Thursday, March 02, 2006

Democracy Now: Greg Mello, Laura Berg; Margaret Kimberley, Cindy Sheehan, Arundhati Roy

Indian Protests Against Bush Visit Include Rally in Bhopal
In India, tens of thousands of people continued their massive protests against the visit of President Bush. In one of several rallies, victims of the 1984 gas leak from the US-owned Union Carbide pesticide factory demonstrated in Bhopal. Over 20,000 died in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, while another 100,000 people suffered lasting health problems.

New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
In other news, the State Department quietly announced this week it has requested $100 million dollars for Iraqi reconstruction -- all of it for prisons. The Bush administration initially promised $20 billion dollars to reconstruct Iraqi infrastructure. But much of the money has been diverted to security. State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey said the $100 million dollar prison project was the lone new reconstruction effort the US government will undertake over the next year.

Bolton Speech Disrupted in New York
And in New York, a group of protesters stood up and held signs as UN Ambassador John Bolton gave a speech at New York University Wednesday. One sign read: "US interests -- torture, illegal war, secret abductions, racial profiling, war crimes,” among others, and quoted Bolton’s infamous statement that: "Diplomacy is not an end [in] itself if it does not advance U.S. interests."

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

Headlines for March 2, 2006

- Video Shows Bush Receiving Dire Warnings Day Before Katrina
- Four Dead in Bombing Near US Consulate in Karachi
- Six Kidnapped Oil Workers Released in Nigeria
- New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
- New York Reaches Settlement With 22 Prisoners in Abuse Case
- Bush Admin. Decreased Fines, Enforcement on Mine Violations
- Council of Europe Urges Better Monitoring of CIA Rendition
- Bolton Says India and Pakistan Acquired Nukes "Legitimately"

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

U.S. Enters New Nuclear Age as Bush Seeks Funds for New Generation of Nukes

A new nuclear age appears to be on the horizon. President Bush recently asked Congress for $27 million to help jumpstart the country's first new nuclear weapons program in two decades. As we broadcast from New Mexico -- the center of the country's nuclear weapons program - we speak with Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group. [includes rush transcript]

V.A. Nurse Accused of Sedition After Publishing Letter Critical of Bush on Katrina, Iraq

A Veterans Affairs nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was investigated for sedition after she wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. In her first broadcast interview, we speak with Laura Berg, as well as an attorney with the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
LAURA BERG: I wrote this letter. I think, you know, I have -- all of us at the V.A., there's very many compassionate people working there, very many dedicated people. And we've worked with, you know, veterans from Vietnam, veterans from Korea, veterans from World War II. We were seeing more and more World War II veterans, you know, triggered for the first time by Iraq and actually, you know, having memories and nightmares coming out.
AMY GOODMAN: You are saying now that they are triggered?
LAURA BERG: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: So, World War II vets are coming in.
LAURA BERG: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, so we are seeing ---
AMY GOODMAN: What are the complaints?
LAURA BERG: Just nightmares, not able to sleep. More tension, anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness. Some detachment, you know, from reality at the present time. Those kind of things. I'm just saying that these things together, to me, you know, really really came together when I saw Katrina. I was aware that, you know, money to protect the levees, to protect the Gulf Coast, had been diverted to the war. Also -- excuse me. I'm dry. The National Guardsmen, you know, had been diverted to the war. And then, there was no response, you know. And we say that we are fighting to, you know, for the land of the free and the home of the brave. We have Homeland Security, and I was really just overwhelmed, and I wrote a letter.

The Navajo Nation's Ongoing Battle Against Uranium Mining

We look at the ongoing battle over uranium mining in the Navajo Nation. Mining has occurred on Navajo territory for over fifty years and the impact is still being felt. We speak with the directors of the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining and the Southwest Research and Information Center.

