Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Democracy Now: John Pace, Dave Isay; NSA hearings -- Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo (O. Hatch!)

Report: Over 1300 Killed in Iraq Violence
The Washington Post is reporting over 1300 people have been killed in less than a week of violence in Iraq. The death toll is at least four times higher than previously reported, and one of the biggest outside of major US operations since the war began. Violence has increased across the country following Wednesday's bombing of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra. Earlier today, separate attacks in Baghdad killed at least 36 people and injured dozens more. In the biggest attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Baghdad gas station, killing over 20 people and injuring 50 others.

Peltier Defense Denied FBI Documents
In other news, a US District Judge ruled Monday the FBI can hold on to several documents in the case of imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier. The judge cited the interest of national security. Peltier's lawyers had requested the documents as part of their effort to overturn his conviction for the murders of two FBI agents in 1977. Peltier has long maintained his innocence. His supporters have taken legal action to obtain more than 100,000 pages of FBI documents they say should have been made available to his defense.

NY Theater Company Cancels Play on Life of Rachel Corrie
And a New York theater company is coming under criticism for backing out of an agreement to stage a play based on the life of US peace activist Rachel Corrie. The play's producers are calling the decision censorship. Corrie was killed in Gaza nearly three years ago when she stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer set to demolish a Palestinian home. The play, entitled My Name is Rachel Corrie, is based on her writings before her death. James Nicola, artistic director of the New York Theater Workshop, said: "In our pre-production planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election of Hamas, we had a very edgy situation. We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict, that we didn't want to take." But Alan Rickman, the acclaimed British actor who directed the play, said: "This is censorship born out of fear, and the New York Theatre Workshop, the Royal Court, New York audiences -- all of us are the losers. Rachel Corrie lived in nobody's pocket but her own. Whether one is sympathetic with her or not, her voice is like a clarion in the fog and should be heard."

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

Headlines for February 28, 2006

- Report: Over 1300 Killed in Iraq Violence
- Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low
- Coast Guard Memo Contradicts Bush Admin. On Ports
- Bush Admin. Rejects Calls for Spy Program Special Counsel
- US Agrees to Pay Egyptian Man $300K For Post-9/11 Detention
- US Opposes UN New Human Rights Council
- Peltier Defense Denied FBI Documents
- NY Theater Company Cancels Play on Life of Rachel Corrie

Exclusive: Former UN Human Rights Chief in Iraq Says US Violating Geneva Conventions, Jailing Innocent Detainees

The Washington Post is reporting 1,300 Iraqis have died in violence since Wednesday's bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samara. In his first interview since returning from Iraq, John Pace, the human rights chief for the the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, reacts to the mass killings on the ground. Pace says he believes the U.S. has violated the Geneva Conventions, is fueling the violence through its raids on Iraqi homes and is holding thousands of detainees that are for the most part innocent of any crimes. [includes partial transcript]

Six Months After Katrina, New Report Shows Poor Still Being Left Behind

On the six month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we get a report from Oxfam America on the recovery of the Gulf States. Oxfam director says, "Despite critical reports and investigative hearings of government failures, despite the flurry of commitments to confront poverty in the U.S. -- six months after Katrina, little has changed." [includes rush transcript]

National Oral History Project StoryCorps Travels America, Recording Stories of Ordinary People

We speak with award-winning radio producer Dave Isay, the creator of StoryCorps, the audio-recording project which has just begun a six-month, 10-city national tour, and has completed about 5,000 interviews. We begin with a look at the story of Danny and Annie Perasa, the couple the StoryCorps booth in Grand Central Terminal was dedicated to earlier this month.

The Senate NSA hearings? Well was it Woolsey mimicking Jodie Foster's Somerby line readings? (Addition, Yazz says he thinks it was Robert F. Turner.) "I'm sorry but my background rather influences me." Said with all the pith and verve of "You are not my husband." Meanwhile, was Arlen Specter sucking on a life saver? What were all those popping and sucking noises when he first started speaking? It was like he was channeling Cloris Leachman's Nurse Diesel from High Anxiety.

But let's focus on Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo: O. Hatch! Oh, Orrin. Always there for the comic relief.

In a silly moment, and all of Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo's moments are silly, Miss Priss and James Woolsey engaged in stroke-athon (we can't call it a debate). Miss Priss appeared to lead the waltz of "It's hard work." Getting a FISA warrant is hard work. It played out like this:

Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo: Now Mr. Woolsey, what are your feelings about the food safety guidelines?

Woolsey: As someone who served my time in fast food, let me say that they are just too much of a burden.

