Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Democracy Now: Deborah Turness, Vanessa Redgrave, Margaret Busby; Kim Gandy ...

Bush, GOP Sens. Reach Eavesdropping Agreement
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted down a proposal to investigate the Bush administration's domestic spy program. The vote came after the White House and Republican Senators agreed to new guidelines for the practice of government eavesdropping without court-approved warrants. According to the New York Times, the deal asks the Bush administration to request court warrants only "whenever possible." The Bush administration would be given a 45 day grace period to spy without court warrants if they felt requesting them would compromise national security. After the 45-day period, the warrantless eavesdropping could then be extended if the attorney general certifies the administration's stance. In addition, a handful of extra members of Congress would also be briefed on the program's activities. Democrats lashed out at the deal. West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said: "The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House."
Republicans Force Vote on Dubai Firm Port Deal
While the spy program and Patriot Act votes were seen as major Republican victories, the Bush administration has failed to stave off a challenge to a deal granting a Dubai-owned company management of six US ports. On Tuesday, Republican leaders agreed to hold a vote next week that could cancel the deal. The vote will be attached to legislation funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that blocks the port deal.
Republicans Force Vote on Dubai Firm Port Deal
While the spy program and Patriot Act votes were seen as major Republican victories, the Bush administration has failed to stave off a challenge to a deal granting a Dubai-owned company management of six US ports. On Tuesday, Republican leaders agreed to hold a vote next week that could cancel the deal. The vote will be attached to legislation funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that blocks the port deal.
Civil Rights Advocate Anne Braden Dies at 81
In other news, civil rights advocate Anne Braden has died at the age of 81. Braden was one of the founding members of the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice. She was the first person to receive the American Civil Liberties Union's Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty. In the 1950s, Braden and her husband made national headlines when they bought a home for a black family in an all-white area of Kentucky. Last year, Braden traveled to Washington DC to protest the war in Iraq. She moved alongside thousands of protesters in her wheelchair.
The four items above are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Brady, Jonathan, Melissa and KeeshaDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 8, 2006

- Bush, GOP Sens. Reach Eavesdropping Agreement
- House Renews Patriot Act
- Republicans Force Vote on Dubai Firm Port Deal
- Conflict Brewing At Columbia Over Finkelstein Lecture
- Bodies of 2 Katrina Victims Found in New Orleans
- House Demolitions Resume in Ninth Ward
- Ex-Enron CFO Testifies Skilling Ordered Fraudulent Reports
British Journalists Face Pressure from Police After Revelations on Menezes Shooting

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is visiting Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday. The two leaders are expected to discuss the shooting of Brazilian native Jean Charles de Menezes in London last summer. Menezes was shot dead by British police in a London subway station one day after an attempted bomb attack on the British subway system in July. We speak with Deborah Turness, editor of British channel ITV News, about the circumstances surrounding the shooting and the investigations. [includes rush transcript]
Legendary Actor Vanessa Redgrave Calls Cancellation of Rachel Corrie Play an "Act of Catastrophic Cowardice"

A New York theater company is coming under criticism for backing out of an agreement to stage a play based on the life of U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie. The play’s producers are calling the decision censorship. Corrie was killed in Gaza nearly three years ago when she stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer set to demolish a Palestinian home. We speak with actor and activist Vanessa Redgrave.
Women's Voices From Africa: A Conversation with Margaret Busby