So highlights. Is there a theme? I think the theme people are choosing today is strong voices. Always good to make that call on a Thursday (that's when a new edition of The Black Commentator is published.) First up, Carl notes Margaret Kimberley's "Bush's Arab Cronies" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Democrats and Republicans both know how to appeal to the great mass of ignorant Americans. Bigotry is always a winner for politicians. It keeps them from having to do their jobs, and aids in covering their wrong doing.
The group that it is now most acceptable to hate and fear are Arabs. All Arabs have been depicted as terrorists, and the word terrorist is now exclusively connected with Arabs. It therefore follows that no Middle Easterner should have anything to do with security at an American seaport.
When right wing icon Ann Coulter uses terms like "raghead" at conservative gatherings, she gets applause. Of course this demonization presents a problem when the powerful are cutting deals with wealthy, well connected "ragheads."
No one actually admits to anti-Arab bigotry. Ever since the announcement that the former British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company would be taken over by Dubai Ports World, a business run by the United Arab Emirates, howls of outrage have been nearly unanimous and unanimously phony.
American politics being what it is, very few are upset for the right reason. Does it really matter that major American ports are now protected by an Arab country? We are told that the UAE is a terrorist haven, that some of the 9/11 hijackers spent time there and that it is al-Qaeda’s banking address. The arguments are unconvincing. Some of the hijackers spent time in Germany. Has the United States stopped doing deals with Germany? If al-Qaeda cash came through Dubai that is because it is an international center of money laundering and war profiteering. If anything Dubai is right up Bush's alley.
Continuing the strong voices trend, George notes Cindy Sheehan and Sam Bostaph's "A Common Cause" (BuzzFlash):
Three years ago, President George Bush ordered United States military forces to invade and occupy Iraq. Since that invasion, which was unconstitutional, illegal by all international standards, and immoral by any just war theologies, the world has watched as the Bush administration has directed the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, civilians and insurgents at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. It has watched as over 2300 U.S. troops have been killed to date and almost 18,000 more wounded or maimed for life. It has watched the Bush administration kidnap, imprison and torture hundreds of foreign nationals, as well as American citizens, without either trial or conviction. It has watched as Bush administration lackeys have transported prisoners to secret prisons and then delivered them to torturers in less-developed countries. For three years, it has heard George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice move from one lie to another to justify each of these actions.
Just recently, Americans learned that these war criminals also have been secretly spying domestically in clear violation of federal law. On Monday February 6, 2006, the Attorney General of the United States of America appeared before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to defend the "terrorist surveillance program" that President George W. Bush ordered into existence in 2001. Both in a prepared statement and in his testimony before the committee, Alberto R. Gonzales defended the National Security Agency's warrantless, domestic wiretapping program as "lawful, reasonable and essential."
Gonzales claimed that domestic spying is an essential tool in the overall "War on Terror." He gave as the legal basis for this NSA program his opinion that Article II of the Constitution of the United States gives the President of the United States the authority and "inherent power" to do anything he thinks necessary to protect Americans. He also said that many federal government lawyers agree with him on the question of presidential power. And, besides, he added, Congress even authorized the President to respond with military force to the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks with its "Authorization for Use of Military Force" of September 18, 2001--and he characterized this domestic "spying" as a "military action." He denied that the President was in any way constrained by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress had passed in 1978.
Attorney General Gonzales was not testifying under oath and he refused to answer any specific questions about the spying program or to give any examples of instances where the program provided protection for Americans. We are all just supposed to take his word for the content and effectiveness of Bush's domestic spying program. We are all to take the word of a member of this criminal administration that what they are doing is completely legal and for our own good.

Micah e-mails to ask that we highlight Norman Finkelstein's "The Attacks on Beyond Chutzpah" (CounterPunch):

The Winter 2006 issue of Middle East Journal ran a scathing review by Professor Marc Saperstein of my book Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history. Saperstein alleged that my book was a "prolonged diatribe," replete with "outrageous ad hominem attacks" and written in the "rhetorical style of the arrogant academic pit bull."
Before directly addressing these criticisms, it merits setting the broader context of Saperstein's review. Readers of MEJ are undoubtedly aware that my publisher, University of California Press, was subject to an unprecedented and highly public campaign by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, reaching up to Governor Schwarzenegger's office, to block publication of my book. UCPress was accordingly at great pains to ensure that my book met the most stringent scholarly (and legal) standards. Numerous editors, libel lawyers and leading scholars in the field from Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States were called upon to render judgment. Having concluded after this extraordinary peer review process that Beyond Chutzpah did indeed make a significant scholarly contribution, and notwithstanding brutal external threats and pressures, UCPress courageously went ahead and published it. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) subsequently commended UCPress for its principled stand.
Saperstein has now weighed in on Dershowitz's side, expressing puzzlement that UCPress should have committed such an egregious blunder. This judgment in a prestigious academic journal constitutes a grave indictment not only of my own reputation but also that of a respected publisher, distinguished scholars and the main professional organization in the field. Careful and sober scrutiny of the evidence Saperstein adduces is clearly warranted. Should it prove that Saperstein's claims lack merit, it would seem that the responsible gesture of the journal's editors would be to retract their imprimatur from the review.
The central thesis of Beyond Chutzpah is that on crucial dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict little (if any) controversy remains among serious scholars and that what passes as controversy in public life is in reality a contrived discourse to deflect criticism of Israelis policy.

And lastly, Kyle notes Amelica Gentleman's "Letter from India: Inida's Activist Author Inidgnant at Bush Visit" (Internationl Herald Tribune via Common Dreams):

NEW DELHI -- Last week, Arundhati Roy found herself standing at traffic lights in a sleazy district of Delhi handing out stickers bearing the slogan "Bush Quit India" to passing traffic. No one recognized her as the Booker Prize winning writer. It was a curiously anonymous form of protest for a woman adept at using her celebrity to draw attention to forgotten causes.
"It was very enlightening. People on the auto-rickshaws and horse carts were asking for more," she said; the drivers of cars were less receptive.
Amid the noisy street demonstrations to protest President George W. Bush's trip to India, Roy provides a sober but quietly strident voice of opposition to the United States.
Such is her fury at the new Indian tilt towards Washington that she is giving the campaign all her energy: not content with pouring her literary talents into sharp- tongued written protest, she has joined students in nighttime vigils mourning the event and become an enthusiastic distributor of anti-Bush stickers.
Often laughing, she highlights the ludicrous to underline her despair at the welcome Bush has been given. The organizational details of a presidential trip offer much amusement - particularly the decision to hold the president's landmark speech about the emerging Indo-U.S. strategic partnership in a spot by the Delhi zoo.
"First they tried to see whether he would address Parliament, but most of the MPs said they would heckle and boycott so that was canceled," she said in an interview this week.
The Red Fort was out because the Muslim population surrounding the building made it a security nightmare. "So now he will be speaking in the zoo -- to some eminent people and some caged animals. I don't know if the lions can disagree, the cockatoos might say they are against globalization. It's really kind of funny," she said.

So if you're looking for a theme for this entry, it's strong voices. You could also note that it's
strong voices that are utilized. No one above suffers from "War Got Your Tongue?" -- no one waits to see if it's "okay" or "safe" to have an opinion yet. Strong voices, brave voices. That's the theme for this entry. Remember indymedia roundup tonight.

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