Monday, September 26, 2005

Democracy Now: The protests, Fliberto Ojeda Rios killed by the FBI; Katrina vanden Heuvel, Joshua Frank, Jennifer C. Kerr

Up to 300,000 Protest Against War in D.C.
Hundreds of thousands rallied around the world Saturday to call for President Bush to bring troops home from Iraq. In Washington DC, between one and three hundred thousand gathered for the city's largest anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam War. Thousands more marched in London, Copenhagen, Damascus, Helsinki, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities and towns.

FBI Shots Dead Puerto Rican Nationalist Leader
Longtime Puerto Rican nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios has died after being shot by FBI agents. The 72-year-old Ojeda Rios had been living underground for 15 years. The FBI claimed Ojeda Rios fired first but independence activists accused the FBI of assassinating him. The shooting occurred Friday after FBI agents surrounded a house where he was staying. According to an autoposy, Rios bled to death after being shot with a single bullet. Officials didn't enter his home until Saturday, many hours after he was shot. Ojeda Rios was wanted in connection with a $7 million bank robbery in 1983 in Connecticut. For the past four decades Ojeda Rios had been a leading figure in the fight for Puerto Rican independence and against U.S. colonial rule. The shooting occurred on the national holiday of "Grito de Lares" which commemorates an1868 Puerto Rican uprising against Spanish colonial rule. We'll have more on this later in the show.

New Study Warns of U.S. Image Overseas
A new Congressional-mandated study has determined that President George Bush is seen as a greater threat than Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in several Arab nations including Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy warned that "America's image and reputation abroad could hardly be worse." The study found that televised images of US policy choices -- such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the invasion of Iraq -- reverberate across the Arab media and will "long haunt the image of the United States." The report, which has not been released yet, said that in much of the world the United States is viewed as "less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered."

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

Headlines for September 26, 2005
- Up to 300,000 Protest Against War in D.C.
- U.S. Forces Clash With Shiite Militias
- Saudis Warn Iraq War Will Destabilize Middle East
- U.S. Troops Admit Army Beat & Tortured Iraqis
- Prisoners "Left to Die" in Cells During Hurricane Katrina
- FBI Shoots Dead Puerto Rican Nationalist Leader
- Sen. Bill Frist Investigated for Insider Trading

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Military Families Join Hundreds of Thousands of Anti-War Protesters Rallying in Washington
The anti-war rally and march on Saturday drew hundreds of military families and veterans. We hear two speakers: Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq last year, and Anne Roesler, from Military Families Speak Out. [includes rush transcript]

Actor Jessica Lange Speaks Out at Anti-War Protest in DC
Jessica Lange speaks before the crowd of protesters gathered to demonstrate against the war in Iraq in the nation's capital. [includes rush transcript]

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark Calls For Impeachment of President Bush
Clark, who launched the website, accused President Bush of high crimes for misleading the nation over the war and for helping to overthrow Jean Bertrand-Aristide, the democratically-elected president of Haiti. [includes rush transcript]

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) on the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina
Cynthia McKinney opened the pre-march rally critiquing President Bush for his response to Hurricane Katrina and for the ongoing occupation of Iraq. [includes rush transcript]

Palestinian-American Poet Suheir Hammad: "Of Refuge and Language"
Def Jam poet Suheir Hammad reads her new poem on Hurricane Katrina: “Evacuated as if criminal // Rescued by neighbors // Shot by soldiers // Adamant they belong // The rest of the world can now see // What I have seen // Do not look away // The rest of the world lives here too // In America” [includes rush transcript]

Louisiana Native at Anti-War Protest: “Do Not Allow the Rebuilding of Lives in the Gulf Coast to Be Another Profit” For Halliburton
Colette Pichon Battle speaks at the massive anti-war protest in D.C. Battle is from Slidell, Louisiana and makes the connection between the response to Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction process, and the war in Iraq. [includes rush transcript]

NBA Player Etan Thomas Slams Bush Administration, Outlines Impact on Poor
NBA player Etan Thomas of the Washington Wizards speaks at the rally on the dire impact of the current administration's policies on the poor, from health care to the death penalty to the war in Iraq and more. [includes rush transcript]

FBI Assassinates Puerto Rican Nationalist Leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios
For the past four decades Filiberto Ojeda Rios had been a leading figure in the fight for Puerto Rican independence and against U.S. colonial rule. He was wanted by the FBI for his role in a 1983 bank heist. [includes rush transcript]

Dozens of Peace Activists Arrested During Protest at Pentagon
We get a breaking report from peace activist Frida Berrigan who is at the Pentagon, where she has just been arrested along with roughly 40 others while demonstrating. [includes rush transcript]

Ginny e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Why Bush is Wrong on Poverty" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

In his September 15 speech to the nation, President Bush asserted that poverty in America is mostly restricted to the nation's Southern states. Like a lot of right-wing ideologues when it comes to issues of race and poverty in America, he's in denial.
Many Republicans seem to believe that poverty is confined to one region of the nation, that the past (i.e. what Bush called a "history of racial discrimination") should shoulder the blame for the problem, and that individuals make choices that determine their station in life. Bush's supporters hold the White House and the Republican agenda blameless, and argue that the president's vision for building an "ownership society" will enable America's poor to build a better life for themselves and their families.
The first thing wrong with such arguments is that poverty is not simply found in the deep South, as Bush suggested in primetime. Poverty is a fact of life in every city and state nationwide.

