Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Democracy Now: Antonia Juhasz, Nepal, The Peace Patriots; Maureen Farrell

New York Teens Sue Rumsfeld Over Recruiting Database
Six New York teenagers have sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alleging that the Pentagon has illegally created a massive student database to help identify college and high school students as young as 16 to target for military recruiting. The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the six teenagers by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Thousands Protest Condoleezza Rice in Greece
In Greece, thousands of demonstrators tried to march earlier today to the U.S. embassy in Athens to protest a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Police dressed in riot gear fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators. On Monday, protesters managed to hoist a giant poster reading "Condoleezza Rice Go Home" from the central Athens Music Hall, next to the U.S. embassy. Two years ago Rice's predecessor Colin Powell had to cancel a visit to Athens in order to avoid mass protests.
Report Criticizes U.S.-led Reconstruction of Iraq
A new report has determined the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq has largely been a failure. Nearly $60 billion has been spent but Iraq is still producing less oil, has less electricity and less water than before invasion. The authors of the report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the slow pace is largely due to bad planning and poor execution on the part of the Bush administration.
Nepali King Agrees to Reinstate Parliament
In Nepal hundreds of thousands of people have filled the streets of Katmandu to celebrate King Gyanendra's decision to reinstate the country's parliament. The king’s announcement came after weeks of protests and strikes that have crippled the country. Last night King Gyanendra announced that he would agree to some of the demands of the protesters. Nepal's parliament has been dissolved since 2002. Meanwhile Maoist leader Prachanda accused the other opposition groups of making "another historic mistake" by calling off the protests. Prachanda encouraged the people to continue demonstrating until the parties declared elections for a constituent assembly to write a new constitution.
President Bush's Approval Rating Sinks to 32 Percent
Here at home, support for Presidential Bush has reached a new low. A new CNN poll found only 32 percent of the country approve of the president’s performance. Last week a Fox News polls put Bush’s approval rating at just 33 percent.
The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Susan, Jonah, Abhilasha, Mario and CarlDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for April 25, 2006

- Nepali King Agrees to Reinstate Parliament
- Up to 30 Die in Bombings at Egyptian Resort
- Thousands Protest Condoleezza Rice in Greece
- President Bush’s Approval Rating Sinks to 32 Percent
- Latino Officials in California Face Death Threats
- New York Teens Sue Rumsfeld Over Recruiting Database
- Nuclear Industry Sets Up New "Green" Pro-Nuclear Coalition
- Right-Wing Commentators Urge Yale Not To Hire Juan Cole
- Union Leader Roger Toussaint Begins 10-Day Jail Sentence
Nepal King Agrees to Reinstate Parliament Amidst Massive Pro-Democracy Protests

In Nepal, hundreds of thousands of people have filled the streets of Katmandu to celebrate King Gyanendra's decision to reinstate the country's parliament. The king's announcement came after weeks of protests and strikes that have crippled the country. We speak with Ashok Gurung of New School University and we go to Katmandu to speak with Narayan Wagle of Kantipur, the largest daily newspaper in Nepal.
Antonia Juhasz on The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time

We speak with Antonia Juhasz about her new book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time." The book tracks the radical neo-liberal economic program the Bush administration has tried to impose on Iraq, which threatens to leave Iraq's economy and oil reserves largely in the hands of multinational corporations.
The Peace Patriots: New Film Documents Dissent in a Time of War

