Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Democracy Now: Yuri Kochiyama, Malcolm X; Ports, John Nichols, Cindy Sheehan, Mike Whitney

Navy's Top Attorney Warned Against Administration's Detainee Policies
The New Yorker magazine has revealed
that two years before the Abu Ghraib photos were first published, the Navy's general counsel, Alberto Mora, began challenging what he described as the administration's "disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects." Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush's decision, in 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions. He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held detainees was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described the novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse as "unlawful," "dangerous," and "erroneous."

Jimmy Carter to Israel & U.S.: Don't Punish the Palestinian People
Former President Jimmy Carter is warning the U.S. and Israel not to punish the Palestinian people for electing a Hamas-led government. Carter writes in Monday's Washington Post "Any tacit or formal collusion between the two powers to disrupt the process by punishing the Palestinian people could be counterproductive and have devastating consequences." On Sunday Israel moved to withhold $50 million owed to the Palestinian Authority from customs and tax revenue. The Israeli sanctions immediately put the Palestinian Authority into a financial crisis. Israel's move came one day after Hamas assumed control of the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is heading to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates where is expected to persuade the countries not to financially assist Hamas.
26 Died in Iraq's Bloodiest Day in Two Months
In Iraq, a series of bombings killed at least 26 people on Monday making it the bloodiest day in Iraq in two months according to the New York Times. The bombings occurred as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad warned Iraq that the Bush administration might cut off aid to Iraq if the new government doesn't replace the heads of the defense and interior ministries. Khalizaid said "We are not going to invest the resources of the American people into forces run by people who are sectarian." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is expected to soon deliver a similar message. He arrived in Baghdad last night.
Coalition of U.S. Churches Accuse Washington of "Raining Down Terror"
A coalition of American churches have sharply denounced the U.S. war in Iraq and accused Washington of "raining down terror". The 34 U.S. members of the World Council of Churches agreed to a statement reading "We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights." The statement was issued from Porto Alegre, Brazil which is hosting the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade. The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church were among the U.S. churches backing the statement.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jonah, Brady, Francisco and Kayla. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for February 21, 2006
- 1,400 Feared Dead Following Landslides in Philippines
- Navy's Top Attorney Warned Against Administration's Detainee Policies
- Jimmy Carter to Israel & U.S.: Don't Punish the Palestinian People
- Coalition of U.S. Churches Accuse Washington of "Raining Down Terror"
- Alito Taps Ex-Ashcroft Aide to Serve as Law Clerk
- Is Sci-Fi Writer Michael Chricton Advising Bush on Global Warming?
- Latin Music Pioneer Ray Barretto, 76, Dies
Civil Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama Remembers Her Life: From Internment Camps in the U.S. to the Assassination of Malcolm X and Beyond
41 years ago today, Malcolm X was gunned down in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Yuri Kochiyama cradled his head as he lay dying on the stage. Kochiyama's activism began after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when she and her family were held in an internment camp along with more than 100,000 Japanese in the United States. [includes rush transcript]
On the 41st Anniversary of the Assassination of Malcolm X, "The Ballot or the Bullet"
We turn now to the words of Malcolm X, who was assassinated 41 years ago today in New York City as he spoke before a packed audience in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom. He was just 39 years old. This is an excerpt of a speech he gave in Detroit on April 12, 1964 -- just a year before he was gunned down. It is known as "The Ballot or the Bullet." [includes rush transcript]
We'll start with Cindy's highlight, John Nichols' "Corporate Control of Ports Is the Problem" (The Nation via Common Dreams, click here for the article at The Nation):
The problem with the Bush administration's support for a move by a United Arab Emirates-based firm to take over operation of six major American ports is not that the corporation in question is Arab owned.
The problem is that it that Dubai Ports World is a corporation. It happens to be a corporation that is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, a nation that served as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of 9-11 attacks, and that has stirred broad concern. But, even if the sale of the ports to this firm did not raise security alarm bells, it would be a bad idea.
