Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Democracy Now: Norman Finklestein, Shlomo Ben Ami; Guantanamo, Lynne Stewart (things that matter)

Decade-Old Congressional Measure To Give Energy Companies $7B Windfall
The New York Times is reporting of what it calls "one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history." Under a Congressional measure enacted ten years ago to encourage drilling, energy companies will be allowed to extract about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal land over the next five years without paying taxpayers any royalties. According to the Times, the government will give up over $7 billion in lost royalties over the next five years.

At Least 2 Reported Killed by UN Troops in Haiti
In Haiti, public unrest is growing as the lead of Presidential front-runner Rene Preval continues to decline. After initial returns gave him over 60% percent of the vote, Preval's share has fallen below the 50% needed to avoid a run-off vote. Two voting officials have charged Haiti's electoral council with "manipulation." On Monday, thousands of Preval supporters took to the streets around the capital of Port-au-Prince. Witnesses said United Nations troops fired into a crowd of un-armed protesters when they refused to let their convoy pass. At least two people were reported killed and another four injured.

GAO: Bush Admin. Spent Over $1.6B on PR
And finally, a new report from the Government Accountablity Office says the Bush administration has spent over $1.6 billion on advertising and public relations contracts in the last two years. Of this amount, the Pentagon has been the biggest spender, paying $1.1 billion for recruitment campaigns and other public relations efforts.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jonah, Martha and KeShawn. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for February 14, 2006

- At Least 2 Reported Killed by UN Troops in Haiti
- Cheney Cited For Hunting Violation in Shooting Incident
- Report: US, Israel Consider Destabilizing Hamas Government
- Report: US Drawing Up Plans For Iran Attack
- Abramoff Associates Say He Bragged of Ties to Rove
- Decade-Old Measure To Give Energy Companies $7B Windfall
- GAO: Bush Admin. Spent Over $1.6B on PR

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

Fmr. Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami Debates Outspoken Professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process

What happens when a former Israeli Foreign Minister debates a scholar known as one of the world's foremost critics of Israeli policy? The answer is not what you may expect. We spend the hour with Shlomo Ben Ami, author of "Scars of War, Wounds of Peace," and Norman Finkelstein, author of "Beyond Chutzpah". They joined us in our firehouse studio for a wide-ranging exchange. We discussed the origins of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to the Oslo Peace Process, right up to the present. [includes rush transcript]

Fmr. Israeli Foreign Minister: "If I were a Palestinian, I Would Have Rejected Camp David"

In Part Two of our debate, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami and scholar Norman Finkelstein address the intricacies of a question that has been the subject of much debate - what happened at the Camp David peace talks in July 2000? Both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict say the other rejected peace, leading to the violence that has marked the conflict since. Ben Ami -- who was a leading member of the Israeli negotiation team -- says he would have rejected Camp David if he were a Palestinian, and discusses the ensuing peace talks in Taba in January 2001. [includes rush transcript]

Norman Finkelstein on the "Not-so-New New Anti-Semitism" and Shlomo Ben Ami on Terror, Torture, and Peace

Norman Finkelstein argues that some supporters of Israeli government policies have attempted to de-legitimize criticism by disingenuously heaping the charge of anti-Semitism. Shlomo Ben Ami defends Israel's record on human rights, and says peace will only come about through a negotiated two-state settlement. [includes rush transcript]

Before we get to anything else, "gatekeeper" is coming up in some e-mails. Visisters are bother that The Nation published an ad by FLAME and that I didn't comment on it. I don't read ads. I tune out commercials. I never saw the ad. I can't comment on what I don't know about. If a member was offended by The Nation's ad, they could have written something, asked to be quoted and it would have posted here. No member even noted the ad. That's probably due to the fact that our opinion of ads are low and we doubt The Nation endorses it anymore than the "tiny reading light" thing that often takes out large ads in the magazine.

I can't talk about what I don't know about. But in dealing with something that members want addressed, you'll find a comparison of the ad versus an article. Max Holland's article is the topic of 42 e-mails (from members). The article's entitled "The JFK Lawyer's Conspiracy."

