dealers throughout the Bronx by a whopping 20 cents a gallon, according to company records obtained by the Daily News. Those records show that since the hurricane disaster, Shell has increased its wholesale gasoline price on six separate occasions for its Bronx dealers.
On Aug. 31, the company hiked the price twice in one day - first at 3 p.m. and then at 6 p.m. "These oil companies are out of control," said a veteran Shell dealer in the Bronx who is furious at the company's tactics.
"There's no supply problem," said the dealer, who asked not to be identified.
"Shell's just forcing us to raise the price. This gas was refined more than a month ago, so why charge people more for it? It's just greed."

Ruth asks to note to everyone that FAIR's radio program CounterSpin has their new episode today. If you don't have a station in your area that broadcasts the program, remember, you can still listen online.

Lucy e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "It's Time for a New 'New Deal'" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

New Orleans is destroyed, the Gulf Coast's infrastructure is in tatters and tens of thousands of citizens are without jobs as gas prices nationwide rise to record levels. Television sets brought the destruction into all of our homes. But this White House seemed unable to grasp the misery unfolding before its own eyes.
Instead, President Bush treated the disaster as if he were a loutish frat boy when he joked to Americans that he had had good times partying in New Orleans as a young man and hoped in the near future to be able to sit on Senator Trent Lott's rebuilt porch in Mississippi.
But to really understand what went wrong with the Administration's shameful response, we need to look beyond Bush's blame-the-other, pass-the-buck and who-gives-a-____ attitude.
The Administration's ineptitude, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put it, was "a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good."
The government's failure was the result not of "simple incompetence" in the Administration but "of a campaign by most Republicans and too many Democrats to systematically vilify the role of government in American life," LA Times columnist Robert Scheer argued. And as the Financial Times observed, "For the past quarter-century in Washington...US politics has been dominated by the conviction that what was wrong with America would be solved by getting government off the people's backs"--an attitude that contributed to the criminal inaction on the part of the federal government.

Brad e-mails to note the latest from Riverbend, "Back to Blogging..." (Baghdad Burning):

Technically, it's the summers end. . . But realistically, we have at least another month of stifling heat ahead of us. It's almost mid-September and the weather is still hot and dry in Baghdad. There are a few precious hours in the very early morning when the sun seems almost kind, if you wake early enough, you can catch a solid hour of light breezes and a certain summer coolness.
The electrical situation deteriorated this summer in Baghdad. We've gone from a solid 8-10 hours daily to around six. During the winter, we have generators in the area providing electricity when it goes off. In the summer, however, with the heat and the heavy electrical load from air-conditioners AND the fuel shortage, many generators have to be turned off for most of the day.
We're also having water difficulties, thouh people have grown accustomed to that. You can tell first thing in the morning that the water is cut off. I woke up this morning and knew it even before I had gotten out of bed. The house just sounds . . . dry.

KeShawn e-mails to note Thulani Davis' "Unbearable Crime on the Mississippi" (The Black Commentator):

When I woke up today, the only thought that came to mind was Reverend Jesse Jackson's indignant cry, "This is the bottom of the slave ship we are looking at."
I think Jesse actually put his finger on what happened to all of us this week. Those shots we've seen are, as he said, the bottom of the slave ships. I think that really goes to why all the rest of us watching are so traumatized. And I think it is necessary to repeat what he has said about how the people in this country have a high tolerance for viewing "black pain."
Yes, while we are asking the unheard question as to why a third of New Orleans' population is poor and all black, everyone from the president on down is comfortable with these realities of our ongoing unemployment, overcrowding, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, neighborhood crime and despair.
Jesse's metaphor is also so apt in that you only had to listen to five minutes of reporting to know families had been separated in ways that could be irreparable across states, even mothers from month-old babies...just evacuating babies without contact with the parents is such a nightmare, I hate even hearing about it. These are the people who were marginalized from the Internet as well; are they going to run to a computer site?

Marcus e-mails to note Bill Fletcher, Jr.'s "Anti-war Movement is Alive and Well" (The Chicago Defender):

At a moment when President Bush's public approval ratings are lower than Richard Nixon's at the time of his resignation in 1974 -- and that was before he was pilloried for mishandling rescue efforts associated with Hurricane Katrina -- it is ironic to hear supporters of the Bush administration dismiss the anti-war movement.
As you know, these dismissals all increased in tempo as greater attention was paid to the quest of Cindy Sheehan, mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, to meet with President Bush himself. Bush refused to meet with her; continued his vacation; ran off to Idaho to get away from protesters; and then allowed his supporters to specifically condemn Sheehan and to challenge other opponents of the Iraq war as allegedly being extremists or something close to traitors.
Allowed, you ask? Sure. All President Bush had to do was publicly and loudly condemn such rhetoric as inflammatory and demagogic just as he should have done after Pat Robertson's outrageous call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Yet, in neither the attacks on Sheehan; the attacks on other opponents of the Iraq war/occupation; nor in response to Robertson did the President of the United States of America feel that it was necessary to set the right moral [there is that word again] tone.

Susan e-mails to note Ciar Byrne's "Fonda, 67, vs model, 23: There could only be one winner, says editor" (England's The Independent):

The editor of Good Housekeeping was planning to put a 23-year-old model on the front of the magazine's October issue. Then she saw the proofs of a photo shoot with Jane Fonda and, despite a 44-year age gap between the two, she knew she had found her cover star.
At 67, the actress and activist is the oldest cover model to have appeared on a mainstream magazine in the UK. What is even more unusual, in an era when much younger women are routinely airbrushed before their face is splashed across the magazine racks, Fonda insisted her picture should not be retouched.
Older male stars have long lent their gravitas to the covers of mainstream magazines - think Jack Nicholson, Vanity Fair, April 1994 - it is rare for women of a certain age to appear solo on the front of a glossy.