Ports are essential pieces of the infrastructure of the United States, and they are best run by public authorities that are accountable to elected officials and the people those officials represent. While traditional port authorities still exist, they are increasing marginalized as privatization schemes have allowed corporations -- often with tough anti-union attitudes and even tougher bottom lines -- to take charge of more and more of the basic operations at the nation's ports.
Allowing the nation's working waterfronts to be run by private firms just doesn't work, as the failure to set up a solid security system for port security in the more than four years since the September 11, 2001 attacks well illustrates. And shifting control of the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia from a British firm, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., to Dubai Ports World, is not going to improve the situation.
That's an issue. I won't say "the" issue because there are people with very strong feelings on this subject. But forget which country is behind the company, make it England or Canada for this example if it helps, why are we turning port control over to a company?
National security isn't something you outsource (though some would argue we've done just that for years). Think of the nation as your home, are you going to give the keys to your home (or security codes) to a stranger? What is the purpose of having a federal government? Exactly why does Bully Boy and others draw a check if all they're doing is acting as some sort of yenta marrying national interests to corporate ones?
Corporate interest is "the bottom line": What corners can be cut to turn the maximum profit? That's not how you secure your ports. You spend a little more on the things that matter.
That the Bully Boy who falsely panders as the voice of national security is once again putting the nation's interests at risk to cut some sweetheart deal with anyone is "an" outrage.
On the issue of turning it over to a foreign company, any foreign company, is outrageous. The Pentagon's saying China's is the greatest risk this country will face in the future. While noting they need to define "risk," there's also the fact that this administration hasn't been too good at predicting risks. (Or acting on warnings.)
You don't turn over national security to a foreign company. You don't turn it over to a corporation. Nichols' point is a soild one. It may have a bit of difficulty getting traction (hopefully, it won't) due to the fact that we've had years and years of nonsense about how corporations run things "better" (cheaper?) than the government. That's been a talking point of some conservatives (and libertarians) for years. In the nineties, the DLC pushed it hard and heavy and this myth took hold with a lot of people.
But a people form a government to do some basic tasks and one of those tasks is security. That's why we have a standing army. Not to invade at will, but to protect the nation.
Imagine that Enron was still "gold" in the eyes of many and it was branching out into a similar business. When the failure comes, and it will come, where is the accountability? With the failure of Enron, we saw people's lives destroyed and Bully Boy thinking that accountability meant falsely crying, "Bill Clinton was closer to Ken Lay! I barely knew Kenny Boy!"
So a mishap happens (let's say it's a mishap and not a terrorist attack for this example). Where's the accountability? Politicians will make noises and, in the end, turn it over to another corporation. The people who took your tax payer monies to enrich themselves and cut corners to enrich themselves more will get a slap on the wrist at best.
The model itself, which is a relatively new one, needs to be challenged. You don't outsource your national security. Homeland Security doesn't get that and it's been a windfall for Halliburton and others. But you don't do it. And it shouldn't be done.
Let's go to Schoolhouse Rock since more people will be familiar with this as a jingle (I could be wrong):
We the people
In order to form a more perfect union,
Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
Provide for the common defense,
Promote the general welfare and
Secure the blessings of liberty
To ourselves and our posterity
Do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

That's the preamble to the Constitution. (As I'm guessing most members already know.) "Provide for the common defense"? That's not "Provide a tag sale on the common defense."
There's concern by some that there's an element of demonization going on (towards Arabs, see Danny Schechter) and that's probably true and, if so, it results from Bully Boy's words and actions since September 13th (not since September 11th, on that day he was running scared across the country).
If that's going on, hopefully not in this community, let's remember that people are not their governments. For domestic members, you certainly wouldn't want others in the world assuming that Bully Boy's statements represent your own views. Or some fringe group preaching hate speech. So don't be so quick to buy into media portrayals of other countries.
(And to note members in England, Tony Blair's statements don't represent their own views.)
