Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Democracy Now: on Roberts & New Orleans; Marlene Martin, Riverbend, Christian Parenti, Bora (Science & Politics) . . .

U.S./Iraqi Attack on Tall Afar Kills 200
In Iraq, at least 200 are dead in the city of Tall Afar after U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault on the northern city over the weekend. On Monday the Iraqi Red Crescent Society sent in aid for families displaced by three days of bombardment. It was the largest attack since the siege of Fallujah. U.S. officials originally portrayed the bombing as essential to stop the flow of foreign fighters from Syria. But the Washington Post reports the targets were largely Sunni Turkmen. According to the Post, the Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga - not the actual Iraqi army - led the assault. Meanwhile the U.S. is denying an accusation that the military used toxic gases in the attack. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly posted an audio message online claiming the U.S. was using some type of chemical weapons in the city.

U.S. Gives Chavez Opposition $100K
The Miami Herald is reporting that the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy has agreed to give a leading opposition group in Venezuela over $100,000 in funding. The group - Sumate - helped lead the effort to oust Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez through a recall referendum last year. The recall failed. Backers of Chavez have long accused the U.S. of helping to facilitate his overthrown by financially backing opposition groups. The NED says the money will be used to strengthen democracy in the country.

72% of African-Americans Say Bush Doesn't Care About Them
A new USA Today Poll has found that 72 percent of African-Americans feel that President Bush does not care about the country's Black population. 67 percent of white respondents said he did.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Sam, Domingo and Amanda. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for September 13

- John Roberts Hearings Open in Senate
- 45 Bodies Found in New Orleans Hospital
- Michael Brown Resigns As Head of FEMA
- 72% of African-Americans Safe Bush Doesn't Care About Them
- Environmental Disaster: Toxic Landfill Remains Underwater
- U.S./Iraqi Attack on Tall Afar Kills 200
- Lawyers For Frances Newton Seek Stay On Execution
- U.S. Gives Chavez Opposition $100K

Roberts at High Court Confirmation Hearing: "I Have No Agenda"

The Senate opened confirmation hearings Monday for John Roberts to become the nation's 17th chief justice. If confirmed, Roberts would be the youngest chief justice in two centuries and would be positioned to lead the court for decades. We play Roberts' opening remarks. [includes rush transcript]

Senate Dems Call For Open Questioning of Roberts as GOPs Encourage Nominee to Avoid Controversial Topics

During the opening day of confirmation hearings of John Roberts as chief justice, Democrats repeatedly said all questions to the nominee were fair game, including about issues such as abortion and civil rights. Republicans encouraged Roberts not to answer questions about his views on controversial topics. We play excerpts of the hearing.

Honduran Immigrants in New Orleans: Fleeing Hurricanes Mitch, Katrina and Now the U.S. Government

It is estimated that 120,000 Hondurans lived in the New Orleans area. Many were refugees from Hurricane Mitch, which devastated Honduras in 1998 killing up to 10,000 people. While many Honduran immigrants were granted temporary legal status, others are undocumented and fear deportation. Democracy Now! travels to Louisiana to speak with some of the Honduran survivors there.

After Katrina, Where Have All the Prisoners Gone?

A makeshift prison has been set up in the Greyhound bus and train station in downtown New Orleans. The nearby prison, was flooded after hurricane Katrina. What happened to the prisoners there and in other parish prisons in New Orleans? A writ of habeas corpus was recently filed for an accounting of the prisoners. We speak Louisiana defense attorney Phyllis Mann.

e-mails to note Marlene Martin's "Will Another Innocent Woman be Executed in Texas?" (CounterPunch):

Now the state of Texas is set to take another casualty-Frances Newton. Frances is set to be executed in Texas on September 14th. She, like many of the victims in Louisiana, is a poor, Black woman who has been failed by our government. So many of the victims in Louisiana could have gotten out if they had money, if they had a car, if they had help and support.

One could say the same of Frances. If she had a decent trial attorney, she most likely never would have been convicted, let alone sentenced to death. If she had the money to have had a full investigation done prior to trial, and if she wasn't left prey to the forensic lab that took a main piece of evidence and contaminated it by sticking it in with a bunch of other clothing, Frances would likely not be facing an execution date.

Like many of those left to die in Louisiana, Francis is one of the people most vulnerable in our criminal justice system-she is Black and poor. As Bryan Stevenson, an anti-death penalty attorney and outspoken capital punishment opponent, puts it, "You're more likely to get the death penalty if you're poor, black and innocent, than if you're rich, white and guilty."

Now, Frances' new attorney has unraveled the case and shown that Frances is-by all accounts-innocent. So why is Governor Perry going forward with the execution? Hasn't there been enough death already?

