Friday, September 23, 2005

Democracy Now: Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill; Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Dave Lindorff


Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
In a major address delivered at the Pentagon on Thursday, President Bush said clearly that US forces would not withdraw from Iraq "on my watch, saying that would give terrorists the chance to "claim an historic victory over the United States". Bush also attacked the growing chorus of people in the US and across the world calling for the US to pull out of Iraq:

"Their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001".

Bush's speech comes just days ahead of what is expected to be one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in US history, planned for this Saturday. And as he spoke a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing that 55 percent of Americans believe the US should speed up withdrawal plans, while only 21 percent say the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, while more than a third of people say they considered the war unwinnable. In his address, Bush also publicly acknowledged that more than 1,900 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq and he said that some 18,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan had not yet finished their mission.


Bully Boy vows to stay in Iraq . . . provided it's Thanksgiving, he's heavily guarded, and he's allowed to serve the turkey and not be the turkey. (Something's he can only dream.)


Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):


Headlines for September 23, 2005

- Rita 24 Hours Away, Millions Flee
- Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
- Roberts Nomination Moves Forward
- SEC Investigates Frist
- Greyhound to Fire Employees Who Sell Tix to Undocumented Immigrants
- Iraqi officials Cut Off Relations With British in Basra
- Ohio Puts Anti-Choice Law on Hold
- Carter Says Gore Won in 2000
Disaster Profiteering: Purging the Poor in the New New Orleans

We speak with writer and author Naomi Klein about what some are calling the real looting of New Orleans. In this week's cover story in The Nation magazine, Klein reports on how the city's poorest evacuees are being kept out of thousands of perfectly livable empty homes. [includes rush transcript]
Blackwater Down: Fresh From Iraq, Private Security Forces Roam the Streets of an American City With Impunity

In this week's cover story in The Nation, Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reports on how mercenaries from private security firms like Blackwater USA and BATS are patrolling the streets in New Orleans.
Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans

As Katrina's flood waters recede, government contractors are flowing into the Gulf Coast and reaping billions of dollars in pre-bid, limited bid, and sometimes no-bid contracts. We speak with Pratap Chatterjee, managing editor of, about his latest article titled "Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans." [includes rush transcript]
Pacifica Station KPFT Weathers Hurricane Rita

As hurricane Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast, we go to Houston to speak with the staff of Pacifica Radio station KPFT - one of the few radio stations still broadcasting in the city.

Trina e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Sweet Victory: Cities Push for Pullout" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):


Last week, a New York Times poll showed that 52 percent of Americans want immediate withdrawal, and that only 44 percent now feel that the United States "made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq." Yet, aside from a select group of representatives--like Progressive Caucus chair Lynn Woolsey, who convened an unofficial hearing on withdrawal last Thursday--calls for real change have been met with deaf ears on the part of the political class.

But, as tens of thousands of citizens are set to converge on the Mall this weekend for what could be the largest US protest yet against the Iraq war, and with some of America's largest cities having passed resolutions calling for a pullout, ignoring the public may no longer be politically tenable. Last week, the Chicago City Council voted 29 to 9 to become the largest US city to pass the "Bring Them Home Now" resolution. The Windy City joins Philadelphia, San Francisco, and more than fifty other municipalities that have called for withdrawal.

"When you have a city as diverse and as large as Chicago weighing in on this important issue, I think it will have real impact," Ald. Joseph Moore (49th), a leading sponsor of the resolution, told the Chicago Tribune. "We are from the heartland."

The nationwide push for local resolutions is being led by Cities for Progress, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, which also works towards passing local bills on extending health care benefits, establishing living wages and opposing the Patriot Act. The movement has grown considerably since its inception last March, when dozens of towns and cities in Vermont called for withdrawal. Organized labor has joined in too: in July, the AFL-CIO called for "the rapid return of US troops" and scores of local, state, and national labor organizations have passed similar resolutions.


I caused confusion this morning with "NYT: 'Brazil's Lofty Promises After Nun's Killing Prove Hollow' (Larry Rohter)" by saying that the second entry would be up but would be delayed.  "Other Items" is up but it's posted before the first item.  Sorry, I didn't think to check the time stamps on the entry.  (Usually the spotlight always is the first window I open, but there was a great deal of activity with people arriving and I obviously wasn't paying attention -- or was paying even less attention than usual.)


Sorry for the confusion that created.


Lynda e-mails to note Dave Lindorff's "Frances Newton Died For Bush's Sins" (CounterPunch):


Newton insisted on her innocence of the crime right up to her death, and offered an alternative theory-that her husband and 7-year-old had been killed over a debt to a drug dealer-a theory that her notoriously inept and subsequently suspended attorney Ronald Mock never bothered to investigate. Newton claimed she had removed a gun from the house after hearing her husband and his brother talking about "some trouble," and she thought it better to get the weapon out of the house.

The trial was rife with improprieties and prosecutorial misconduct-the most egregious of which was that investigators had recovered not one but three identical .25 cal. Pistols during their investigation of the case, while the prosecution pretended there had been only one pistol recovered and hid the other two from the defense. It was also rife with the standard neglect and incompetence we've come to expect from underpaid, unmotivated and incompetent public defenders provided to poor and black defendants in such cases-Mock never even brought in Newton's husband's parents, who had volunteered to testify on her behalf, and who have steadfastly opposed her execution!

