Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Democracy Now: Aarti Shahani; Jasmine Chavez, Luis Rodriquez, Moctesuma Esparza

France Hit With Nationwide Strike As Over 1 Million Demonstrate
In France, students and unions staged a massive country-wide strike that shut down schools, businesses and public services and brought more than a million demonstrators into the streets. The strike was called in response to a government law that makes it easier for employers to fire young workers. More than 800 arrests were made around France. In Paris, police fired tear gas at the end of a rally after some officers were hit with projectiles.
British Workers Demonstrate Against Government Pension Measure
In Britain, up to 1.5 million government workers went on strike across the country Tuesday over a government measure that would make it more difficult to retire at an earlier age. Eleven unions took part in the strike -- one of the biggest Britain has seen in 80 years.
U. of Miami Agrees to Worker Demands After Student Sit-Ins
And this update on a story we’ve been following -- students at the University of Miami held a sit-in Tuesday in support of striking janitor workers. The sit-in ended earlier today after University of Miami officials released a statement affirming the right of its workers to join unions free of intimidation. Janitors working for the university contractor UNICO say the company has tried to prevent them from joining the Service Employees' International Union.
25,000 Iraqis Displaced Since Mosque Bombing
In Iraq, a relief agency says more than 25,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since last month's bombing of a holy Shiite shrine in Sammara. The International Organization for Migration says scores of shelters and tent cities are housing increasing numbers of displaced Sunni and Shiite families. Aid officials say the internal migration is only continuing.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Tori, Jane, Wally and LiangDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 29, 2006

- Kadima Wins Israeli Elections
- Card Resigns As White House Chief of Staff
- Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Gitmo Case
- GAO Audit Says New Orleans Lacks Hospital Beds, Clinics
- 25,000 Iraqis Displaced Since Mosque Bombing
- 14 Killed in Attack on Afghan Military Base
- Countries Halt Training at School of the Americas
- U. of Miami Agrees to Worker Demands After Student Sit-Ins
A Debate on the Senate's Proposed Overhaul of Immigration Laws

The Senate is debating an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws this week. We host a debate on various aspects of the bill with Aarti Shahani of Families for Freedom and Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute.
Thousands of Students Defy School Lockdowns and Continue Walkouts to Protest Anti-Immigrant Bill

Tens of thousands of high school students have staged walkouts in protest over a House bill that proposes a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants. We go to Los Angeles to speak with Jasmine Chavez, a 17-year old student at Montabello High School and Luis Rodriguez, a community activist, poet and writer. [includes rush transcript]
JASMINE CHAVEZ: Well, we were not going to walk out on Monday. We figured that we needed to get organized, and we were going to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to walk out. But students from Whittier and Rancho [inaudible], they came to support us. They came to pick us up. They came, and they waited for us very peacefully. And our teachers put us on lockdown. They weren't letting us out. So, we -- at first we agreed. But then we were watching the news, and we were seeing that it wasn't really going in good terms. So I -- personally, I jumped the fence. I heard later on that they opened the gates, because they just couldn't hold the students in. There was more than 500 students who were walking out from Montabello High School, double the number at Garfield, Roosevelt, all of these schools went to go pick us up.
AMY GOODMAN: Why? For what reason did you walk out?
JASMINE CHAVEZ: Me, personally, I did it to represent my mom, because she has tried -- attempted to come to the United States from El Salvador three times as a nine-year-old. She was actually in jail, in prison, with real criminals and prostitutes and all that. All that trouble she went through as a nine-year-old to come to the United States for a better education for me, for a better life, for that to be taken away from her. And my father -- and not just representing my family, because this is -- everybody is an immigrant. This is a salad bowl. The United States is a salad bowl. It's not like the so-called white people, they come and they're the official Americans, because everybody’s American. It's your human rights.
Walkout: The True Story of the Historic 1968 Chicano Student Walkout in East L.A.

"Walkout" -- a new HBO film tells the story of the 1968 walkout by high school Chicano students in East Los Angeles to protest academic prejudice and dire school conditions. We speak with the executive director of the film, Moctesuma Esparza. An award-winning film producer and community activist, Esparza helped organize the 1968 walkout and was arrested and jailed along with 12 others for conspiracy to disturb the peace.