I'll weigh in on that. First of all, historically, The Nation's dismissed speculation about the assassination since JFK was murdered. Consider it your friend with a food allergy and just accept it. You'll never get it to taste the strawberries, no matter how hard you try.

However, for the visiters wondering why I had nothing to say on the ad (I didn't see it), there's your quandry: The Nation wants to justify running an ad on free speech grounds while there has never been free speech in the magazine with regards to the assassination of JFK.

Holland, my opinion, is a fool. He's one in a long line and he is himself a long serving fool. I'm assuming "free speech" is the grounds for running his article. It goes completely against an article the magazine ran mere months ago on JFK and Vietnam. Holland seems unaware of that article.

His slams at Gary Hart are embarrassing. (Disclosure, I know Hart.) Embarrassing for him. Holland's made quite a career at screaming "Shut up!" to any questions about the assassination. I'm honestly surprised that the magazine ran the attack on Hart due to the free-floating nature of its "facts." (I'll assume Hart will respond with a letter to the editors of the magazine.)

When not Red-baiting, Holland also spews at Joan Mellen -- author of a recent book that Holland can't bring himself to mention the title of. For the record, the title is A Farewell to Justice. I read the book. I didn't care for Mellen's book Hellman & Hammett. I didn't expect much from the book but Ruth had recommended it strongly so I did purchase it. It's a good book and it is not "hagiograpy." If you are a member bothered by Holland's nonsense, pick up Mellen's book which, again, is entitled A Farewell to Justice. One more time, since Holland can't bring himself to name it, A Farewell to Justice. Link takes you to the author's home page. (For the record, I'm told by three people attending the AARC conference that the response to Mellen was not "tepid," as Holland apparently wishes, but rousing.)

Garrison? Oliver Stone took out an ad in The Nation a few years back to address Holland's grudge f**k against Jim Garrison. Truly, Holland's like Judy Miller on the trail of WMD (with the same "success" rate).

The cause of Holland's latest bout of write-rage? Who knows? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the text of a speech Mellen made is making it around the web (as it should). The speech? "HOW THE FAILURE TO IDENTIFY, PROSECUTE AND CONVICT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S ASSASSINS HAS LED TO TODAY'S CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY." If that's the case, too bad for Holland -- his intendend clampdown will only make it show up more.

And to hear Joan Mellen discussing her book with lawyers (Holland really hates them, doesn't he) click here. That'll take you to the November archives for Law and Disorder. It's the second show listed, Nov. 7th. Me, I'm more impressed with the minds of Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Smith and Dalia Hashad than Holland who outlived his purpose at the magazine some time ago.

The Church Committee is mentioned in Holland's nonsense. Having poured over and over the released reports, the press coverage (mainstream -- although The Nation could do the nation a favor and make their own coverage available online -- it would certainly be more valuable to the nation than Holland's nonsense) and notes provided by friends (who were were journalists covering it in real time) . . . His opinion is one he's entitled to. It doesn't match up very closely with reality, but have at it, Holland.

He's not writing a book review. It's an opinion article. On what? The fact that Holland's outraged that the Warren Commission is questioned? That's timely how? That's needed now how? To quote Mia Farrow, "There must have been nothing going on in the world that week, because my haircut got an absurd amount of press coverage." (From her book What Falls Away.)

So there must have been nothing else going on in the world, hence the need for the magazine to run yet another "Trust the Warren Commission" article. (Can we get a tally on how many have been run now?)

There are real issues and real concerns. One would assume that if Holland, et al., are so firm in their faith in the official narrative, they'd have no need, with all that's going on in the world currently, to bore us all with this nonsense.

The Nation wastes space for pages 20-22 printing nothing new. It's been their position since JFK was assassinated. It's never changed. So why do we have to give up space to this crap? It is crap. Let's be clear on that.

There's nothing in it worth reading and had they not wasted everyone's time printing that crap then possibly they might have been able to honor the memory and legacy of Coretta Scott King? CSK? She gets a single paragraph on page seven. If that's due to a "space issue" then they should have lost Holland's crap.

