Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Democracy Now: Over 1.5 Million March for Immigrant Rights and DN! takes you to the voices

Over 1.5 Million March in MayDay Immigration Protests
Over 1.5 million people took part in May Day demonstrations to support immigrant rights in one of the largest days of protest in the country's history. Across the nation immigrants refused to go to work or school in what was dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." Major demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country. In Chicago organizers said up to 700,000 people took to the streets. Over a half million marched in Los Angeles. In Denver, at least 75,000 people -- about one-sixth of the city's population -- participated in a march on the state capitol. 50,000 people gathered in a series of protests in Florida. In New York City, over 100,000 marched from Union Square down Broadway. Thousands of businesses closed for at least part of the day in solidarity. Students walked out of classes across the country. In Los Angeles about one in every four students was absent. In Chicago as many as one-third of students didn’t go to school. The Associated Press reported at least 1.1 million people took part in the protests but that estimate was based solely on police accounts. Organizers in several cities said the turnout would have been even larger but many undocumented immigrants were afraid to come out following recent immigration raids.

Ex-DHS Watchdog Faced Pressure Ahead of 2004 Election
In Washington, the former Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has admitted he was pressured to tone down criticism of the agency in the months before the 2004 election. The official, Clark Kent Ervin, was hired to serve as an independent watchdog inside the agency. But he has admitted to ABC News that then Secretary Tom Ridge intimidated him, stared him down and forced him to back off on issuing critical reports on the state of homeland security ahead of the election.

Bush: Iraq At A Turning Point (Again)
Meanwhile President Bush announced on Monday that the formation of a new Iraqi government marks a turning point in the war. His comments came three years to the day after he proclaimed that major combat operations were over while standing under a banner that read Mission Accomplished. On Monday he spoke briefly on the White Hose lawn while standing next to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom had just returned from Iraq. "We believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens and it's a new chapter in our partnership," Bush said. "The secretaries began building this new partnership during their trip. In other words, the Iraqi leaders saw that we are committed to helping them succeed." This doesn't mark the first time the president has declared Iraq has reached a turning point. He did so back in June 2004 when the occupying U.S. forces announced they would transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. Bush also said the 2005 election in Iraq would mark a turning point.

Puerto Rican Government Faces Shut Down
And the government of Puerto Rico has been shut down after it ran out of money following a dispute between lawmakers and the island's governor. Puerto Rico's sixteen hundred state schools have been shut, leaving half a million students and forty thousand teachers with no classes. Nearly one hundred thousand government workers have been temporarily left without jobs. We’ll have more on the shutdown later in the show.

Evo Morales Moves to Nationalize Bolivia's Gas Fields
In Bolivia, President Evo Morales marked May Day by announcing the nationalization of the country's natural gas fields and refineries. Morales accused foreign companies of looting Bolivia's natural resources. "The Bolivian people's vote was not in vain," Morales said. "The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources." Bolivian President Evo Morales threatened to evict any foreign company in six months if it does not renegotiate its contract and hand over control of production to the government.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Diana, Lynda, Stan, Ava and Francisco. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 2, 2006

- Over 1.5 Million March in MayDay Immigration Protests
- Evo Morales Moves to Nationalize Bolivia's Gas Fields
- Marcos Marches in May Day Protest in Mexico
- Colin: Powell: I Warned Rumsfeld About Iraq War Plan
- Ex-DHS Watchdog Faced Pressure Ahead of 2004 Election
- Sami Al-Arian Sentenced to 18 More Months in Jail
- Vermonters Deliver Impeachment Resolution to Capitol Hill
- Ex-NYC Mayor Giuliani Hints At 2008 Presidential Run
- Puerto Rican Government Faces Shut Down

Over 1.5 Million March for Immigrant Rights in One of Largest Days of Protest in U.S. History

Over 1.5 million people took part in May Day demonstrations to support immigrant rights in one of the largest days of protest in the country's history. Across the nation immigrants refused to go to work or school in what was dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." Major demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country. We hear some of the voices that spoke at rallies on the historic day. [includes rush transcript]

Juan Gonzalez: On Streets of New York, Solidarity Reigns

Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez reads from his column in the New York Daily News. He writes, "This movement is already a backlash -- against decades of anti-immigrant scapegoating and hysteria in Washington. Congress ignores this cry for recognition at our country's peril."

