Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Democracy Now: Alito hearings, Sudan; Julian Bond, Frances Moore Lappe, Danny Schechter, CODEPINK ...

Belafonte in Venezuela: Bush "Greatest Tyrant, Terrorist in The World"
In Venezuela, American singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte appeared on President Hugo Chavez's weekly television program, where he commented on President Bush.
  • Harry Belafonte: "And no matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush sayswe're here to tell you that not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people, millions support your revolution, support your ideas and are expressing our solidarity with you."
Zapatista Leader Comandante Ramona Dies in Mexico
And Comandante Ramona, a leader of Mexico's Zapatista rebel movement and an advocate for women's rights, has died after a long struggle with a kidney disease. Like most Zapatista leaders, Ramona never revealed her age or given name. Zapatista leader Marcos, formerly Subcomandante, said quote: "The world has lost one of those women it requires. Mexico has lost one of the combative women it needs and we, we have lost a piece of our heart."
US Reporter Kidnapped, Iraqi Interpreter Killed in Iraq
In Iraq, an American journalist with the Christian Science Monitor has been kidnapped in an incident that left her Iraqi interpreter dead. Jill Carroll was seized Saturday outside the offices of a prominent Sunni politician in Baghdad. Caroll’s interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was shot dead. He was 32 years old. The Christian Science Monitor is pleading for Carroll’s safe return. Reporters Without Borders reports she is the 31st media worker to be kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.
Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist Arrested by US Troops
In other Iraq news, US troops have raided and arrested award-winning Iraqi journalist Ali Fadhil. Soldiers reportedly entered his home and fired bullets into the bedroom where he and his wife and children were sleeping. Fadhil was hooded and questioned for several hours. He says US troops gave him $1500 dollars for damage to his home and then dropped him off alone in a dangerous Baghdad neighborhood. In November, Fadhil won the Foreign Press Association award for young journalist of the year. He’s currently at work on a documentary about the US and British governments’ misuse of Iraqi funds.
Fadhil says US troops have not returned several videotapes they took from him. The director of the documentary, Callum Macrae, said: "The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.”
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Rita, Miguel, Carl and BradyDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for January 10, 2006

- Sens.: Abortion, Executive Power To Factor in Alito Hearings
- Sharon Shows Improvement But Remains in Critical Condition
- US Reporter Kidnapped, Iraqi Interpreter Killed in Iraq
- Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist Arrested by US Troops
- Study: Iraq War Cost Could Reach $2 Trillion
- Brits Who Disclosed Al Jazeera Memo Back in Court
- Ground Zero Police Veteran Dies of Illnesses
- Zapatista Leader Comandante Ramona Dies in Mexico
Abortion, Executive Power to Play Central Role in Senators' Questioning of Alito at Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing

We play excerpts of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito who President Bush has tapped to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. During their opening statements, the 18 Senators on the Judiciary Committee repeatedly said Alito's views on abortion and executive power will play a central role in their questioning which will begin today. For his part Alito used his opening statement to paint himself not as a judicial radical but as a judge with no agenda. [includes rush transcript]
Top UN Envoy for Prevention of Genocide on Darfur: International Community Must Do More to End Bloodshed, Insist Sudan Government Cooperate With ICC

We look at a region the United Nations has called "one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world" - the Western province of Darfur in Sudan. We speak with UN Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide Juan Mendez, who visited Darfur in September and issued a report on human rights violations. The U.S., China, Russia and Algeria subsequently prevented Mendez from conducting a briefing to the UN Security Council. Mendez speaks about the ongoing violence in Darfur and his recommendations for peace.
Doctors Without Borders Aid Worker Describes Dire Humanitarian Situation in Southern Sudan

In Sudan, a peace agreement that halted a 21-year civil war between the Khartoum government and Southern rebels remains on shaky ground. We speak with the Operational Director for Sudan Medecins Sans Frontieres who recently returned from the southern region of Sudan about the humanitarian situation.