In Iraq, Al Jazeera notes, an attack on an electronics store has resulted in the death of eight people (early figures and an unnamed hospital worker says it is nine dead) and three were wounded. The AP reports that the people were employees of the store, that they were lined up and shot. Electronic stores (two) were also targets on Tuesday when they and and a currency exchange were swarmed by "masked gunmen, many in military uniform" who kidnapped those present. The AP also notes that a roadside bomb in Habaniyah resulted in the death of one American troop and three more wounded.  This a day after recruitment efforts in Ramadi (for the Iraqi army) resulted in underwhelming results (31 males signed up). The raid on the Shi'ite mosque has resulted in strong calls, from "Iraq's ruling parties," for the US to relinquish control of "security" for the nation.  The scene of Bully Boy's other "liberation" still hasn't seen "democracy" but it does continue to see violence: in Kandahar a Canadian soldier, an American solider and eight Afghan soldiers were killed. (The name of the Canadian is Robert Costall -- only name released -- who was twenty-two.)  Three Canadian soldiers were also wounded. And veterans of the Vietnam war have joined with others to insist that the United States "take responsibility for victims of the Agent Orange defoliant used by the U.S. military."
Back to Iraq, Travis notes Dahr Jamail's "An 'Alliance' of Violence" (
A disturbing trend noticeable in Iraq for quite some time now is that each aggressive Israeli military operation in the occupied territories results in a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on US forces in Iraq. One of the first instances of this was the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004 and the reaction it set off across Shia and Sunni, ultimately spiraling into the siege and devastation of Fallujah. Fallujah is but one example one may use to demonstrate how the ongoing use of heavy handed tactics by the US-Israel alliance is proving to be as suicidal as it is homicidal. US troops in Iraq and Israeli civilians in their homes can bear testimony to this, as they are the ones who bear the brunt. Not to mention the collateral damage in Iraq.
    May 17, 2004, Washington
    Cofer Black, at the time Coordinator for Counterterrorism for the US State Department, in a talk at the 2004 Policy Conference for the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), said that of all the nations cooperating with the US in the global war on terror, "none [is] more stalwart than the state of Israel." He told the audience of the powerful lobby group that "Our two great nations will stand together to fight terror" and deemed the US-Israel Joint Counterterrorism Group (JCG) "an important part of our counterterrorism partnership."
    May 10, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
    The first US siege of Fallujah ended in early May, 2004, and on May 10th US forces abandoned all control of the city, handing it back over to the Iraqis.
    April 4, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
    US military directed to launch the first, and eventually failed, revenge assault in retaliation for the four Blackwater USA mercenaries killed on March 31st. The siege caused severe casualties among the people of Fallujah, killing 736 people, over 60% of whom were women, children and the elderly, according to the director of Fallujah General Hospital.
    April 2, 2004, Iraq
    Speaking on al-Manar TV, Muqtada al-Sadr pledged, "From here I announce my solidarity with the genuine unity announced by Hezbollah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah with the mujahideen movement Hamas. Let them consider me their striking hand in Iraq whenever the need arises. As the martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said, Iraq and Palestine have the same destiny."
    March 31, 2004, Fallujah, Iraq
    Four Blackwater USA mercenaries killed in Fallujah in an attack avenging the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Nine days after the assassination, the bodies of four mercenaries from Blackwater USA were burned, chopped into pieces, dragged behind vehicles bearing posters of Sheikh Yassin, and finally put on display by being hung from a bridge. Pamphlets were distributed at the scene which declared the attack against the four men as having been carried out in the name of Yassin. It was also reported by several Arab media outlets at the time that a group known as the "Phalange of Sheikh Yassin" claimed responsibility for the attack, and that the deaths of the four men were meant as a "gift to the Palestinian people."
On Iraq and war, heads up to the new issue of The Progressive.  (Not available online yet.)  Lou Dubose has a look at new realities for Tom DeLay entitled "DeLay's Day of Reckoning" and Howard Zinn has the cover story (illustration by Red Nose Studio) with "America's Blinders" which I was going to say is also not available online but Lily's noted it in an e-mail.  She's copy and pasted the entire piece so I'll go ahead and just note the first two paragraphs.  (Lily, if this was a section you wanted noted instead, e-mail.)  From the article:
Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?
