Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Democracy Now: War & Peace; Bill Scher, C.J. Correa Bernier, Kate Ravilious, Anne Penketh, Tom Hayden

Anti-War Democrats to Challenge Sen. Hillary Clinton's Re-Election Bid
In other political news, New York Senator Hillary Clinton is about to face a challenge in her re-election bid from within her own party. Jonathan Tasini -- the former president of the National Writers Union -- has announced plans to run against Clinton. His campaign will focus on opposing the Iraq war, renegotiating so-called free trade deals and extending Medicare to all Americans. The Nation Magazine described Tasini as "one of the most outspoken progressive activists in the U.S. labor movement." Meanwhile a former Green Party candidate named Steve Greenfield has also announced plans to run on the Democratic ticket against Clinton. Greenfield says the centerpiece of his campaign will be the rapid withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

Judge Upholds Money Laundering Charge Against Tom Delay
Republican Congressman Tom Delay suffered a setback Monday after a Texas judge refused to throw out money laundering charges against him. The judge however did throw out conspiracy charges against Delay, the former House Majority Leader. Delay is accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to 2002 Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature. Money laundering is punishable by five years to life. Despite the indictment the Bush administration remains close to Delay. Last night Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Houston to headline a fundraiser for the Texan Congressman.

Prominent UK Muslim Heads to Iraq to Help Hostages
In other news from Iraq, a prominent Muslim anti-war activist from Britain has arrived in Iraq in order to help secure the release of the four kidnapped peace activists with the Christian Peacemaker Team. Anas Altikriti said "The objective of the mission is simple and clear that is to issue an appeal to the captors to release the four hostages and to tell them that these are friends of Iraq and the Iraqi people and in particular the British national, Norman Kember who is aged 74 and who is a retired professor who have dedicated their lives in combating terrorism and violence and call for peace."

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

Headlines for December 6, 2005

- Rice Denies U.S. Engages In Torture
- U.S. Moves Detainees From Secret European Prison
- Report: U.S. Lied to Italy About Kidnapping of Islamic Cleric
- Female Suicide Bombers Kill 27 in Iraq
- 9/11 Commissioners Warn U.S. Is Unprepared For Attack
- Judge Upholds Money Laundering Charge Against Tom Delay
- Anti-War Democrats to Challenge Sen. Hillary Clinton's Re-Election Bid

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace: A Look at the Epic Russian Novel and its Author

Thirty-five years ago this month, Pacifica Radio station WBAI broadcast a marathon reading of Leo Tolstoy's classic work "War and Peace." For four and a half days ending December 6, 1970, more than 170 people from all walks of life came together for a reading of the great Russian epic "War and Peace." We speak with Professor Andy Kaufman of the University of Virginia about the significance of War and Peace and its author, Leo Tolstoy.

WBAI's War and Peace Broadcast: 35 Years Later

We broadcast a documentary produced by the Pacifica Radio Archives about Pacifica Radio station WBAI's 1970 War and Peace broadcast. It includes excerpts from the 1970 marathon reading, interviews with the original producers, new readings performed specifically for this broadcast, and a lot more.

Actors, Journalists, Activists, Scholars and Others Continue the War and Peace Epic

Thirty-five years after WBAI's 1970 War and Peace broadcast, the Pacifica Radio Archive gathered actors, activists, scholars and journalists to read sections of the epic novel. We play excerpts of readings by veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas and writer and death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal.

Jim asked that we note "Five Books, Five Minutes" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, November 27, 2005):

Cedric: I was at the library looking for a book we did last time and saw Time On Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin which is edited by Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise. I didn't know anything about Rustin which is always something we look for when picking out books, going with something other than what's on the top ten list this week. What I learned was that Rustin was part of the civil rights movement, a big part of it, in fact. "Time on Two Crosses" refers to the fact that Rustin was both African-American and gay.

Betty: And so he's got two crosses to bear at a time when Blacks aren't recognized as equals and when gays and lesbians seem as worthy of less than equal rights.

Wally: The book included his debate with Malcolm X.

Rebecca: Right, it's not just a collection of writings, but also includes interviews and in that case, a transcription.

C.I.: I'm staying silent for this discussion due to having eaten up so much time being the "defender of TV" before. But it needs to be noted that the discussion was done for WBAI radio which is a Pacifica Radio station.

