Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Democracy Now: Gary Hart, Cecilia Fire Thunder; The return of Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo (O Hatch)

40,000 Students Stage Walk-Out in LA to Protest
The Senate Judiciary committee vote came two days after upwards of one million people protested in Los Angeles against the anti-immigrant House bill. On Monday protests continued across the country. In Los Angeles, as many as 40,000 students walked out of classes. Student walk outs were also reported in Dallas and Phoenix. In Detroit, thousands of protesters marched through the city. And in Washington hundreds of religious leaders and activists held their own protest. Many wore handcuffs to protest a proposal in House Bill 4437 that would make it a crime for religious and charitable groups to aid undocumented workers.

New York Times Finally Reports On Secret UK Iraq Memo
In Washington the White House is denying reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in January 2003 to attack Iraq regardless of whether diplomatic efforts at the United Nations succeeded or whether inspectors found weapons of mass destruction. According to the contents of a once-secret British memo, Bush penciled in the start date of the invasion to be March 10. The contents of the memo first became public almost two months ago in the book "Lawless World" by British international law professor Philippe Sands. But the memo received little attention by mainstream media in this country until Monday when the New York Times ran a front-page article. Earlier this month, however, attorney Phillipe Sands appeared on Democracy Now in one of his first U.S. interviews to discuss the importance of the memo: "[I]t confirms the absence of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Why would the British prime minister and the American president be talking about the possibility of provoking a material breach if they had clear and compelling evidence? But more importantly, it also confirms, as some have thought and some have said, that the road to a second resolution was a sham. The decision had already been taken that already, by the end of January, a start date for the war was penciled in and the decision was set in stone and that both Bush and Blair had agreed."

Ex-Generals Call for Scalia To Be Recused From Gitmo Case
In Supreme Court news, a group of retired U.S. generals and admirals has asked Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself from a case that will decide whether the Bush administration can use military tribunals to try detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Oral arguments in the case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, are scheduled for today. The generals are seeking Scalia’s recusal because he recently gave a speech in Switzerland, where he dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions. During the speech Scalia said he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Guantanamo. Supreme Court Chief justice John Roberts has already recused himself from the case because he heard the case before when he was a federal judge.

Hundreds of Thousands on General Strike In France
And in France hundreds of thousands of students and workers are taking part in a nationwide general strike over a new law that make it easier for employees to fire young workers. Much of the country's railroad, bus and air networks have been shut down. In the southern city of Marseille, some 250,000 people took to the streets. Tens of thousands protested elsewhere.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by West, Tori, Lyle and Bernardo. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for March 28, 2006

- Senate Committee Approves New Immigration Bill
- 40,000 Students Stage Walk-Out in LA to Protest
- Iraqi Accuses U.S. of Massacre At Shiite Mosque
- U.S. Push For New Iraqi Prime Minister
- Moussaoui Claims He Was Meant to Fly Fifth Plane on 9/11
- New York Times Finally Reports On Secret UK Iraq Memo
- Ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor Reported Missing In Nigeria
- Judge Refuses to Delay April 22 Election in New Orleans
- Amnesty: Police Have Killed 150 With Taser Stun Guns
- Ex-Generals Call for Scalia To Be Recused From Gitmo Case
- Hundreds of Thousands on General Strike In France

Fmr. Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Gary Hart: "Both Houses of Congress Belong to the President’s Party"

Gary Hart, the former Colorado senator and two-time democratic presidential candidate, joins us in our firehouse studio. He was the youngest member of the Church Committee that investigated illegal wiretapping, CIA assassination plots and other abuses of governmental power. He also met with Condoleezza Rice five days before 9/11 and warned her of a terrorist attack.

South Dakota Abortion Ban Draws Fiery Opposition from Native Americans

Cecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, recently made waves when she said a clinic on the Pine Ridge reservation could provide abortions if South Dakota's new abortion ban goes into effect. The ban is set to go into effect July 1st. It would prohibit all abortions except to save the life of the mother -- with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Before highlights, let's talk the concluded hearing. And? Yawn. **Leahy and Specter seem to be in a competition over who'll be the first to start a fan club for the other.*** And Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo? America, get worried. O Hatch felt the need to play the ticking time bomb. "Millions of lives at stake" Miss Priss said. Repeatedly. And at one point, "I can tell you personally that very well may be the situation." That being "millions of lives at stake." Congressional police, arrest that man!

