Friday, October 21, 2005

Democracy Now: Julia Tarver, Seymour Hersh; Juan Gonzalez, Howard Zinn, Salim Muwakkil, CODEPINK ...

UFPJ Plans Day of Actions Over 2,000 Military Deaths in Iraq
The antiwar group United for Peace and Justice has announced that it is organizing a national day of action planned for the day after the US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000. As of October 20, the total was 1,988. UFPJ is calling the action "2000 Too Many." Demonstrations are already scheduled in cities around the country. Military family members and veterans will be at the forefront of many planned protests.
U.S. Marshals Interrogate Reporters at Saddam Trial
A Fox News reporter has revealed that US Marshals are overseeing security at Saddam's trial in Baghdad and have conducted interrogations of journalists, asking them a bizarre series of questions. Among the questions correspondent Dana Lewis says he was asked: "Am I friends with insurgents?" "Have I ever experimented with drugs?" "What is my religion?" "Are my teeth real?" At the end of the interview, Lewis says the Marshals asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph. He was then led to a room for an iris scan and fingerprints, which will be used as a physical identity check entering the courtroom for the trial.
Amazon Rainforest Being Destroyed Faster Than Earlier Believed
Newly published research shows that the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at double the rate of all previous estimates. The research was published today in the journal Science. A new analysis of satellite images of the Brazilian part of the Amazon basin shows that on average 6,000 square miles of forest is being cut down by selective logging each year. This is in addition to a similar amount clear-cut annually for cattle grazing or farming. As a result, up to 25% more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere every year.
The above three items are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines and were selected by Julia, Andy and SusanDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for October 21, 2005

- FEMA Scandal Widens as Internal E-mails Are Made Public
- Tom DeLay Gets Booked, Smiles in Mug Shot
- Congress Passes Pro-Gun Legislation
- Guardian Journalist Freed in Baghdad
- Saddam Trial Lawyer Killed
- US Marshals Interrogate Reporters at Saddam Trial
- UFPJ Plans Day of Actions Over 2,000 Military Deaths in Iraq
- Virginia Company Pleads Guilty in Oil-for-Food Scandal
Lawyer: Guantanamo Detainees on Hunger Strike Tortured and Violently Force-Fed by Guards, Medical Staff

We speak with attorney Julia Tarver who is representing detainees at Guanatanamo Bay. She says her clients - who are participating in a hunger strike to protest their mistreatment indefinite detention - told her guards and medical staff forcibly shoved large feeding tubes up their noses and down into their stomachs, and used the same tubes from one patient to another.
Scott Ritter on the Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein

We speak with Scott Ritter, the chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 about his new book: "Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein." It details how the CIA manipulated and sabotaged the work of UN departments to achieve the foreign policy agenda of the United States in the Middle East.
Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter on Iraq, WMDs and the Role of the Clinton Administration in the 1990s

Scott Ritter, the former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, and Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh discuss the role of the Democrats and the Clinton administration in Iraq during the 1990s.
Francisco e-mails to note Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez's "Grandmas Knew Iraq Score Early" (New York Daily News via Common Dreams):

Every Wednesday afternoon for nearly two years, a group of women has gathered for an hour outside Rockefeller Center, holding aloft their homemade placards in a silent protest against this dreadful and deceitful war carried out by President Bush and his bunglers.

They call themselves Grandmothers Against the Iraq War, and yesterday they were joined on Fifth Ave. by the most famous peace mom in the country, Cindy Sheehan.

Back in early 2004, when the grandmothers began their weekly vigil, few people were paying much attention to the anti-war movement.

But with the number of dead G.I.s at nearly 2,000, with the Iraqi resistance as strong as ever, and with the financial cost of this war mushrooming out of control, all that is changing fast.

Iraq may even become a hot topic in our own mayoral race.

On Thursday, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins will submit resolutions that call on Bush to pull U.S. troops out, and they will seek an expedited vote on it.

Miller and Perkins, both Manhattan Democrats, will be joined in their announcement by Fernando Ferrer, the mayoral challenger who repeatedly opposed the war during the Democratic primary.

All this means that Mayor Bloomberg may finally have to give clear answers on where he stands on Iraq.



Brenda e-mails to note Howard Zinn's "It's Not up to the Court" (The Progressive):

John Roberts sailed through his confirmation hearings as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with enthusiastic Republican support, and a few weak mutterings of opposition by the Democrats. And in nominating Harriet Miers, Bush is trying to put another rightwinger on the bench to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. This has caused a certain consternation among people we affectionately term "the left."

I can understand that sinking feeling. Even listening to pieces of Roberts's confirmation hearings was enough to induce despair: the joking with the candidate, the obvious signs that, whether Democrats or Republicans, these are all members of the same exclusive club. Roberts's proper "credentials," his "nice guy" demeanor, his insistence to the Judiciary Committee that he is not an "ideologue" (can you imagine anyone, even Robert Bork or Dick Cheney, admitting that he is an "ideologue"?) were clearly more important than his views on equality, justice, the rights of defendants, the war powers of the President.

