Friday, December 23, 2005

Democracy Now: Noam Chomsky; Matthew Rothschild, Ellen Goodman, J.L. Chestnut Jr., NOW

Jailed Environmental Activist Bill Rodgers Dead of Apparent Suicide
In other news, Bill Rodgers, an Arizona environmentalist and bookstore owner has died in his prison cell just two weeks after his arrest. Rodgers was one of six activists picked up by the FBI on December 7. They were all accused of setting a series of arsons in the Pacific Northwest that had been linked to the Earth Liberation Front. Prison officials are calling Rodger's death a suicide. A medical examiner say Rodgers died of asphyxiation after he placed a plastic bag over his head. Rodgers was 40 years old. He was best known in Prescott, Arizona for running the Catalyst infoshop.

Daschle: Bush Administration Was Denied Spy Authority
In Washington, former Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle has disclosed previously unknown details that challenge the Bush administration's claim it has legal authority to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals in the US. The White House says the authority was implicitly granted in the joint Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed shortly after 9/11. But in today's Washington Post, Daschle claims the Bush administration requested, but was denied, the authority it now claims it was granted.
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."

Federal Judge Calls Gitmo Detentions "Unlawful"
This news on Guantanamo Bay: the Washington Post is reporting a federal judge has ruled the detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison is "unlawful", but says he does not have the authority to release them. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the government has taken too long to release Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim -- who have been jailed for four years. The two have been cleared for release, but not returned to China where they would likely face torture or execution.. The two men are among nine detainees that remain at Guantanamo despite having been declared "no longer enemy combatants." In his ruling, Judge Robertson wrote: "The government's use of the Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants' deliberately begs the question of whether these petitioners ever were enemy combatants."

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Lily, Durham Gal and Rob (Rob adds that "It is that Judge Robertson" meaning the one who stepped down from the FISA court this week). Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for December 23, 2005
- Public Transit Resumes As NYC Strike Ends On Third Day
- Jailed Environmental Activist Bill Rodgers Dead of Apparent Suicide
- Suspect's Lawyer Says Fellow Detainee Has Turned Informant
- Daschle: Bush Administration Was Denied Spy Authority
- Justice Dept. Admits Spy Program Does Not Comply With FISA
- House Rejects Senate-White House Compromise On Patriot Act
- Report: Indicted Lobbyist To Testify Against Associates in Plea Deal
- Federal Judge Calls Gitmo Detentions "Unlawful"
- California Jury Awards $172M to Wal-Mart Employees

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

Noam Chomsky v. Alan Dershowitz: A Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
We bring you a debate between Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowtiz on the question, "Israel and Palestine After Disengagement: Where Do We Go From Here?" Dershowitz argued for a political solution based on an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns and a mobile security fence to protect Israel's borders, while Chomsky insisted that the main obstacle to peace in the region is U.S.-Israeli insistence on maintaining settlements and rejecting minimal Palestinian rights. They faced off at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government last month. [includes rush transcript]

Noam Chomsky and the ticking time bomb Alan Dershowitz. (Oh wait, that's Dershowitz's argument, he just sounds likes a ticking time bomb as his voice grows louder and louder and more metallic throughout the debate. Keep a hand near the volume control if you listen or watch. Transcript readers should be fine.)

First highlight comes via Lynda who says, "I know it's not Thanksgiving but just FYI, I'm thankful to have Matthew Rothschild's strong voice in these dark times." Lynda notes Rothschild's "Keep Rumsfeld in Iraq, Bring Troops Home" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Now Bush talks of "complete victory." And in his ever simplistic formulations, he poses another either/or. It's no longer, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists."
Now it's, "You're either for victory, or you're for defeat."
Well, victory is not around the corner, and the insurgency--don't tell Cheney--is not in its last throes.
We've lost 2,155 soldiers so far in Iraq. By next Christmas, that number may be close to 3,000.
Rumsfeld is in Iraq right now.
He should stay there.
Bring everybody else home.

Markus also finds something "that had me shouting 'Amen!' as I read it" -- Ellen Goodman's
"Bush's False Choices" (The Boston Globe via Common Dreams):

We have been handed yet another in an endless series of false choices. Those who don't blindly trust the president are dismissed as amnesia victims. Americans who don't connect the dots from 9/11 to Iraq or spying or torture are cast as actors living in a foolish, fearless, fantasy world. Indeed, 9/11 was the day the president became the commander in chief. The words he often repeats were spoken to him by a rescue worker at the World Trade Center: ''Whatever it takes."
If there are Americans who have actually forgotten the attacks in all their searing horror, I don't know any. I remember the weeks when I would wake up and reach for the remote to see if we'd caught Osama. When did that expectation fade? I remember the just pursuit of Al Qaeda into its safety zone, Afghanistan. And the satisfaction in overthrowing the Taliban.
But gradually, 9/11 became the all-purpose excuse for . . . whatever it takes. The war in Iraq was conflated with the war on terror, and preemptive strikes were launched against weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. In ''The Assassin's Gate," George Packer, a liberal hawk, tries to assess why the United States really did invade Iraq. ''It still isn't possible to be sure -- and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq War," he writes. ''Iraq is the Rashomon of wars" and all he can conclude is that it ''has something to do with September 11."
As recently as last February, 47 percent of Americans still believed that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Does the White House accuse its supporters of false memory?
And what of the president himself? In his news conference, he angrily attacked those who leaked the spy story. He asked reporters to guess what happened the last time there was a similar security leak. Then he stumbled over the answer, ''Saddam . . . Osama bin Laden changed his behavior." Memory loss?
Those who criticize the commander in chief wonder if he is the one who's forgotten 9/11. Has he forgotten when the country was united? Has he forgotten when the world was on our side? Has he forgotten that we were the good guys?

