Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Democracy Now: Diane Wilson, Nancy Soderberg, George Monbiot, Paul Menchu; Tariq Ali, Bill Quigley, Katrina vanden Heuvel

New Orleans Police Plead Not Guilty in Beating Case
In New Orleans, three city police officers have pleaded not guilty to charges of battery after they were videotaped beating an African-American man in the French Quarter on Saturday. Police hit the 64-year-old retired elementary school teacher at least four times in the head and then dragged him to the ground An officer also kneed him in the back as blood streamed down his arm. Police also assaulted a producer from the Associated Press after he refused to stop filming the incident. On Monday the victim of the beating -- Robert Davis -- spoke out for the first time. Davis denied police reports that he was drunk. Davis said he had returned to New Orleans to check on property his family owns in the storm-ravaged city, and was out looking to buy cigarettes when he was beaten and arrested. Davis has several stitches in his face and a possible skull fracture.

New Poll: 59% of U.S. Wants Troops Out of Iraq
Meanwhile, a new CBS News poll shows that 59 percent of Americans want US troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible, even if the country is not completely stable, an increase from 52 percent last month. Iraqis are four days away from voting in a nation-wide referendum on a new constitution drafted by the transitional government.

Pakistan Death Toll Tops 42,000
The death toll from Saturday's massive earthquake in South Asia has topped 42,000. 10,000 people are believed to have died in the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.n The United Nations estimates 2.5 million people have been left homeless. About 1,000 hospitals have beecompletely destroyed. The rescue effort has been hampered by the inability for the government to reach remote regions of the area and worsening weather. Earlier today Pakistani authorities had to suspend all helicopter flights to quake-hit areas because of torrential rainstorms. Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris are braving the cold weather with no shelter and little food. On Monday, rescue workers tried desperately to remove survivors trapped in collapsed buildings. This is Graham Payne, director of the group Rapid-UK. Earlier today Doctors Without Borders warned that there was a growing risk of an epidemic of water-borne disease in Pakistani Kashmir. The Pakistani government has made an urgent appeal for field hospitals, as well as antibiotics, anti-typhoid medicines, fracture treatment kits, and surgical equipment, among other supplies. This is Ed Tsui, director of the United Nations Office of Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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

Headlines for October 11, 2005

- Pakistan Death Toll Tops 42,000
- Over 2,000 Feared Dead In Guatemala from Mudslides
- Car Bombings Kill Dozens in Iraq
- Arrest Warrants Issued for Ex-Iraqi Officials
- New Poll: 59% of U.S. Wants Troops Out of Iraq
- U.S. Considers Military Strikes, Regime Change in Syria
- Bolton Blocks UN Discussion of Rights Violations in Sudan
- New Orleans Police Plead Not Guilty in Beating Case
- Mandela, Dalai Lama, Clinton & Chomsky Picked To Head Fantasy Gov't

Did Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA Deserve to Win the Nobel Peace Prize?

World leaders are hailing the International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief Mohamed ElBaradei for their efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. But a number of environmental groups and activists are asserting that the IAEA has actually heightened the threat of nuclear war by promoting nuclear power. We host a debate between former Clinton official Nancy Soderberg and British writer George Monbiot.

Texan Environmental Activist Diane Wilson: Why I Refuse to go Jail

Three years ago Wilson was arrested for committing civil disobediance at a Dow Chemical plant to protest the company's connection to the Bhopal chemical disaster. She’s now refusing to go to prison until former Union Carbide CEO Warren Andersen is jailed for his role in Bhopal.

Devastated by Mudslides, Guatemalan Villagers Refuse Military Aid Remembering 1990 Army Massacre

The death toll in Central America following Hurricane Stan is still climbing after torrential rains caused deadly floods and mudslides. We go to Guatamala City to speak with Paul Menchu, brother of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu Tum.

Kara e-mails to note Tariq Ali's "Pakistan Will Never Forget This" (CounterPunch):

Like a giant vulture flock, the global media has descended on the country. The same images repeated every few minutes over three days. The same banal comments. Soon they will get tired and move on. When they are really needed, to monitor relief efforts and reconstruction, to maintain a watch on the funds and alert viewers to the inevitable corruption (in the past blankets and tinned food designed for victims of the floods earlier this year were being openly sold in the black-market) they will not be there. The South is only worth a disaster. Emote and disappear. And as the media circus moves on the citizens of the West--they with the short memory spans--also forget. Pakistan will never forget this horror.

