Saturday, March 11, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders takes the America is Purple tour to Montana

Kat here. What's coming up this weekend on RadioNation with Laura Flanders? Always a good question. Laura's continuing the America is Purple tour and she's got quite a line up.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders
The America Is Purple tour takes us to Montana where many Democrats are looking for lessons in how to turn red states blue.
Saturdays & Sundays, 7-10pm ET on Air America Radio
Montana Dems managed a sweep of nearly all state-wide offices, plus the Governor's mansion in 2004, and legalized medical marijuana. We'll talk to Governor Brian Schweitzer, blogger activist David Sirota, and others who made the so called Montana Miracle happen. Is Schweitzer thinking about the White House? Is Republican Conrad Burns thinking about retirement?As always, a one-hour version of last weekend's program is available at
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Here's the two day breakdown:

The America is Purple tour continues in Montana. We visit Big Sky country to hear from Democrats who are in power and activists making a difference. From the Montana Democratic Party's annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner at the Civic Center Ballroom, 340 Neill Avenue, Helena, MT, we talk to JIM FARRELL, Montana Democratic Party executive director; political pioneer DOROTHY ECK; U.S. Senate candidate JON TESTER, Governor BRIAN SCHWEITZER, state Rep. KEVIN FUREY, an Iraq War vet, legislator and student; DAVID SIROTA, writer and co-chair of the Progressive Legislative Action Network and ANNA WHITING SORRELL, member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Northwestern Montana and Policy Advisor to the Governor.

Going deeper into who and what made the difference in returning Democrats to power, we go to the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) and talk to: MHRN co-director and state Senator KEN TOOLE; MHRN co-director CHRISTINE KAUFFMAN; Montana Women Vote's TERRY KENDRICK; actress and activist, MARGOT KIDDER of, state Rep. MARY CAFARRO and WEEL state welfare specialist; THERESA KEAVENY of Montana's League of Conservation Voters, and HELEN WALLER of the Northern Plains Resource Council. If you want to be part of our audience on Sunday, call the Montana Human Rights Network on 406 442 5506 for address details.

"What, you ask? "Did I read that right?" Yes, Margot Kidder, Lois Lane in the Superman movies will be a guest Sunday. Of the Superman's, I prefer where Lois is on vitamin C to counter the effects of smoking. My favorite Kidder film is probably
with which I found used on videotape back in 1989 and have watched too many times to count. Annie's pregnant and scared of the world, Margot's experienced and helping her deal with the world. It's a funny movie and both women give very strong performances. It's really a good movie. I just dug it out and intend to watch it as soon as this posts. Here's the back cover of the videocassette box:

"Heartaches is touching, gutsy and vulnerable -- Margot Kidder is electrifying!" -- Rex Reed
HEARTACHES is a captivating comedy-romance which rose to overwhelming critical success as a feature film. It pairs MARGOT KIDDER (SUPERMAN'S LOIS LANE) and ANNIE POTTS (CORVETTE SUMMER) as the opposites in on eof the most unforgettable friendships to ever grace the screen.
The story begins with Bonnie (POTTS), a small-town innocent married to an immature, hard-drinking race car enthusiast (ROBERT CARRADINE). In a moment of loneliness, Bonnie has a one-night stand and becomes pregnant, so she leaves her husband and heads for the city. On the way, she meets Rita (KIDDER), a man-crazy drifter who, in a short time, gets them thrown off the bus in the middle of nowhere. Rita takes Bonnie under her wing, and their adventures begin. Bonnie's husband pursues them to the city, and Rita becomes involved in a series of comic romantic escapades. All the while, the two women continue their search for love, the good life and themselves.
Exceptional performances and a warm, funny script make HEARTACHES a sensitive and stirring tale of friendship, maturity and love.

So that's my plug for movie to see if you haven't already. After Heartaches, on my list of Kidder films, tied for second, or with , both of which I love.

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Well COINTELPRO was an illegal effort on the part of the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, to destroy opponents of the Nixon administration. They planted what they called 'black propaganda.' They would fake letters and sent them in to columnists in Hollywood that would slander the person they wanted to destroy with made up stuff. I mean they destroyed Jean Seberg. She ended up killing herself because of what the FBI did. I write about that in my book. In some instances people were assassinated. They just . . . It was a vigilante group under the auspices of the FBI and Hoover that would, you know, result to almost anything to destroy people who opposed the policies of the government and I was one of those targeted by COINTELPRO. And eventually what I found out was not only the FBI, but the CIA and other government agencies had followed me, had tapped my phones. I mean, when I was here in Berkeley, making Steelyard Blues, my daughter was going to the Blue Fairyland pre-school that was run by the Red family and right there in my FBI files are descriptions of the Blue Fairyland and, you know, her going to school. They even followed my daughter. They broke into my house, they rifled through my stuff, they turned over my bank accounts. And the CIA, later, because I sued them, admitted it was the first time that they had opened the mail of a US citizen. They were trying to get me on sedition because you need to be able to prove criminal activity. Well they never, there was no basis for it and people kept telling them there's no basis for this . . . But they kept it up. They kept it up.

Ruth: The quote is Jane Fonda answering how the government spied on her in an interview with Sasha Lilly on Against the Grain. The interview took place in April of 2005 and it and other memorable moments were included in Tuesday's Against the Grain as C.S. Soong and Sasha Lilly celebrated the third year anniversary of the program. If you have not had time to sample the program, this broadcast provided you with a good overview of the various topics this KPFA show addresses regularly.

It was a strong week for Pacifia Radio with all the stations noting International Women's Working Day Wednesday. WBAI devoted 48 hours to IWWD, broadcasting special programs Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday, a caller expressed the opinion that while he had enjoyed the programming, he would prefer that they had done it in longer segments instead of half-hour ones so that topics could have been addressed at length. That is a difficult call because while all the segments were worthy of further discussion, there was such a large scope covered, it truly was an international celebration and I kept the radio tuned to WBAI exclusively throughout the 48 hours.

While rocking my grandson Elijah to sleep, I dozed off at one point Thursday morning and woke to hear Janet Coleman, of The Christmas Coup Players and Cat Radio Cafe, discussing menapause with two other hosts and callers for a segment on that. The callers were just as interesting as the three hosts and Ms. Coleman suggested that possibly WBAI needed to create a hotline for this topic, with one of the other hosts adding that it should be a "Hot Flash Line." We heard speeches from Shirley Chisholm with commentary by Shola Lynch who directed and produced Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed; Wakeup Call presented a conference where Betty Friedan heard from women of the Third World who were less than pleased with what they heard in her comments on feminism; a wonderful discussion involving three Congress women, two of which were Cynthia McKinney and Maxine Waters; voices of African women; a conversation on the contributions of women to the Zapatista movement with a specific look at the accomplishments of the late Comandanta Ramona; on First Voices, co-host Tiokasin Ghosthorse stepped aside to let Mattie Harper solo as part of IWWD and she addressed topics that included the possible impact of South Dakota's recent anti-reproductive rights legislation on Native Americans in South Dakota; there was amazing music throughout, both recorded and live; and so much more. Short of making it a three day celebration, or longer, which I would support, I do not know how WBAI could have provided so many voices, so many topics and so many issues without providing half-hour segments.

All of the Pacifica stations and many affiliates participated in this but WBAI devoted two full days to the celebration.

Other standouts this week included Law & Disorder which took a hard hitting look at the Guantanamo prisoners. Throughtout the discussion, they provided many of the songs played to torture prisoners and advised you to picture yourself blindfolded and to turn the volume up considerably. Nina, Mike's girlfriend, e-mailed me that this week's show was the first one she'd listened to but "I'm hooked now." This is a personal favorite program of mine and if you listen, Monday on WBAI, at other times on another radio station, or online, I think it will become one of your favorite programs as well.