[. . .]
Bush's four and a half years of trickle-down theories have failed miserably. The poor have become even poorer. The nation's poverty rate has climbed from a 27 year low of 11.3 percent to 12.7 percent last year. Thirty seven million Americans are living below the poverty line, a group so large, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter pointed out in a post-Katrina cover article, that it amounts to "a nation of poor people the size of Canada or Morocco living inside the United States."

Brad e-mails to note Joshua Frank's "Democrats Flee Peace Protests" (CounterPunch):

I have been thinking for a while now that the Democrats really should sit down and consider changing their mascot from a donkey to a marmot. A rodent really is more emblematic or their provincial habits than a donkey could ever be. Think about it. Just this past weekend antiwar rallies were held across the country and the Democratic leadership was nowhere in sight. They had high-tailed it out there. They hid in their holes and were afraid to be seen.
In all fairness, a few elected Democrats did show face, mainly two: Reps. John Conyers and Cynthia McKinney. But I wouldn't constitute either as party leaders. The better-known Democrats, like Senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, two likely candidates for 2008, were nowhere to be seen. Even more striking were the absences of DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Russell Feingold and Ted Kennedy -- all occasional critics of the Iraq war.

Of course the Democrat's collective criticism only goes so far. They certainly don't want to be photographed with any militant protestors. By God, that would taint their reputations! They've got campaign contributions to worry about here. No, the Democrats aren't about to take to the streets. They'd rather sit back and project the illusion that they care.

While the Times doesn't seem to know news, fortunately KeShawn gives us a head's up to Jennifer C. Kerr's "Spirited anti-war rally one of largest of Iraq conflict" (The Chicago Defender):

Crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surged past the White House on Saturday, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the U.S. invasion.
The rally stretched through the day and into the night, a marathon of music, speechmaking and dissent on the National Mall. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, noting that organizers had hoped to draw 100,000 people, said, "I think they probably hit that."
Speakers from the stage attacked President Bush's policies head on, but he was not at the White House to hear it. He spent the day in Colorado and Texas, monitoring hurricane recovery.

In the crowd: young activists, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest.

This is a strong article and I wish fair use didn't limit the amounts we could pull quote. But read it or not (some don't go to links, many in fact), know it's out there. Know that Kerr reported what she saw and spoke to people and know that the weekly Chicago Defender, with one reporter, did a better job than the all might daily New York Times with several.

Leslie e-mails to note that Bob Somerby is weighing in on the Times & education at The Daily Howler:

Is Wake County, N. C. (Greater Raleigh) producing the latest educational miracle? The New York Times' Alan Finder seems to want you thinking just that. Here’s the heart of his Sunday front-page feel-gooder--the latest laughable Times report about those "schools that work" [. . .]
So you can grasp the grinding illiteracy found among New York Times ed writers, let's make sure you understand how these numbers work. For example, how well did Wake County black fifth-graders do on last spring's reading test? According to the state's official results, 88 percent of Wake's black students tested "proficient" on the state test. But then, 83 of black fifth graders tested "proficient" on this same test statewide! In short, the large majority of fifth-graders—black, white and brown--tested "proficient" all over the state! But you never learn that in Finder's piece. Instead, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling about Wake's score gains--score gains which Finder attributes to a particular aspect of Wake's educational program.
Have Wake's black passing rates doubled in the past decade? Almost--but then, the same thing has happened all over the state! (Data below. Any chance that the current tests are just easier?) Did 80 percent of Wake's black kids pass last year? Yes--but so did black kids all over the state! In short, Finder is the latest illiterate making a joke of our educational discourse. If we actually care about school kids, he and his editor won’t be allowed within a hundred miles of this topic again.
We've told you this, again and again: Your "press corps" loves those schools-that-work stories, and they’ll do almost anything to throw such tales at you. How well are Wake County's schools really doing? We don't have the slightest idea. But duh! To all appearances, North Carolina has easy state tests--tests which almost everyone passes. Finder doesn’t tell you that. Instead, he makes you feel good.

Consider this the reality post, the post of items that are the anti-dote to the New York Times.
There will be at least one more post tonight but I just got in, I'm tired, I need to shower the plane feeling off and I'm probably going to go through the mail that's piled up, grab something to eat and just take a few moments before starting another entry.

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