Thursday, November 10, 2005

Democracy Now: Jeremy Scahill, Ron Wyden, Loretta Napoleoni, Margaret Kimberley, Ken Wiwa, Danny Schechter ...

Suicide Bombing Hits Baghdad Restaurant
In Iraq, two suicide bombers struck a Baghdad restaurant frequented by Iraqi security forces today, killing at least 33 people and wounding 19 others. Meanwhile a car bombing in the town of Tikkrit killed seven army recruits. In other Iraq news, the US military admitted Wednesday it caused civilian casualties during this week's assault on the town of Husaybah, close to the Syrian border. US forces launched an invasion of the town Saturday, claiming it has become a hotbed for foreign insurgents. The New York Times is reporting Marine aircraft destroyed one home where insurgents were allegedly hiding, killing at least five civilians inside.

British Parliament Rejects Blair Detainee Proposal
In London, the British Parliament rejected an anti-terrorism proposal that would allow the detention of terror suspect for up to 90 days without charge. The defeat is a major blow for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who campaigned heavily for the measure. It was his first major loss in the House of Commons since taking office eight years ago. The defeat comes during a week when Blair suffered major embarrassment over his handling of the invasion of Iraq. In an excerpt of his memoirs released Tuesday, former British Ambassador to Washington Christopher Meyer described the Blair government as "a crowd of pygmies" who bowed to the Bush administration's rush to war.

Ali Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
And in Washington, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday. Ali is considered the greatest boxer in the history of the sport. In his prime he was an outspoken advocate of the Black Muslim movement and a critic of the Vietnam War. In 1967, he was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to fight in Vietnam. This is from When We Were Kings, the documentary about Ali's 1974 championship bout with George Foreman in Kinshasa that came to be known as "the Rumble in the Jungle": "Yeah, I'm in Africa. Yeah, Africa is my home. Damn America and what America thinks. Yeah, I live in America, but Africa is the home of the black man, and I was a slave 400 years ago, and I'm going back home to fight among my brothers."

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

Headlines for November 10, 2005

- Suicide Attacks at Jordan Hotels Kill at Least 67
- Judith Miller Leaves The New York Times
- France Will Deport All Foreigners Convicted in Urban Uprising
- Weah Charges Fraud in Liberia Presidential Race
- British Parliament Rejects Blair Detainee Proposal
- Graham Legislation Would Deny Prisoners Habeas Corpus
- Ali Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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

Italian Writer Loretta Napoleoni on the Amman Triple Bombing, How the U.S. Helped Create Zarqawi and the Terror Financing Network

Jordanian militant Abu Musab al Zarqawi is the prime suspect in a triple bomb attack that killed at least 67 people in Amman. We speak with Italian writer Loretta Napoleoni, author of "Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation."

Germ Boys and Yes Men: How White House Cronyism and the Push to Invade Iraq Hampers the Country's Ability to Handle a Bioterror Attack

In a major expose in the upcoming issue of The Nation, Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reports on how a Republican operative with no experience was put in charge of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and how the Bush administration exaggerated the threat of a bioterror attack three years ago in an effort to win greater support for the Iraq war.

Sen. Ron Wyden on Soaring Oil Prices and Company Profits and the Senate Investigation into Prewar Intelligence

Senator Ron Wyden (D - OR) joins to talk about Wednesday's joint Senate committee hearing on oil company price gouging and why oil executives weren't made to swear to tell the truth. Wyden also discusses why he voted against the invasion of Iraq, how the Energy bill increases U.S. dependence on foreign oil and the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into prewar intelligence.

It's Thursday which means, as KeShawn e-mails to remind, a new edition of The Black Commentator. KeShawn elects to note Margaret Kimberley's "Imus and Andy" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Andy Rooney is a very lucky man. He is paid a very large sum of money to say absolutely nothing at all. For many years he has appeared on 60 Minutes and commented on the most inane subjects imaginable. He will begin his weekly dose of foolishness with a statement such as, "Do you ever think about shoe laces?" No, Andy, I don't. No one else does and it is truly amazing that CBS pays you to do so.

Don Imus is also very lucky. He masquerades as a political commentator for MSNBC, a network that clearly isn't concerned about reporting any real news. For years Imus has made blatantly racist remarks, some directed at all black people, others directed at any black person who rises above his or her station and manages to make more money than he does.

