Thursday, June 01, 2006

Democracy Now: AIDS and profits, Columbia

US Troops Kill Pregnant Iraqi, Cousin
In other Iraq news, US troops shot and killed two Iraqi women Wednesday -- one of them about to give birth. The women were in a vehicle rushing to the hospital where one of the victims, Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, was to deliver her baby. US troops said their car failed to stop in a prohibited zone despite warnings. But Jassim's brother, who drove the vehicle, said he never saw or heard any warnings. Doctors failed to save Jassim's unborn baby. She was the mother of two children. Her cousin was also killed in the attack.

Marine Probe Points To Haditha Cover-Up
A U.S. military probe has uncovered evidence that implicates both Marines and commanders in a cover-up of the killings of innocent Iraqis in the city of Haditha. An army official told the Washington Post officers gave false testimony to their superiors, who in turn failed to investigate information that should have been pursued. The findings back recent statements by Democratic Congressmember John Murtha, who says he was given credible information a cover-up occurred. In Washington, President Bush made his first public comments on the massacre.
  • President Bush: "I am troubled by the initial news stories. I am mindful that there is a thorough investigation going on. If, in fact, the -- you know, laws were broken, there will be punishment."
Meanwhile in Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said his government would hold US forces accountable for unlawful killings.

US Admits Shooting Afghan Demonstrators
In Afghanistan, the US military has admitted it fired directly into a crowd of demonstrators during an anti-US protest held in Kabul Monday. The Pentagon initially claimed soldiers had only fired into the air. An Afghan police commander told the New York Times the shootings killed 4 people. The protests broke out after a US military vehicle spun out of control and smashed into several cars, killing three people. At least 14 died and 160 were wounded in the protests.

UN Calls for 80% Boost in Palestinian Emergency Aid
In the Occupied Territories, the UN is calling for a dramatic increase in emergency aid for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The UN says it needs $385 million dollars -- an 80 percent increase -- to cope with the impact of the international boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Ex-AIDS Policy Director Criticizes Bush Admin.
Meanwhile, President Bush's AIDS policy was criticized Wednesday by his former AIDS policy director. Scott Everts told Reuters that the Bush administration has reached out to militant Islamic governments, including some it classifies as terrorist states, to try to ensure the 2006 declaration backs abstinence and fidelity as crucial tools against AIDS.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Lily, Liang, Brandon, Kara and Marcia. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 1, 2006

- US Offers Talks if Iran Suspends Nuclear Enrichment
- Marine Probe Points To Haditha Cover-Up
- US Troops Kill Pregnant Iraqi, Cousin
- US Admits Shooting Afghan Demonstrators
- At Least 6 Indonesian Villages Without Food, Water
- UN Calls for 80% Boost in Palestinian Emergency Aid
- Hundreds Protest Outside UN Meeting on HIV/AIDS
- Ex-AIDS Policy Director Criticizes Bush Admin.
- DHS Cuts New York Anti-Terror Funding by 40%

Is U.S. AIDS Policy Undermining the Global Fight Against the Disease?

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS opened on Wednesday. Protesters gathered outside the UN building in New York City to calling on world leaders to fulfill their commitments to fighting AIDS and accused the Bush administration of undermining the international drive against the disease in its global AIDS policy. We speak with David Bryden of the Global AIDS Alliance.

Pills Profits Protest: A Chronicle of the Global AIDS Movement

A excerpt of the documentary "Pills Profits Protest: Chronicle of the Global AIDS Movement." The film examines the international grassroots response to the AIDS crisis and takes an in-depth look at the battle for access to HIV treatment among the poorest and most marginalized communities around the world.

A Debate on the Role of Pharmaceutical Companies and Access to HIV Treatment in the Developing World

We look at the issue of H.I.V and AIDS by examining the role of pharmaceutical companies and access to treatment. Last week, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution that would increase pressure on companies, governments and the WHO to reform the system for producing and distributing drugs in developing nations.

Colombia Re-Elects Bush Ally Alvaro Uribe

On Sunday, Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe was re-elected to a second term by winning 62 percent of the vote. For the Bush administration Uribe’s victory marks a rare bright moment in Latin America where a series of left-wing candidates have won recent elections. We speak with journalist and author Mario Murillo.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence.