If you're following the hearings, you know that poor little Alito can't remember membership in a group he saw fit to list on his resume in the eighties. Our first item deals with Alito and is noted by Hank so we can guess that Julian Bond may have been part of what caught Hank's attention, "Chairman Bond Says Alito Confirmation Would Jeopardize Civil Rights for All Americans: Alito criticized for opposing legal remedies for racial discrimination" (NAACP):
Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors, today said that if Judge Samuel A. Alito is confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, "the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans will be in immediate jeopardy." The NAACP opposes the confirmation of Alito because of his past indifference to the impact race and racism have on American society.
Bond, speaking at a press conference held in Philadelphia by the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, said: "Wherever and whenever the rights of racial minorities have conflicted with his radical conservative views, Judge Alito's slavish allegiance to a narrow and extremely restrictive view of our Constitution has prevailed."
As a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito has "disagreed with and dismissed widely agreed upon remedies for racial discrimination, equal opportunity protections in the workplace, the universally accepted principle of one-person, one-vote, and valued protections long established in our criminal justice system," said Bond.
Moreover, Bond said, "In his 15 years on the Federal bench, Judge Alito has almost never ruled for black plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases."  He said Alito "has never written a majority decision for the Third Circuit in favor of an African American plaintiff on the merits of a claim of race discrimination."
Bond, a former Georgia state legislator, said, "If Samuel Alito's views had prevailed, I would never have been elected to public office, nor would thousands of other minority candidates have had a chance to offer to serve their communities."  A series of court rulings in the 1960s enabled Bond to become a successful candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965.  "Judge Alito's disagreement with all or any of these voting cases, so basic to the very foundations of our democracy, is reason alone to reject his nomination to the high court."
Alito's record, Bond said, "taken whole or piecemeal, argues forcibly for his rejection." 
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
Doug notes that Frances Moore Lappe was discussed at Trina's Kitchen and in The Third Estate Sunday Review's most recent book discussion and steers us towards her article entitled "Hunger Is Not a Place" (The Nation):
"Within a decade no man, woman or child will go to bed hungry," declared Henry Kissinger.
That was three decades ago.
Since then hunger fighters have periodically reminded us of our failure--most recently Time magazine Person of the Year Bono, Jeffrey Sachs (The End of Poverty) and the Make Poverty History campaign. Such impassioned calls again and again rally us to believe that, yes, we can end hunger. Yet sadly, they fail to challenge the very frame blinding us to solutions.
In that frame we in the industrial countries have the answer--what Sachs celebrates as the "dynamism of self-sustaining economic growth"--and our job is to help the poor get their "foot on the ladder." But hunger is not a residual problem to fix "over there"--a place, mainly in Africa, left off this hunger-ending ladder. Rather, hunger is a global system that we're all part of. This hunger-making system is alive in Africa, where one in three people goes hungry, but it is also alive in the United States, where hunger has grown by 43 percent over the past five years, and close to one young child in five lives in a family so poor he or she can't count on getting needed nourishment. The system is very much alive in Asia and Latin America, too.
Do we need more reasons to be down on NPR?  They aren't providing gavel to gavel coverage of the Alito hearings (Pacifica is providing live coverage) and that already says a great deal.  Eddie notes Danny Schechter's "In the News And Not in the News" (News Dissector, MediaChannel.org) which says a bit more:
Mark Crispin Miller say NPR stations are not having him on to discuss his new book on election fraud:
"As Philadelphia goes, so goes NPR from coast to coast. Although I've been on many NPR shows several times over the years, none of them will have me on to talk about this book. For instance, 'The Connection,' a national show broadcast from Boston, had had me on two or three times before this book came out. This time, the show's producer just refused outright to have me come back on-- even after the show's host, Jack Beatty, tried to get her to relent. (Jack is an old friend of mine.)
"So let's be clear what this is all about. It's not because the book's 'not new' (it came out just two months ago), or because I didn't do a good job as a guest on 'The Connection' (after all, they'd asked me back), that I can't get on NPR to talk about this book. (I can't get on any PBS shows, either.) It's because the subjects of election fraud and the dire need for electoral reform are now officially verboten on what we still call 'public radio."