Billie e-mails to note J.L. Chestnut, Jr.'s "What White America Doesn't Hear" (CounterPunch):

Millions of American citizens are Muslims and they live and work all over the country. Some died in the attacks on September 11th. Nevertheless, some Americans believe, as I do, that notwithstanding what the president said the U.S. would make continuous war against Arabs and Muslims generally. We believe that is true because a racist component has always deeply infected this nation's foreign policy and virtually everything else. Likewise, African-Americans always have reservations and misgivings about America's foreign policy that one seldom, if ever, hears in white America.
James Baldwin, celebrated black novelist and playwright, spent part of 1965 in a backroom at my law office helping finance black protest marches. In 1962, he wrote the celebrated novel,
Another Country, in which he described a nation occupied by blacks and situated alongside the United States. This nation was seldom visited, seldom consulted and seldom reported upon by whites except when it disrupted or disturbed the white nation next door that it mirrors. To white people, black citizens living in this parallel country were shadows, creatures glanced at out of car windows, over the shoulder, tolerated, feared, and despised. Blacks were viewed as a problem, as an issue.
Baldwin understood that many white Americans and even some African-Americans do not feel that blacks are really Americans. In truth, some African-Americans deep down only see themselves as black in America and many working class, lower middle class Muslim Americans also do not feel they are American. These people were as shaken by 9/11 as anyone and they do not condone that cowardly attack but unlike many white Americans they can understand why it happened and when they hear Arabs and Muslims around the world say this country got what was coming to it, these American Muslims want to yell, "Which America are you talking about? Certainly not mine."

Trina (yes, Mike's mother) notes NOW's "Women and Abortions: The Reasoning Behind the Decision:"

A woman's decision to have an abortion is "motivated by multiple, diverse and interrelated reasons," according to a recently released study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which conducted a structured survey of 1,209 abortion patients at 11 large abortion providers nationwide, in addition to in-depth interviews.
Seventy-four percent of the women said that having a child would interfere with their ability to care for other dependents or with their ability to work or complete their education. Nearly half said that they did not want to be a single mother or that they were having relationship problems. One fourth said if they had another child it would hinder their capability to raise their existing children and/or children they plan to have in the future; another 23% of the women said they simply could not afford to have a/another child.
Younger women frequently stated that they were not prepared for the transition to motherhood and older women often said that they were already obligated to care for dependents and/or had already completed their childbearing Generally women offered more than one reason for their decision to have an abortion. These data, which have remained consistent for more than a decade, demonstrate that women make very conscious and rational decisions about choosing abortion, after a thoughtful examination of their present ability to care for a child, or another child.
Despite the repeated studies and clear evidence regarding women's decision-making, misperceptions still exist and continue to be reinforced by those who oppose abortion for any reason. The evidence proves what we have said all along: that women do not take lightly the decision to have an abortion.

Shirley asks that we note that Mike, Elaine, Rebecca and Wally have been posting all week at their sites. Kat's posted this morning (at her site, we'll note the review in a moment), Cedric plans to post this evening or tomorrow. The Third Estate Sunday Review will post a new edition Sunday. Betty says if her latest chapter isn't up by Saturday afternoon, don't complain to her "because I'll be raking myself over the coals enough for everyone." (The real Thomas Friedman's return to the op-ed pages Wednesday resulted in Betty reworking her latest chapter.) Seth also hopes to have something us this weekend.

Kat's latest went up (here) this morning, "Kat's Korner: Breaking through the 'conventional truths' with No Secrets." Members have gone crazy over this one (all e-mails have been forwarded to Kat). Eli writes to say thank you to Kat for writing about the album that's been so important to his granddaughter and his late wife and him (as well as his great-grandaughter now). (Wally talked to Eli and discusses it in his entry this morning.) Other members have shared their own memories of that time period (early seventies) or of the album itself. Marcia seems to speak for many when she writes, "Welcome back, Kat! We need your strong voice and your continued tackling of the intersection of music and the world around us!"

To that I'll add that I'm as thrilled as the community with Kat's writing. She's a strong voice and this community is lucky to have her. Remember that she will have a commentary up here Saturday and Sunday. Three days in a row of Kat's strong critiques, that's reason for holiday cheer.

Also let me note a heads up to Elaine's forthcoming entry at Like Maria Said Paz. We spoke about it this afternoon on the phone and I'm biting my tongue not to spoil it but she will be posting it either tonight or tomorrow. (She's calling around to see who's posting Saturday. Based on how many community sites are posting Saturday versus today, it will run today or tomorrow.) So look for (and forward) to that.

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