Monday, December 05, 2005

Democracy Now: Michael Ratner; CPT; Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Eleanor Smeal, Norman Solomon ...

Court Nominee Samuel Alito Justified Police Killing of Teen
This news on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: a newly released 1984 memo shows that Alito saw no constitutional problem with a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager who was fleeing after a $10 home burglary. At the time, Alito was working as assistant to the U.S. solicitor general in the Reagan Justice Department. He wrote "I think the shooting can be justified as reasonable. I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer's dilemma." According to the Los Angeles Times, the Supreme Court used the same case, a year later, to set a firm national rule against the routine use of "deadly force" against fleeing suspects who pose no danger. Writing for the majority of the court, Justice Byron White wrote "A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead."

Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Four Western Peace Activists In Iraq
In news from Iraq, it has now been 10 days since four peace activists with the Christian Peacemaker Team were kidnapped in Baghdad. Over the weekend relatives of each of the men urged their captives to release them. In addition more than 13,000 people including Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy signed an online petition urging their release. The petition read in part "They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq." The petition is online at the website On Friday, Al Jazeera broadcast a video showing the four hostages, in which the kidnappers threatened to kill them by Thursday unless all prisoners in U.S. and Iraqi detention centers are released.

Tens of Thousands Protest in Nepal Against Monarchy
In Nepal, tens of thousands of opponents of the country's monarchy defied a protest ban to demonstrate in the capital of Kathmandu on Friday. The protest was the country's largest since the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal joined with seven mainstream parties to form a pro-democracy alliance opposing King Gyanendra who seized complete control in February. On Friday the Maoists also extended its three-month ceasefire by another month. Last week UN human rights chief Louise Arbour called on the Nepalese monarchy to join the Maoist in declaring a ceasefire. Arbour said "I am seriously concerned about the very real possibility that full-scale armed conflict could resume."

Hampton University Punishes Seven Student Protesters
And in a follow-up to a story we covered last week - Hampton University has reprimanded seven students for taking part in an unsanctioned protest against President Bush last month. The school originally threatened to expel seven students for participating in the protest. Five of the students have been ordered to complete 20 hours of community service. The school accused them of cajoling and proselytizing students, distributing unauthorized handbills and holding an unauthorized demonstration.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Diane, West, Bonnie and KeShawn. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for December 5, 2005

- Tens of Thousands in 30 Cities Protest Global Warming
- Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Four Peace Activists In Iraq
- 10 Marines Killed in Fallujah
- Saddam's Lawyers Walk Out Of Trial In Protest
- Report: CIA Drone Assassinates Al Qaeda Leader in Pakistan
- Court Nominee Samuel Alito Justified Police Killing of Teen
- Tens of Thousands Protest in Nepal Against Monarchy
- Connecticut Passes Sweeping Campaign Finance Law

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

Extraordinary Rendition Scandal Reaches New Heights: Rice on the Offensive in Europe Over Bush Administration's Use of "Torture Flights"

The scandal over the Bush administration's use of so-called "extraordinary renditions" is reaching new heights. Rendition - what many call kidnapping - is the highly controversial practice of transporting detainees seized overseas by U.S. agents to countries known for using torture. On Sunday, the Washington Post detailed how a German citizen was seized in Europe by the CIA, beaten, drugged and held to a secret prison in Afghanistan for five months before the agency realized they had the wrong man.
Michael Ratner: What it reminds me of, and I think people should really be aware of this, we all see now that Pinochet in Chile is being condemned and may actually have to stand trial for the Operation Condor, the running of essentially a gulag through South America, where he picked up people, had them tortured and killed and taken to various facilities. And you have to ask yourself: What's the difference between what the United States is doing now in cooperation with Europe, essentially in running a worldwide gulag of detention and torture facilities?

British Tory MP Blasts Extraordinary Rendition, Says Britain Broke International Law and "Complicit in Torture" if Flights Passed Through UK

We go to London to speak with Andrew Tyrie, a member of British parliament with the Tory party. He is chairman of the recently-formed All Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition.

Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy Among 13,000 to Sign Petition Calling for Release of Kidnapped Aid Workers

More than 13,000 people, including Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy, have signed an online petition urging the release of four peace activists with the Christian Peacemaker Team kidnapped in Baghdad 10 days ago. We speak with a friend of one of the captives and we go to Hebron to speak with a correspondent for in the Occupied Territories where the CPT has worked for the past decade.

Francisco highlights Tom Hayden's "Air War, Death Squads, Surging Peace Movement" (The Huffington Post):

As long predicted, the Pentagon and White House are preparing to "draw down" [not "withdraw"] thousands of troops from Iraq beginning with ten thousand in the near future and 20-30,000 by spring 2006, while turning over bases to Iraqi troops with ceremonial fanfare, and proclaiming the coming of political democracy. A sample front-page headline in the LA Times predicts it all: "U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout From Iraq." [Nov. 26, 05]

Before you celebrate, ask yourself the purpose of these gestures.

Is it to end the war?

Or to end the anti-war movement?

What we know is that military stalemate on the ground and rising anti-war sentiment going into the 2006 election year have forced consideration of a retreat from the Bush Administration's once-grand ambitions. To guess the future, however, it is important to revisit the Vietnam War, the formative experience for many of the Pentagon's warriors and Washington politicians.

On March 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election, but instead initiate a diplomatic effort for peace. According to the Pentagon Papers, "In one dramatic action, President Johnson had for a time removed the issue of Vietnam from domestic political contention." The US stopped bombing North Vietnam above the twentieth parallel, shifting their bombing targets to South Vietnam, Laos and, secretly, Cambodia in early 1969, "while dropping a higher total tonnage than before." [see Ellsberg, Secrets, p. 227]

Richard Nixon promised a "secret plan for peace" in 1968, and let Henry Kissinger remark that "peace is at hand" in 1972. Both statements helped win presidential elections. But between 1969 and 1973, the war was intensified in several forms: a massive US air bombardment and the "Vietnamization" of the ground war, complete with revelations of torture camps at Con San, "tiger cages", Operation Phoenix [a CIA-managed program of annihilating tens of thousands of villagers suspected of being the Vietcong "infrastructure"], and what Professor Samuel Huntington called the "forced urbanization" of the Southern peasantry.

The same policies are operative today, and will become more pronounced if the Pentagon begins "drawing down" troops. First, the air war is expanding without media or Congressional discussion. A Pentagon press release in late 2004 declared that the 3rd Marine Aircraft wing alone had dropped five hundred thousand tons of "high-tech steel on target", and that the tonnage would grow "much higher." [Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, Dec. 5, 05].

By the way, Tom Hayden's in San Francisco tonight, 7:00 pm, New College of CA. Let's do this the way we do for Amy Goodman's appearances:

Tom Hayden in San Francisco, CA
Mon. Dec, 5th
* TIME: 7:00pm
New College Cultural Center
777 Valencia Street
He will be reading from and signing copis of The Port Huron Statement: The Visionary Call of the 1960s Revolution.

Francisco's highlighting Hayden's piece at The Huffington Post reminded me of the appearance today. On other things . . . Susan's e-mailed about Carly Simon's special on PBS -- asking when? It's during the December pledge drive, so, some time this month -- the same with the airing of Barbra Streisand's My Name Is Barbra special from the sixties. I believe both will be aired at various dates around the country. Check PBS for more on that. (Type in your zip code and it will take you to the PBS station broadcasting in your area.) (Kat noted the Carly Simon special here.)

On Barbra Streisand, Megan e-mails to note "A Letter To The L.A. Times" (

In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.

