Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Democracy Now: Jesse Jackson, Angela Davis, Lisa Olsen; Danny Schechter, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Robert Parry ...


Protests Mark Start of WTO in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting has opened up amid mass protests. At the center of the demonstrations have been a group of farmers from South Korea. Members of the group tried to gain access to the WTO meeting by swimming through Victoria Harbor. In the streets, police fired pepper foam to block demonstrators from getting near the ministerial meeting. About 15 activists were able to make it inside during the opening address of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy. The demonstrators unveiled signs reading "The WTO Kills Farmers" and "No to the WTO." Critics of the World Trade Organization charge the WTO has undermined democracy around the world by promoting the trade agenda of multinational corporations.

  • Jose Bove, French farmer and activist: "Today, the opening of markets is a real danger for most farmers in the south and the north. That's why the trade talks are a delusion and we oppose the European agricultural policy and the U.S. one which are still hiding their export subsidies."

Poll: More Than 2/3 of Iraqis Oppose U.S. Troops
In Iraq, ABC News and Time Magazine has conducted a nationwide poll of Iraqis ahead of this week's elections. It found that more than two thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Only 44 percent of the country feels the country is better off now that it was before the war.


U.S. Activists Hold Vigil Outside Guantanmo
A group of U.S. activists have begun a vigil near the gates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Members of the group Witness Against Torture walked for five days across Cuba to reach Guantanmo. Military officials rejected their request to meet with any of the 500 or so prisoners who are being held without charges.

  • Peace activist Frida Berrigan: "We're fasting, most of us fasting just on water. Some people drinking some juice. Fasting and praying, and hoping that our intentions reach the prisoners. That somehow through the power of prayer, they will feel our presence, feel our solidarity. At the same time we're calling on people in the United States to call President Bush, to call Donald Rumsfeld, to get in touch with the base here in Guatanamo, so that we might be let in to visit the prisoners, to visit the soldiers, American soldiers here. And to open up this modern heart of darkness to the light of day and to the light of world scrutiny."
The above three items are from Democracy Now! Headlines today and were selected by Krista,
Dominick and LiangDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for December 13, 2005

- California Executes Stanley Tookie Williams
- Protests Mark Start of WTO in Hong Kong
- Australia Prepares For Third Night of Racial Violence
- Bush: 30,000 Iraqis Dead So Far in War
- Bush Blames Arabic Media For The Deteriorating Image of U.S.
- Poll: More Than 2/3 of Iraqis Oppose U.S. Troops
- Supreme Court to Hear Texas Redistricting Case
- U.S. Activists Hold Vigil Outside Guantanmo
Stanley Tookie Williams Executed at San Quentin

Stanley Tookie Williams is dead. He was executed at 12:35 am PT by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison. He was 51 years old. A co-founder of one of the country's most notorious street gangs, the Crips, Williams spent 24 years on death row after being convicted of four murders. During this period he became a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, children's author and a vocal advocate against gang violence. He maintained his innocence up until his death. Williams' fate was sealed Monday afternoon when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected a final appeal for clemency. We play excerpts of a press conference where witnesses describe the execution and we hear reactions from his attorney, the NAACP and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Angela Davis: "The State of California May Have Extinguished the Life of Stanley Tookie Williams, But They Have Not Managed to Extinguish the Hope for a Better World"

We speak with longtime prison activist and professor Angela Davis about the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. She was outside San Quentin prison when he died. In the written response to Williams' clemency appeal, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said "The dedication of Williams' book 'Life in Prison' casts significant doubt on his personal redemption." - the dedication includes Angela Davis.
Stanley Tookie Williams: I Want the World to Remember Me for My "Redemptive Transition"

We hear Stanley Tookie Williams in his own words, speaking in one his last interviews, recorded just hours before his death. He appeared on Pacifica Radio station WBAI's Wake Up Call. In the interview, Williams says he would like to be remembered for his redemptive transition: "Redemption. I can say it no better than that. That's how I would like the world to remember me. That's what I would like my legacy to be remembered as."
Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man? Investigating the Details of the Cantu Case