Mike: I didn't know that.

Elaine: So let me do the plug C.I. wants to do but is biting the tongue on. If you saw the coverage of Rosa Parks on Democracy Now! or heard it on Pacifica stations, you realize that their archives are very rich. That's due to things like airing this discussion between two leaders that the mainstream media wasn't interested in.

Ava: Because years from now when someone like Medea Benjamin or Arundhati Roy or Tariq Ali or anyone like that passes away, a tribute's going to be hard for the mainstream media to put together. They'll have plenty of clips of Tim Russert speaking to John McCain yet again. But people who are truly leaders, not "powerful" because they were elected, are not covered. You saw that with Rosa Park's passing. Mainstream media working overtime to get some sort of tribute together for a woman that they were largely uninterested in hearing from.

Kat: In fact, Amy Goodman issued a challenge or made an offer during their coverage of Rosa Parks on Democracy Now!

Cedric: Right. I think she noted that they were airing excerpts from a Pacifica interview done in the fifties, shortly after Ms. Parks had sparked a movement, and Amy Goodman noted that you wouldn't see footage like that on TV and offered that if any networks wanted to use it for a tribute, they'd allow them to, this wasn't an open offer this was for that time period, free of charge, but it was doubtful anyone would take them up on it. And to the best of my knowledge, no one did.

Why note it? Because Pacifica Radio is doing their pledge drive for the Pacifica Radio Archives today. (And the toll free phone number is 1-800-735-0230.) Along with pulling from their one of a kind archives, Pacifica Radio will also have new performances from (among others) Rickie Lee Jones and Michelle Shocked.

Mary e-mails to note Bill Scher's "McCain: Most Dangerous Man in America" (The Huffington Post):

I read Arianna's lament about Sen. John McCain with empathy. I too fell for the Straight Talk Express in 2000. I never committed to voting for him in the general election, but I temporarily switched my party registration to support him in the GOP primaries, thinking that he would at least be less dangerous than Bush.
I see now how wrong that vote was. Not because McCain has changed in any significant way (though both Arianna and Ari Melber have noticed some unpleasant changes), but because of what has stayed the same.

People wonder why McCain flacks so vigorously for the Iraq War. It's because it was his idea.

During one of the 2000 debates between Bush and McCain, McCain laid out his foreign policy vision:

"I would ... revise our policies concerning these rogue states: Iraq, Libya, North Korea - those countries that continue to try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. ... I'd institute a policy that I call 'rogue state rollback.' I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments. As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security."

John McCain -- ugh. Ari Berman and Bob Somerby have also questioned Mr. So-Called Straight Talk. Let's note yesterday's Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, you mention the McCain Amendment. Explain what it is, voted 90-9, what Vice President Cheney is pressuring McCain to do, and the deal that’s being made, as I watched McCain on television yesterday, the Arizona senator, he talked about meeting at least three times with Stephen Hadley, the National Security Adviser, optimistic that they're hammering out a deal. What's going on here?

MICHAEL RATNER: Well, the law in the United States as of 9/11 is that you can’t torture anyone anywhere in the world, and you can’t send anybody to be tortured. It also included a prohibition on what we call lesser torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The administration has taken the position, under Alberto Gonzales, President's counsel, now Attorney General, that they can use cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against non-citizens all over the world. And that includes, really, things that constitute torture, waterboarding where you put people under water or drip water onto them to make them think they're drowning, assaults on people, temperature control where you can keep someone in a prison with temperatures up to 100 degrees and down to below zero, or whatever, for long periods of time. They're doing that. They want to continue to do that.

McCain said, "I don't want this anymore. Let's pass an amendment." 90-9, it prohibits not just torture, which even the administration acknowledges is prohibited, although it defines it very narrowly, what's prohibited, but it prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The negotiations going and 90-9 it passed. The administration said, President said, "I'm going to veto that bill, but it's part of the defense authorization bill." So they got a problem. So now they're trying to amend the bill, and they're trying to do it in two different ways. The initial amendment was: "Exempt the C.I.A. from this." What is that saying to us and the world? Exempt the C.I.A. so it can continue to torture people in black sites. And now the latest little negotiation is if they're not going to exempt the C.I.A., they want to make it possible that no criminal prosecution can be brought against the C.I.A. for engaging in this kind of conduct. What is that saying except, "C.I.A., continue doing what you are doing. Don't worry about it," and that's what they're doing here. They're trying to protect the C.I.A.