I'll drop the Maxi-ipads a Million joke (that the friend I'm dictating to this to insists should go in) and just note that we've all now seen Mr. Holland's Anus. It wasn't pretty, was it? We don't note him here. We wouldn't have now. I, wrongly, assumed that The Nation's stance on JFK's murder was well known. So we've tripped down memory lane and addressed the issue. It and Holland are dealt with. We certainly won't take up our own space revisiting this over and over. Can you think of anything sadder than forty years from now still talking about this with no new information at all when there are other, real issues to address? I mean, that's rather sad and pathetic, don't you think?

For instance, Rachel notes The Case of Lynne Stewart: A Justice Department Attack on the Bill of Rights which is available for $5.00. The checks or money orders should be made out to "National Lawyers Guild" and sent to:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
350 Broadway, Suite 700
New York, NY 10000

Rachel writes, "It's five dollars. You could make it six if you had to spare. But please consider purchasing it. And if you can't, please remember Lynne Stewart."

And you can see Lynne Stewart at at an event held at the Heritage House, 369 Madison Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11221. The event begins at three in the afternoon and ends at seven in the evening. The admission is $25.00. When and what?

Sunday, February 19
The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the New York City Chapter of NCBL, the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the Jericho Movement will be hosting a fundraiser for activist attorney Chokwe Lumumba.

Lynne Stewart does matter. We'll gladly use our space to note her.

(Newer members can refer to "Lynne Stewart interviewed by Laura Flanders last night" for the details on Stewart's case and, in the entry, a link is provided to the interview.)

What else is important? 27 American military fatalities in Iraq since Feb. 1st, as Michael pointed out in his e-mail.

Guantanamo prisoners? You know that's important. Here's Eddie's highlight:

British detainee sent to Uganda

A British resident who has been detained by the US military in Guantanamo Bay since 2002 has been transferred to Uganda by the US -- and the British government has done nothing to help him.
Campaigners for British residents still being held in Guantanamo are concerned over the safety of Jamal Abdullah Kiyemba, who grew up in Britain. He considers himself British and has family here.
Jamal was seized by the Pakistani military in March 2002 and interrogated by them and the US for three weeks. He was then illegally transferred into US custody and shipped off to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, then on to Guantanamo Bay.
During his detention he was visited by MI5 agents who told him he could return to Britain. But the British government refused to intervene and home secretary Charles Clarke has now issued an order banning him indefinitely from Britain.
Jackie Chase of the Save Omar group, which campaigns for Omar Deghayes and other British Guantanamo detainees, condemned Clarke's decision.
"The home secretary's banning order is astonishing," she said. "Our government says Guantanamo is an 'anomaly that must end', but it is behaving as though it would prefer people like Jamal and Omar to simply disappear."
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That's some of the things we can note. There are many more. But that's what we focused on today as a result of Mr. Holland's Anus. We've noted it. To go further would be to probe it. Haven't we all suffered enough?

Seriously, I didn't realize the topic would be "new" to so many members. We're done with him now. He may want to grudge f**k Garrison for all of eternity but we have other things to focus on. I'd argue so does The Nation.

Billie did the Black History Month highlight last night. Thank you to Billie. When I read her e-mail, I added African-American News & Issues to the link while copying and pasting her e-mail for posting. Will we have a highlight tonight? That'll depend upon members.

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

C.I. Note: Ty's correcting this for me. I've not done been able to get into this account for most of the week. Ty's also going to correct a Sunday entry where an event that occurred on a Saturday is stated, by me, to have occurred on a Sunday. I was wrong. This entry's been corrected for font, and for typos -- no offense to the friend who was kind enough to type this up while I dictated. Also "Jim Lloyd Garrison" is not the name of the Jim Garrison. We disagreed on this, my friend and I, and went with his call on it because, if it was wrong, it could be corrected quickly -- or so I thought. Wrong again. Thanks to Ty for doing the corrections for me. And should the entry run together, as corrections sometimes lead to lately, we're leaving it as is.