The Meaning of the May Day Marches and the Future of the Immigrant Rights Movement

On the heels of what is being called the largest day of protest in U.S. history, where does the immigrant rights movement go from here? We discuss the significance of the May Day marches and the future of the movement with two organizers.

Are U.S. Trade Policies & NAFTA Causing An Influx of Undocumented Workers in U.S.?

Longtime labor journalist David Bacon examines the negative impact Washington's trade policies have had on Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Bacon speaks to us from Los Angeles where he attended Monday’s massive protests for immigration rights.

Puerto Rico Imposes Partial Government Shutdown Amid Financial Crisis

In Puerto Rico, the government ran out of money on Monday and was forced to impose a partial public sector-shutdown. The island's 1,600 state schools have been shut and nearly 100,000 government workers have been temporarily left without jobs. We go to Puerto Rico to speak with political commentator and analyst, Luis Davila Colon. [includes rush transcript]

Iraq snapshot.

First, and important, 70 American troops did not die in the month of April. As Elaine (rightly) noted yesterday, the government sits on its figures (which are questioned by many as is). So the reports were that 70 died in the month of April. The reality, that the administration attempts to sneak out, is that 76 died for the month of April.

Today, starting in Australia, Jake Kovco was laid to rest. Australia's ABC notes that "mourners gathered at the Mechanic's Institute hall in his home town of Briagalong." Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald notes that 25 year-old Jake Kovco was the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq and that over 500 people attended the funeral.
Among the family attending were his sone Tyrie (age four) and his daughter Alana (11 months old). Among the music played, Murphy reports, were Nirvana's "Come As You Are" and James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." AFP notes that, in Baghdad, Australian troops held a pre-dawn service this morning. AFP also points out that the initial details emerging from the autopsy indicate that Kovco's death was not a suicide. Most reports are noting Shelley Kovco's statement, "He's just going to be in our hearts, but the SAS missed out on a bloody good soldier." Along with his wife (Shelley Kovco) an children, his parents (Martin and Judy), the funeral was also attended by Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. From Murphy's report: "Former classmates and teachers were at the funeral, standing alongside townsfolk, Vietnam veterans, WWII veterans and fellow 3RAR soldiers, many of whom cried openly as Blunt's song echoed down the main street."

In Iraq, the Hindustan Times reports that Sibi Kora had died from a landmine. Kora, from India, had been "working in Kuwait for the last eight months" as a truck driver. Reuters reports that three corpses have been found in Yusufiya ("tortured and shot"). Corpses were also found in Baghdad including four ("bullet holes in their heads") found by police and 65 that are at the Yarmouk hospital ("mostly died from gunshot wounds . . . others were beheaded. . . . [among the dead] three schoolteachers who were gunned down." AFP notes that two more corpses were found (in Tikrit and Kirkuk). The Associated Press notes that an additional four corpses were found in Suwayrah.

As the violence and chaos continues, in Buhriz, two civilians were kidnapped. In Ramadi, Maamoun Sami Rasheed's mortocade was attacked by a bomber leading to the death of at least three (with no word on Rasheed who is the "Anbar province governor"). In Baquba, an Iraq was "shot dead." This was a security guard and appears to be the same incident the AP reports "north of Baqouba," where a guard is killed and "the quarry owner's son" is kidnapped.

In Baghdad, drive by shootings have claimed the lives of at least two. The BBC notes that "a bomb planted inside a minibus" went of in a market and claimed the lives of at least two and wounded at least five. "South of Baghdad" was where a roadside bomb claimed the life of the first US solider to die in the month of May (Monday, 9:50 pm)..
At least three other roadside bombs have gone off in Baghdad today, claiming the lives of at least two and wounding at least four.

