Thanks for tuning in. I will be speaking in Boston at Emerson College on Friday at 7 PM. The film The Jihadi and the Journalist which I worked on opens at the Tribeca Film Festival on the 27th, and South African Broadcastings SABC 1 airs on April 26th on SABC 1 at 9 PM. Amandla!
Today. Danny Schechter is in Boston today. Wally noted that earlier this week from Tuesday's News Dissector. So if you're in the area, it's today. (Not Saturday as I wrote this morning.)
Iraq War Costs Approach $320B
A new Congressional report says the cost of the war in Iraq will soon top $320 billion dollars -- a figure that will likely more than double by war's end. According to the Congressional Research Service, the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan stand to cost nearly as much as the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security combined.
18 Wealthy US Families Bankroll Estate Tax Campaign
A new report from two watchdog groups says 18 of this country's wealthiest families have been behind a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign to repeal the federal estate tax. According to Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy, the families have directely funded campaigns and set up shadow associations to spread misleading information on the benefits of repealing the tax. The groups say a repeal of the estate tax would save the families over $71 billion dollars. The families include those behind the companies Wal-Mart, Campbell's soup, and Mars Incorporated. Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen called the campaign "one of the biggest con jobs in recent history."
57 Arrested at NYU Grad Student Protest
Here in New York, 57 people were arrested Thursday at a protest in support of New York University's graduate students union. Members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee have been on strike since November over the school's refusal to negotiate a second contract.
Specter Warns of NSA Funding Cut in Domestic Spy Row
On Capitol Hill Thursday, Republican Senator Arlen Specter said the Bush administration is continuing to stonewall congressional inquiries into its warrantless domestic spy program. Specter said he is considering a proposal to cut off funding for the National Security Agency until the Bush administration answers questions over the program's legal justification. Specter said : "Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress."
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Joan, Lyle, Ryan and Francisco. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for April 28, 2006
- HRW Warns Darfur Civilians At Increased Risk
- Speculation Increases Over Rove Indictment in CIA Leak Case
- CIA Warns Ex-Employees Against Speaking To Media
- Iraq War Costs Approach $320B
- Exxon Posts $8.4B Quarterly Profit
- Lawsuit Alleges Bush Administration Failed Medicare Recipients
- Specter Warns of NSA Funding Cut in Domestic Spy Row
- 57 Arrested at NYU Grad Student Protest
- States Challenge EPA Over Pollution Standards
- Roger Toussaint Released From Prison
Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish
Has Global Oil Production Reached Maximum Capacity? A Debate on Peak Oil
With the price of oil soaring to record highs and oil companies reporting record profits, many are asking whether the world has reached peak oil production. Peak oil occurs when half of all existing oil has been pulled from the ground. Some experts believe we are at peak now while others disagree. We host a debate on the issue with Julian Darley of the Post Carbon Institute and Michael Lynch of the Strategic Energy & Economic Research. [includes rush transcript]
Jesse Jackson on Race Comments by New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "An Attempt to Make the Quest for Racial Justice Illegitimate"
We get response from the Rev. Jesse Jackson about comments made by incoming White Press Secretary -- former Fox News commentator Tony Snow. Last week, Snow said on his radio program, "People like Jesse Jackson who have committed themselves to a view that blacks are constantly victims have succeeded in creating...an underclass that doesn't seem to be going anywhere." [includes rush transcript]
March for Peace, Justice and Democracy Scheduled in New York
On Saturday, United For Peace and Justice is organizing a March for Peace, Justice, and Democracy in New York City. We speak with an organizing coordinator of UFPJ and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition that is co-sponsoring the march. [includes rush transcript]
Immigrant Rights Groups Call for Massive Nationwide General Work Strike and Economic Boycott
Hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of immigrants are expected to stage a work strike and take part in a one-day economic boycott on Monday to protest anti-immigrant legislation being considered by Congress. We speak with Nativo Lopez, one of the organizers and president of the Mexican American Political Association.
Tens of Thousands Expected for DC Demonstration Against Darfur Genocide
On Sunday, tens of thousands are expected to gather in Washington for a demonstration against the ongoing genocide in Sudan. We speak with Joe Madison president of the Sudan Campaign.
Raging Grannies Acquitted in New York
On Thursday, 18 peace activists were acquitted in New York on charges of blocking the entrance to a military recruitment center in Times Square. All 18 of them were grandmothers -- part of the Raging Grannies. We speak with 91-year-old Marie Runyon outside Manhattan Criminal Court. [includes rush transcript]
The Associated Press notes that despite the hoopla of the Elections Come To Iraq! spin things have not improved on the ground. Using their figures, in the last year "8,000 people have been killed and there are increasing cases of civilians being kidnapped, killed and dumped in public places." This comes while US military officials are trumpeting the death of a "key insurgent" demonstrating that, after all this time, they still fail to grasp the cycle they're in. (It's called "occupation.")