A newly-released film takes a look at dissent in America during a time of war. "The Peace Patriots" follows the activities of anti-war activists before and after the Iraq invasion. We play an excerpt of the film and speak with the film's director.
Iraq snapshot.
While Bully Boy uses current oil prices to push "the appearance of a gas shortage to push for the drilling" in ANWAR (as Sandra Lupien noted), chaos and violence continues in Iraq.  Yesterday, in Baghdad, eight bombs went off and CNN puts the toll at "at least eight people died and 90 others were injured."  Today?  First, not a roadside bomb, but one inside a "minibus" exploded in Baghdad leading to at least two deaths and at least five wounded, according to Reuters. Also in Baghdad, the Associated Press notes that two more corpses have been found (with signs of torture).  Reuters reports that Ibrahim al-Hindawi, "a senior judge in Baghdad," has been kidnapped by gunmen.  Still in Baghdad, along with the bomb in the minibus, two roadsides bombs did go off -- at least three Iraqis were wounded. A "car bomb" in Baghdad resulted in at least four Iraqi police officers being wounded.
Police officers were targeted elsewhere as well.  In Tal Qasir, four were killed during an attack on a police station, and "near Kirkuk," two Iraqi soldiers and a police officer were killed.  Another Iraqi soldier was killed on "the main road between Tikrit and Kirkuk" -- the oil blaze, for those following (obviously the New York Times isn't).
At least three American soldiers were wounded when a roadside bobm went off in Haqlaniyah. And if you check the current tally, you'll see we're not that far away from another milestone: 2390 dead from the illegal 'cake walk.'  This as Borzou Daraghi reports for the Los Angels Times that American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (the US ambassador to Iraq) has declared that America "must, perhaps reluctantly, accept" that US forces will continue to occupy Iraq for . . .  "Long stay" is the the term that pops up in the headline.  Permanent bases and the lust for the emerging markets would seem to indicate the need for a stronger term. 
Which brings us to highlights and we'll start with Billie's pick: Maureen Farrell's latest, "Shifting Footprints and Messianic Missions: Staying In Iraq 'Till Kingdom Come" (BuzzFlash):
Remember the spring of 2003? Back when Americans were basking in promises of "cakewalks" and flowers strewn at U.S. soldiers' feet? Saddam's statue fell, the President dressed up in his flight suit, and all was well with the world. The national mood (i.e. arrogance) reverberated on television, magazines and in newspapers. What was not to love?
Then came summer, and doubts began to fester. "They kept telling [the troops] that as soon as you get to Baghdad you would be going home," one soldier's wife told the Guardian in July, 2003. "The way home is through Baghdad, they said."
And though Bush promised troops would not remain in Iraq "for one day longer than is necessary," within weeks, officials began talking about "maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq."
At the time, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, scoffed at Mr. Bush's promise. "This idea that we will be in just as long as we need to and not a day more -- we've got to get over that rhetoric," he said. "It is rubbish. We're going to be there a long time. We must reorganize our military to be there a long time."
Sadly, military families who thought "Mission Accomplished" meant troops would come home paid the ultimate price. "What are we getting into here?" one sergeant asked in June, 2003. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
Still on Iraq, turning to the peace movement, KeShawn notes "Peace Activists Acquitted in Federal Court of Protesting Against Iraq War" (Peace Education Fund's press release via Common Dreams):
WASHINGTON -- April 24 -- On April 19, four defendants, arrested at the White House while protesting the Iraq war by engaging in a die-in on Oct. 26, 2005, had their charges dismissed in federal court in Washington, D.C. Judge Deborah Robinson ruled in favor of the defense motion for a judgment of acquittal and stated that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against Gary Ashbeck and Lynn Robinson, from Baltimore, and Paul Kawika Martin and Eve Tetaz, from Washington, D.C.
Activists -- including Cindy Sheehan -- were charged with demonstrating without a permit, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $500 fine. After the prosecution rested its case, Ashbeck with advice of attorney advisor, Mark Goldstone, made a motion for a judgment of acquittal which Judge Robinson accepted.
"Today's tremendous victory for free political speech will only be eclipsed when we bring all of the troops home from Iraq and help the Iraqi people rebuild their country," exclaimed Paul Kawika Martin, political director for Peace Action Education Fund, who is 36 years old.
Latrice notes Jeffrey Haas' "Editorial: Why There Should Be a Fred Hampton Way" (The Chicago Defender):
I was one of the lawyers for the Hampton family who spent 14 years litigating what happened during the raid on Dec. 4, 1969. The city, county and federal defendants paid us $1.85 million in 1983 to settle the case because of the overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy between FBI personnel carrying out the FBI's Cointelpro Program and Chicago police assigned to State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan's office.
Fred Hampton's murder is the most well-documented case of a political assassination by the U.S. government of a U.S. citizen that may well exist.
Even if people in Chicago still cling to different views of what happened in the Dec. 4 raid, the killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hamlpton and member Mark Clark stands out as one of the most significant events in Chicago history along with Haymarket and the 1968 Democratic Convention.
In fact, as many recognize the killing of Fred Hampton led not only to the demise of the political career of Hanrahan, Mayor Richard J. Daley's heir apparent, but also to the formation of the Black coalition which ultimately resulted in the election of Harold Washington as mayor.
Eddie, picking up on Wally's highlight of Will Durst earlier today, wondered if people were aware that Durst also contributes to BuzzFlash?  From Durst's "Changing the Guard" (BuzzFlash):
Unfortunately, the person the President refuses to replace is the one whose head everyone keeps calling for: Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. If this were "White House Survivor," Jeff Prost would be snuffing out Rummy's torch while fellow castaways snickered on wooden benches huddling together for warmth. The dapper and verbally flatulent Secretary, however, remains a man who doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit." As it turns out, he seems unfamiliar with a few other words as well: like "strategy," "consensus" and "diplomatic." The recent call by between six and eight hundred generals for his dumpstering has met with stubborn resistance from his boss. When asked, the President said, yes, he hears the voices for Rumsfeld to be returned horizontally to the private sector, but it would be HE who decided, because HE is the chief decider. He's not a divider or a uniter, he's a decider. Who hears the voices. Hmmmmm.
Lastly, Jack asked what stood out to me about  yesterday's Cover to Cover where Denny Smithson interviewed Jane Fonda?  I think Mike has a great quote from the interview (actually Nina pointed it out to him), Fonda on what if Bully Boy doesn't want to listen to the people (that's an oversimplification of the questions because I'm rushing -- this is dictated by the way):
"It's never up to an administration . . . It all depends upon what people force them to do." Jane Fonda on KPFA's Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson today.
I didn't take notes.  I enjoyed the interview throughout.  I am glad she made the point about reality on the ground because it doesn't get out in the mainstream (how universal the mood of the country is -- turning against the administration).  Oh, she'll be at Borders in San Francisco today at noon signing copies of My Life So Far.  That's at noon (Pacific time) on 400 Post St. Trying to think (and, again, I'm rushing).  The mood.  The points that this is all swelling forward.  There has been tremendous strides made by the peace movement and it's easy to overlook that but it has had an impact and it will continue to do so. I thought Denny Smithson did a great job interviewing and share his disappointment re: today (though I understand why Fonda feels her role in the peace movement needs to be less prominent).  (Fonda is very active in the movement.  She's just not doing the speaking tour that so many, including me, wish she would.)  Oh.  The book.  In softcover contains a disc -- that was addressed.  It contains excerpts of the special Vanessa did and it contains selected readings.  It's a bonus to the softcover edition.  Vanessa Vadim, daughter of Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim.  I enjoyed the talk on that topic re: closure.  I don't know if I answered Jack's question, sorry.  Great interview, so use the link to check it out if you missed   yesterday's Cover to Cover
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