Reuters reports that, in Baghdad, "U.S. private security contractors shot dead an Iraqi ambulance crewman." Though the Bremmer laws have led many to think there are no laws in Baghdad, Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" explains just what international laws, conventions and treaties do apply (regardless of the Bremmer laws). CNN reports that Reuters reports that another ambulance crew member said: "They opened fire and shot him in the heart. We are an ambulance crew, who help people when there are bombings. What did we do wrong?"

Yesterday, Barbara Starr reported for CNN on a military investigation into whether Iraqi civilians ("including women and children") were deliberatley murdered "by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November." And Ryan Lenz reports for the Associated Press on the increase in the need for donated blood on the battlefield in Iraq (which is, presumably, everywhere as defined by the US administration) -- demand "has grown 400 percent since the war in Iraq began."

Highlights? We'll do three. They cover Guantanamo, Iraq and the need for a media that does its job. We'll start with Skip's. From Mark Coultan's "Hicks punished for complaining: lawyer" (Sydney Mourning Herald):

THE Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks, has been locked in solitary confinement in a concrete cell for 22 hours a day for the past six weeks, says his lawyer, Major Michael Mori.
Hicks was moved from his previous cell in Camp Delta to the maximum-security Camp 5 the day after complaining to an Australian consular official about harassment, Major Mori said. But he could not give details because it would mean revealing operating procedures at Guantanamo Bay.
"David sees this as punishment for speaking about all his complaints," Major Mori said.
Previously, Hicks had been living in a cell with access to sunlight and open air. It had a table, a chair and a clock, items obtained after lobbying by Australian consular officials.
"Nothing has changed to justify going back to this inhumane living condition," Major Mori said. He was allowed only two hours' recreation a day, he said, in a six metre by six metre steel cage.

Many Australian members do not feel that John Howard has even done the minimum that Tony Blair's done (regarding getting their own citizens released from the never ending prison that is Guantanamo). On Iraq, Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Putting a Smiley Face on Disaster" (This Just In, The Progressive):

"All indications now are that the acts of violence--ethnosectarian violence is decreasing," said Major General Rick Lynch from Baghdad on Thursday, according to the New York Times.
I'm not sure what all those indications are that Major General Lynch was referring to.
I doubt he was referring to the fact that on that very day, the sister of Iraq's vice president was gunned down in a drive-by killing.
Or the fact that in the previous 10 weeks, casualties have gone up 90 percent.
Or the fact that over the past 12 months, more than 8,100 Iraqis have been killed, according to the AP, and "there are increasing cases of civilians being kidnapped, killed, and dumped in public places."
Or the fact that in March alone, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed.
Or the fact that the insurgency shows no sign of abating.

I doubt any community member will disagree with Rothschild. Others outside the community should applaud him as well. On the subject of the media's need to do its job, DK notes Astrid Zweynert's "Oscar-winner Dreyfuss campaigns against 'shaped news'" ( The Scotsman):

Richard Dreyfuss has challenged the establishment for decades and now the maverick actor and activist is taking on the mainstream media.
The Oscar-winning star says an obsession with delivering instantaneous news and images provides too little context for audiences to reflect and understand what is happening in the world.
"There is no room to pause, no room to think," Dreyfuss, who starred in films ranging from "Jaws" to "Mr Holland's Opus" told Reuters in a recent telephone interview.
"We don't build into our system of thoughts the need to explain, the media doesn't build that into its transmission of knowledge and information."
That creates what Dreyfuss calls "shaped news" -- a version of events according to how the mainstream media want audiences to see what happened, and a violation of journalism's core value of objectivity.

Jess noted Rebecca's "stephen colbert spits on women (past and present) and the web and e&p don't see the problem" this morning (he did a note added to one of the entries) and please be sure to read that. Rebecca phoned to say that those looking for a report on Bakersfield (where the police attempted to stop the protests -- and did in the morning) should check out last night's KPFA's Flashpoints, "Dennis Bernstein has a woman on at the end who sums up the police actions and everything perfectly."

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