Today is International Women's Day. Millions are marking the day around the world celebrating advances made by women over the past year but also calling for greater equality and an end to war. We speak with Margaret Busby, editor of "Daughters of Africa," about women's voices that oftentimes go unheard.
It's International Women's Day and our highlights will reflect that.  First off, Kevin notes Kim Gandy's "Women Celebrate International Women's Day by Rallying for Peace" (NOW):
Today, on International Women's Day, women and men across the globe are celebrating women's social, political and economic achievements and honoring the gains women have fought for as activists, advocates, mothers, workers and citizens of their countries. Michelle Bachelet, a feminist, will be sworn in as the president of Chile this week, but unfortunately women in the United States and around the world have more to lament than to celebrate this year.
Here in the U.S., George W. Bush's war on women have brought us a budget that takes money away from family planning and public assistance programs that help women and single mothers escape the plague of poverty. The radical right has pushed through a heartless law in South Dakota that would ban nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and similar bills are being spearheaded by conservatives in several other states. And as the Bush administration presses war in Iraq and rewards the richest in this country with more tax cuts, it ignores women and children, whose education and healthcare needs are suffering because of these reckless priorities.
In the border town of Juarez, Mexico, hundreds of young women have been raped and murdered on their way to or from their jobs at sweatshops. The Mexican authorities say it is random violence, and the U.S. corporations whose clothes are made in these maquiladora factories have done nothing. The National Organization for Women's march from El Paso, Texas to Juarez in December brought more attention to their plight, but it will take government action to end this plague of violence. NOW Executive Vice President Olga Vives is in Venezuela today with an International Women's Delegation to learn about the struggles women face in that country, and build our international dialogue.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, where the Bush administration has turned an ill-begotten war into a disaster with global costs, women are suffering. The fight against terrorism has only ensured that more women abroad will be drawn into a cycle of violence, war and destruction. Afghani women have been forced back into the burqa, and girls' schools are burned down almost as quickly as they can be built. Countless Iraqi women have died as a result of the war and the insurgency, and the number grows. Women in U.S. military are dying as well, fighting in a war designed not to make us safer but to settle a score.
On this day of honoring women and calling for them to be equal participants across the world, NOW is marching in Washington, D.C., shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraqi women, calling for peace, an end to violence, reproductive choice for every woman and equal rights for all. We ask women and men who support equality, peace, justice and democracy to mobilize with us and March in New York City on Saturday, April 29, when we will send a message to the world that millions of us do not support this war and are demanding a change in the direction of our country. Women have spoken: Enough is enough.
Enough is enough.  Hopefully you'll spend the month and the lead up to April 29th calling for peace.  Which brings us to Susan's highlight, Cynthia Enloe's "Macho, Macho Military" (The Nation):
Many progressives were shocked by the militaristic response of Americans to the attacks of September 11, 2001--but not feminists. They had already been tracking the militarization of American daily life--from Super Bowl bomber flyovers to yellow ribbons on family cars--and its intimate connections to the cult of masculinity that has recently tightened its grip on American politics.
Gender-coded militaristic rituals are now so integrated into the culture, they're nearly invisible--which is why they're so important to re-examine. Take those flyovers. What's fun about sending an ominous V-winged vehicle of death and destruction over a Sunday afternoon football game? It takes coordination between the NFL and the Pentagon to plan a flyover. Is sending a black bomber racing across the sky supposed to confirm players' and fans' manliness? Is the pageant also designed to prove the patriotic bona fides of players, owners, fans and the networks? If so, then the NFL and the Pentagon are in collusion to militarize masculinity and to masculinize militarism.
And how about the ubiquitous yellow ribbon magnets that so many Americans have been sticking on their cars announcing that they "support our troops"? Popular engagement is as important as budgetary allocations to a government intent on war. It takes someone in the family to buy the yellow magnet and attach it to the car. Was it the woman of the house, declaring to the world that her maternal care extends to other mothers' soldiering sons and daughters? Is it the man of the house, trying to say something about his fathering or about his identity as a vet? In some families it's the complementary combination of both. Either way, it's hardly the innocuous, apolitical gesture it might seem.
No, the Bully Boy's response wasn't surprising.  What is surprising is how we're still not 'supposed' to comment on it.  But he's only got one trick his bag -- bully.  And we can see where it's taken the world.  The next highlight, noted by Kayla, isn't authored by a man, but it is about one woman's story, Robert Scheer's "'They tred to attach themselves to his virtue; then they wiped their feet with him.' -- Mary Tillman" (Truthdig):
MARY TILLMAN has been a model of patience and fortitude as she doggedly pursues the facts concerning her son Pat's death in Afghanistan two years ago. In that spirit, she welcomed as positive the news that the Pentagon's inspector general has asked the Army to launch an investigation into whether criminal negligence was involved in the "friendly fire" incident that resulted in the death of her football-star son who turned soldier.
That request by the inspector general, made after a review of three previous investigations, implies a clear rebuke of the military’s handling of this case to date. But as much as Mary Tillman and the rest of the Tillman family hope this new inquiry will clear up the glaring contradictions and mysterious discrepancies of the previous accounts, she knows it is not prudent to be overly optimistic.
That's because, quite apart from what happened late that afternoon two years ago, there can now be little doubt that the Bush administration quickly and cynically moved to spin the story in ways that would serve its political purposes at the expense of the truth.
"The administration used Pat," Mary Tillman told me in a phone interview on Monday from San Jose. "They tried to attach themselves to his virtue and then they wiped their feet with him."