If we want to turn over national security to an international body, such as the United Nations, that's a debate America should have in public. By the same token, turning over national security to a company (foreign or otherwise) is a debate the country should have. If people are uncomfortable with the region we're speaking of, they should voice their concerns. Voicing concerns doesn't mean demonization.
We can slide into that as a result of the Bully Boy's remarks (and the historical portrayals of Arabs in this country). One of the issues here is that you don't turn over your national security to a corporation and you don't turn it over to a foreign body. Our own history in Latin America is reason enough for concern.
Another issue of concern is provided by George's highlight, Mike Whitney's "Iran Was Not Referred to the Security Council for Noncompliance" (Op-Ed News):
How powerful is the mainstream media?
Is it powerful enough to convince the public that Iran was "referred" to the UN Security Council for violations to the NPT when, in fact, it wasn’t?
The IAEA did not report on Iran's "noncompliance" to the Security Council; because there is no evidence that Iran has done anything wrong. As nuclear physicist Gordon Prather points out in his recent article, "March Madness", "THE BOARD DIDN'T REPORT ANYTHING."
Then why do the media keep insisting that Iran has been called before the Security Council for noncompliance?
Could it be that the media is simply executing an agenda that is deliberately designed to deceive?
There was no "referral" and there will be no "punitive action" because there are no treaty violations. As Prather states, "the IAEA Board 'REQUESTED' that Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei report to the Security Council" calling on Iran to-among other things-implement 'transparency measures'".
These "transparency measures" have nothing to do with Iran's obligations under the NPT. They are additional demands made at the behest of the Bush administration to force Iran to provide access to "individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain military owned workshops, and research and development as the Agency may request in support of its ongoing investigations".
What does this mean?
It means that the Bush administration, which has already demonstrated its hostile intentions towards Iran, will be able to operate secretly behind its surrogates in the IAEA to locate all of Iran's conventional weapons sites, radar facilities, and military installations so they can easily destroy Iran's defensive capability when the inevitable attack is launched.
Isn't this the same trap that Saddam fell into?
Lloyd notes David Barsamian's "Cindy Sheehan Interview" (The Progressive):
Q: In 2004, there were two pro-war candidates. Do you see that happening again in 2008?
Sheehan: It probably will happen, and if it does, we'll have to support a third-party candidate if they're for peace. We have to show our elected officials that we are a nation that wants to support peace and not killing.
Q: What steps can people take?
Sheehan: People need to start putting pressure on their elected officials for an investigation into the war crimes. They need to support John Conyers and his call for censure of this administration, and they need to support Gold Star Families for Peace and all our actions that we have coming up. We're going to go back to Camp Casey during Easter week. And we're going to have an action at Barbara Bush's home in Houston called "For God's Sake, Can't You Make Him Stop?" You just need to use your voice and use your presence and go out of your comfort zone, because the longer we let this Administration continue with its war crimes and trampling on our Constitution and our civil rights, the more harm it's doing to humanity.
Q: You say, "I'm a catalyst for change, but I don't want to be the focus of change."
Sheehan: I just try and keep my focus on my goal, and that's bringing the troops home. If that's my focus, then hopefully that will be the focus of anybody who sees an interview with me or hears a speech I may give. That's what I want. I don't want the focus to be on me. I want the focus to be on every person who's been killed in this war, whether they're Iraqi or American or Coalition troops, and to energize people to work for change. And if people do look at me, I hope they'll say, "Wow, one person can make a difference. So what can I do to try and make the world a better place?"
We'll close with one more headline from Democracy Now! today, Miguel selected this one:
Latin Music Pioneer Ray Barretto, 76, Dies
And the pioneering Latin percussionist Ray Barretto has died at the age of 76. Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, Barretto helped launch the Nuyorican sound and was a pioneering figure in the Latin Jazz, soul and salsa scenes. In 1962 his hit "El Watusi" became the first Latin song to ever enter the Billboard top 20 charts. Ray Barretto is considered to be one of the most important percussionists in the history of Latin music.
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