The violence continues. The AFP reports that an Iraqi army headquarters in Del Abbas was "attacke by more than 100 rebels" resulting in four resistance fighters dying, six Iraqi army soldiers dying, eight Iraqi army soldiers wounded, two civilians killed and four wounded. Baquba is under curfew after yesterday's events which included, as Reuters notes, an attack of a police station and checkpoints in Baquba which resulted in the death of at least 17 resistance fighters and one Iraqi soldier (and two more wounded). The US military credits "Iraqi forces" with coming to the aid of the police; however, "Baquba police say US forces came to aid of the police."
The BBC notes that two Iraqi police officers were killed in Falluja. Later, Reuters would report that number would rise to three. In Baghdad, a roadside bomb claimed the life of one Iraqi police officer and wounded at least two others. In addition, two more corpses were found in Baghdad ("handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-ridden"). CNN notes that "[t]wo mortars or rockets were fired at downtown Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone."
And, as reported yesterday by David Enders, on Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, violence continues to target the schools in Iraq. Road blocks, traffic and loss of friends and family are among the reasons leading to absences (teachers and students). The system itself needs 4500 new schools. Fatalities have included 400 teachers and school employees, casualties include at least 170 wounded. 417 schools in Iraq have been attacked.
Mia notes something (and says to put in, "Micah, pay attention"), James Ridgeway's "What You Won't See in Flight 93, the Film" (CounterPunch):
The only people to defend the United States on 911 were the passengers and crews of the 4 hijacked planes.
The President and the Secretary of Defense, the two top officials in the chain of command responsible for defense the country were out of commission. Dick Cheney, the vice president, who under the constitution has no authority to issue orders, was running the country from the White House bunker. The FAA and the military were nowhere.
On Flight 11, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney were on the phone to American Airlines ground personnel minutes after the hijacking began. Even though both the FAA and the airlines had been warned more than 50 times in the months preceding the attack, officials on the ground reacted with skepticism an annoyance to Betty Ong's desperate call.
According to one account by people who have listened to all the tapes, American Airlines people were anxious to keep what was going on secret. An American Airlines tape, according to Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer, shows the managers were concerned about keeping things secret. People who listened to the tapes said there were statements including the following: "Keep it close," "keep it quiet," "Let's keep this among ourselves."
So in those terrifying minutes before the first hit, two brave women on the phone inside Flight 11 were calmly telling American Airlines ground officials exactly what was happening.
The airline's reaction: Nothing. It did absolutely nothing.
Ridgeway, in case anyone forgets, was writing for The Village Voice. The Voice was Micah's favorite weekly. (Probably more than just weekly.) Ridgeway's no longer with The Voice but then The Voice is no longer The Voice.
Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "A Gouging Market" (This Just In, The Progressive):
Accusing oil companies of price gouging is like accusing sharks of swimming. That's what oil companies do. In fact, that's the imperative of the marketplace: to charge whatever you can get.
I remember taking Economics 10 at college, and my instructor told us that on a hot day the ice cream parlor should raise prices. Well, it's a hot day right now, and the oil companies are jacking up the price at the pumps.
If you worship the market, fill your tank and smile.
But the free market is not exactly in a textbook place right now when it comes to oil. Rather than having a multitude of ice cream parlors to choose from, the consumer can select from only a few oil companies, and they own not only the parlor but the cows and the dairies, too.
Plus, there's another big difference between ice cream and oil. The choice of having an ice cream cone is a luxury. Driving a car, for many of us, is a necessity.
That's something the hardcore free market apologists don't grasp.
Gareth notes an article on Helen Thomas, Julian Borger's "'A blend of journalism and acupuncture' -- the 85-year-old who terrifies presidents" (Guardian of London):
It is not entirely true that the White House press corps gave George Bush an easy ride on the road to war in Iraq. There was one significant exception. Almost every day the administration had to face the furious questioning of an octogenarian woman from Detroit who at times seemed to be the sole sceptical voice in the building.
At the age of 85, Helen Thomas is a little frail and her voice does not carry as well as it once did, but she cannot be easily overlooked. She has been reporting on the White House longer than most of her fellow journalists have been alive.
She has interrogated every president since John F Kennedy, and she was on duty in Washington the day he was shot. She was standing in the doorway of the Oval Office when Lyndon B Johnson announced he would not stand for re-election, and she accompanied Richard Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972.