Exactly what information does Miss Priss have and what is Miss Priss planning? "I can tell you personally," claimed Miss Priss.

Seriously, don't get worried, O Hatch has nothing and knows nothing -- as has been the case so often in his career. But he wants to scare us all. (Couldn't he just send out 8x10 glossies?) So he plays the fear card, Extreme Fear Card.

Watch for him on NBC. He'll be happy to announce the events but he won't hop in a coffin of bugs or any other situation. Not Miss Priss.

Sadly, while O Hatch worries about the mythical lives, he forgets that lives really are at stake. If we have to trample liberties today, lives are at stake. If we abandon what we stand for, lives are at stake. (I should add "American lives" -- those were the lives that O Hatch was referring to.)
O Hatch likes to forget that a war was fought, around the time he first learned to snarl (1700s), for rights and liberties.

Let's move to highlights and Iraq's the main topic in e-mails today. First off, Erika notes the latest from Kim Gandy's "They Just Don't Get It" (Below the Belt, NOW):

And finally, something the majority of the country just doesn't get, including me: Three years later, we're still at war.
Early this week, while most of us were beginning our days, exactly three years ticked by since the start of the war in Iraq. Given the global protests and letters to the editors I saw over this weekend, most people agree with me: It's been three years too long.
George W. Bush keeps uttering those three little words--"stay the course"--while more and more people out there (you and I always knew!) are figuring out there never was a course.
Leaders in Iraq say the country is now deep into a civil war, with 50-60 Iraqis dying daily, and our country's own heartbreaking losses mounting. And for what? So George Bush can reach some imaginary goal?
If you're as angry about this whole situation as I am, I hope you'll join me and tens of thousands of others on April 29 in New York City, and together we will March for Peace, Justice and Democracy. NOW is mobilizing with the anti-war, environmental, civil rights and labor groups, and religious communities who have joined our call for peace.
Death counts are rising, support is dwindling, and our voices are growing louder every day. The war-mongers can't ignore us anymore. Join us to speak out against the insanity.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead told us never to doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Just think of what all of us, together, can accomplish.

March in April. Remember that. And in Iraq? Nolanda notes Brian Conley's "Muqtada, Shi'ite Hope for Unified Iraq? Again Targeted" (Alive in Baghdad):

Certainly there are some questionable things about Muqtada's past and his dealings around Iraq. However, he seems now to be the least duplicitous of Iraq's Shi'a politicians.
So reality (that the corporate press won't touch) from Conley, truth and news of an upcoming march from Gandy. And what of the Latino March for Peace? Zach notes
Judith Scherr's "Latinos Call for Peace, Denounce Legislation" (Berkeley Daily Planet):

Calling for peace in Iraq and denouncing federal legislation that would criminalize undocumented U.S. residents, the 27-day Latino March for Peace from Tijuana to San Francisco took a detour through Oakland Monday morning.
Some 200 marchers were cheered by hundreds of students at St. Elizabeth's Catholic High School in the heavily Latino Fruitvale district, before marching some 40 blocks to a rally and rest stop at Laney College.
Before noon, the marchers took BART across the Bay to a series of rallies in San Francisco that would end the month-long protest.
War resister Camilo Mejia, who spent nine months in jail for refusing to return to fight in Iraq, was among the core group that had walked most of the 241 miles.
After the Laney College rally, he told reporters that he could see irony in the current sitatuion: "You have Latinos here who are being heavily recruited [to fight], while you have their parents and relatives being treated as criminals."

Francisco had requested that we all be on the look out for news of the Latino March for Peace and I know everyone's looked really hard. If you find something on it, even though it's over, that we haven't highlighted, please e-mail to note it. This was an important event but the media coverage wasn't really there. So if you see something on it, e-mail to note it so we can all be on the same page.

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

[Martha note: 2 typos corrected.]
[C.I. note: Marcia says that it was Leahy and not Biden as I noted. I'm sure Marcia is correct. Apologies to Biden.]