Friday's CounterSpin was anchored by Peter Hart and Janine Jackson. In their opening segment on current headlines, Ms. Jackson addressed two print pundits:

You'd be hard pressed to find many media folk who think the war in Iraq is going smoothly. But the recent spike in violence and the threat of civil war certainly does not mean that the war's critics were right about anything. Amid rising Sunni-Shia violence, Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angels Times had this to say in a March fifth column QUOTE: "the war's changing nature undermines the argument from many on the left that the U.S. presence is primarily fueling the violence. That seems increasingly untenable at a point when U.S. troops look like the only thing preventing Iraqis from tearing each other apart."
So the left is still wrong? But is it really a stretch to suggest that the current violence has something to do with the US invasion? And on Brownstein's second point, US commanders in Iraq were fairly clear in announcing that the upsurge in violence was going to be handled primarily by Iraqi security forces ... at least that's how his paper was reporting it.

Over at the New York Times, foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman counseled on March 3rd that the American public was going to remain patient, they support the White House's goal of democracy building in Iraq, wrote Friedman. Quote: "That is why there has been no big anti-war movement." Never mind the millions of activists who marched even before the invasion. Friedman does note that if the American public loses faith in that mission, QUOTE:
"you will the see the bottom fall out of US support for this war."
It's hard to know what would qualify to Friedman as low public support. The CBS/New York Times poll at the end of February already showed only 29% of Americans think the Iraq invasion was worth it. Proving once again that the talking heads are often a few steps behind the people they're speaking for.

Peter Hart spoke with Amitabh Pal about press coverage of India and Bully Boy's proposed nuclear deal. Mr. Pal, managing editor and writer for The Progressive, was also a guest on Tuesday's KPFA The Morning Show. Ms. Jackson spoke with Eric Deggans regarding the now forgotten cries for a national discussion on race and class following the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Deggans had praise for NPR and The Chicago Tribune while advising that the ball was apparently being dropped by "progressives" and "Democrats" who are not pressing hard enough for this discussion. I am not sure how many news sources Mr. Deggans follows; however, Democracy Now!, The Morning Show, Law and Disorder and many other programs have had no difficulty in continuing to cover the evacuees and the factor race and class played in both the immediate after effects as well as the factor of race currently with both the rebuilding of New Orleans and their upcoming elections -- two topics that Mr. Deggans failed to address. Possibly NPR and The Chicago Tribune have not been covering these issues?

Mr. Deggans struck me not as a "media critic" but a "media enabler." He offered plenty of excuses for the mainstream media doing a lousy job. These included that it has "been hard for TV News outlets to find the time" and, on NPR, "It is public radio and they really only have so many reporters, so many producers." What, Ms. Jackson wondered, is needed for the issues of race and class to covered? Mr. Deggans continues to excuse the mainstream media and offers a very weak suggestion that if Democrats and "progressive" politicians would speak out more, the press would cover it. Considering that this excuse is often offered as to why they refused to cover the lead up to the Iraq war from anything other than the administration's point of view, I do not see this as a "solution" or as "media criticism." It sounded to me like lazy thinking, excuses and enabling a media system to continue to not do their job. It did not sound like media criticism.

NPR has a huge amount of money to spend covering stories they care about. If you read Mr. Deggans article on this topic, you will find NPR's Michele Norris confessing to being confounded about media (and her own?) coverage of Katrina, you will find NPR's Susan Feeney admitting that "It's not a good excuse. . . . We have a responsibility to raise issues no one else is raising. (But) we have not done the big step back on poverty, and boy, we really want to." Ms. Feeney, the only thing stopping you is you. I read her statement over the phone to my friend Treva who replied, "Want in one hand, ___ in the other and see which one fills up first." Mr. Deegans noted those lame excuses in his article and added to them in his comments on CounterSpin. That did not strike me as media criticism. It is not the politicians' job to do the media's. It is up to the media to find the stories and to provide coverage. Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now! have not needed elected Democrats and elected progressives regularly speaking out in order to cover the topics of race and class. The mainstream media needs to be accountable for their own actions and Mr. Deegans would do well to attempt to hold them accountable in the future.

The Morning Show addressed issues all week without needing politicians in order to do so. Mia e-mailed asking that I note Friday's conversation on Iraq where Andrea Lewis spoke to Phyllis Bennis and Elaine Hagopian about some of the distortions and some of the realities we are seeing unfold. Ms. Bennis noted that in the conversations of a civil war in Iraq or a potential one, there seems to be an assumption by some commenting that Iraq will then become a war zone when, in fact, under U.S. occupation, it has been just that. Both women agreed that the press has covered the conflict in generalities reducing it to a Shia-Sunni duality when it is much more complex. Ms. Hagopian stated, "This is not simply a Sunni-Shia strife" and that if the troops left there would be far less to stir up in what Ms. Bennis characterized as "a kind of low intensity political civil war. . . that pits supporters of the occupation, some of whom actually support it and some of whom support it defacto because it's the only way they can get a job, and those who oppose the occupation enough to get rid of it." Both women had comments on Donald Rumsfeld's statements to Congress this week. Ms. Hagopian noted that, "Rumsfeld's always pie-in-the-sky or trying to blame it on someone else. . . . I think he and Condolezza Rice just basically lied. . . . They have really not understood the forces that are against the occupation. . . . Rumsfeld, this is his trademark: Everything is okay . . . and it's not our fault, it's their fault." Ms. Bennis pondered what lay ahead and when low-level troop withdrawal might take place under the Bully Boy's current plan, "We will see a great fanfare with the return of some U.S. troops . . . It's hoped that we will forget about the 60,000 to 70,000" that would still remain in Iraq on the permanent basis. Ms. Bennis made the comment that unlike the fatalities, the returning would not be hidden away as the Bully Boy staged elaborate parades to sell yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk.

Also on Friday's show was a wonderful discussion, in the last half hour, of Dinah Washington's career, life and accomplishments. (Ms. Hagopin and Ms. Bennis are interviewed by Andrea Lewis in the first half-hour.) Zach e-mailed asking if it was true that he missed Matthew Rothschild on The Morning Show this week? Yes, Zach, if you weren't listening Tuesday, you did miss it. Philip Maldari and Andrea Lewis discussed the topic of impeachment with Mr. Rothschild, editor of The Progressive. This was also the same broadcast that Amitabh Pal appeared on. Mr. Rothschild was on in the first half-hour and Mr. Pal was on in the second half-hour of the program.

On impeachment, Mr. Rothschild stated, "I think the legal grounds are incredibly strong and that's why I think it's important for us to keep pressing the case for impeachment . . . because if we don't, what essentially that we're saying is that it's okay for Bush to be doing what he's been doing, for him to be violating these laws. And it sets the precedent for the next person to come in and say, 'I can decide what laws I want to obey and which ones I don't. The last guy did it."

Andrea Lewis noted that Matthew Rothschild would be in California in May and that they would like to have him on then so there is a heads up for Zach to a possible next appearance.

Here is another heads up, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, 11:00 a.m. Central, and noon Eastern time on KPFA:

Sunday Salon
In our first hour... A look at how the world's religious leaders teach us about war, and how we apply the lesson. We'll talk with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Chris Hedges ("Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America"); Muslim thinker and theologian Hamza Yusuf, founder of the Hayward, CA-based Zaytuna Institute, and independent photographer Kael Alford, whose work documenting the American bombing of Baghdad and the impact of the war on Iraq, is featured in the new book "Unembedded." All three of our guests will participate in the Saturday March 11th event in Berkeley: "Does God Love War?" The free event is at 7:00 p.m. at the martin Luther King Jr Middle School Auditorium, 1781 Rose Street.