Ironically, when there was more attention being paid to the case back in December 2004, Gov. Perry granted a 120-day stay from execution because of evidentiary questions in the case that raised some doubt about her guilt. Yet the matter of the multiple guns and the outrageous hiding of important exculpatory evidence from defense-which raised much more serious questions about her guilt and about the fairness of her trial--came up subsequent to that stay. In other words, doubts about Newton's guilt were much greater the day she was executed than they were last year when Perry granted a stay.

So what was different between December '04 and September '05? The lack of public and media attention to the case.

Katrina and the disastrous Bush response to the deadly flooding of New Orleans simply trumped the story of the first execution of a black woman since the Civil War.

Of course, Newton also got less media attention all along because of her race. The execution of an admitted female killer, Karla Faye Tucker, by Texas only seven years ago, was page-one news for weeks leading up to her execution. What was different? Certainly not the depravity of the crime, as her bloodthirstiness was stunning. The real difference was her race-Tucker was white--and the fact that Tucker had "found God" while on death row.

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Takes Cover from Katrina under 9/11" (This Just In, The Progressive):
I suppose it was bound to happen. Whenever Bush is in trouble, he conjures up 9/11.

And so, after his disastrous performance on Katrina, he has now managed to take shelter under the overstretched awning of 9/11.

At a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition, which ought to have been a very small crowd, Bush made the link: "I've been thinking a lot about how America has responded [to Katrina], and it's clear to me that Americans value human life, and value every person as important. And that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break. They're the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We're in a war against these people. It's a war on terror. These are evil men who target the suffering. They killed 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001. And they've continued to kill."

Not exactly a smooth segue, but Bush used it anyway. And he extended it to Iraq, saying for the umpteenth time that "Iraq is the central battlefront in the war on terror." Again, Bush said, "We value every life," unlike the suicide car bombers. But I've never heard Bush speak about the 25,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilians that his war has cost. He sure doesn't appear to place much value on them.


Read closely the excerpt above and you'll realize why Rothschild's a community favorite.  This is a critique, a strong one, that expresses itself clearly.  But if you read closely, you'll notice the humor in the critique as well.  (Lloyd noted one laugh, I'm seeing two.)  Rothschild can make a hard hitting critique (like above) and also make you laugh as he pops the air out of the gas bag known as the Bully Boy.

Zach e-mails to note Andrew Stelzer's "Ready For Dialogue" (In These Times):

"I'm afraid that if I watch a lot of TV, I will start to hate myself as an Arab, or as a Muslim or as a Palestinian," says Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, "because there is nothing out there except bias and stereotyping and hatred."

Jarrah, 42, is a long way from her year-and-a-half stint as a contributor to CNN's "World Report" in the late '80s, when she was filing three-minute spots every week from Jordan. Back then, she had hope that the fledgling world news network could bridge gaps of understanding between nations and cultures. Now, she's given up on the mainstream press, and has decided to personally act as a medium for the two cultures she calls home.

Since moving to the States more than a decade ago, Jarrah, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian-American, has taught classes on Islam, history, media and international relations at the University of South Florida. "I ask my students to read books by Arabs before they go and read books by non-Arabs to explain the Arab mind," says Jarrah.

After 9/11, Jarrah found herself having to walk what she taught. She was asked to speak to church and community groups in her Port Charlotte, Fla., community. She earned praise and more invitations to speak with each appearance, but she soon realized that having lived in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan did not make her an expert on the post-9/11 Arab world.

Cindy e-mails to note that GNN has Tom Regan's "Report by US think tank says only '4 to 10' percent of insurgents are foreigners" (Christian Science Monitor's headline, GNN gives it the more specific "The 'Myth' of Iraq's Foreign Fighters"):

The US and Iraqi governments have vastly overstated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and most of them don't come from Saudi Arabia, according to a new report (PDF) from the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). According to a piece in The Guardian, this means the US and Iraq "feed the myth" that foreign fighters are the backbone of the insurgency. While the foreign fighters may stoke the incurgency flames, they only comprise only about 4 to 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents.

The CSIS study also disputes media reports that Saudis comprise the largest group of foreign fighters. CSIS says "Algerians are the largest group (20 percent), followed by Syrians (18 percent), Yemenis (17 percent), Sudanese (15 percent), Egyptians (13 percent), Saudis (12 percent) and those from other states (5 percent)." CSIS gathered the information for its study from intelligence services in the Gulf region.

The CSIS report says: “The vast majority of Saudi militants who have entered Iraq were not terrorist sympathisers before the war; and were radicalized almost exclusively by the coalition invasion.”

The average age of the Saudis was 17-25 and they were generally middle-class with jobs, though they usually had connections with the most prominent conservative tribes. "Most of the Saudi militants were motivated by revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country. These feelings are intensified by the images of the occupation they see on television and the internet … the catalyst most often cited [in interrogations] is Abu Ghraib, though images from Guantánamo Bay also feed into the pathology."

And Bonnie asks that we again note this:
And speaking of Amy Goodman, she and Laura Flanders are teaming up for a special broadcast:

Watch out, tune in! Laura will be co-hosting with Amy Goodman, Free Speech TV's live broadcast from the DC march and concert. Saturday, 3-6 pm ET, Dish Network 9415.
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