Ruben Cantu was the fifth teenager convicted and executed by the state of Texas. Now more than a dozen years after his death, a further investigation into his case has provided new information supporting his unwavering claim to innocence. We speak with Lise Olsen, the reporter from the Houston Chronicle who has written a series of articles on the case.
Billie asks if we can spotlight Danny Schechter's "News Makes News: Info War Now Page One in the NY Times" (MediaChannel.org) "one more time" because she thinks this is the section everyone should pay most attention to "and it's got a link for Danny's book": 
This secret war was perhaps a secret to the New York Times but not to those of us who have been tracking the deployment of information warfare for several years. It's a sign of the times (and The TIMES) that our media is just getting hip to a multi-million dollar government strategy designed in part to spin news, reinforce message points, cover up crimes and plant information that ends up being punted by analysts on Fox News and other TV outlets. It is part of the methodology for turning lies into "credible" news.
According to the report, at least l000 articles have been planted in the Iraqi and Afghan press, but widely acknowledged, if unstated, is that much of it "blows back" into US media as news, a practice winked at by government officials. (To challenge this disinformation Mediachannel.org has launched a "Tell The Truth About The War" campaign recommending websites like IraqProject.org for more accurate news.)
Why is it that we are just learning about this vast undertaking now? It is not because information about information war was not out there.
Writing in my new book, "When News Lies," Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who teaches at our war colleges, relays his experiences in trying to alert major media outlets about his own detailed study about how the Pentagon constructed and distorted major stories during the Iraq war. He references meetings with the Washington Post, The Atlantic, 60 Minutes, The LA Times and the News Hour at PBS where he tried to interest journalists in blowing the whistle.
He walked away totally frustrated.
"By this time, I'd had enough," he writes. "I had to get this monkey off my back. I had to move forward rather than to keep looking back. I had to have some closure. My solution was to publish my stories on the web."
I saw a small reference to his study buried in US News & World Report. The magazine cited it, but did not give it much visibility. I was dumbstruck. Here was what I considered possibly the "Pentagon Papers" of the Iraq War and yet it was being totally downplayed.
Having been among the first in Boston, in 1970, to name Daniel Ellsberg as the leaker of that Vietnam War investigation, I knew the importance of hard-hitting studies by military insiders.
That's from Danny Schechter's "News Makes News: Info War Now Page One in the NY Times" (MediaChannel.org) and we've noted it three times which is more than we usually do in one day, but it is an important article.  (Most noted article here ever?  Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" from Harper's according to Beth. She'll have numbers of citations and a a list of the next nine most noted articles in her ombudsperson column in Friday's gina & krista round-robin.)
Charlie points out that Katrina vanden Heuvel is also noting revelations from the Times article.  From her "Lying, Dirty, Tricksters" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

It turns out that the Lincoln Group, the Washington-based subcontractor hired by the Pentagon to plant stories in Iraq's media was no rogue operation. Instead, as Gerth documents, it was just one of many elements in the Bush Administration's vast, extensive and costly propaganda apparatus.

Recent news stories have documented how the Lincoln group received tens of millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts to plant paid, boosterish articles in the Iraqi and Arab media. Now we learn that while US troops had defective bulletproof vests, US taxpayer money was being used to help Lincoln pitch pop culture ideas as a way to win hearts and minds in the Middle East.

Did you know that Lincoln proposed that the US government fund a version of the satirical paper "The Onion," and an underground paper to be called "The Voice"? It even had the brilliant plan, according to Gerth's article, of trying "comedies modeled after Cheers and the Three Stooges, with the trio as bumbling wannabe terrorists."