In our second hour... First, two veterans events, marking the 3rd anniversary next week of the US invasion of Iraq, then... Iran, India, and Pakistan: The Bush Administration's foes and favorites in nuclear policy. Joining us: Pakistani journalist and author ("Taliban") Ahmed Rashid; and Angana Chatterji, professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology (California Center for Integral Studies) and author of the forthcoming "Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present"
Listen to past shows, get contact and reference info for guests, see announcements of upcoming programs, and more at:

Also Sunday, Houston's KPFT has this special broadcast:

Ladies Day 2006
Sunday, March 12
8 am to 2 pm
Our annual gathering and on-air tribute to the history and music of the women of blues, soul, jazz, R&B and more. KPFT's tradition was started by the late Kathleen Kern, "the Blues Broad," and is now carried forward by the "Blues on the Move" crew. It is in conjunction with International Women's Day.

The six hour special begins at 8:00 a.m. central time, 9:00 a.m. eastern time and six a.m. Pacific time.

Cinco localidades de Vermont apoyaron juicio político a Bush (Democracy Now!)

Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Cinco localidades de Vermont apoyaron juicio político a Bush
En Vermont, cinco localidades aprobaron medidas para solicitar el juicio político al Presidente Bush. Los votos surgieron en un momento en que las conversaciones sobre el juicio político aumentan. El lunes, el "Wall Street Journal" publicó un extenso artículo que señalaba que las encuestas indican que hay un mayor apoyo por parte de la población para que se someta al presidente Bush a juicio político, que el que hubo para realizar un juicio político al Presidente Clinton durante todo su mandato. En 1998, las encuestas mostraron que el 27 por ciento de los estadounidenses apoyaban el juicio político a Clinton si había mentido acerca de si había mantenido relaciones sexuales con Monica Lewinsky. Mientras tanto, una encuesta realizada recientemente por Zogby, indicó que el 51 por ciento de los estadounidenses encuestados dijo que el Congreso debería considerar realizar un juicio político al presidente Bush si no decía la verdad sobre las razones para iniciar la guerra en Irak.

Ex fiscal del Departamento de Justicia: "Justificación débil" para el programa de espionaje sin órdenes judiciales
Mientras tanto, un ex abogado de alto rango de seguridad nacional del Departamento de Justicia criticó algunas de las principales justificaciones legales del gobierno de Bush para llevar a cabo el programa de espionaje sin órdenes judiciales. El ex vicefiscal general asociado, David Kris, dice que el argumento del gobierno de Bush de que el Congreso había autorizado el programa de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional al aprobar la utilización de la fuerza contra al-Qaeda, era una "justificación débil" y que probablemente no sería respaldada por la justicia. Kris supervisó los asuntos de seguridad nacional en el Departamento de Justicia desde 2000 hasta 2003.

Grupos por las libertades civiles piden a tribunal que cancele programa de espionaje de la NSA
Dos grupos por las libertades civiles pidieron el jueves a tribunales federales que obliguen al gobierno de Bush a que ponga fin a su programa de espionaje nacional sin ordenes judiciales porque viola el derecho a la privacidad y a la libertad de expresión de los ciudadanos estadounidenses. El pedido del Centro para los Derechos Constitucionales y la Unión Estadounidense para las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés), surgió sólo días después que los Republicanos obstruyeran una investigación del Senado sobre el programa de espionaje de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional. El Director Ejecutivo de ACLU, Anthony Romero, dijo: "En Estados Unidos, nadie está por encima de la ley, ni siquiera el Presidente. Los aliados del Presidente en el Congreso se están preparando para ocultar su programa ilegal, mientras que otros miembros del Congreso se mantienen al margen. Cuando el Presidente viola la ley, el Congreso no debería dejarlo en libertad".

Bush y Senadores Republicanos llegan a acuerdo sobre espionaje del gobierno
En Capitol Hill, el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado decidió mediante una votación rechazar una propuesta para investigar el programa de espionaje interno del gobierno de Bush. Esta votación surgió luego de que la Casa Blanca y Senadores Republicanos acordaran nuevos lineamientos para la escucha de conversaciones telefónicas llevada a cabo por el gobierno sin órdenes judiciales. Según el "New York Times", el acuerdo establece que el gobierno de Bush debe solicitar órdenes judiciales sólo "cuando sea posible". Al gobierno de Bush se le otorgará un período de gracia de 45 días para llevar a cabo espionaje sin órdenes judiciales si consideraran que solicitarlas comprometería la seguridad nacional. Luego de transcurrido ese periodo de 45 días, el espionaje sin órdenes judiciales puede ser extendido si el fiscal general certifica la postura del gobierno. Asimismo, varios miembros del Congreso estarán informados sobre las actividades del programa. Los Demócratas atacaron el acuerdo. El Senador de Virginia Occidental John Rockefeller, quien se desempeña como vicepresidente del Comité de Inteligencia del Senado, dijo: "Para decirlo sin rodeos, el Comité está básicamente controlado por la Casa Blanca".

Gran Bretaña anuncia intención de retirar soldados de Irak
En otras noticias de Irak, el principal comandante militar británico en Irak anunció planes de retirar a casi todos sus soldados para la primavera de 2008. En una entrevista con el diario "Daily Telegraph", el Teniente General Nick Houghton dijo que el retiro por etapas comenzarían en semanas. Sin embargo, Houghton dijo que el retiro depende fundamentalmente de que los legisladores iraquíes formen un gobierno de coalición nacional y de que los gobiernos estadounidense y británico consideren que las fuerzas armadas iraquíes están preparadas para manejar la seguridad. En la actualidad hay 8.000 soldados británicos en Irak.

Comandante militar iraquí de alto rango muere en Bagdad
Mientras tanto, el jefe de la división del ejército iraquí en Bagdad murió el lunes cuando su vehículo fue atacado. El Mayor General Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Dulaimi es uno de los oficiales militares iraquíes de más alto rango que perdió su vida en manos de la violencia de los insurgentes. Un comandante estadounidense de las fuerzas armadas que supervisó el contigente militar de Estados Unidos en Bagdad el año pasado dijo acerca de la muerte del General: "Podría ser un golpe del que llevará tiempo recuperarse". El incidente fue uno de varios ataques que se produjeron el lunes y que dejaron un saldo de más de 20 muertos y 50 heridos en todo Irak. En el peor ataque del día, siete personas murieron, entre ellas cinco niños, en un atentado con bomba en un mercado repleto de gente en la localidad de Baquba. Otras 17 personas resultaron heridas.

250 especialistas médicos condenan trato de Estados Unidos a prisioneros de Guantánamo
Más de 250 especialistas médicos firmaron una carta que condena a Estados Unidos por alimentar a la fuerza a prisioneros en huelga de hambre en la prisión de Bahía de Guantánamo, Cuba. La carta fue publicada en la revista médica británica "The Lancet". Los médicos escribieron: "Exhortamos al gobierno estadounidense a asegurar que los detenidos sean evaluados por médicos independientes y que las técnicas como la alimentación forzada o las sillas de sujeción sean descartadas". Los médicos también dijeron que la Asociación Médica Estadounidense debería iniciar procesos disciplinarios contra cualquier miembro que se sepa que violó los códigos de ética mientras trabajaba en Guantánamo.