Steven e-mails to note Riverbend's "September 11, 2005..." (Baghdad Burning):

It has been four years today. How does it feel four years later?
For the 3,000 victims in America, more than 100,000 have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands of others are being detained for interrogation and torture. Our homes have been raided, our cities are constantly being bombed and Iraq has falled back decades, and for several years to come we will suffer under the influence of the extremism we didn't now prior to the war.
As I write this, Tel Afar, a small place north of Mosul, is being bombed. Dozens of people are going to be buried under their homes in the dead of the night. Their water and electricity have been cut off for days. It doesn't seem to matter much though because they don't live ina wonderful skyscraper in a glamorous city. They are, quite simply, farmers and herders not worth a second thought.
Four years later and the War on Terror (or is it the War of Terror?) has been won:
Al-Qaeda - 3,000
America -- 100,000+

e-mails to note Christian Parenti's "New Orleans: Raze or Rebuild?" (The Nation):
The water in the lower Ninth Ward is thickening into a glassy, fetid slick as the gasoline, oil, solvents and sewage from thousands of submerged vehicles and homes leaches out. Some rescue crews can stay out on their boats for only an hour before getting light-headed. The water's blue-black sheen casts back an almost mocking mirror image of the horrible devastation and incongruously beautiful blue sky above.

A tour from Houston to Gulfport and into New Orleans for several days revealed not only this type of weird physical destruction but also a landscape of raw and tangled emotions, ranging from open fantasies of an impending race war to inspiring, ad hoc experiments in interracial mutual aid and grassroots organizing. This mix of the best and worst in American culture suggests the widely divergent political possibilities left in Katrina's wake. The storm could become an excuse to banish the African-American poor in the interests of the private redevelopment of New Orleans, or the city could become the geographic center of a progressive program of urban revitalization.

In the lower Ninth Ward, controlled breaks by the Army Corps of Engineers have dropped the water by several feet, opening an archipelago of scum-encrusted islands that can be navigated by way of partially open streets. Late in the second week of the disaster a colleague and I made our way through this eerie and desolate maze.

KeShawn e-mails to note Bora's "We The People?" (Science And Politics):

There is a libertarian meme going around that the debacle of FEMA and DHS response shows that the government is too big, thus has to be slashed further.

But, it is not the size of the government that matters, no matter what kind of metric you use to measure it. It is what you
understand the government to be.

What matters is:

a) purpose - something that FEMA lost under Bush;

b) efficiency - something that FEMA lost under Brownie;

c) relationship between Federal and local governments - it is understandable that Republican Feds and Democratic locals (e.g., LA governor, senator and mayor) mistrusted each other, questioned each other's motives and faught for control;

d) relationship between the government employees and the local citizens:

In NYC on 9/11 local cops, firefighters, EMTs, spontaneously organized citizen's groups and the victims (perhaps due to all being liberal) trusted each other and synchronized activities with each other, resulting in a very efficient response to the disaster.

In NOLA, by contrast, local government employees (e.g., cops, Guard, etc.) and local citizens eyed each other with suspicion (due to past experiences with each other). The cops, many of them white Republican bigots, saw dangerous unwashed masses. The people, at the same time knew not to trust the local cops. amatic speech to the UN on Feb. 5, 2003, asserted that the United States had unequivocal evidence of Iraq’s secret possession of weapons of mass destruction. Showing graphics of alleged mobile WMD labs and quoting supposedly incriminating intercepts of Iraqi officials, Powell cast himself as a modern-day Adlai Stevenson, the American UN ambassador who presented evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.

e-mails to note Sister Jean Fallon's "Compel the Government to Enact the UN Millennium Goals" (Rita J. King's Ruminations on America):

For many people, poverty was thought to be an affliction mostly located in Africa, India, Latin America or some other 'third world' country...but not here in the United States.

As a shocked nation looking on during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many were further shocked to see that this 'affliction' is part of our own homeland. All of us had to deal with the usually hidden urban poor of our United States. The face of poverty was clearly shown for all to see, ourselves and the whole world. Also revealed was what their poverty looked like: not some disease at all, but rather, human decisions made about some people that would never have been made about others. For the poor some of these solutions were: no buses to take them out of the city to safety; thousands left in a reeking stadium, their dead with them; no rescue, food nor water for days; being labeled as looters until it was pointed out that taking food for survival cannot be called looting. And, the excuse given for the ways things were, or were not done: they did not go when the were told to. Poverty and the effects of poverty are always blamed on the poor.