As Amy Goodman noted, "at least 50 people were reported dead in violence around Iraq Wednesday. In the day's worst known attack, nine people were killed and 17 wounded in a mortar attack in southern Baghdad.

Today? United States military forces in Iraq will receive "so-called 'core values training'" as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning. Reuters notes the timing of the training, as new details emerge about Haditha. Thomas E. Ricks and Ellen Knickmeyer break the latest on the Haditha investigation in the Washington Post.Ricks and Knickmeyer write: "The Bargewell report, which is expected to be delivered to top commanders by the end of the week, is one of two major military investigations into what happened at Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, and how commanders reacted to the incident. The other is a criminal inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service." The chief finding that has been leaked thus far is that (as Lupien noted) "some officers gave false testimony to their superivors." A second issue is why the "Marine human exploitation team, which helped collect the dead" didn't issue a report that triggered an investigation?

Kim Landers, reporting for Australia's ABC noted: "A preliminary military inquiry has found that US Marines shot and killed two dozen Iraqis, including children and an elderly man in a wheelchair. 12-year-old Safa Younis was getting ready for school when she says Marines entered her home, killing eight relatives."

Via a translator, Safa Younis shares the events of November with ABC: "They killed my father in the kitchen. They killed my mother, and my sister Noor. They killed her when they shot her in the head. She was only 15 years old. My other sister was shot with seven bullets in the head. She was only 10 years old."

The early reports on the findings may have put a fire under Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki who tells the Associated Press that there will be an investigation "by a special committee made up of the Justice and Human Rights ministries along with security officials." Fortuntately (or unfortunately) those two ministries do have heads, it's the interior and the defense ministrites that still lack cabinet heads. (Although possibly one or both may be headed by one of the unnamed people that the Turkish Press reported yesterday would be stepping down due to not clearing the "de-Baathification commission" or lacking "proper qualifications.")

Having missed the deadline that he gave himself to have a full cabinet, al-Maliki kind-of, sort-of made the May 22nd constitutionally mandated deadline by leaving the two posts empty. Now, al-Maliki has declared that not today, not tomorrow, but "in three days" "his choices for defense and interior ministers" will be presented. On Monday, we noted a third vacancy and we've noted it here before. There are three empty posts. The national security post (a post one might think was important to the stability of a country) is vacant. "Minister of state for national security" is how the AP refers to the third post.

Not three days from now but today, in Baghdad, construction workers looking for day jobs instead found themselves the victims of a bombing with two killed and at least 21 wounded. This was not the only bombing occurring today in Baghdad. Reuters reports that "[s]everal mortar bombs" have taken the lives of "at least nine people . . injuring 43" and that this attack took place "in the same area" as an attack yesterday that took the lives of nine and wounded 17. The Associated Press notes that two mechanics were gunned down in Baghdad. Reuters notes that more corpses have been discovered --- four in Baghdad, one in Kerbala. The Associated Press notes that mortars which "landed on a vegetable market and nearby houses in southern Baghdad" left at least thirteen wounded.

Throughout the country, unemployment reigns -- Mohamed Taha al-Mousawi ("an adviser at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs") notes that "the national unemployment rate surpassed 60 percent last year." Finally, CBS and AP note that CBS reporter "Kimberly Dozier is awake and alert at a U.S. military hospital Thursday in Germany. She remains in critical, but stable condition."

Visitor Sue says that she's found something "you don't cover and won't cover." She steers us to Lynn Harris' "Broadsheet" (Salon):

But three leading women's groups aren't so sure that that's the whole story. NOW has joined with the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Council of Women's Organizations to protest Vargas' departure. In a letter sent Monday to ABC, they characterize Vargas' move to "20/20" as a "clear demotion" and "a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us." The letter urges ABC to create arrangements such as job sharing that would allow mothers to work in such roles. NOW president Kim Gandy finds the whole thing fishy: "It seems unlikely to me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn't handle it."