Amnistía dice que sistema de cárceles iraquí administrado por Estados Unidos es una "receta para el maltrato"
En otras noticias, Amnistía Internacional condenó lo que denomina detención "arbitraria" de decenas de miles de personas en Irak. En un nuevo informe, el grupo defensor de los derechos humanos dice que el sistema de cárceles administrado por Estados Unidos se ha transformado en una "receta para el maltrato". Kate Allen, la directora de Amnistía Internacional en el Reino Unido dijo: "Mientras que las fuerzas estadounidenses y británicas tengan prisioneros en condiciones de reclusión secretas, es más probable que haya tortura, y que ésta no sean detectada ni castigada".

Manifestante dijo a Condoleeza Rice: "Tiene las manos sucias de sangre"
Un manifestante fue expulsado de la audiencia del Senado luego de interrumpir la declaración de la Secretaria de Estado Condoleeza Rice. El manifestante dijo: "Es una guerra ilegal e inmoral, cuántos de ustedes tienen hijos en esa guerra ilegal e inmoral. Tienen las manos sucias de sangre y no se las pueden lavar. Tienen las manos sucias de sangre y no se las pueden lavar".

Se le diagnosticó cáncer de mama a Lynne Stewart
Y la defensora de los derechos civiles condenada a prisión, Lynne Stewart, reveló que está luchando contra el cáncer de mama. A Stewart le diagnosticaron la enfermedad en noviembre, y le extirparon un tumor a principios de este año. Stewart fue condenada el año pasado por conspiración y por apoyar al terrorismo mediante la publicación de una declaración de su cliente encarcelado, jeque Omar Abdel-Rahman. Siempre ha sostenido su inocencia. Afronta una pena máxima de treinta años en prisión. La condena de Stewart está programada para la semana próxima. Sus abogados solicitaron que se postergara la condena hasta fines de julio para que pueda someterse a tratamiento.

Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are ten news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

Five Vermont Towns Back Impeachment of Bush
In Vermont, five towns have approved measures calling for the impeachment of President Bush. The votes come at a time when the talk of impeachment is increasing. On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy article pointing out how polls show there is greater support among the public for the impeachment of President Bush than there ever was for President Clinton. In 1998, polls showed 27 percent of the country backed the impeachment of Clinton if he lied about having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile a recent Zogby poll showed 51 percent of the country said Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he didn't tell truth about the reasons for the Iraq war.

Ex-Justice Attorney: "Weak Justification" for Warrantless Spying
A former high-ranking national security lawyer at the Justice Department has come forward to criticize some of the Bush administration's key legal justifications for the warrantless spying program. Former associate deputy attorney general David Kris says the Bush administration's contention that Congress had authorized the NSA program by approving the use of force against al-Qaeda was a "weak justification" unlikely to be supported by the courts. Kris oversaw national security issues at the Justice Department from 2000 until 2003.

Civil Liberties Groups Seek Court to Shutdown NSA Spy Program
Two civil liberties groups asked the federal courts on Thursday to force the Bush administration to end its warrantless domestic spying program because it violates the privacy and free speech rights of US citizens. The requests from the Center for Constitutional Rights and American Civil Liberties Union came just days after Republicans blocked a Senate investigation into the National Security Agency spy program. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said "In America, no one is above the law, not even the president. The president's allies in Congress are preparing to cover up his illegal program, while others in Congress are standing on the sidelines. When the President breaks the law, Congress should not be giving him a get-out-of-jail free card."

Bush, GOP Sens. Reach Eavesdropping Agreement
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted down a proposal to investigate the Bush administration’s domestic spy program. The vote came after the White House and Republican Senators agreed to new guidelines for the practice of government eavesdropping without court-approved warrants. According to the New York Times, the deal asks the Bush administration to request court warrants only "whenever possible." The Bush administration would be given a 45 day grace period to spy without court warrants if they felt requesting them would compromise national security. After the 45-day period, the warrantless eavesdropping could then be extended if the attorney general certifies the administration’s stance. In addition, a handful of extra members of Congress would also be briefed on the program’s activities. Democrats lashed out at the deal. West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said: "The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House."

Britain Announces Intent To Withdraw Troops from Iraq
In other Iraq news, Britain's top military commander in Iraq has announced plans to withdraw nearly all of its soldiers by the summer of 2008. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Lieutenant General Nick Houghton said phased withdrawals would begin within weeks. However, Houghton said the pullout is ultimately contingent on Iraqi lawmakers forming a national coalition government and the US and British governments judging the Iraqi military ready to handle security. There are currently 8,000 British troops in Iraq.

Senior Iraqi Military Commander Killed in Baghdad
Meanwhile, the head of the Iraqi army’s Baghdad division was killed Monday when his vehicle came under attack. Major General Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Dulaimi is one of the highest-ranking Iraqi military officials to lose their lives in insurgent violence. A US military commander who oversaw the US military contingent in Baghdad last year said of the General's death: "It could be a blow that takes a long time to overcome." The incident was one of several Monday that left more than 20 people dead and 50 injured around Iraq. In the day's worst attack, five children were among seven people killed in a bombing in a crowded market in the town of Baqubah. Another 17 people were injured.

250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo
More than 250 medical experts have co-signed a letter condemning the United States for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The letter appears in the British medical journal The Lancet. The doctors wrote "We urge the US government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned." The doctors also said the American Medical Association should instigate disciplinary proceedings against any members known to have violated ethical codes while working at Guantanamo.

Amnesty Says US-Run Iraqi Prison System "Recipe for Abuse"
In other news, Amnesty International has condemned what it calls the "arbitrary" detention of tens of thousands of people in Iraq. In a new report, the human rights group says the US-run prison system has become "a recipe for abuse." Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: "As long as U.S. and U.K. forces hold prisoners in secret detention conditions, torture is much more likely to occur, to go undetected and to go unpunished."

Protester to Condoleeza Rice: "Blood Is On Your Hands"
A protester was thrown out of the Senate hearing after disrupting testimony by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The protester said " 'It's an Illegal and immoral war -- how many of you have children in the illegal and immoral war. Their blood is on your hands and cannot wash it away. Their blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away."

Lynne Stewart Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
And convicted civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart has disclosed she is battling breast cancer. Stewart was diagnosed in November, and had a tumor removed earlier this year. Stewart was convicted last year of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorism by releasing a statement by her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. She has always maintained her innocence. She is facing a maximum of thirty years in prison. Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced next week. Her lawyers have requested sentencing be postponed until the end of July so she can pursue treatment.

NYT: "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Theft Charges" (John Files and Robert Pear)

A former top White House aide was arrested on Thursday in the Maryland suburbs on charges that he stole merchandise from a number of retailers, the police in Montgomery County, Md., said Friday.
The former aide, Claude A. Allen, 45, was President Bush's top domestic policy adviser until resigning last month. Known as a rising conservative star, he previously served as deputy secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, and in 2003 the White House announced its intention to nominate him to a seat on the federal appeals court based in Richmond, Va. Democrats raised questions about the nomination, and it never came to a vote.

The above is from John Files and Robert Pear's "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Theft Charges" in this morning's New York Times. And before you get too excited and think the paper of record is front paging the story, it's not in Saturday's paper. [*CORRECTION*: On the back page of the national edition of today's paper, A28, "Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Retail Theft Charges" appears credited to John Files, with end credit to Robert Pear. This is an early version of the story by Files and Pear, end credit to David E. Sanger, that the link takes you to. It does not include the chronology Scott McClellan offers or a statement from Allen's lawyer. Original article includes sentences such as this: "The police did not refer to Mr. Allen's previous employment at the White House in announcing the arrest. The mug shot matched pictures of Mr. Allen and the Mongomery Country real estate records show that Mr. Allen and his wife were the buyers of the house at the address listed by the police."] Lewis noted this online story in an e-mail this morning. So what's been learned since Rebecca noted it and we noted it here last night?