Imus had a bizarre fixation on Bryant Gumbel when Gumbel was riding high on the Today Show. He extended his hostility to Oprah Winfrey, and at one point even called her a racist, incorrectly asserting that her book club only features black authors. Of course the race of Oprah's featured authors isn't really the issue for Imus. Oprah is black and wealthy. In his twisted world her blackness makes her undeserving of wealth. That is reason enough for him to hate her.

Brady notes Ken Wiwa's "On the Tenth Anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's Execution" (The Black Commentator):

"Your dad's dead." For most of my adult life I'd lived in dread of hearing those words. Even before he became a global icon of social justice I was keenly aware that my father's death, whenever it came, would have a profound impact on my life. Years before they killed him I would imagine what it would be like to receive the news. I would rehearse scenarios in my head; how would I feel, how would I react? I never imagined, not even in my wildest calculations, that my father's death would have such an impact well beyond my personal universe.

On the day they killed him I remember walking up a hilly street in Auckland. I was 25 years old and had flown to New Zealand to try to lobby the Commonwealth Heads of State to intervene on behalf of my father, who had been sentenced to death at the end of October. At the top of the street I turned to view the sunset. Looking out over the city center below me and out into the harbor in the distance, I watched the sun sink into the sea, casting a pale orange glow against the sky. I remember the exact moment he died. I was sitting in a restaurant chatting and laughing with friends when I felt a brief palpitation in my chest -- it felt like a vital connection had been ruptured inside me and I just knew. It was midnight in Auckland and midday in Nigeria and my father had just been hanged; his broken body lay in a shallow sand pit in a hut at the condemned prisoners block at Port Harcourt Prison.

His death on 10 November 1995 shook the world. John Major described the trial that sent him to the gallows as a "fraudulent trial, a bad verdict, an unjust sentence." Nelson Mandela thundered that "this heinous act by the Nigerian authorities flies in the face of appeals by the world community for a stay of execution." Bill Clinton and the Queen added their voices to the worldwide condemnation, Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth, countries recalled their diplomats and there were calls for economic sanctions and a boycott of Shell oil.

Ned e-mails to note Adam Saytanides' "U.S. Military Eyes Paraguay" (In These Times):

In June Paraguay's legislature gave the green light to the U.S. military for a series of 13 joint exercises to run through December 2006.

Then the rumors began appearing in the Latin American press: The United States was moving to establish a military base at Mariscal Estigarribia, a town in Paraguay just 124 miles from Bolivia's southeast frontier and within easy striking distance of Bolivian natural gas reserves, the largest in the Americas. Anywhere from 400 to 500 U.S. troops were said to be arriving.

In late July, Brazil reportedly launched military maneuvers along the Paraguayan border, a move seen as an expression of Brazilian discontent with Paraguay. More vocally, Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorin drew a line in the sand: "Paraguay must understand that the choice is between Mercosur and other possible partners."

Brazil and Argentina lord over Paraguay in the Mercosur trading bloc with a dominant import-export relationship. They don't want to see their leverage compromised if Paraguay gains preferred access to the U.S. market for its textiles (hinted at recently) and drops out of the Mercosur trade partnership.

But Bolivia has the most to fear from a U.S. military base in Paraguay. With national elections slated for December 5, the Andean nation is expected to become the next Latin American flashpoint. Since October 2003, widespread indigenous peasant uprisings have ousted two presidents. Quechua and Aymara Indians make up the majority of the Bolivian populace, and they're pressuring the central government to halt the forced eradication of coca cultivation and to nationalize the country's natural gas reserves. Evo Morales, presidential candidate for the Movement Towards Socialism, or MAS party, made a meteoric rise onto the international political stage by supporting these goals, in open defiance of Washington. Considered by many analysts to be the frontrunner, Morales' main competition is former president Jorge Quiroga Ramírez, the preferred candidate of the United States.

Tiffany e-mails to note "The Snake Oil Merchants Who Sold Us a War!!" (editorial, TV News Lies):

The WHIG group met secretly, as is so characteristic of the Bush White House, and that might explain why so little was known about them. They worked with the diligence and dedication of any fawning Bush task force and they ultimately succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Despite its reputation, WHIG snake oil was not as difficult a sell to Americans as one might imagine, especially after 9/11. Good salespeople know their market.

