Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Democracy Now: Gore Vidal, Remember Coretta Scott King; Jim Lobe, BuzzFlash, Tom Hayden

Brenda: Of all the people still with us, the one who inspires me the most is the one I want to highlight for Black History Month. Coretta Scott King has been a continued inspiration to me.
When I first learned of her, I was ten years old and the year was 1985. We were studying MLK and we were told about his wife Coretta Scott King. She was married to him and handled the loss with grace. And then we moved on to another person.
In the years since, I've learned more of Coretta Scott King and actually got to meet her once. Grace may seem like a minor thing to credit someone with and certainly Mrs. King has remained active but meeting her what stood out was her grace. There was a warmth and peace around her and she seemed to glow.
That probably has to do with the strength she gets from her family but it also has to do with the fact that she's continued to fight for human equality and this has been her legacy, to build on all that her late husband fought for.
She has continued the fight for economic justice and she has enlarged the scope of many people with her advocacy for the homeless, for women, for gays and lesbians and for children.
Coretta Scott King participated in the civil rights movement of the sixties and for that alone she deserves to be noted. But more importantly, she has continued to carry the goals of peace, equality and fairness with her every step of the way.
Dr. King was taken from a world that needed him much too soon. We've been very lucky to have Coretta Scott King carrying on his work, always with compassion, always with kindness and hope, and always with grace.
When I was ten years old, I thought grace was just an adjective. Coretta Scott King has demonstrated that grace is very much an aspect of activism and a needed component in our lives.
The King Center is a valuable resource I hope people will visit.

Brenda wrote that last year (Feb. 11, 2005) and Billie wanted it noted today. On the subject of Coretta Scott King's passing, Ken notes "NAACP Reflects On the Life of Coretta Scott King" (NAACP):

Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP President & CEO, said the passing of Coretta Scott King "is a deep loss not only to the civil rights community, but to all who cared about human rights." Mrs. King died Monday night. She was 78.
Although she was known as Dr. King's wife and his widow, Gordon said, "Coretta Scott King was the glue that held the King family together and an activist leader in her own right. While the entire NAACP community is saddened by her death, we must celebrate her life."
Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors, said: "Coretta Scott King was her husband's partner in life; after his death, she was a fierce protector of his legacy and a promoter of nonviolence. She was my neighbor and friend, and will be much missed."
Myrlie Evers-Williams, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors, said: "I was saddened to learn about the passing of my personal, very special friend, Coretta Scott King. She and I, along with Betty Shabazz, were members of a club that no one wants to join -- the "widow of." Mrs. King presented Evers-Williams with the NAACP Spingarn Award in 1998.
Like her late husband, Coretta Scott King was an advocate for racial peace and nonviolent social change. After Dr. King's assassination in 1968, Coretta Scott King kept his dream alive while raising their four children. In 1969 she founded the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and was a leader in the effort to have a federal holiday named after Dr. King. Mrs. King, a native of Alabama, married Dr. King in 1953 after they met in Boston, where she was studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music. She was planning a career as a singer. The couple moved to Montgomery, Ala., where Dr. King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and later led the Montgomery bus boycott.
Mrs. King became ill last year after suffering a serious stroke and heart attack.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
We'll begin our four selected headlines from today's Democracy Now! with this loss:
Coretta Scott King, 79, Dies
In Georgia, Coretta Scott King -- the widow of Martin Luther King Junior -- has died at the age of 79. She had spent her life fighting for civil rights and preserving her late husband's legacy. In April of 1968 she led a march through Memphis just days after Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Later that year she led the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. She continued working for equality, peace and economic justice for the remainder of her life, both in the United States and abroad.
Six Activists Jailed for School of the Americas Protest
In Georgia, six human rights activists were sentenced to up to three months in jail on Monday for participating in non-violent protests outside the Fort Benning military base that houses what was once known as the School of the Americas. A total of 32 activists were charged with trespassing after they walked on the military base in November calling for the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation.
ExxonMobil Reports Record $36 Billion Profit
Oil giant ExxonMobil reported Monday it made a record $36 billion last year - a sum larger than the economies of 125 countries. Exxon became the first company to ever make more than $10 billion in a financial quarter. During the last three months of 2005 the oil giant made over $1,300 every second or nearly $5 million every hour. The country's three biggest oil companies - ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips - earned a combined $63 billion last year. Officials from the country's major oil companies, however, are refusing to testify this week at a Senate hearing looking into whether oil industry mergers in recent years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump. While it is making record profits, Exxon Mobil is also trying to avoid paying damages from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. On Friday the corporation asked a federal appeals court to erase an order for Exxon to pay out five billion dollars in damages ordered by an Alaskan jury.
Playwright Wendy Wasserstein, 55, Dies
And playwright Wendy Wasserstein has died at the age of 55. She was best known for the Pulitzer Prize winning play The Heidi Chronicles. The lights on Broadway are to be dimmed tonight in her honor.