There's this: when he was "issued a misdemeanor citation for theft," he wasn't a "former" anything. That was on January 2, 2006 and he was still Bully Boy's "top domestic policy adviser." Here's how the scam he's accused of worked, and remember this man's tight with Focus on the Fool Jimmy Dobson, he'd go to a store, purchase a few things, take his purchases out to his car, go back into the store with the receipt and the empty sack where he would grab the same sort of items and attempt to "return" these non-purchased items for a refund.

How well did this alleged scam apparently work? He's accused of working the con to the profit of "$5,000 last year at stores like Target and Hecht's." And the White House was informed of the January 2nd incident, Andrew Card (informed on the second of January) and Harriet Miers (informed on the third of January).

David S. Cloud, meanwhile, stumbles with the help of a bad headline writing, in
"Port Deal's Collapse Stirs Fears of Repercussions in Mideast Ties." The deal's collapse isn't stirring fears, Bully Boy is. Cloud hems and haws but appears to grasp that aspect early on in the article, despite the headline and despite a refusal to state "Bully Boy stirs fears." It's really no surprise that Bully Boy is pushing fear, it's all he ever pushes.

By the way, there's another purchase issue that's causing concern for some, as noted on Democracy Now! yesterday:

FBI Opposes Israeli Firm Buying Tech Firm w/ NSA Ties
Meanwhile a similar controversy is brewing over another business merger. An Israeli-based company called Check Point is in the process of buying the hi-tech firm SourceFire whose technology is used to protect some of the government's most sensitive computer systems at the Pentagon and the National Security Agency. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States has launched an investigation into the proposed sale. The FBI reportedly opposes the sale of SourceFire to any foreign firm because the agency fears that would give away the keys to the government's most sensitive computer networks.

Turning to Iraq, the Times' "American Kidnapped in Iraq Is Found Slain" reports that Christian Peacemaker Teams' Tom Fox is dead. Fox and three others from CPT were kidnapped on November 26th. There is no word on the other three members: "James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both of Canada, and Norman Kember, 74, of Britain." Earlier this week, Al Jazeera broadcast a video featuring Loney, Sooden and Kember but not Fox.

There's no byline for this article, noted by Charlie, but there is an end credit that states Michele Kayal contributed to the report.

From "CPT Release: We Mourn the Loss of Tom Fox" (Quakerorg.):

In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox's body was found in Baghdad yesterday.
Christian Peacemaker Teams extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.
We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.
We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus' prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.
In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done. In Tom's own words: "We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."
Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.
Through these days of crisis, Christian Peacemaker Teams has been surrounded and upheld by a great outpouring of compassion: messages of support, acts of mercy, prayers, and public actions offered by the most senior religious councils and by school children, by political leaders and by those organizing for justice and human rights, by friends in distant nations and by strangers near at hand. These words and actions sustain us. While one of our teammates is lost to us, the strength of this outpouring is not lost to God’s movement for just peace among all peoples.
At the forefront of that support are strong and courageous actions from Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world for which we are profoundly grateful. Their graciousness inspires us to continue working for the day when Christians speak up as boldly for the human rights of thousands Iraqis still detained illegally by the United States and United Kingdom.
Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom. Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing. In so doing, we may hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes. In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.
Despite the tragedy of this day, we remain committed to put into practice these words of Jim Loney: "With the waging of war, we will not comply. With the help of God's grace, we will struggle for justice. With God's abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies." We continue in hope for Jim, Harmeet and Norman's safe return home safe.
Contact: Dr. Doug Pritchard, CPT Co-Director 416-423-5525 (Canada) and Rev. Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director Kryss Chupp, 773-277-0253 (USA)

As noted on KPFA's Evening News yesterday, "More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, 55 foreign hostages are known to have been killed by their captors."

Hassan M. Fattah's "Symbol of Abu Ghraib Seeks to Spare Others His Nightmare" in this morning's New York Times offers a look at Ali Shalal Qaissi -- it's a look that's needed; however, is Fattah willfully unaware of Donovan Webster's "The Man In The Hood: And New Accounts of Prisoner Abuse in Iraq" (Vanity Fair)? (Article was never available online, we noted it here on January 17, 2005.) From Fattah's article:

Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. [The American military said Thursday that it would abandon the prison and turn it over to the Iraqi government.]
"I never wanted to be famous, especially not in this way," he said, as he sat in a squalid office rented by his friends here in Amman. That said, he is now a prisoner advocate who clearly understands the power of the image: it appears on his business card.
At first glance, there is little to connect Mr. Qaissi with the infamous picture of a hooded man except his left hand, which he says was disfigured when an antique rifle exploded in his hands at a wedding several years ago. A disfigured hand also seems visible in the infamous picture, and features prominently in Mr. Qaissi's outlook on life. In Abu Ghraib, the hand, with two swollen fingers, one of them partly blown off, and a deep gash in the palm, earned him the nickname Clawman, he said.
A spokesman for the American military in Iraq declined to comment, saying it would violate the Geneva Conventions to disclose the identity of prisoners in any of the Abu Ghraib photographs, just as it would to discuss the reasons behind Mr. Qaissi's detention.

Bill notes Cynthia Bennett's "The War on Abortion and Women's Health in Tennessee" (Tennessee Indymedia):

Eleven States, Including Tennessee, Follow South Dakota's Attack on Women and Families
Nashville, TN: On Thursday, March 9th Planned Parenthood supporters in Tennessee joined the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Nashville Women's Political Caucus, National Council of Jewish Women - Nashville Section, Tennessee National Organization for Women (NOW), Nashville NOW, ACLU-Tennessee, Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood, Tennessee Democratic Women's Political Action Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State - Tennessee, and other organizations to protest legislative attacks on abortion and reproductive health care and call for increased efforts in Tennessee to help women and families prevent unintended pregnancy. All 11 states with pending outright abortion bans held simultaneous visibility events on March 9th designed to remind legislators that the majority of Americans support protecting a woman's right to choose.
In a packed room in Legislative Plaza dozens of women were joined by Cathy England Walsh, Executive Director, TN Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Hedy Weinberg, President, American Civil Liberties Union - Tennessee; Holly Spann, President, Nashville Women's Political Caucus; Also speaking was Mark Huffman, VP, Education and Training, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East TN for a press conference after the recently voted on third hearing regarding SJR127, which passed the Senate 22-9. The bill now goes on to the House where it will enter a subcommittee. Organizers say their next chance is to kill it in subcommittee before it makes its way to the floor.

What else is coming up today? Maria has her (and her students) picks for important headlines from Democracy Now! (in Spanish and English), Ruth's latest public radio report, and Kat's doing the heads up to this weekends' RadioNation with Laura Flanders.