Now the deal that's really being made with the devil here is not only is there this McCain Amendment prohibiting torture anywhere in the world or in any of these U.S. facilities, but there's another amendment that's in the same bill, and that's the one that's going to take away the right of the Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detentions in U.S. court. It's called habeas corpus. It's trying to strip that right away from the Guantanamo detainees. the case the Center won almost two years ago now. And I think the deal with the devil here is that the administration may allow the McCain Amendment into the legislation, the one that forbids torture, if there's also an amendment in the legislation that strips the courts of any right to hear these cases from Guantanamo. Now what is that saying? That's saying that, yes, we have the McCain Amendment, but we might as well put it up on the wall and just look at it and read it, because we're not going to have any way to go to court to challenge it when people are tortured. So, it's --

AMY GOODMAN: And McCain is agreeing to this?

MICHAEL RATNER: And apparently McCain is on board on this. A remarkable, remarkable thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Get it? No straight talk to Mr. Straight Talk.

Moving on, Brenda e-mails to note C.J. Correa Bernier's "What's the Environmental Justice Movement" (The Chicago Defender):

There is an environmental revolution going on in the United States and abroad, dating back long before the 1990's. People of color, individually and collectively, have waged war against environmental injustices that predate the first Earth Day in 1970. These were social and economic injustices that are embedded in institutional racism: lack of services, land use and zoning issues, inadequate, intolerable hazardous living and working conditions.

In the environmental justice movement we are as concerned as any of the traditional environmental groups because we all know there is only one environment. We too are concerned about wetlands, birds and wilderness areas; however we are also concerned about urban habitats, about American Indian reservations, about what is happening on the US-Mexican border, about children poisoned by lead in their own homes and about children playing in contaminated parks and playgrounds. When we engage in the environmental justice movement, we are talking about dismantling environmental racism. We are talking about addressing the inequalities that result from human settlement, industrial contamination and infrastructure development.

Environmental racism is the intentional placement of hazardous waste sites, landfills, incinerators, and polluting industries in communities inhabited mainly by African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, migrant farm workers, and the working poor. Racial and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable because they are perceived as weak and passive citizens who will not fight back against the poisoning of their neighborhoods in fear that it may jeopardize jobs and economic survival. Environmental racism can be observed in the issues related to unsustainable developments and to the implementation of policies, regulations and laws affecting the quality of our environment as racial and ethnic minorities and the poor.

Also on the topic of our environment, Micah notes Kate Ravilious' "Food Crisis Feared as Fertile Land Runs Out: Maps show 40% of Earth's land is used for agriculture, Growing human 'footprint' a risk to the environment:" (The Guardian via Common Dreams):

New maps show that the Earth is rapidly running out of fertile land and that food production will soon be unable to keep up with the world's burgeoning population. The maps reveal that more than one third of the world's land is being used to grow crops or graze cattle.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison combined satellite land cover images with agricultural census data from every country in the world to create detailed maps of global land use. Each grid square was 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) across and showed the most prevalent land use in that square, such as forest, grassland or ice.

"In the act of making these maps we are asking: where is the human footprint on the Earth?" said Amato Evan, a member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison research team presenting its results this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

The current map shows a snapshot of global land use for the year 2000, but the scientists also have land use data going back to 1700, showing how things have changed.

"The maps show, very strikingly, that a large part of our planet (roughly 40%) is being used for either growing crops or grazing cattle," said Dr Navin Ramankutty, a member of the Wisconsin-Madison team. By comparison, only 7% of the world's land was being used for agriculture in 1700.

Now here's a plug. The two items above, Brenda and Micah's, who can address that topic? Frances Moore Lappe can. And has for many, many years. (Disclosure, I know Lappe.) So let's note again her appearance with Amy Goodman this week:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Thur, Dec 8
4th Annual Small Planet Fund Party & Fundraiser
6 pm to 7 pm Democracy Cocktail Hour,
a conversation with journalist Amy Goodman and Frances Moore Lappé
Co-hosted by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
7 pm to 10 pm Festivities:
delicious and sustainable food & drink - live & silent auction
Democracy Cocktail Hour Tickets :
$250 (includes auction and party)
Please note: Democracy Cocktail Hour guests can begin arriving at 5:30pm.
RSVP : Email your name and contact info at
rsvp@smallplanetfund.org and they
will respond with all the party & payment detailsFor any questions, please contact Betsy Seder or Ari Vena

Gareth e-mails to note Anne Penketh's "The questions Condoleezza must answer" (London's The Independent):

You say the US does not permit torture under any circumstances. So why are you bending the torture rules?