Still on the issue of the press, Martha notes Robert Parry's "U.S. Journalism's Shameful Anniversary" (Consortium News):

One year ago, reporter Gary Webb -- his life in ruins -- killed himself with a handgun. The tragedy made him the final victim of a long-running cover-up protecting the Reagan-Bush administration's tolerance of drug trafficking by its client army, the Nicaraguan contras.

But Webb's death also could be blamed on the fecklessness of modern American journalism. The nation's leading newspapers had driven the 49-year-old father of three to his desperate act rather than admit that they had bungled one of the biggest stories of the Reagan-Bush era -- the contra-cocaine scandal.

Webb might be alive today if the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times had shown the decency to explain the importance of what the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general acknowledged in a two-volume report in 1998.

In that investigation -- sparked by Webb's "Dark Alliance" series for the San Jose Mercury-News in 1996 -- CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz found that the spy agency hid evidence of contra-cocaine trafficking in the 1980s, even disrupting federal investigations that threatened to expose the secret.

Though insisting that the CIA didn't authorize the contra-cocaine trafficking, Hitz's report revealed that the criminality was even more pervasive than Webb believed (his series had focused on only one contra-cocaine pipeline into California). Hitz's investigation found more than 50 contras and contra entities implicated in the drug trade.

Hitz also was told by CIA officers that the motive for the cover-up was that they put their mission of overthrowing Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government ahead of law enforcement that might have disrupted or discredited the contra operation.

A careful explication of the CIA's extraordinary admissions in 1998 would have largely vindicated Webb, who had been driven out of the Mercury-News after the Big Three newspapers and other national publications ganged up on Webb and his story.

So happy anniversary to those who took part.  (And we all know who those were.)  Maybe you went on to be an "environmentalist"?  Or maybe you went on . . .  This anniversary is your's.  You've earned it.  Especially those of you who now whine about the Bully Boy.  You're silence, your distortions, your attacks and your coverups helped carry us here.  Your names are not forgotten.  (Martha will do a piece for the round-robin on this topic so look for that Friday.) 
Brad e-mails to note Greg Palast's "Falluja Arithmetic Lesson" (GregPalast.com; and he's billed as "Prof. Greg Palast for this one):
New York Times, page 1:

"American commanders said 38 service members had been killed and 275 wounded in the Falluja assault."

New York Times, page 11:

"The American military hospital here reported that it had treated 419 American soldiers since the siege of Falluja began."
 Questions for the class:

1. If 275 soldiers were wounded in Falluja and 419 are treated for wounds, how many were shot on the plane ride to Germany?

2. We're told only 275 soldiers were wounded but 419 treated for wounds; and we're told that 38 soldiers died. So how many will be buried?

3. How long have these Times reporters been embedded with with military? Bonus question: When will they get out of bed with the military?

Rachel notes Rita J. King's "The Terminator Denies Clemency Bid" (Ruminations on America Project):
I strongly believe Damien Echols is one of the people on death row for a crime he didn't commit.

DNA testing, the law and the politics of the death penalty debate.

Death penalty

News and updates on

To participate in the Ruminations on America Project, contribute an essay of up to 1000 words on the current state of the union, photographs or news tips to
ruminationsonamerica@hotmail.com. Any and all subjects, respectfully crafted, are fair game.
37.  That's the total, as Natalie points out, for the American troop fatality count for the month at Iraq Coalition Casualities (we're on the 13th day of December, before you reach for the calendars).
Francisco get's the last highlight (and takes us back to the topic of the press), Navid Iqbal's "Newsweeks Fineman blasts Bob Woodward" (The Daily Record):
Howard Fineman, Newsweek's chief political correspondent, said Monday night in the first program of a Drew University lecture series, that Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward had become a "court stenographer" for the Bush administration.

Standing before a crowd of nearly 300, Fineman, said Woodward went from being an outsider "burning the beltway"with his investigative work in the 1970s Watergate scandal under President Nixon to being, " an official court stenographer of the Bush administration."

"He's a great reporter,"Fineman said of Woodward, "but he's become a great reporter of official history."



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