Brad's already noted that we've gone by to weekly archives. Why? Too many complaints from members. I understand and find it easier to track down a past entry by week. I can usually pinpoint something by a week and then find it by going through a week's worth of entries. Scrolling through a month's worth of entries is difficult. So the compromise? Returning to the weekly archives means reducing the main page entries to two days. When we started, we had seven days. Then we had five. Then we had to move to three. To get the site to publish, we either go to monthly archives or two days of entries. So that's what we've got now.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, March 10, 2006

Claude Allen, one time Bully Boy nominee to the 4th Circuit, arrested

Claude Alexander Allen, 45, was arrested Thursday by Montgomery County police for allegedly claiming refunds for more than $5,000 worth of merchandise he did not buy, according to county and federal authorities.
Allen was the No. 2 official in the Health and Human Services Department when Bush nominated him in April 2003 to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Bush nominated Allen to the court again a year later, but he never received a Senate vote.
During his confirmation hearing, Allen was questioned about his use of the word "queer" when he was a press aide to Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., in 1984. Allen said he didn't intend it as a slur against gay people.
In early 2005, Bush hired Allen as a domestic policy
adviser. He resigned abruptly on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Rebecca just phoned to pass on the above, Stephen Manning's "Former White House Adviser Arrested" (Associated Press). What doesn't the article tell you?

"Never received a vote"? Claude, we hardly knew you.

First an endorsement. C. Boyden Gray's "Claude Allen & His Enemies" (July8, 2004, National Review Online -- click here for google cache link to a right wing court site):

In April 2003, President Bush announced his intention to nominate Claude Alexander Allen to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which reaches from Virginia to South Carolina. Sixteen months later, as with so many of the president's other nominees -- courtesy of Senate Democrats -- Allen is still waiting.... The opposition to Allen is directed by left-wing interest groups, from where Senate Democrats increasingly take their marching orders.

Google cache of Traditional Values Coalition whining about the "vilification from liberals" of Alexander.

Now for some reality about this "solid" choice to serve on the bench. From Jack Newfield's "More Bad Judges" (The Nation):

A third horror in the pipeline is Claude Allen, awaiting renomination to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and now the Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services. Allen has supported antichoice statutes and regulations; urged sexual abstinence as the solution to AIDS and teen pregnancy; and opposed expanded health insurance for poor children. Allen has been involved in Republican politics for many years. In fact, Allen, who is African-American, was Jesse Helms's press secretary during Helms's racist campaign for re-election in 1984.
Bush is trying to transform America through lifetime judicial appointments for this biased batch and their clones. The bottom line is that the reckless Bushies are willing to violate computer privacy and vandalize the Bill of Rights to expedite this transformation. George W. Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court after losing the popular vote by more than 500,000. Now he is trying to use the courts to legislate a mandate the voters never gave him by abusing the power of appointment and ignoring the Constitution's "advise and consent" clause.

From BuzzFlash's interview with Esther Kaplan:

BuzzFlash: How does the Bush administration's efforts to please the religious right influence federal judicial appointments?
Esther Kaplan: Let me count the ways. Honestly, for every burning issue on the Christian right agenda, Bush has nominated ferocious advocates to the federal bench. On the campaign against sex education, the evangelical right got appeals court nominee Claude Allen, who, as our current deputy secretary for health (Tommy Thompson's number two), has become the nation's most powerful advocate for replacing comprehensive sex education with abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. On their campaign against gay rights, they got Michael McConnell, a hero to the Christian right for successfully defending the Boy Scouts before the Supreme Court, when the organization sought to exclude gay kids. Or William Pryor, mentioned above, who wrote a brief in the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case comparing gay sex to bestiality, pedophilia, incest, prostitution, and necrophilia.

Focus on the Fool enjoyed chatting with Allen -- from Media Matters' "White House adviser Allen appeared on Dobson show, failed to repudiate stem cell/Nazi comparison while joining in Frist attack:"

One day after Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments, White House domestic policy adviser Claude Allen appeared on Dobson's radio program and echoed Dobson's opposition to stem cell research without mentioning -- much less repudiating -- his reference to Nazi atrocities.
Allen also echoed Dobson's attack on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), which continued for a second day in a row. Frist
announced on July 29 that he now supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research beyond the restrictions currently imposed by the Bush administration.
From the
August 4 edition of the Focus on the Family radio program:
DOBSON: I want to devote today's program to a subject that, as you know, is very close to my heart, having to do with embryonic stem cell research and, specifically, that which destroys tiny human life. We discussed that subject yesterday with reference to Senator Bill Frist and several of his Republican colleagues, who have shifted their views from a decidedly pro-life perspective to a more utilitarian position, and we regret that abandonment of what we consider the ethical and moral stance.
The day before, on August 3, Dobson said on the program:
In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind. You know, if you take a utilitarian approach, that if something results in good, then it is good. But that's obviously not true.
Dobson's August 3 comments, which Media Matters for America first noted, produced outrage among such groups as the Anti-Defamation League, which
demanded an apology from Dobson. Notwithstanding Dobson's comments, the White House sent Allen to appear on the August 4 broadcast, during which he echoed Dobson's criticisms of Frist but said nothing about Dobson's Nazi comparison.
Dobson introduced Allen with profuse praise. "I just said how much I love and appreciate you, and it comes directly from my heart," Dobson told Allen. Allen responded in kind, declaring, "It is such a privilege to be on your program. You too have been just dear to me and my family, and so we're very grateful for that. And thank you for your leadership on so many issues that are important to the family and our nation."

[. . .]
Referring directly to Frist, Allen echoed Dobson's comments. "I think that's absolutely right," Allen said. "First off all, I'd say with regards to Senator Frist, it certainly is disappointing to hear when any political leader expresses the view that government should encourage the destruction of human embryos, for the very reason that we're talking about. Simply because someone says that this embryo is unwanted, it doesn't make that embryo unworthy of life or unworthy of protection." Allen added: "It's even more concerning when we say that government, that our tax dollars should be used to destroy those lives. And so we're very concerned."

And here's how his tenure in the administration ended, a February 9, 2006 announcement by Scott McClellan at a White House press briefing:

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everyone. I've got a couple of announcements to make, and then some brief remarks, and then I'll be glad to go to your questions.
First of all, I have a
statement from the President. "Claude Allen has been a trusted adviser since 2001. As Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, he worked to improve the health and welfare of all Americans. During the past year he has served as my top domestic policy advisor at the White House and has helped develop policies that will strengthen our nation's families, schools and communities. Claude is a good and compassionate man, and he has my deep respect and my gratitude. I thank him for his many years of principled and dedicated service to our country. Laura and I wish Claude and his family all the best."
And just a personal note, for all of us who have worked here closely with Claude, we have the highest respect for him, and we will certainly miss him. And we wish him all the best.

"Claude is a good and compassionate man," said the Bully Boy. Right away, you knew to be suspicious. Maybe that's what tipped off the police? The White House has no word on the arrest (or charge) yet. Bully Boy nominated him for the court, Bully Boy hired him for Health and Human Services, Bully Boy hired him as a personal, domestic adviser. So is the line going to be, "I hardly knew him." Another Kenny-Boy Lay kicked to the curb? Another Jack Abramoff forgotten?

Last word goes Patrick Leahy, from "Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination Of Claude Allen Executive Business Meeting Of The Judiciary Committee July 8, 2004:"

In addition to these procedural difficulties, this nomination has many problems on the merits. This nominee could not be more different from the man he would replace. Claude Allen is a conservative political operative with little litigation experience and extreme views. He has practiced law for a total of six and a half years. This is much less than the minimum 12 years suggested by the American Bar Association. This may be one reason why the ABA’s peer review rating of this nomination included partially "not qualified." He is among the more than two dozen judicial nominees with "not qualified" or partially "not qualified" ratings sent to the Senate by this President.
Where Mr. Allen has had substantive experience, he has shown himself to be extreme with a reputation for recalcitrance and an unwillingness to work with others of differing views. A judge needs to be able to consider facts and legal arguments that might contradict the outcome he would personally like. I have a number of questions about Mr. Allen's actions, including when he served at the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and apparently refused to promote the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and whether he used audits of safe-sex programs to strike out at critics and at programs with which he personally did not agree.