The group was organized in the summer of 2002, when the nation was still reeling from the events of 9/11 and was largely distracted by the war against the Taliban. In charge of the set-up was Andrew Card, the WH Chief of Staff. Chairman of the committee was Karl Rove, then Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush. Together, these two opportunistic charlatans gathered the very best and most successful spin doctors ever assembled in one place, and the plan was set in motion.

The goal was to market a new brand of snake oil developed by the neocons who had come into power in 2000. With practiced confidence, they came together to sell the American people something they really didn’t want. They plotted to sell them a war.

Let me run that by you one more time: In August of 2002, six men and three women got together in Washington, D.C. to devise a plan that would sell the invasion of Iraq to the people of this country. It's totally mind-boggling, but that is exactly what they did.

But this is not a TvNewsLIES scoop. The story is not new. The WHIG group was first identified in a Washington Post article in 2003. So why were people not screaming in the streets? But, we digress . . .

Marcus found an article and wondered if anyone else had e-mailed on it or if I knew of it? No and no. It was published Tuesday the 8th (election day) and it's Danny Schechter's "How to Confront the Media" (

The idea of confronting the media is a popular one. Dissatisfaction with the devolution of TV News is widespread. Disgust with big media is everywhere even if it sometimes expresses itself with a mistaken belief that the problem is a non-existent "liberal media," or just the fault of an obnoxious personality like Bill O'Reilly that the left at least loves to hate.

Even a politically sophisticated group like gets it wrong by asking its members if they are interested in challenging the media because they think it is pro-Republican. In a survey to set priorities, the 9th issue Move ON raises reads -- Stop Republican Efforts to Take Over the Media.

This is odd because if memory serves, challenging the media overall was supposedly their priority number 2 in an earlier survey.

The media fight is not simply about too much partisanship. Yes, Republicans are more prominent in many media outlets and the Administration has made a move on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But there are as many conservative Democrats on the air as Republicans. When it came to the war, there were few meaningful differences.

How much meaningful political differentiation do you really see between Fox and CNN and the rest of TV news pack?


Media concentration and market-driven corporate media is the real problem because their bottom line comes before good journalism. The role Big media plays in trivializing important issues, covering-up for people in power and slanting news to support a war is far more serious because we know there is more bi-partisan consensus than competition. The Judith Miller saga just confirms how journalists have not just become embedded in the military but in our political structures as well. has launched a "Tell the Truth About the War" campaign aimed at the news media. Thousands of our readers have signed on. (There are also efforts afoot by a broader coalition to mount a well-funded "Show Us the War" initiative that we hope to become part of.)

We'll also note Rory O'Connor's"New Skirmish in War Over 9/11 Information" (Media is a Plural,

Representative Curt Weldon, Republican from Pennsylvania, has just fired another salvo in his ongoing battle against the Defense Department over the Able Danger "information warfare" program. According to at least five DOD employees, the controversial data-mining project, which ended in 2000, identified Mohamed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers a year before the worst terror attacks ever on US soil.

Weldon believes that the 9/11 Commission's work investigating the attacks has proven "to be a disappointment and a failure, especially as it pertains to Able Danger." Possible explanations for this failure, says Weldon, include "gross incompetence either on the part of the Commissioners or the Commission staff, or both," or more alarmingly, "a deliberate cover-up that would make the Watergate scandal pale in comparison."

In an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery, and to get the 9/11 Commission to "take seriously its mission to gather all available facts and information relevant to whatever pre-9/11 activities might have impacted the tragedy," Weldon has been using every opportunity to draw official and public attention to the Able Danger findings. To date his efforts have included an angry speech on the floor of Congress and letters to Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld and Senate Judiciary Committee heads Senator Arlen Specter, (also a Republican from Pennsylvania) and Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont. He has also given frank interviews with everyone from Lou Dobbs to Rush Limbaugh to yours truly.

Dissatisfied with the response, Weldon today announced new revelations, which he says, "expose even more blunders prior to 9/11 and point to a wider coverup." The latest findings include Able Danger information provided to defense officials about terrorist activity in the Port of Aden prior to a deadly attack on the USS Cole in October 2000; the discovery of another Able Danger member who confirms a set of data not accounted for by the Pentagon; recent statements by the 9-11 Commission about Able Danger; and the latest efforts by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to smear Able Danger member Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who broke the silence about the Pentagon's efforts to track al-Qa'ida worldwide prior to September 11.

The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! FareChase - Search multiple travel sites in one click.