Miss Priss: That's correct. I go into a Burger King to order a hamburger. They have to raise the cow. They have to kill the cow. They have to grind it into beef. They have to form a beef patty. They have to cook the beef patty. They have to grow wheat for the bun. They have to grow the tomatoes, the lettuce, the cucumber for the pickle. What about the salt? Do you realize how hard it is to get salt? When they have all the ingredients cooked and assembled on the bun, they have to wrap the bun. With what? Paper. And do you know how they get the paper? They have to do all of that in order to serve me my burger. Who has time for hand washing! We'll never accomplish anything!

Woolsey: It is time consuming.

Miss Priss: That's all I'm saying! Thank you! Do you want to eat or starve? That's all I'm saying.

Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo. Hachet Boy Toys sing "Yodel-ay-hee-hoo" (except John Corny who sings: "Yahoo-uh-what-was-it-again?").

Let's break it down for Miss Priss. All these things he feels are needed for a FISA warrent, these 'cumbersome' things? They should already be on hand. The reason you're requesting a warrant? Well, gee, if you need to do work to figure out why you're
asking for a warrant, chances are you're not ready to request one. It was like that on every thing he ticked off on the 'time consuming' list. All of the items were items you should have already.

Three highlights? (Four?) Eddie notes "Is our National Security Being Blackmailed?" (BuzzFlash):

The most fundamental question about the betrayal of the Dubai Ports Deal is why an "America-first" president doesn't believe that Americans can protect our ports? After all, we have a Department of Homeland Security, don't we?
Well, it just so happens the Department of Homeland Security, such as it is, objected to the Dubai Ports multi-billion dollar outsourcing contract. It also happens that, according to Rupert "I Love Bush" Murdoch's New York Post, Osama bin Laden has bragged that he has infiltrated the uppermost echelons of the Dubai and United Arab Emirates Government.
Not that Osama would have to do a lot of infiltrating, since the Royal Family of the UAE were his house guests, according to former CIA Director George Tenet.
Did we also mention that the Pentagon identified the United Arab Emirates as a security risk in terms of terrorist sympathies?
And along with Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the UAE played a key role in being transfer points for the financing of the 9/11 attack. Terrorists still travel freely through Dubai.

We're swiping a BuzzFlash headline that Eddie noted because the community will enjoy it (not the article linked to necessarily, which is a Times' business article):

There's a new editor at The New Republic, but considering that its current cover story is "Why America Must Stay in Iraq," who cares about that bunch of power-worshipping cubicle slaves anyway? 2/28

Now let's note that the DVD The Take is being offered by BuzzFlash. That's the film Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis made. Klein is finishing a book and will be for a few months. So if you need your Klein fix (I do), you might want to check out the DVD.

Remember how we were just enjoy a good laugh at The New Republican right before we noted Klein? Well the little boys of The New Republican (and I'll include the female staff as "little boys" since, male or female, they all act as though they're wearing training jocks) has a new article at The Nation. Tracey (Ruth's granddaughter) steers us to the one and only Arundhati Roy's "Bush in India: Just Not Welcome:"

On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.
For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.
Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Members know Roy and find The New Republican very . . . Republican. If you're late to the story, see "War Got Your Tongue?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and Dave Zirin's "Fighting the New Republic[ans]" (Common Dreams).

No more highlights? No, the hearings are about to end and I want to get this dictated and hear the Pacifica commentary. (Pre-hearings half-hour was very informative. If you missed it, check out Pacifica.org later today because they'll be posting an archived version of the stream. (Pacifica's KPFA will probably have an archive up shortly as well.)

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[C.I. Note: Post corrected to add Yazz's comment and to remove the link to a New York Post article that a number (rightly) objected to. If you didn't object or are curious about the article, go to the BuzzFlash editorial link in this entry and you'll find it at their article. There was a question about "business" article and Rebecca phoned before anyone e-mailed about that. David Carr wrote the Times article. He is often in the "business" section. This article ran in the arts section. "Business" didn't refer to where it ran. Business referred to the fact that contract labor for the paper, frequent contract labor, gets a gushing portrait as he's made the new editor of The New Republican and the Times leaves out that detail -- "___ frequently contributes to the New York Times." It was a "business" article in the sense that they're covering one of their own and the only reason to highlight a new editor of a rag that's dropped off 40% in circulation, according to the paper, may be because he's been screaming "tone" and telling everyone leave the Times alone! The business is "we scratch each other's back." When Katrina vanden Heuvel officially became publisher as well as editor of The Nation, you didn't find a lengthy article on her complete with scary picture. (I'm not blaming the photographer of today's article -- you work with what you have in front of you.) So a magazine that struggles for an audience gets a new editor who wrote a book that disappointed sales wise and somehow that's cause for a lengthy feature. Why? "Business." As Steve Miller would sing ("The Joker"): "Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time."]