At one point in the hearings, The New York Times reported, Roberts "summed up his philosophy." He had been asked, "Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?" (Would any candidate admit that he was on the side of "the big guy"? Presumably serious "hearings" bring out idiot questions.)

Roberts replied: "If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy's going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy's going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution."

If the Constitution is the holy test, then a justice should abide by its provision in Article VI that not only the Constitution itself but "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land." This includes the Geneva Convention of 1949, which the United States signed, and which insists that prisoners of war must be granted the rights of due process.

A district court judge in 2004 ruled that the detainees held in Guantanamo for years without trial were protected by the Geneva Convention and deserved due process. Roberts and two colleagues on the Court of Appeals overruled this.

There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and "the rule of law." The Constitution, like the Bible, is infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment. When the country was in economic crisis and turmoil in the Thirties and capitalism needed to be saved from the anger of the poor and hungry and unemployed, the Supreme Court was willing to stretch to infinity the constitutional right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It decided that the national government, desperate to regulate farm production, could tell a family farmer what to grow on his tiny piece of land.



Brad e-mails to note Salim Muwakkil's "Katrina, Cosby and Class Divisions" (In These Times):

Hurricane Katrina made clear that poverty and blackness remain too intertwined to be coincidental. But while too many black people remain poor, a growing number do not.

Since 1968, the year of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, the black middle class has tripled, as measured by the percentage of families earning $50,000 or more. But the percentage of black children living at or below the poverty line also has increased since King's assassination. What's more, the incarceration epidemic (and its attendant woes) has increased poverty among countless young black men just at the peak of their earning potential.

The simultaneous growth of these disparate groups within the black community has helped nurture a class divide that is growing more rancorous. Signs of this conflict have been bubbling just beneath the public surface for quite a while.

One example of this growing tension has been the ongoing angry demonstrations by a group of young ex-offenders outside of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Chicago headquarters. The group opposes Jackson's brokerage-style of leadership and seeks to curtail his role as the black community's leading voice. To some extent these tensions are both class and generational: Jackson's civil rights paradigm may resonate with beneficiaries of affirmative action, but it rings few bells with ex-inmates from the hip-hop generation.

So far, this gathering storm has escaped public notice. But there are increasing signs that we're in for a change.



Sarah notes this from CODEPINK:
2000 Too Many
The sad day is coming when the 2000th US soldier will have died in Iraq. With almost 2000 dead and over 25,000 wounded U.S. troops, we must also consider the more than 100,000 dead and wounded Iraqis. HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE? Now is the time to yet again remind people of the human cost of this war and call for the troops to come home now. Join us in taking action.
Alicia e-mails to note Earl Ofari Hutchinson's "How low can Bush go?" (The Black Commentator):

In 2000, Bush barely edged out states rights champion Barry Goldwater for the dubious distinction of receiving the lowest voter percentage from Blacks of any GOP candidate in the Twentieth Century. A poll of evangelical leaning Blacks during the 2004 campaign found that they opposed by big margins, abortion, and gay marriage, and were staunch family values advocates. This was the group that Bush. Mehlman, and Rove targeted as being ripe for the GOP pickings. They dumped millions in faith based dollars in the pockets of select mega church Black ministers, wined and dined them at the White House, and swayed to the gospel beat at their churches. The same polls, though, found that Black Christians and their ministers were also just as passionate in backing affirmative action, and more federal aid for jobs, and education. Their conservativism stretched no further than family values beliefs.

While polls showed that younger, upwardly mobile, Blacks disliked, distrusted, and felt disconnected from the Democrats, and even branded themselves as independents, they expressed no great love for the GOP. With the exception of Ohio and Florida, Blacks still loyally and overwhelmingly pulled the lever for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 just as they have for every Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Before, during and after the Florida vote debacle in 2000, Black antipathy toward Bush has been burning, impassioned, and relentless. They don't just dislike his politics, they dislike him. If Bush said the earth was round, many Blacks would say it's flat. Katrina and the Bennett quip simply reinforced their visceral disdain for him. Their contempt for him exceeds their contempt for President Reagan, and Reagan worked especially hard to earn the enmity of Blacks with his assault on affirmative action, and open war with civil rights leaders. That visceral dislike has dumbfounded Bush.

So for advocating the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about oral sex, while condoning illegal Bushevik actions that put America at greater risk from Weapons of Mass Destruction, we name . . . .
Who!  What's the name!  Click here for whom they selected.
We'll quote from it later (running out of time) but Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) "Miers provided misleading information to Judiciary Committee"  at The Raw StoryMartha gave a heads up on that.
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