From the disappointing to the heroic, Lily asks that we note the following from CODEPINK:
Thank You Congressman Murtha!
CODEPINK co-founder Gael Murphy and DC coordinator Allison Yorra met with
Congressman Murtha to thank him for his courageous stand on Iraq. We presented him with our pink badge of courage and pink flowers sent by CODEPINK members nationwide. Rep Murtha was very appreciative of these gestures and requested that we ask legislators to support H.J Res 73 (Murtha's resolution). He also requested that we use additional donations for the wounded at Walter Reed. DC CODEPINK along with other peace groups involved in the weekly vigil at Walter Reed recently delivered baskets of goodies to the wounded at Walter Reed. Together, with Murtha's office, we will be continuing this outpouring of kindness and support to the wounded soldiers from CODEPINK.
From CODEPINK celebrating Murtha, to John R. MacArthur remembers Eugene McCarthy in "Tribute to Eugene McCarthy" (Providence Journal via Common Dreams):
Though he functioned well enough within party politics, McCarthy was not at heart an organization man. He nevertheless tried to depersonalize his rebellion, insisting that he ran for president largely to defend the Senate as an institution and the constitutional perogatives he believed had been abused by Johnson. Well before Richard Nixon's "imperial presidency," McCarthy was arguing that the hugely expanded post-war power of the executive branch needed to be reduced.
But imagine the sheer guts (not to mention the political prescience) required to announce your candidacy for president in November 1967, before the Tet Offensive, when hardly anyone in the Democratic-controlled Senate had broken with LBJ on Vietnam. Sandbrook writes that in December a Harris poll showed Johnson leading McCarthy 63 to 17 percent, "with a large majority also backing the escalation of the war." Four months later, McCarthy had driven Johnson from the race and completely transformed the debate on Vietnam.
McCarthy paid for his disloyalty to his party and to conventional wisdom. I think Kennedy's opportunistic entry into the race, after McCarthy had made it safe, was as much a bid to halt a McCarthy/Reform takeover of the party as it was a manifestation of Kennedy's personal ambition. The regular Democrats -- represented after LBJ's withdrawal by Vice President Hubert Humphrey -- had good reason to fear a McCarthy victory. The senior senator from Minnesota had declared his intention to open up the party to youth and minorities, hold biannual conventions and, to the horror of the bosses, make it more internally democratic.
Sometimes Gene disappointed. I wish he'd fought to keep his Senate seat in 1970, though I can understand his political thinking and his alienation. Humphrey, Minnesota's favorite son, wanted his old seat back and would probably have challenged him.
Moreover, the party leadership and many journalists tried to pin the blame for Humphrey's narrow loss to Richard Nixon on McCarthy's late endorsement of his fellow Minnesotan. This was patently absurd: Humphrey was beaten by LBJ's refusal to modify his self-defeating Vietnam policy and by his own excruciating reluctance to break with the president on the war. Humphrey's famous Salt Lake City speech -- in which with George Ball's help he finally advanced a more dovish position, against his master's wishes -- combined with Johnson's Oct. 31 halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, caused a surge that fell just short of putting Humphrey over the top. But the smear against McCarthy stuck, and he never recovered politically.
I also wish Gene hadn't run against Jimmy Carter (as an independent, in 1976) and endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- I think, like me, he failed to see in Carter a kindred spirit of reform. After all, Carter was bloodied and weakened in the 1980s primaries by another Kennedy (Ted), who had been egged on by party regulars who despised Carter's independence.
But I'd rather dwell on the hope and excitement that McCarthy's crusade of reason ignited in me and my family during the violent, disorienting year of 1968. In my Cook County, Ill., congressional district (where we were represented by Donald Rumsfeld), wearing a blue-and-white McCarthy button not only put you with the good guys for peace; it placed you in opposition to the racist, pro-war political machine of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.