Robert Scheer's column, with its often singular voice of dissent and groundbreaking expositional content, has been among the most notable features that have sustained my interest in subscribing to the LA Times for many years now. Apparently, previous leadership at the LA Times had no trouble recognizing Mr. Scheer's journalistic prowess in that they nominated him for the Pulitzer Prize.

My greatest fear is that the underlying reason for Mr. Scheer's termination is part of a larger trend toward the corporatization of our media, a trend that we, as American citizens, must fervently battle for the sake of our swiftly diminishing free press.

The New York Times hasn't examined Bully Boy's "plan" very closely (they're the "free press" that acts like they aren't). But Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Reading Some of the Fine Print in Bush's Strategy" (This Just In, The Progressive):

The document also betrays U.S. motives for Iraq's economy. It states that Iraq must reduce its "massive subsidy programs" and "attract new investment." Privatization, or what it calls "market reform" and "the promotion of Iraq's private sector," is the linchpin of the U.S. strategy. Ironically, the Pentagon expects privatization to "decrease unemployment that makes some Iraqis more vulnerable to terrorist or insurgent recruiting." But by cutting off subsidies on basic items like food and fuel, privatization is likely to make the everyday lives of Iraqis more miserable and thus more susceptible to the siren song of the insurgents. The authors of the document recognize this dimly. Under "Continued Challenges in the Economic Sphere," they write about the problem of "balancing the need for economic reform--particularly of bloated fuel and food subsidies--with political realities."

As Rebecca noted, Eleanor Smeal has a new post at The Smeal Report (Ms. Magazine).
From "There Can Be No Choice If There Are No Clinics:"

Yesterday, I attended the oral arguments for two related critical class action cases involving anti-abortion clinic violence and access to women's health clinics (Joseph Scheidler, et. al. v. National Organization for Women, et. al. and Operation Rescue, et. al. v. National Organization for Women, et. al.)

When I initiated these cases almost 20 years ago as the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), we did so to stop the reign of terror perpetrated by anti-abortion extremists at clinics across the country. We knew then that the threats and attacks were escalating and we believed were being orchestrated. We then went on to prove a pattern of nationwide crimes.

What's at stake in these cases is a nationwide injunction prohibiting violence aimed at clinics, doctors, staff and patients. We believe this lawsuit and injunction have significantly contributed to reducing the level of violence at clinics.

And staying on the clinics theme we move to domestic shelters as Keesha notes Christina Wall and Rachel Sobel's "Minority women fight to rebuild their lives after battling domestic violence" (The Chicago Defender):

Imagine having no citizenship, a young son, no money and no way out.

Imagine having a husband who threatens to cut the phone cord if its used for something other than an emergency.

Imagine that, to him, a fist in the face isn't considered a emergency. And then imagine not being able to tell anyone, because you don't speak English.

That's how Marisol Alzate, 42, described her life before she escaped her husband, just three years ago. She said while living in Skokie with her husband, she couldn't even shake hands with fellow churchgoers for fear that she'd make friends and enrage him.

"[He thought he] could mop the floor with me because I could do nothing," the animated seamstress recently said as she sat on the edge of her chair in her modestly furnished apartment. "But that's not true."

Alzate learned this truth after finding help in a Near West Side shelter.

Marcus notes Norman Solomon's "Hidden in Plane Sight" (CounterPunch) (a good excerpt to close on):

The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. "In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased," Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. "Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border."

Hersh added: "As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war."

Here's a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war.

So, according to the LexisNexis media database, how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The New York Times this year with reference to the current U.S. military effort in Iraq?

As of early December, the answer is: Zero.

And how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The Washington Post in 2005?

The answer: Zero.

And how often has "air war" been printed in Time, the nation's largest-circulation news magazine, this year?


This extreme media avoidance needs to change. Now. Especially because all the recent talk in Washington about withdrawing some U.S. troops from Iraq is setting the stage for the American military to do more of its killing in that country from the air.

Finally, Third Party e-mails to note this from the Green Party's home page:

Bring the Troops Home Now!

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