Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"If we dont change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed for"

What a day of hearings. Be sure to check out Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's views on the Democracy Now! items and, I'm sure, on the Alito hearings as well.

NSA Denies Whistleblower's Demand To Testify Before Congress (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting the National Security Agency has denied the request of whistleblower Russell Tice to testify before Congress. Tice, a former intelligence agent at the NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency who has spoken out against the domestic spy program, was told he is not free to testify because staff members on Capitol Hill do not have high enough security clearance to hear the secrets he has to tell. Tice first spoke out on record on Democracy Now last week.

Amy Goodman's referring to the story below.

"National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a 'Police State'" (Democracy Now!, January 3, 2006):
AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.
RUSSELL TICE: Well, the main reason is, you know, I'm involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the letter you have written to Congress, your request to testify?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, it’s just a simple request under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that something has gone wrong in the intelligence community.

That's an excerpt. You can watch, listen or read the transcript. My comment? So Tice applies to Congress for protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act and the NSA is able to overrule Congress? Is that's what's happening?
I'm failing to see where in the Constitution the NSA is given power over Congress. Does anyone else see it?

UN Admits July Cite Soleil Raid Killed Innocent Civilians (Democracy Now!):
The calls for crackdowns come as the UN has admitted for the first time it killed several innocent people in a July raid on the poor community of Cite Soleil. This according to an internal inquiry obtained by the London Independent. At the time, Democracy Now broadcast graphic footage of the raid. Peacekeepers killed at least twenty people, including two young children. Despite its admission, the UN maintained most of the dead were actually killed by other gang members, calling the video footage a "manifest example" of disinformation. But Kevin Pina, a Haiti-based American journalist said: "I personally handed a copy of that video to [the UN special envoy, Juan] Valdes at JFK airport. He described it as propaganda and lies without even looking at it. They are predisposed to saying this. They do not want to look at the evidence."

That report was, I believe, on July 11th and an excerpt of the introduction to it is below.

"Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haitian Slum" (Democracy Now!, July 11, 2005):
On Saturday hundreds of Haitians gatherer for the funeral of Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme -- a popular community leader who lives in Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Wilme was killed last Wednesday when UN troops attacked the neighborhood in a pre-dawn raid.
Although the raid has received little attention, local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.
According to residents the UN troops entered the area at about three in the morning and opened fire. Eyewitnesses reported the UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the operation. The UN has admitted that its troops killed at least five people. UN military spokesman Colonel Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse, "The bandits tried to fight our men. They suffered serious losses and we found five bodies in what was left of a house." Local residents put the figure at no less than 20. Some estimates are even higher. Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims.

So Alito.

Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy did a fine job. Why is Diane Feinstein on the committee? Does she serve cookies? That's how she acts. Like some stereotype of femininity. Is she a Senator or is she Lily Tomlin's The Tasteful Lady?

I do not understand why she's on the committee. As a woman, I find it offensive when she doesn't correct someone raving about her looks. It's not a beauty contest, Diane.
Your peers on the committee may think you're sweet and pretty but that's not why you should be on the committee. Anyone who says, "I'll let that pass" when they're supposed to be questioning a prospective Supreme Court Justice, needs to step down from the committee.

And with a husband profitting from the war and Diane's own history after the assassination of Harvey Milk, "Genteel Diane" is a bit hard to buy.

Feinstein is especially disappointing because in 1991, Anita Hill stood before an all White, all male judiciary committee and was dismissed and savaged. As feminists, we said never again. Fifteen years later, and C.I. pointed this out last summer, all we have to show for it is one woman on the committee?

Diane's not up to the challenge. That's clear. I don't buy that she's a huggable, just out of the sorority and headed to the mixer, type "girl." But if that's how she wants to present herself, so be it. That behavior doesn't belong on the Judiciary Committee. She obviously enjoys providing the "boys" with entertainment and they obviously enjoy having a "girl" among them. But they need a woman on the committee. At least one. So it's time for Barbara Boxer or Maria Cantwell to be put on the committee or both.

Sunny taped highlights throughout the morning and during lunch we listened to them. She did the same for the afternoon and I listened to those on the way home.

What do I think of the hearings? Let me echo Mike -- what happens when Ted Kennedy decides he's tired of serving? You can always count on TK. Mike said Charles Schumer did a good job but by that time I was listening to the taped highlights from the afternoon.

Remember that you can hear them live on Pacifica. Show your support for independent media.
Also check out C.I.'s "NYT: 'Al Jazeera: From Network, to a Bush Target, to Courts' (Alan Cowell -- sleeping on the job)" to grasp how they try to sneak something known for over three years to you and act like it just happened.

"Mediaocracy 2006: Out With the Old, In With the New" (Danny Schechter, BuzzFlash):
The media consuming public seems to have an unlimited appetite for new media, but it is not just technologies that die but people's relationships to them. With more to watch and more to experience, attention spans shrink with more distractions designed to divert our attentions away from programming that asks us to care about our society in one way or another.
Increasingly, even as it gets slicker, the public that is supposed to like what they see, is turning it off and tuning it out. Our media is being confronted by a public that isn't very happy with its output. We know this from surveys that span the political spectrum that be reported but are rarely dwelt on. The last thing media outlets want to report is why the public is turning against them. In a media designed for "tune-in," tune-out seems to be the trend. Opinion surveys report wide spread dissatisfaction--see recent reports by the Pew Center in American Life--but other statistics are more compelling--the statistics that report fewer viewers watching network news programs and readers buying newspapers.
Match that up with the comparatively low voter turnout in The US and you find that in ours, the most media rich nation on earth, democratic participation is shrinking. Many critics have criticized the media for actually depoliticizing politics and in the process undermining democracy.
Media scandals seem to be erupting more frequently than political scandals, and the credibility of major media continues to decline. One Pew Center public opinion poll in one of those rare moments when members of the public were asked for their views -- found that as many as 70% of the people asked expressed dissatisfaction with the media.
Nearly 70 percent were angry, but for different reasons. Nearly half think the media is too left wing -not surprising after years of the Republican Party's punditocracy trashing the so-called "liberal media." The other half blames the right wing for souring them on media, pointing to Fox News and a tendency for big media to defer to big government.
In the general public, there is a growing consensus of complaint as media insiders puzzle over slipping ratings or more young people abandoning news networks for comedy channels for their news. There seems to be a growing anti-media consensus at the very time that media institutions seem to be more powerful than ever.

Tonight's peace quote goes out to the Senate Democrats.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
If we do not change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed for.
Chinese Proverb