Susan also notes Robert Parry's latest, "After Katrina, America's Political Crisis" (Consortium News):

The political crisis now confronting the United States can be viewed as a nail-biting thriller in which a harrowing truth slowly dawns on a community, as the threat builds toward a calamity. In movies, the final disaster is usually averted; but in real life, the recognition of the danger sometimes comes too late.
That is the political significance of the public outrage over the Bush administration's inept response to Hurricane Katrina -- as well as the growing recognition that America finally must confront the threat of global warming, that the Iraq War is a death trap, and that the massive budget and trade deficits are mortgaging the nation's future.
More and more Americans are waking up to the realization that they were lulled to sleep by the clever operatives who surround George W. Bush. Now, with New Orleans turned into a giant cesspool by the collapse of neglected levees -- and with bloated remains of American citizens left for days to rot in the hot sun -- the nation is finally shaking itself alert and finding that the nightmare is all too real.
So, the overriding question has become: Is this awakening too late, is there still time to stop Bush and his allies from consolidating their political control over the federal government?
Even as the Bush administration staggers through the twin debacles of Katrina and Iraq, the Right is within reach of its long-sought goal of locking in Republican control of the government for the foreseeable future, with Bush serving as what conservatives call a "transformational" president. [See's "
Bush & the Rise of 'Managed-Democracy.'"]
Already holding the White House and Congress, the conservatives see the final key as gaining firm control of the federal courts. That way Bush's assertion of nearly unlimited presidential power can be rubber-stamped and any electoral disputes -- like the one that put Bush in office in 2000 -- can be settled in the Republicans' favor.

Trina e-mails to note Howard Zinn's "A Surgeon's Touch" (The Progressive):

As I write this, the frightening violence in Iraq continues, England and the United States are in a state of fear about suicide bombs, and the Senate is about to confirm a new, conservative Supreme Court justice. So it may seem peculiar to bring up a subject that is either at the far edge of all our attention, or over the edge and invisible. But here I go.
On August 3, Human Rights Watch announced that the Bush Administration "appears poised to resume the production of anti-personnel mines" for the first time since 1997. It noted that "the Pentagon has requested a total of $1.3 billion" for a new type of land mine.
This registered with me because I had just read Dr. Gino Strada's Green Parrots: A War Surgeon's Diary. The book tells of his fifteen years performing surgery in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, Eritrea, Cambodia, and other places, on victims of land mines and other products of our technological expertise. The "green parrots" are land mines with tiny wings, which look like toys to children, who then pick them up--with horrible consequences.
Strada writes: "The countries, the names, the skin colors change, but the story of these wretched ones is tragically similar. There is the one who is walking in the meadow, the one who is playing in the backyard or who is shepherding goats, the one who tills the ground or who gathers its fruits. Then the blast. . . . Djamila felt a metallic click under her foot and had a fraction of a second to think before her left leg disintegrated. . . . Many others like Esfandyar do not remember a thing. A deafening noise and they are hurled on the ground. . . . They wrapped Esfandyar in a big sheet, and they loaded him in the back of a farm truck. Esfandyar did not complain--the father told us--not of the pain, nor of the uneven roads. It was as if he were sleeping. And he was still in that drowsy state when he arrived at the emergency room of our hospital. . . . He woke up different, Esfandyar, without an arm and a leg, and he will remain different, a young disabled person in a country so poor that it cannot afford to care for him."

Dennis e-mails to note Marian Wright Edelman's "Criminalizing Children - A Failed Policy Abroad And At Home" (Childrens Defense Org.):

"[A]ge is not a determining factor in detention...age does not necessarily diminish the threat." An unidentified Pentagon spokesperson was quoted saying this in an interview with the New York Times to explain, if not justify, the detention of childen in United States facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It seems like the same logic may also reflect the thinking of many state and federal legislators when it comes to the detention of children here at home.
Although juvenile crime, like crime in general, has steadily declined in the United States over the past decade, there still seem to be more and more calls for zero tolerance when it comes o children, for harsher penalities, and most disturbingly, for more transfer of accused children from the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal system. At the federal level, there is a bill pending in the Senate -- S. 155, the Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005 -- that would increase the number of children tried as adults and presumably subject the children found guilty to the federal prison system. Because this system is more geographically dispersed, this means a youth convicted and sentenced for robbing a post office in New York could serve his time in Leavenworth, Kansas, or Merion, Ohio, hundreds of miles from home. The House version of this bill has already been passed.

Lastly, correction to this morning:

Adding to yesterday's commentary, Sheila e-mails to note, on the same article, that in the fifth paragraph, Hulse is noting the Republican response and by the seventh quoting Republicans. Due to the nature of both stories and the fact that Hulse wrote them (yesterday and today's), Sheila feels you get a pretty strong look at "actual balance" at the Times.

It's the sixth paragraph that Republican's get quoted in Hulse's Friday article. In Thursday's article by Hulse, it's the seventh paragraph before a Democratic voice is heard. Sheila typed "sixth" in her e-mail. It wasn't her mistake, it was my mistake. I should have typed "sixth" this morning. My apologies.

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