After LBJ's withdrawal, on March 31, 1968, a McCarthy presidency seemed miraculously possible; in August, when Gene lost to Humphrey amidst Daley's "police riot" at the Chicago Democratic convention, the pain and disappointment in the air were palpable.
McCarthy's death, last month, also caused a lot of pain -- his son Michael told me that staff members at his Georgetown nursing home came into Gene's apartment and wept. But it will hurt a little less at the National Cathedral next Saturday, when friends and admirers gather for Gene's memorial service.
Stan noted MacArthur's column.  Bonnie wonders if we could note the upcoming issue of Ms.?  Of course.  And the friend I'm dictating this too will attempt to copy and paste the cover into this entry. 
Ms. Cover - Jane Fonda

Ms. Winter 2006 Issue
Available on 7,757 newsstands across the country January 17.
Exclusive: Jane Fonda Talks Sex, Politics & Religion with Robin Morgan
The renowned actor/activist sat down with her friend, Ms. editor Morgan, to take on the "most impolite dinner-conversation subjects." Listen in on their lively discussion.
Anita Hill, "How to Teach Peace," women in the anti-war movement and, on the cover, Jane Fonda.  Interviewed by?  Robin Morgan.
If you don't see a reason to pick up the issue (at your bookstore, grocery store or library), I will be surprised.  By the way, British members, Jane Fonda's on the cover of the current issue of Good Housekeeping.  I believe it's the current issue.  I'm told that there's a very strong article about surviving breast cancer in that issue.  ("British members."  The British edition of Good Housekeeping, before a domestic member writes that they went to the A&P and Fonda wasn't on the cover.)
Kara also was visitng Ms. and she wanted to note Justine Andronici's "Reproductive Rights on Trial -- Again" (Ms. Magazine):
As the debate rages over how to fill the pivotal Sandra Day O’Connor seat in the Supreme Court now led by Chief Justice John Roberts, two cases pending could have a significant impact on the future of abortion access. A defeat for pro-choice advocates in one may embolden anti-abortion extremists to escalate violence at clinics; a defeat in the other could lead to more severe restrictions on access to abortion.
The first case is actually a pair of cases, Joseph Scheidler et al v. National Organization for Women et al and Operation Rescue et al v. National Organization for Women et al. The Court is considering whether to uphold a nationwide permanent injunction, in place since 1999, that protects virtually all abortion providers, their employees and their patients by prohibiting Operation Rescue and the Pro-Life Action Network (PLAN) from conducting blockades, trespassing, damaging property or committing acts of violence directed at the clinics.
Doug had asked that we note MLK, in some manner, each day leading up to the 16th.  Keesha's highlight suggests that Wal-Mart has their own way of honoring MLK.
From Marcus Kabel's "Wal-Mart Web site links 'Planet of Apes,' MLK" (Chicago Sun Times):
Human error is to blame for an offensive link at Wal-Mart's Web site that recommended a film about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to potential buyers of a ''Planet of the Apes'' DVD, the retail company said Friday.
The mistake resulted from a well-intentioned effort to promote a DVD about the black leader, said Carter Cast, president of walmart.com, the online shopping arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
A business manager had grouped ''Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream'' with three other black-themed movies and assigned the package an overly broad category of DVD boxed sets, Cast said. So when an online visitor looked at a listing for the boxed DVD set ''Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series,'' the black-themed movies appeared under ''similar items.''
Last words go to Keesha.
Keesha:  What films was it grouped it with?  I don't mean Planet of the Apes.  Wal-Mart says it was just an attempt to get a 'cross-sell.'  What were the 'black-themed movies'?  And why is that and 'boxed set' the only way Wal-Mart has to list Martin Luther King Jr.?  Why not general history?  Why not peace?  Why not human rights?
And why am I getting the feeling that a 'cross-sell' like the following appeared:  "You like Big Momma's House?  You like Deliver Us From Eva?  You gonna love MLK!!!!!"  In which case, I hope a film on Ronald Reagan is being cross-linked with Freddie Got Fingered and Road Trip
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