Along the way, Ms Thomas, now a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, has become an institution. Her seat is reserved with a small brass plaque in the centre of the front row in the White House briefing room, and from that perch just below the podium she stares up at the administration's mouthpiece each day and poses arrestingly direct questions.
About a month before the invasion, for instance, she demanded to know why President Bush wanted "to bomb innocent Iraqis". Ari Fleischer, the spokesman at the time, assured her that he had no such intention.
Ms Thomas remains unconvinced. Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, she seldom misses an opportunity to tell the president and his aides they have blood on their hands.
"I don't think history will ever vindicate anyone who starts a war on false pretences," she told the Guardian. "I think it diminished us as a people ... We are despised when we were once beloved."
And Miguel notes Ed Morales' "The Media Is the Mensaje" (The Nation):
At first, after the March 25 protests, it may have seemed that 1960s Chicano activist Moctesuma Esparza's HBO docudrama Walkout had inspired all Los Angeles to run into the streets and demand justice. Or that life was imitating the 2004 black comedy A Day Without a Mexican, in which every Latino disappeared from California. The sudden emergence of the immigrants' rights issue has surprised many Anglophones, but for consumers of Spanish-language radio, TV and newspapers, it was the crescendo of a media message that was a long time evolving.
It is widely acknowledged that an unlikely band of ribald, prankster disc jockeys in LA played a crucial role in generating the massive turnout. In what may go down as a historic meeting of the mouths, four rival morning DJs--KSCA's El Piolín (Eduardo Sotelo), KLAX's El Cucuy (Renán Almendárez Coello), KBUE's El Mandril (Ricardo Sánchez) and KHJ's Humberto Luna--held a joint news conference announcing their support for the March 25 rally. Sotelo, whose show on Univision-owned KSCA is the highest-rated radio program in LA, called the meeting and became the most recognized for his passionate support of the rally. "It was fascinating, to say the least," said LA march organizer Javier Rodríguez. "Here were [El Piolín and El Cucuy] the two top [morning show] DJs, competitors, coming forth and saying, We're going to march with you, we're going to get everybody together." Rodríguez laid much of the groundwork for the DJ détente by organizing a breakfast March 14 that not only resulted in massive local news coverage but also prompted an invitation from El Mandril to appear on his show. Two days later, El Mandril called his rival El Piolín on the air, and the DJ movement was on.
"Radio, unlike TV, focuses on how to effectively speak to the common man and woman and thus has been able to generate a great deal of enthusiasm," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of the march organizers. "Many of the disc jockeys are themselves immigrants and can relate to the struggle that their listeners face and motivate them to be active."
Which is probably among the reasons, as noted in the New York Times yesterday, that radio and TV giant Univision now has the Carlyle Group sniffing around it along with all the more 'traditional' suiters.
Closing out again with the reminder that Danny Schechter is in Boston today, speaking at Emerson College -- 7 PM.
Posting today or tomorrow? Wally plans to do something early, early Saturday morning. Rebecca plans to do something Saturday. Mike will have something up Saturday. And Rebecca noted something from FAIR yesterday but it messed up while posting. If it works, here's what she was attempting to note:
Speak up for media freedom by opposing the COPE Act. Visit the sites below to send your message to Congress:
SAVE ACCESS ORG
(a coalition dedicated to preserving community TV)
(the action page for the SavetheInternet.com coalition)
In fact, in case anyone's lost, the friend I'm dictating this to is going to insert some of Rebecca's commentary on why it's important to participate:
do you watch public access tv? if you do, you know it's an important resource. if you don't, maybe it's not your thing, i still think you can get behind wanting to preserve it. that's the public's way of speaking out. it's a medium that can cover what cnn and others refuse to.
when cable companies were getting all these financial breaks, 1 reason justifying them was that they would create this public space where communities could be served. maybe public access isn't something you watch (or maybe you don't watch tv), but this is something that i think you can appreciate the conecpt of.
in terms of the net, are the communications company going to be able to 'steer' traffic by denying you the access you have now? the net's the 'information highway.' now they want to put toll boths on it and create a tiered system that's, another example, is a great deal like 1st class, coach, et al on an airplane.
who told them that they could do that? who let them think we were fine with them seizing our internet?
it's our internet. this is a public common.
did we get it for free?
hell no. i paid for it, you paid for it, people before us paid for it. because the net is something that the government spent millions in tax payer dollars.
this is our space and we shouldn't privatize it anymore than we should allow some 1 to privatize a national forest or a park.
so join fair in the fight to save the communications commons.
If the links run together the way they did for her, click here for FAIR's action alert. What does it mean? Probably I'm doing an entry at some point tonight. It will be late when I do. Stay active this weekend, whether you're in NYC or not.
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