The e-mail address for this site is

Democracy Now: Tony Benn, James Marriot; Helen Thomas, Tom Hayden . . .

250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo
More than 250 medical experts have co-signed a letter condemning the United States for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The letter appears in the British medical journal The Lancet. The doctors wrote "We urge the US government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned." The doctors also said the American Medical Association should instigate disciplinary proceedings against any members known to have violated ethical codes while working at Guantanamo.
Protester to Condoleeza Rice: "Blood Is On Your Hands"
A protester was thrown out of the Senate hearing after disrupting testimony by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The protester said "It's an Illegal and immoral war -- how many of you have children in the illegal and immoral war. Their blood is on your hands and cannot wash it away. Their blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away."
Civil Liberties Groups Seek Court to Shutdown NSA Spy Program
Two civil liberties groups asked the federal courts on Thursday to force the Bush administration to end its warrantless domestic spying program because it violates the privacy and free speech rights of US citizens. The requests from the Center for Constitutional Rights and American Civil Liberties Union came just days after Republicans blocked a Senate investigation into the National Security Agency spy program. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said "In America, no one is above the law, not even the president. The president's allies in Congress are preparing to cover up his illegal program, while others in Congress are standing on the sidelines. When the President breaks the law, Congress should not be giving him a get-out-of-jail free card."
Ex-Justice Attorney: "Weak Justification" for Warrantless Spying
A former high-ranking national security lawyer at the Justice Department has come forward to criticize some of the Bush administration's key legal justifications for the warrantless spying program. Former associate deputy attorney general David Kris says the Bush administration's contention that Congress had authorized the NSA program by approving the use of force against al-Qaeda was a "weak justification" unlikely to be supported by the courts. Kris oversaw national security issues at the Justice Department from 2000 until 2003.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Charlie, Tori, Kansas and CalebDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 10, 2006

- Dubai Firm Pulls Out of U.S. Port Deal
- FBI Opposes Israeli Firm Buying Tech Firm w/ NSA Ties
- 250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo
- Civil Liberties Groups Seek Court to Shutdown NSA Spy Program
- Ex-Justice Attorney: "Weak Justification" for Warrantless Spying
- Pentagon Denies Report It Will Soon Close Abu Ghraib
- Rumsfeld: Iraq Security Forces Will Deal With Civil War
- Protester to Condoleeza Rice: "Blood Is On Your Hands"
- Woman Fired Over Air America Bumper Sticker
Former Labour MP Tony Benn on how Britain Secretly Helped Israel Build Its Nuclear Arsenal

We have an extended conversation with Tony Benn, one of Britain's most distinguished politicians and the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour party. Benn discusses the new revelations the British government helped Israel build the atom bomb. Benn also speaks about U.S. and U.K. relations, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay, torture, religion, and the state of the media. [includes rush transcript - partial]
The Next Gulf: London, Washington & the Oil Conflict in Nigeria

In recent months, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta -- MEND -- has intensified its conflict with the Nigerian government and its largest commercial partner, the oil giant Shell. Government forces have bombarded villages and oil rigs in its attacks on MEND’s ethnic Ijaw rebels. We speak with James Marriot, author of "The Next Gulf." [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Ken Saro-Wiwa, who died just over ten years ago, who was a spokesperson for the Ogoni people, who were taking on Shell in the early 1990s.
AMY GOODMAN: And executed in a military tribunal with other minority rights activists in Nigeria.
JAMES MARRIOTT: Just after that, Shell instituted a whole series of what some people call Greenwash, the company called "social responsibility processes." And one of those was that there should be a series of letters, whereby the heads of the oil company in Nigeria, for example, would write to the head of the exploration and production unit in the Hague and London, and say that the company was abiding by the principles of the company -- the good -- the basic principles, which was respect for human life, respect for the environment, etc., which was laid down in a set of new principles published in 1997.
So every year the head of Shell Nigeria had to write a letter saying, "We're going to apply --– we're applying to those, we’re abiding by them." And every year, the head of Shell would say, "Good, we've received this letter. That's good." One of the interesting things about this new principle is that they had to accept personal responsibility for the accuracy of those letters. So, how come the heads of Shell in Nigeria, who we can name as Philip Watts, Basil Omiyi, Chris Finlayson, how come they can have written those letters in the circumstances that we’ve seen over the last ten years and get away with it? It's appalling.
What's on our mind today?  Iraq.  Lot of e-mails with plans and thoughts on how to be heard this month.  So we'll focus on Iraq with three highlights and for the fourth and fifth, we'll be on a new topic.  First up, Brandon notes Tom Hayden's "Hawks Block American Withdrawal Plan" (The Huffington Post):
The strong possibility that Pentagon commanders will recommend the beginning of American troop withdrawals this week is vanishing, derailed by the Feb. 22 bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra as well as the Democratic Party's default on the war.
The British press has been more forthright in reporting troop withdrawal plans since last September's peace rallies.
Just a month ago [Feb. 2] the London Times announced an "acceleration" of plans by Britain and America for pulling out one-third of their troops this year. On March 5, the Telegraph's defense correspondent followed up by reporting that "all" British and American troops will be withdrawn in the next 12 months. Two days later, the British commander in Iraq withdrew the withdrawal hints, saying instead that a pullout of most troops might be "reasonable" by summer 2008. [NYT, Mar. 8, 06]. The New York Times says that the "widely expected" announcement of US troop cuts now was "muted."[nyt, Mar. 2, 06]
The stated reason, or pretext, for suspending the withdrawal plan was the bombing of the Shiite shrine and several days of sectarian bloodletting at the end of February. The US ambassador delivered the message "just before key US decisions are expected on whether the situation in Iraq has improved enough to allow for a reduction in US forces this year", the LA Times reported.[mar 7, 06]
We may never know who blew up the mosque and, with it, the prospects for troop withdrawals. It is assumed that the villains were either deranged Sunnis acting on their own, or al-Zarqawi cadres intent on civil war.
There is another perspective for close observers of dirty wars, the possibility that the bombing was planned and handled by elements of Western counter-terrorism forces. Similar tactics were employed by British agents during the long conflict in Northern Ireland, and heavily-armed British commandos disguised as Arabs were captured in Basra just last year. One of the oldest imperial strategems is to divide and conquer, incite sectarian divisions, and justify military occupation to keep the natives from killing each other. This is precisely the justification for continued war that is heard from those who have admitted the original invasion was a "mistake."
So that's the situation n Iraq now.  Will we ever get honest, as a nation, about how we ended up there?  Some still persist in truth seeking and truth telling.  Lynda notes Helen Thomas' "Lap Dogs of the Press" (The Nation):
Of all the unhappy trends I have witnessed--conservative swings on television networks, dwindling newspaper circulation, the jailing of reporters and "spin"--nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out--no questions asked.
Reporters and editors like to think of themselves as watchdogs for the public good. But in recent years both individual reporters and their ever-growing corporate ownership have defaulted on that role. Ted Stannard, an academic and former UPI correspondent, put it this way: "When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble."
The naïve complicity of the press and the government was never more pronounced than in the prelude to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The media became an echo chamber for White House pronouncements. One example: At President Bush's March 6, 2003, news conference, in which he made it eminently clear that the United States was going to war, one reporter pleased the "born again" Bush when she asked him if he prayed about going to war. And so it went.
After all, two of the nation's most prestigious newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, had kept up a drumbeat for war with Iraq to bring down dictator Saddam Hussein. They accepted almost unquestioningly the bogus evidence of weapons of mass destruction, the dubious White House rationale that proved to be so costly on a human scale, not to mention a drain on the Treasury. The Post was much more hawkish than the Times--running many editorials pumping up the need to wage war against the Iraqi dictator--but both newspapers played into the hands of the Administration.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his ninety-minute "boffo" statement on Saddam's lethal toxic arsenal on February 5, 2003, before the United Nations, the Times said he left "little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal" a so-called smoking gun or weapons of mass destruction. After two US special weapons inspection task forces, headed by chief weapons inspector David Kay and later by Charles Duelfer, came up empty in the scouring of Iraq for WMD, did you hear any apologies from the Bush Administration? Of course not. It simply changed its rationale for the war--several times. Nor did the media say much about the failed weapons search. Several newspapers made it a front-page story but only gave it one-day coverage. As for Powell, he simply lost his halo. The newspapers played his back-pedaling inconspicuously on the back pages.
Focusing on a deaf and scared Congress, Zach's highlight, here's Robert Parry's "Oversight by Capitulation" (Consortium News):
Despite a dip in his opinion polls, George W. Bush's transformation of the United States into an authoritarian society continues apace, with new "compromises" with Congress actually consolidating his claims to virtually unlimited executive power.
Bush's latest success came as part of a supposed "concession" to Congress that would grant two new Republican-controlled seven-member subcommittees narrow oversight of Bush's warrantless wiretapping of Americans.
While "moderate" Republican senators -- Mike DeWine of Ohio, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- hailed the plan as a retreat by the White House, the deal actually blesses Bush’s authority to bypass the courts in spying on Americans and imposes on him only a toothless congressional review process.
Indeed, the congressional plan may make matters worse, broadening the permissible scope of Bush’s wiretaps to include Americans deemed to be "working in support of a terrorist group or organization."
Given Bush's record of stretching words to his advantage – and his claim that anyone who isn't "with us" is with the terrorists -- the vague concept of "working in support" could open almost any political critic of the Bush administration to surveillance.
Plus, the only check on abuses would be the closed-door oversight work of the seven-member panels, which would only be informed of a warrantless wiretap after it had been in place for 45 days. Republicans also would have four of the seven seats on each subcommittee and any dissent from the minority Democrats would be kept secret.
In other words, the plan would let Bush and his Republican congressional loyalists conduct wiretaps of anyone whose activities might be called supportive of terrorists, while any Democratic critic would be muzzled from saying anything publicly under penalty of law.
In response to the first entry up here this morning, Zach notes that Parry isn't "going happily along."  No, he's not.  And none of us should.  Repeating, from this morning:
So is this what it's going to be? What we're going to accept? Our elected officials will work out "deals" with the White House on how an investigation will be conducted? We let Bully Boy set the agenda for the 9/11 investigation from the start. (Referring to the Congressional one, but it applies to the independent, or "independent," commission as well.) The administration breaks the law and our response is going to be to accept deals hammered out between the criminals and Congress? Is that how it's going to be? Is that how little our Constitution means to any of us?
Possibly, instead of buying up flags, Americans should be buying up copies of the Constitution and studying those. The difference is one is a totem and one's what's supposed to be the law of the land. We can have the government that people fought for (not referring to the military) or we can have the government we settle for. Right now, it seems like we're going to go along with futher dismantling the Fourth Amendment. What's next? The Thirteenth? The First? (We all know it won't be the Second.)