Can it be a coincidence that world poverty will be the focus at the United Nations during the week of September 14-16? A Global Summit will be held at the United Natons here in New York; its designated purpose is to pledge direct action that will eliminate poverty in every country in the world. Five years ago at a similar summit, the very nations attending this year promised aid to their people. Knowing this year's summit is our last chance, world states and civil society from every sector have worked together to make this promise doable if only there is the will to do it. This demands mobilizing governments, societies and institutions to set aside their self-centered goals and begin to work together for the common good by achieving the Millennium Development Goals. How many United States citizens have even heard about these goals?

Lastly, Trevor e-mails to note professor's "The Blame Game" (Musings & Migraines):

Brownie, Brownie bo brownie
Bush’s crony, fo frownie
FEMA phony mo mownie

Let’s do Chertoff:

Chertoff, Chertoff, bo berthoff
Banana fana fo fertoff
Bush appointed this Jerk-off

Let’s do Bush:

Bush, Bush bo bush
He’s to blame! fo fush
Let’s impeach him! mo mush

Gina e-mailed to ask that I highlight a choice of children's books from The Third Estate Sunday Review. As requested, I'll note my choice here and repost the entire entry later tonight. From "13 Books, 20 Minutes" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

C.I.: Interesting. I'll go with an obvious choice. The Curious George series. And from that, I'll go with Curious George Rides a Bike. H. A Rey is the author. The drawings were always a big deal to me. Monkeys were big with me. Chim-Chim on Speed Racer, Lance Link . . . And riding a bike is a big thing when you're a kid. I still remember the day the training wheels came off. I was in the drive way, my mother had taken them off. She gave me a push down the drive and, here's the point of the story, as I went down the drive, I turned and started down the sidewalk. No, I don't fall or crash or skin my knees. When I stopped, I stopped because I was ready and didn't fall over. Here's the point, one oft noted over the years, when I turned, I turned left.

Why is it noted? Friday, Gina and Krista will be doing a long essay on children's books, so look for that. That's the official gina & krista round-robin. A smaller version is going out each morning due to the Roberts hearings. I'll be participating again tonight as will Ava and Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) and Jim (The Third Estate Sunday Review) will also take part.

noted over the phone that there's an article on the creators of Curious George in this morning's New York Times. From Dinitia Smith's "How Curious George Escaped the Nazis:"

In the years since the first book was published in the United States in 1941, "George" has become an industry. The books have sold more than 27 million copies. There have been several "Curious George" films, including an animated one featuring the voice of Will Ferrell that is scheduled for release this February, and theater productions, not to mention the ubiquitous toy figure. Next year, PBS will begin a Curious George series for pre-schoolers.

But in truth, "Curious George" almost didn't make it onto the page. A new book, "The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey" (Houghton Mifflin), tells of how George's creators, both German-born Jews, fled from Paris by bicycle in June 1940, carrying the manuscript of what would become "Curious George" as Nazis prepared to invade.

The book's author, Louise Borden, said in a telephone interview from Terrace Park, Ohio, that she first spotted a mention of the Reys' escape in Publishers Weekly. "But no one knew where they had gone from Paris, the roads they took, the dates of where they were, the details," she said.

Her account, intended for older children, is illustrated in whimsical European style by Allan Drummond, and includes photographs of the Reys and wartime Europe, as well as H. A. Rey's pocket diaries and transit documents.

You'll see others citing their choices at other community sites this week. It's to gear everyone up for the essay Gina and Krista have written. So watch for that Friday.

reminds me of the need to note this again (thank you, Bonnie), from an e-mail sent out to those who sign up at Iraq Dispatches: :

All journalists have perspectives that color and shape their reporting. Many factors influence not just what questions get asked but what issues get reported on in the first place. It takes much more work to remain objective when some of the people journalists cover are similar to them in terms of class and culture while others are very different. For embedded reporters in a war zone, there are further complications. They travel, eat, sleep and are protected by the soldiers they are with. There is literally no distance between the journalists and the troops thus their vision can easily be blurred. This has been a particular problem with reporting in Iraq.

Dahr Jamail, an American, saw these problems of perspective clouding the reporting about the war in the U.S. media. He decided to do something about it. He went to Iraq where he reports outside the bubble of American control. His articles appear in The Guardian and The Nation. He also posts his dispatches on his own widely read website, dahrjamailiraq.com.
This interview with David Barsamian will be broadcast on Alternative Radio. You may listen to it on your local station, or stream it from the internet from that station at the time of broadcast.
Date & Time: Tuesday, Sept 13, 1400-1459 ET

's noted that Pacifica's KPFT in Houston station plays Alternative Radio. (I believe she said on Wednesdays.) With the Roberts hearings, it may be delayed. (I have no idea.)
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