The picture in the North-West of the country is much worse than has been reported. The Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, a World Bank favourite, lost his cool at local journalists for reporting the destruction of schools and the deaths of hundreds of children. "Why are you being sensationalist? Be optimistic!" The defensiveness was unnecessary. Nobody blames the regime for the earthquake and even the normally loquacious Frontier province and Afghan mullahs, eager to pronounce Katrina as God's punishment for US wars, have fallen silent. Why would Allah punish the Islamist strongholds in Pakistan?

The death toll has been underestimated. Balakot, a small city which is the gateway to the beautiful Kaghan valley and heavily dependent on seasonal tourism, has been destroyed. Corpses litter the streets. According to today's estimates, at least half of the city's population of 100,000 is now dead. A whole generation has been wiped out. Survivors were, till yesterday, without food or water because the roads had been wrecked and helicopters were in short supply.

Kara also notes Bill Quigley's "New Orleans: Leaving the Poor Behind Again!" (CounterPunch):

They are doing it again! My wife and I spent five days and four nights in a hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We saw people floating dead in the water. We watched people die waiting for evacuation to places with food, water, and electricity. We were rescued by boat and waited for an open pickup truck to take us and dozens of others on a rainy drive to the underpass where thousands of others waited for a bus ride to who knows where. You saw the people left behind. The poor, the sick, the disabled, the prisoners, the low-wage workers of New Orleans, were all left behind in the evacuation. Now that New Orleans is re-opening for some, the same people are being left behind again.

When those in power close the public schools, close public housing, fire people from their jobs, refuse to provide access to affordable public healthcare, and close off all avenues for justice, it is not necessary to erect a sign outside of New Orleans saying "Poor People Not Allowed To Return." People cannot come back in these circumstances and that is exactly what is happening.

There are 28,000 people still living in shelters in Louisiana. There are 38,000 public housing apartments in New Orleans, many in good physical condition. None have been reopened. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that 112,000 low-income homes in New Orleans were damaged by the hurricane. Yet, local, state and federal authorities are not committed to re-opening public housing. Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA) said, after the hurricane, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

New Orleans public schools enrolled about 60,000 children before the hurricane. The school board president now estimates that no schools on the city's east bank, where the overwhelming majority of people live, will reopen this academic school year. Every one of the 13 public schools on the mostly-dry west bank of New Orleans was changed into charter schools in an afternoon meeting a few days ago. A member of the Louisiana state board of education estimated that at most 10,000 students will attend public schools in New Orleans this academic year.

Sherry e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "What's The Matter With What's The Matter With Kansas" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

I'm a Tom Frank fan. I think he's a wonderful and passionate writer. But, now a respected political scientist is arguing that the "Great Backlash" Frank chronicled in his last book, in which "conservatives won the heart of America" and created a "dominant political coalition" by convincing Kansans and blue-collar, working-class people to vote against their own economic interests in order to defend traditional cultural values against bicoastal elites "isn't actually happening--at least, not in anything like the way Frank portrays." (Thanks to Doug Henwood--editor of the invaluable Left Business Observer and longtime Nation contributing editor--for turning me on to this new study.)

In a fascinating paper called "What's the Matter With What's the Matter with Kansas?", Princeton professor Larry Bartels uses data from National Election Study (NES) surveys to test Frank's thesis. He examines class-related patterns of issue preferences, partisanship, and voting over the past half-century. Bartels concludes that the white working class hasn't moved right and that "moral values" are not pushing them to vote Republican.

Moreover, for the most part, voters' economic and cultural attitudes are either both liberal or both conservative rather than the bifurcated split Frank sees. Bartels also disproves the argument that there's been a long-term decline in turnout.

Sherry wants my thoughts. If it works for you, read the book. Listen to any voice who speaks to you. That's my short answer. Folding Star loved the book. (I may e-mail to see if FS wants to note something on the book.) As journalism, I could read it. Coming from a poli sci background, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if the same level of attention had been given to Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life? What if that had burned up the internet for the last two years instead?

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