Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Democracy Now: Priest Gerad Jean Juste, tributes to Coretta Scott King; Robert Parry, CCR ...

*Check out Amy Goodman tonight on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews - the program airs tonight at 7 PM EST and 3 AM EST Amy debates Tony Blankley on the Danish cartoon controversy.*

Over 10,000 Attend Funeral Service for Coretta Scott King
In Georgia Tuesday, an estimated 10,000 people filled the pews of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, for the funeral of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush attended the funeral along with 14 US senators and public figures including Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder. King died January 30th at the age of 78 after seeking treatment in Mexico for ovarian cancer. She had just recently suffered a rehabilitating stroke and heart attack. At Tuesday's service both former President Jimmy Carter and the former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Joseph Lowery, made subtle criticism of President Bush. They cited the war in Iraq, civil liberties transgressions and accused the president of ignoring the plight of the US poor.

Report: Rove Threatens GOP Senate Judiciary Members Over Spy Program
Meanwhile, the conservative publication Insight on the News is reporting White House deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is threatening any Republican Senate Judiciary members who challenge the White House on the domestic surveillance program. According to Insight, "Sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November." A senior Republican aide told the publication: "It's hardball all the way."

Report: Bush Admin. Sidelining Arms Control Experts
In Washington, Knight Ridder is reporting the White House has conducted a major reorganization of the State Department that has marginalized several career international weapons experts in favor of "less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties." According to current and former officials interviewed by Knight Ridder, the reorganizing has led to "an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters." In a joint letter, a group of State weapons experts said: "The process has been gravely flawed from the outset, and smacks plainly of a political vendetta against career Foreign Service and Civil Service (personnel) by political appointees." In one case, the new Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism circulated a job posting that listed loyalty to the priorities of President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as a job qualification. Some weapons analysts said the exodus is especially worrisome because of the pending expiration of the 1991 START I treaty -- the only mechanism for verifying U.S. and Russian nuclear arms cuts.

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

Headlines for February 8, 2006

- Haitians Await Election Results After Massive Turnout
- Over 10,000 Attend Funeral Service for Coretta Scott King
- NATO Troops Kill Four in Afghanistan Cartoon Protests
- Four More Churches Set Fire in Alabama
- GOP Intelligence Committee Rep. Calls for Spy Program Inquiry
- Report: Rove Threatens GOP Jud. Members Over Spy Program
- FEMA Halts Payments for 4500 Hotel Rooms of Katrina Evacuees
- Bush NASA Appointee Resigns Over Resume Fabrication
- Report: Bush Admin. Sidelining Arms Control Experts

Haitians Await Results of Election Amid Chaotic Voting Conditions

Haitians await the outcome of the first presidential election since the U.S.-backed ouster of Jean Bertrand Aristide two years ago. Voters were frustrated by voting stations opening late and other major problems, leading to crowds storming polling stations and voting continuing late into the night. We get a report from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Freed Haitian Priest Gerard Jean Juste on His Imprisonment and the Haitian Elections

As Haitians await the election results, Haitian Catholic priest Father Gerard Jean Juste, temporarily released from prison after more than 6 months in a Haitian jail, speaks on the election, his arrest and jail conditions, and the leadership and future of Haiti.

Last Tributes to Coretta Scott King: Maya Angelou, Rev. Lowery, Pres. Jimmy Carter, Bernice King Remember Civil Rights Pioneer

An estimated 10,000 people attended the funeral of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King in Georgia, including four U.S. Presidents, prominent activists, artists, political leaders, musicians and public figures. We play excerpts of Bernice King's eulogy, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, Maya Angelou, and former President Jimmy Carter speaking. [includes partial transcript]

For our highlights, we're focusing on the NSA this entry. First up Brandon wants everyone to note this: "Action Alert: Hearings on Illegal NSA Spying are Not Enough" (Center for Constitutional Rights):

Once again, President Bush has broken the law. In violation of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, President Bush has authorized the illegal surveillance of Americans without a warrant. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has testified before Congress. Debate is good, but we need a special prosecutor to hold the Bush Administration accountable. Click here to join the Center for Constitutional Rights in writing your representative and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to call for a special prosecutor and the release of all the Justice Department memos regarding spying on U.S. citizens.
The Bush White House has consistently worked to avoid judicial oversight and destroy the system of checks and balances upon which our country was founded. Alberto Gonzales should tell Congress all the facts regarding the Bush Administration's program of spying on Americans. He should also resign. Finally we demand an investigation of the Attorney General's ethical lapses for his part in this and the many other instances where he advised the President to break the law regarding torture, detention and rendition. Hearings are not enough. Join CCR today in calling for the release of the justice department memos and the appointment of a special prosecutor. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed CCR v. Bush et al. in federal court earlier this month to fight this latest threat to Americans' civil liberties, but we need Washington to act now.