Actually, Visitor Sue, there's been plenty that I don't cover. You're mistaken on that not being covered. Ava and I wrote "TV commentary: About the women" -- we tried to complete it Wednesday, the top item, for this site but weren't able to. So Vargas is the top item. We've covered it. Please try again.

On the same topic, Kyle notes Kim Gandy's "Another One Bites the Dust" (Below the Belt, NOW):

Another one bites the dust. Another positive female role model in the media, that is.
In the middle of May "sweeps," on May 17, ABC pronounced that Elizabeth Vargas was doing a "terrific" job. And within days they dumped her from the anchor chair of "World News Tonight," allegedly because of her long-planned maternity leave in August. The explanation from network brass (that Vargas really wanted the demotion) didn't pass the sniff test.
After all, Vargas already had a toddler when she and Bob Woodruff began as an anchor team in January. Yet ABC is blaming the baby, as if having a second child would put her completely over the edge. NOW joined the Feminist Majority and the National Council of Women's Organizations in telling ABC what we thought of their decision.
And while we're talking about that network, I was disappointed at ABC's failure to renew "Commander in Chief," even after receiving your thousands of emails and calls urging them to give "Commander" -- and the concept of a strong, female role model -- a fair chance to gain an audience in a stable time spot. In case you're not a TV fan, "Commander" was the network's presidential drama in which Geena Davis portrayed the first female president.
A few of you wrote to disagree with our action. "With everything that's going on in South Dakota and Mississippi, and in Washington," you said, "why should we be worried about a TV show?"
More importantly, you asked, "Why is NOW worried about a TV show?"
And that says something about how much you count on NOW. You count on us to be out there fighting for women -- whether stopping conservatives from writing discrimination into the Constitution or being on the front lines protecting abortion clinics and reproductive justice.
We're NOW, and that's what we do: When women's rights, women's lives and women's equality are on the line, we fight back. And that's what we were doing when we asked you to write to ABC. Yes, a TV show may seem frivolous - but television is, without a doubt, a guiding force in today's society. Positive role models of women in the media (and negative ones) have an impact on women's and girls' views of themselves and each other. The absence of gender equality in the media may seem a "lesser" issue in the face of laws that will cost women their health and their lives, but we can fight them both.

And Trina notes the Feminist Wire Daily's "Women's Groups Protest Apparent Demotion of ABC anchor:"

Three leading national women's organizations sent a letter to ABC News President David Westin and ABC Network President Anne Sweeney protesting the apparent demotion of anchor Elizabeth Vargas. On Tuesday, Vargas, then-co-anchor of World News Tonight, read a statement announcing her departure from the show to "focus on anchoring '20/20' and the arrival of [her] new child." Vargas had been serving as the sole anchor while her co-anchor, Bob Woodruff, recovered from injuries sustained in Iraq. Charles Gibson started last night as the sole anchor of World News Tonight.
The letter, signed by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), calls on Westin and Sweeney to consider the message they are sending by removing Vargas from such a prestigious position as she prepares for maternity leave. "…[T]his clear demotion signals a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us," says the letter. "With this action and your parallel decision to terminate the series "Commander-In-Chief," in which Geena Davis portrayed America's first woman president, you have now managed to eliminate two of the country's most visible women role models and high achievers from your television lineup."
In addition, the women's groups point out that according to news reports, Diane Sawyer was considered for Vargas' replacement and passed over in favor of Gibson. The letter urges Westin and Sweeney to "...reverse this appalling trend in general and, in particular to put Elizabeth Vargas or Diane Sawyer in their rightful place on 'World News Tonight'."
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation; ABC News 5/23/06

That item is noted in full. Partly because the logical place to cut would be at Commander-in-Chief but, had I done that, I'd be accused of cutting it there because I didn't care for the show. (As noted in the review Ava and I did --- "TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood"). To pick up on Kim Gandy's point, and as someone who loathed Commander-in-Chief, TV does matter. Children watch, teenagers watch, adults watch. Messages are sent out. Call it the modern fairytales of our time or our own popular folklore, but it does matter. That show, C-i-C, didn't matter to me but if it did to someone in the community, they should visit NOW and support the campaign. Media portrayals are feminist issues.

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