The qquestion is important because it might help us understand why Americans -- members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen -- rushed to declare their support as the President was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
Note, if the online version doesn't include the illustration, seek out the print copy because it is worth noting.  (And members know I'm not visual and rarely notice any visuals that go with articles, so try to seek out a copy.  When the issue, parts of it, are made available online, the illustration is also on the cover.  So it will be viewable online at some point.)  (Also note, Matthew Rothschild book review alert -- James Risen's State of War:The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. That's mainly for Eli and Joan who, like me, love his book reviews.  But if you've never read his book reviews, check it out and you'll see why they're so enjoyable.)
So what's it take to the end the war, any war, awareness.  (Point of Zinn's article.)
Where are we at right now?  Aware.  In France, in England and the United States, look what is going on.  Miguel notes Juan Gonzalez' "'Latino Giant' Awakens: Demonstrations Gaining Strength" (New York Daily News via Common Dreams):
Massive protests by Latino immigrants have rocked more than a dozen major U.S. cities during the past few weeks in opposition to tough new immigration bills before Congress.
Not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s have street demonstrations spread so rapidly to so many cities -- and never have Latinos turned out in such astonishing numbers.
"The sleeping Latino giant has finally awakened," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), who participated in several of the protests last week.
And New York City, which has been fairly quiet so far, could be next with Latino religious and immigrant leaders planning a protest march over the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.
The largest rally until now has been in Los Angeles, where the new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke Saturday to a crowd estimated by police at more than a half-million Latinos.
Organizers claimed the L.A. turnout was closer to 1 million, but no matter whom you believe, everyone agrees it was the largest demonstration California has ever seen.
That same day, more than 50,000 Latinos gathered in Denver; 20,000 marched in Phoenix and Milwaukee last week, and an estimated 100,000 filled downtown Chicago on March 10.
The protests continued yesterday, as large gatherings were held in Washington, Boston and Detroit. Thousands of high school students also staged walkouts in California and Texas.
You're seeing history being made.  Before your own eyes.  And only those who depend solely on the corporate media for their news are in any way surprised.  There's a shift happening before our eyes.
And it bears noting that those gasbags (of old and newly emerging) saying we must back off this or that (reproductive rights is a favorite scapegoat currently) are either ignorant or posing as such.  Reproductive rights, LBGT rights, civil rights, go down the list, nothing came about because politicians "gave" up anything.
It came because the people demanded it.  Few politicians ever do anything they're not forced to do.  Those gasbags who tell you that "we mustn't demand this" or we should back off of that, they don't know what they're talking about or else they're lying to you. 
They preach the power of this politician or of a party and the reality is that the movement (throughout history) comes from people.
There's a book that's been the topic of over 100 e-mails this week (Jess' count).  We're not going to discuss it.  To discuss it, I'd have to read it.  And the only thing worse than the Sunday chat & chews is a text version of the chat & chews. If you're one of the ones complaining about the book (I can't give you back your money -- wish I could), do yourself a favor and read the Howard Zinn article which is reality or toss the book in the trash and use your own eyes.
(Toss the book in the trash?  I am all for recycling.  I am not for punishing others.  Toss it in the trash. Woah!  Cut it into strips and use it for a montage or art project.  Kat's magazines end up that way when she passes them on to a friend who's an art teacher.)
Travis wrote that he didn't want to be "greedy" but he thought he found two good highlights today.  I agree.  Here's a second item he's steered us to, Kelpie Wilson's "An Unreasonable Woman" ( which is an interview with Diane Wilson:
KW: You live in a community where many of your friends and relatives have died or are dying of cancer. What happened when you started to go to public hearings and speak up about the role of pollution in that cancer?