The above four items were selected by Kara, Heath, Portland and Erika. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for January 31, 2006

- Alito Filibuster Fails; Confirmation Expected Today
- Coretta Scott King, 79, Dies
- Security Council To Take Up Iran Issue
- New Video Shows Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Jill Carroll
- ExxonMobil Reports Record $36 Billion Profit
- Halliburton Stock Reaches New High
- Six Activists Jailed for School of the Americas Protest
- Playwright Wendy Wasserstein, 55, Dies

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

Gore Vidal Delivers State of the Union: "Let the Powers That Be Know There is Something Called We the People of the U.S. and all Sovereignty Rests in Us."

In advance of President Bush's state of the union address later tonight, author Gore Vidal delivers his own traditional state of the union address. We hear Vidal speak about patriotism, the NSA domestic surveillance programs, corporate America, Presidential powers and more. [includes rush transcript]

Critics Warn Bush's Upcoming Policies Will Worsen Health Care Crisis, Hit Most Vulnerable Hardest

In the State of the Union address tonight, Bush is expected to put forth a series of proposals aimed at addressing the nation's ailing health care system. Critics contend that Bush's proposals will ultimately discourage people from seeking the care they need. We hear from a Medicare recipient who testified at the recent Congressional briefing about difficulties she endured under the new drug prescription benefit program and speak with Families USA about Bush's health insurance plan.

With Exxon Making a Record $5 Million Per Hour, a Look at Bush's Energy Policies Ahead of His State of the Union

In tonight's State of the Union address, President Bush is expected to outline a set of energy proposals that administration officials say will address growing public anxiety over high energy costs. This will follow Exxon Mobil's recent announcement of making the biggest annual profit ever earned by a U.S. corporation, drawing the criticism of consumer groups. We speak with Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International about their report titled, "Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq's Oil Wealth" and Bush's upcoming address.

Civil Rights Icon Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Joseph Lowery and Herb Boyd reflect on the legacy of freedom fighter Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr.

On the subject of Iraq, Brad notes Jim Lobe's "Most Iraqis Doubt US Will Ever Leave" (IPS via Common Dreams):

Large majorities of Iraqis believe that the United States has no intention of ever withdrawing all its military forces from their country and that Washington's reconstruction efforts have been incompetent at best, according to a new survey released here Tuesday.
At the same time, however, only 35 percent of Iraqis -- most of them Sunni Arabs -- believe coalition forces should withdraw within six months, although if they did so, majorities said it would have a beneficial impact, as many prominent Democrats and other war critics here have argued.
Scepticism about U.S. plans in Iraq is particularly pronounced among the country's Sunni population, who were far more negative about virtually every aspect of post-invasion Iraq than their counterparts in the Shi'a and Kurdish communities, which together are believed to account for 75-80 percent of the country's population.
Indeed, despite the strong Sunni Arab participation in December's parliamentary elections, a whopping 88 percent of the community approves of "attacks on U.S.-led forces" in Iraq, with 77 percent voicing "strong approval" -- a level of hostility that presents a serious challenge for U.S. officials now negotiating with Sunni insurgent leaders, as reported in the Feb. 6 issue of Newsweek magazine.
By comparison, 41 percent of Shiites said they approved such attacks, while 16 percent of Kurds, by far the most pro-U.S. of the three groups, agreed.
The survey, the latest in a series that has probed Iraqi opinion since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, was designed by the Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland for WorldPublicOpinion.org and conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,150 randomly selected Iraqi adults in all 18 Iraqi provinces in early January, three weeks after the December elections.
While Sunni Arabs were over-represented in the sample, the data was weighted according to each group's actual estimated share of the total Iraqi population: Shia Arab, 55 percent; Sunni Arab, 22 percent; Kurd, 18 percent; and other groups, five percent.
The survey results, which come amid intensified jockeying in Baghdad over the constitution of a new government, are a mixed bag for the administration of Pres. George W. Bush.