After 11 September 2001, the CIA sought authority for more aggressive interrogations. A US Justice Department memo dated 1 August 2002 for President Bush's legal counsel Alberto Gonzalez (now the Attorney General) said "torture may be justified". Also the CIA has been seeking exemptions from a proposed ban on subjecting prisoners to "cruel and inhumane treatment".

If rendition is done in co-operation with local governments in some cases, as you say, why is it done in secret?

Amnesty International said yesterday that six planes used by the CIA for renditions have made some 800 flights in European airspace, including 50 landings at Shannon airport in Ireland. The information contradicts assurances given last week by Ms Rice to the Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, that Shannon had not been used for "untoward" purposes, or as a transit point for terror suspects.

Lynda asks that we note an article that Elaine did yesterday, Judith Coburn "Worse than Watergate?" (Mother Jones):

There are many myths about Watergate -- among them that Woodward and Bernstein rode into Dodge and rescued the republic all by themselves, that the impeachment of Richard Nixon saved American constitutional democracy from destruction, and that the grounds on which Nixon was impeached were a fair reflection of what he and "all the President's men" had actually done. In American mythology, "the system worked."

To most Americans, the slaughter of millions of Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Lao, as well as the destruction of their countries, seem unrelated to "Watergate." Henry Kissinger, one of the architects of the secret bombing of Cambodia, who had ordered his own dissenting staffers and several journalists illegally wiretapped to stop leaks, escaped indictment and would soon be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Few now remember that it was Indochina, not the burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Complex that really set Watergate, the scandal, in motion and led to a pattern of Presidential conduct which seems eerily familiar today. In his 1974 book, Time of Illusion, Jonathan Schell wrote of "the distortions in the conduct of the presidency which deformed national politics in the Vietnam years -- the isolation from reality, the rage against political opposition, the hunger for unconstitutional power, the conspiratorial mindedness, the bent for repressive action." He concluded that three presidents "consistently sacrificed the welfare of the nation at home to what they saw as the demands of foreign affairs."

To recast an infamous Vietnam slogan: They had to destroy American democracy at home in order to save the world for democracy.

Coburn was a guest on KPFA's Sunday Salon this past Sunday. She, Daniel Ellsberg and Tom Hayden were the guests for the first hour, discussing Iraq.

Which brings us to KeShawn's highlight, Tom Hayden's "Final Appeal for Tookie Williams" (The Huffington Post):

The prosecution has defaulted its responsibility to the public interest by its extreme and fallacious campaign to execute this individual; for example, recently circulating false claims that Tookie Williams "still orchestrates gang activity outside the prison". The greatest failure of prosecutorial responsibility is the claim of Attorney General Bill Lockyer among others that a 25-year old jury verdict favoring the death penalty should be respected, as if nothing has changed since then that might have influenced the jury's decision. Did the jury have reason to believe, for example, that Tookie Williams would go through a transformative passage leading to the 1992 truce between Crips and Bloods, that he would learn to read and write books for children, that he would express profound remorse for his past involvement in violence, that he would be offered a partnership with the NAACP? Of course not. You are being asked by the prosecutors to uphold what the jury said then, without allowing consideration of anything that has happened since. This is an immoral, unprofessional, even bankrupt argument for which prosecutors who are supposed to represent "the People" should be remanded.

I venture to predict that your decision in this case will be remembered in history, and lodged in your own heart, more than any other decision of your public career - past, present and future. Perhaps that is why you chose the verb "dread" in describing your approach. Though some argue it's about merely following the law, clemency allows no wall of separation between the personal decision and the official act of execution, no end to moral doubt or troubled sleep. This is your chance to communicate to the world that there is a moral line between terminating as entertainment and terminating in real life.

Once understood this way, the choice becomes an exhilarating release from politics as usual.

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