    Diane Wilson: At one meeting, a large delegation of politicians and industry leaders, the chamber of commerce, and the school system showed. They said I was a fanatic and a nut and making stuff up. Or else I was a spy hired by Louisiana officials to disrupt economic development in Texas. A woman from the school district said she'd never heard of pollution causing cancer. She said her husband, who worked at Alcoa and died of cancer, got it because he was a smoker. Also the head of the American Cancer Society came down and urged me to NOT do a study on cancer in my community. He said if I EVER contemplated doing a study I should call him first. He also showed me a copy of an Earth First! magazine and said I should bring down Earth Firsters and get them to protest (this was during the time that a bomb exploded in a car driven by Earth Firsters). He was trying to destroy my reputation in the community.
    KW: I want to note that many times in your book you talk about the embryos and eggs of the shrimp and other sea life and how effluents from Formosa and Alcoa are killing them. Do you have any thoughts on the term "pro-life" that is so heavily used by Republicans and how that idea might apply to the situation where you are?
    Diane Wilson: I believe if the male of the species had babies there would be universal pro-choice. I think this idea of pro-life has more to do with control over the bodies and minds of women and is so hotly defended by the religious right because they consider the bodies of women and the body of the earth inherently evil. I don't think it is a coincidence that the killings at abortion clinics have sometimes been by Assembly of God (Pentecostal) members. I was raised Pentecostal so I've been a fly on that wall.
    KW: When you were in jail in Victoria County, you wrote a letter to the Sheriff about deplorable conditions. You had several examples of terrible abuse by the withholding of medical treatment. The worst was the story of Shandra Williams. Can you tell that story briefly and also tell us your thoughts on how such a thing can happen in a Republican, "pro-life" state like Texas?
    Diane Wilson: I met Shandra on Christmas Eve after she had been picked up because she looked "suspicious." A year before, Shandra had been in the very same cell block after she had been picked up by the Victoria County cops for an outstanding warrant. Shandra was 6-7 months pregnant, and her file clearly stated that she was NOT to be picked up until after her delivery because she had a rare uterine condition and it was very problematic.
    That mattered not a whit to the sheriff's department. The sheriff was running a re-election campaign and outstanding warrants don't look good on the campaign trail so in the cell she went. Due to the harsh conditions of cell life, Shandra's condition worsened and she started bleeding, but the guards and nurse said she was just trying to get out of jail and was a complainer and just wanted drugs, so she repeatedly had to "prove" her condition with a bloody pad. Eventually they stuck her in isolation, by herself, in a cold, cold room with nothing but a blue paper gown and a paper sheet. To keep her quiet they gave her Benedryl. Eventually she was placed back in the jail until her water broke, starting her labor. The nurse said she was hallucinating and trying to get drugs so they tried to place her back into isolation, which frightened Shandra. The guard said Shandra was going into isolation the "hard way or the easy way" and threatened to use the Taser on her. Fortunately, a startled guard gathered Shandra's belongings and got her into isolation before the guard tased her. Once in isolation again, Shandra went into labor. The baby was breeched and started coming feet first. With a baby dangling to her knees, Shandra crawled about 60 feet to a call button and pressed it three times and yelled that she was in labor. Finally the guards and nurse arrived and they rushed her to the ambulance, but Shandra said her baby died en route.
    In a state like Texas, unfortunately, there is no incongruence between stopping abortions and lack of health care for inmates. It's part of their disdain for all things that are "soft on crime." During the state Republican convention, the Attorney General and US Senate candidate John Cornyn joked about the differences between Republicans and Democrats. "If you've used the phrase 'protecting prisoners' rights,'" Cornyn said, "you might be a Democrat." Another Texas Attorney General noted Texas had big bad jails because they had big bad prisoners.
Lastly, Rebecca took a look at 1979 & Three Mile Island last night.  Mike and Cedric have both noted the difficulty with The Third Estate Sunday Review edition Sunday and members are wondering where Jim's comments are (they have both noted Jim will write about it)?  It will be at The Third Estate Sunday Review either tonight (late) or tomorrow in "A Note To Our Readers."  That feature isn't up there now.  It's been on hold so that Danny Schechter's event could be the top item.  What Danny Schechter event, you ask?  This happens today:
If you are in New York City, please come out for a talk I will be giving on my new book WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and The Iraq War at Housing Works' handsome Used Book Café on Cosby Street just below Houston, one block east of Broadway at 7 PM March 29. CSPAN will be in the house broadcasting so it is especially important to have a crowd. Please tell your friends. It is free.
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