Zach notes a "must read" and he's selected the bottom portion to excerpt of Robert Parry's "Yet Another Bush Lie" (Consortium News):

On Feb. 6, 2006 -- with few Americans knowing or understanding the significance of this history -- Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, avoiding any details about the internal disputes on the legality of Bush's warrantless wiretaps.
Gonzales simply told the senators that the administration's reading of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 let Bush bypass its seemingly clear language requiring warrants from a special secret court for wiretaps of communications originating in the United States.
Even Republican senators Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham objected to the administration’s strained interpretation of the law.
But Bush, in effect, is buying time while he builds federal judicial majorities in favor of his vision of an all-powerful presidency.
Bush took a big step in that direction with the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito, an architect of the so-called "unitary executive" theory. The U.S. Supreme Court now has at least four of nine justices who favor granting the President virtually unlimited powers as Commander in Chief.
In the meantime, Bush is relying on shrewd bureaucratic maneuvers -- neutralizing and removing skeptics -- in order to fend off harassing actions by Democrats and other Americans, including traditional Republican lawyers, who oppose Bush's extraordinary assertions of power.

Finally, Cindy notes Russ Feingold's "On the President's Warrantless Wiretapping Program" (Common Dreams):

Mr. President, last week the President of the United States gave his State of the Union address, where he spoke of America's leadership in the world, and called on all of us to "lead this world toward freedom." Again and again, he invoked the principle of freedom, and how it can transform nations, and empower people around the world.
But, almost in the same breath, the President openly acknowledged that he has ordered the government to spy on Americans, on American soil, without the warrants required by law.
The President issued a call to spread freedom throughout the world, and then he admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment -- to be free from unjustified government intrusion.
The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA's domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.
The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.
How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed.
Congress has lost its way if we don’t hold this President accountable for his actions.
The President suggests that anyone who criticizes his illegal wiretapping program doesn’t understand the threat we face. But we do. Every single one of us is committed to stopping the terrorists who threaten us and our families.
Defeating the terrorists should be our top national priority, and we all agree that we need to wiretap them to do it. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to wiretap terrorists. But we have yet to see any reason why we have to trample the laws of the United States to do it. The President's decision that he can break the law says far more about his attitude toward the rule of law than it does about the laws themselves.
This goes way beyond party, and way beyond politics. What the President has done here is to break faith with the American people. In the State of the Union, he also said that "we must always be clear in our principles” to get support from friends and allies that we need to fight terrorism. So let's be clear about a basic American principle: When someone breaks the law, when someone misleads the public in an attempt to justify his actions, he needs to be held accountable. The President of the United States has broken the law. The President of the United States is trying to mislead the American people. And he needs to be held accountable.

I promise, we're not going to backtrack to the Times everyday. But today . . .
We're going to note somethng from Democracy Now!'s segment on the tributes to Coretta Scott King:

REVEREND JOSEPH LOWERY: Thank you, Coretta. Didn't she carry her grief with dignity? Her growing influence with humility? She secured his seed, nurtured his nobility she declared humanity's worth, invented their vision, his and hers, for peace in all the Earth. She opposed discrimination based on race, she frowned on homophobia and gender bias, she rejected on its face. She summoned the nations to study war no more. She embraced the wonders of a human family from shoulder to shoulder. Excuse me, Maya.

Why are we noting that? Well, if you read the New York Times article this morning
("At Mrs. King's Funeral, a Mix of Elegy and Politics"), it's strange because, though they sneer about the rhyming, they don't note that Lowery made a "Excuse me, Maya" remark, they do note, however, that:

The former president [Poppy Bush], who spoke about his own conservative Epsicopal upbringing took a playful dig at the poesy of Mr. Lowery . . .

And for those not familiar with the term "poesy" -- it's not intended as a compliment. The context alone tells you that. (For those needing more, the use applied to the term in this ha-ha context is: "artificial or sentimentalized poetic writing.") So as they sneered at Lowery repeatedly they also made Poppy playful when, in fact, he was stealing from a playful comment Lowery himself had made.

So Lowery makes the joke and Poppy gets the credit? Interesting, no?

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Font corrected by Ava and Amy Goodman announcement at the top of the post added by Ava.