From one Bully Boy created disaster to another (Iraq to Alito), Melinda notes "Tom Paine Would be Proud: The Power of the Net" (another powerful editorial from BuzzFlash):

We aren't interested in symbolic stands for democracy; we are only interested in winning back the Constitution.
However, the last minute robust effort to mount a filibuster only happened because of the growing power of the Internet patriotic movement. The Net has become the bulletin board for democracy and the gasoline that runs the engine of the Pro-Constitution movement that yearns to restore justice, honesty and peace to America.
BuzzFlash is proud of the integral role it played in getting the filibuster started and daily calling the Democrats on the carpet (the Republicans long ago became a hopeless anti-democracy, dishonest cause) for their timidity and choice of political comfort over principle.
But, the filibuster juggernaut was a true testament to the combined force of the progressive Internet community, with so many sites helping to advance the cause of keeping America from sinking back into monarchism.
Sam Alito represents the Federalist Society movement to restore King George to the throne, and a dimwitted one at that. They have advanced one step further with Monday's ignominious vote to stop the filibuster. The Net can take heart, however, that it planted a spine in the back of 24 Democrats and one Independent -- one quarter of the Senate and more than half of the caucus -- to vote to sustain the filibuster.
That is something to build upon as the grassroots activists reclaim the Democratic Party, or -- were that to fail -- start a new one.
The biggest thing that the entrenched Democrats are worried about is that the pro-Democracy Democrats will stop giving money to the old Guard Bush enabler Democrats. They still don't think that the progressives will mount successful primary challenges to Dems who sell out democracy (the right wing Republicans have been picking off moderates in just such a way for at least two decades), but Joe Lieberman is starting to break into a sweat. (And given his vote to end the filibuster on Monday, he should now really be worried.)

And, last excerpt, Liang notes Tom Hayden's "New Day for Bolivia" (The Nation):

What are the immediate prospects and long-term implications for Morales's new Bolivia? On Day One there was widespread exhilaration, but there were also creeping worries. Social activists were delighted by some of his promises, for example, his inaugural declaration that the privatization of water violates a "basic human right." Only days before, the Bechtel Corporation had dropped its suit against Bolivia for alleged losses in a water-management project that ended when protesters from Cochabamba drove Bechtel from the country. Corporate insiders admitted that a major factor in Bechtel's retreat was "reputational," a desire to save its corporate image from further tarnishing.
Pablo Solon, a close friend of Morales and the country's leading critic of corporate-driven free trade pacts, was delighted by the news on water, almost giddy at the new possibilities, but worried that the United States already was moving behind the scenes to thwart Morales's vision of an independent democratic socialism, a kind of New Deal for the indigenous.
We've noted The World Can't Wait events for tonight already but one more time:
In large cities and town squares across the country, we will rally one hour before Bush's address. At 9:00 PM let the world hear us as we symbolically drown out Bush's lies bring your own noise - drums, pots and pans, musical instruments - your voice. Let taxi horns blare and church bells ring, as we bring our own state of the union message: BUSH STEP DOWN!
Find a protest in your area.
Susan notes that CODEPINK also has an alert and activites revolving around Bully Boy's State of Disunion:
The People's State of the Union
On January 31st President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress. He'll defend the mounting death toll in Iraq, claim that spying on peace groups like CODEPINK is lawful and make more excuses for the sorry state of our union. But no matter what he says "we the people" know the truth. In times like these it's important to keep our spirits up. We suggest you get together with your CODEPINK cohorts and head to your favorite watering hole for a People's State of the Union. Click here for action ideas or to find an event in your town and read our press release.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Do you Yahoo!?
With a free 1 GB, there's more in store with Yahoo! Mail.