And can we talk peace in this country without mentioning the one who sparked the summer of protest?  Eddie notes Cindy Sheehan's "What Really Happened, Pt. 2 -- NYC Style" (BuzzFlash):
Yesterday started off like any other day for me. I woke up, missing Casey and wondering where in the world I was.
After I got my bearings, realizing I was in my friend's apartment in NYC, I got up for my day of meetings, speeches, marches and rallies.
March 8th is International Women's Day and I was in NYC with a contingent of women from Code Pink, Gold Star Families for Peace, Global Exchange, and some brave Iraqi women to work on our women's global call for peace (
We began our day with a meeting with Koffi Annan's assistant Secretary General for Gender. We asked her to get a meeting with the Iraqi women and the Security Council. She said we couldn't get a meeting until October at the earliest! I was appalled because a few of us had just been at UNIFEM in September, meeting with the head of UNIFEM who said if we got a contingent of Iraqi women to the states for International Women's Day that she would make sure we could meet with the security council. October is also far too late: people are dying in Iraq everyday on all sides as we sit around waiting for meetings and for people to do their jobs.
We had 2 press conferences: one inside the UN and one out. After the outside press conference, where the Iraqi women beautifully, poignantly and touchingly told their stories, and where we called on the UN to do their jobs as peacekeepers, we marched with our petition to the US Mission to the UN.
We had a poster-sized petition that has been signed by tens of thousands of women from 78 states from around the world. Our Women Say No to War petition calls for an immediate withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq.
We were chanting as we made our way the few blocks to the US Mission. We had a Community Services officer walking with us. As we neared John Bolton's office, the officer told us to cross the street and wait on the public sidewalk across from the mission!
I go all over the country and the world, now, saying that it is our responsibility as peace people to peacefully stand up to fascism and suppression of our 1st Amendment rights whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. As a matter of fact, I believe that to halt the incredible spread of the creeping fascism and abuse of our civil rights in the country, we are going to need non-violent, civil resistance on a massive scale.
When the officer told us to leave one public sidewalk and cross the street and wait like good Americans on the other, we refused. I told him under no uncertain terms that this is America and we had as much right to be on the public sidewalk on the US Mission side of the street as he did. He said that we couldn't walk down the street carrying signs -- a clear violation of our First Amendment rights to Freedom of Speech and to Peaceably Assemble.
We only wanted to deliver our petition, which we had an appointment to do. Since we didn't want to get arrested and our goal is stopping a disastrous war and saving American and Iraq lives, we agreed that a few of us would proceed forward with the petition and as soon as it was delivered we assured the officer that we would leave.
Four of us, Medea Benjamin, Rev. Patty Ackerman, Sereya, and I separated from the rest of the group to take our petition up to Bolton's office. At this point, Sereya, a Kurdish woman, from Kirkuk, who lives in the US now, told us that she had been "punched" in the stomach by the very same "Community" service officer that had escorted us from the rally to the US Mission! She noted how ironic it is that George Bush says he is spreading freedom and democracy to Iraq and citizens of his own country, that oppose his policies, can't even walk down the street without being harassed by the police. This is just one example of the hypocrisy and duplicity that reign today in BushWorld.
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