The law was broken. A Senate committee deciding that they can "fix" things by eliminating the judiciary from the process and retroactively legalizing a crime doesn't cut it.
Zach's right that Robert Parry's not going happily along or quietly.  Good for him.  Micah notes more on the "refuse to give up, keep fighting" front.  From
New York. March 9, 2005. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) announced that its attorneys had joined in a motion requesting a summary judgment from the United States District Court in New York against President Bush and other defendants involved in illegal electronic surveillance without judicial warrants. The summary judgment motion asserts that no trial is necessary in the case because Administration officials have already made sufficient public admissions regarding the program for the court to rule that the President's actions are illegal and violate the Constitution.
The NLG is cooperating with other attorneys in the representation of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who are the plaintiffs in the case. The CCR lawyers allege that the government is likely to have listened to their conversations with international clients and others who have been targeted by the government.
NLG President Michael Avery, one of the attorneys handling the case, summarized the legal claims in the brief filed today. "The President simply has no power under our Constitution to conduct this surveillance and his actions violate the constitutional guarantee of separation of powers. What he has admitted to doing constitutes a criminal offense -- a felony under federal law."
The Guild also warned that the reported agreement between Republican Senators and the White House to amend federal statutes to authorize electronic surveillance for successive 45 day periods without court orders would result in a law that would be unconstitutional. NLG President Michael Avery explained, “When the President fails to seek judicial warrants before his agents listen to the conversations of American citizens, he violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee that only judges and not FBI or NSA agents can order such invasions of privacy. Congress cannot repeal the Bill of Rights by passing a statute -- that was the very purpose of putting these rights in the Constitution.”
The National Lawyers Guild is a bar association founded in 1937 and comprising over 6,000 members and activists in the service of the people. Its national office is headquartered in New York and it has chapters in nearly every state, as well as over 100 law school chapters. The Guild has a long history of litigating to protect the constitutional rights of people in this country.
Final highlight, Gareth notes James Mottram's "Susan Sarandon: Cause Celebrity" (The Independent of London):
It's a wonder Susan Sarandon is still standing. A natural successor to such campaigners as Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda, the liberal actress has faced more pot-shots than a battery of clay pigeons. If it's not the Democrats and Republicans knocking her for supporting the independent candidate Ralph Nader during the 2000 US presidential elections, then it's the South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone mocking her and Tim Robbins, her long-time partner, in the puppet-powered satire, Team America: World Police. "Your powers have been weakened by time, Miss Sarandon," her marionette likeness is told as it is blown from a balcony. The truth is, as Sarandon approaches her 60th birthday this autumn, she is anything but frail. "I've been through Celebrity Death Match and I survived that!" she smiles, referring to the cult MTV show that pitted animated versions of her and Robbins against Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. "I've been on lots of things where I make fun of myself."
In town to promote her latest film, Romance & Cigarettes, Sarandon is sitting in the shade in the lush gardens of a luxury Venetian hotel, wearing a green crêpe dress, white trainers and a chunky gold bracelet. Witty and wise in equal measure, she is keen to prove that she has a sense of humour as well as a keen conscience. Yet she can't resist a dig at Team America, which she feels showed a "lack of sophistication" in its choice of who to pick on. "I thought it was one-dimensional to kill off all the actors who were activists, rather than people who, in my mind, would be better served as targets. I don't understand why they didn't kill off right-wing activists. It seems that only right-wing actors can become political figures. Progressive actors are never allowed to run for office. It's all those bad actors that get into politics!"
Sarandon, of course, is anything but a bad actor. Nominated five times for an Oscar, she finally won Best Actress in 1996 for her role as a nun who befriends a Death Row inmate in Robbins's Dead Man Walking. "Anything to kill my sex appeal, and my career, I've done," she laughs. "I can't account for it." It was a supreme irony to win the award for such a chaste role, for Sarandon had made a career out of playing characters defined by their sexuality. In Louis Malle's Pretty Baby, she played a New Orleans prostitute who abandons her child. Then there was the vampire movie The Hunger, which featured Sarandon in an infamous love scene with Catherine Deneuve. After she reignited her career at 42 by playing a sizzling baseball groupie in 1988's Bull Durham, she got to play a leggy coke-fiend (Light Sleeper), a femme fatale (Twilight) and, most famously, her Oscar-nominated feminist icon Louise (Thelma and Louise).
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