Friday, February 24, 2006

"It's a blot"

It's hard to believe it's only one day since I last blogged. So much has gone on. Please make a point to visit Mike's blog Mikey Likes It! to get his take on the events.

"140 Die in Iraq Following Bombing at Shiite Shrine" (Democracy Now!):
Iraq is under a high security alert following days of violence sparked by Wednesday’s bombing of one of the country’s holiest Shiite shrines in Samarra. At least 140 people, mostly Sunni Arabs, have been killed across the country. The Sunni-led Association of Muslim Scholars has said 184 Sunni mosques have since been damaged or destroyed. 10 clerics have been killed and 15 more abducted. The government imposed a rare daytime curfew today in Baghdad and in three other provinces -- preventing many from attending Friday prayers. A series of joint Sunni-Shiite demonstrations have been held calling for national unity and to condemn the increasing violence. As many as 10,000 rallied in Basra alone. But many analysts fear Iraq is on the brink of civil war. The U.S. military is ordering its soldiers to stay in its barracks in Baghdad and to stay off the streets. On Thursday seven U.S. troops died. Meanwhile the staff of the satellite TV channel Al Arabiya is in mourning following the death of one of its best-known correspondents in Iraq. The 30-year-old Atwar Bahjat was assassinated along with her cameraman and soundman on Thursday.

The tragedy continues. It is a tragedy. C.I. noted Camilo Mejia saying "Tragedy -- not my tragedy, but the tragedy of Iraq; my sacrifice is nothing compared to theirs." It is a tragedy and it goes on. Why?

I think we have the answer in "NYT: Bill Keller declares a 'play day' and paper misses Guantanamo coverage (again!)." Read that, because C.I. nails the paper of record perfectly. It's not about reporting that we need. It's about, as C.I. said in "Other Items" this morning, official speak:

So exactly what does the New York Times do today? Not a whole lot. They fawn over officials as usual. Such as with Steven R. Weisman and Robert F. Worth's "Violence Strains U.S. Strategy and Imperils Pullout Plans:"
Senior administration officials in Washington and Baghdad said the next few days would test American and Iraqi resolve, as the United States military, despite pressure to intervene and angry accusations that it stood by while Iraq erupted in revenge killings, holds back to see if Iraqis can quell violence themselves. An unusual daytime curfew in Baghdad scheduled for Friday Prayer could help, the officials said.
Did the officials say that? Well then it must be true and it must be recorded by the paper of record.
Meanwhile the Davids (S. Cloud and E. Sanger) team up to tell you what must be the most important development in the port story -- from "Dubai Company Delays New Role at Six U.S. Ports:"
The Dubai company at the center of a political furor over its plans to take over some terminal operations at six American ports said Thursday night that it planned to close the deal next week, but that it would "not exercise control" over its new operations in the United States while the Bush administration tried to calm opposition in Congress.
The statement may provide a little time and political breathing room for President Bush, who has appeared stunned at the opposition from Republicans and Democrats alike over the deal involving one of the country's few close Arab allies.
Bully Boy might get breathing room? Surely that is the most important detail in this story . . . in the eyes of the New York Times which, more and more, reads less like a newspaper and more like a club newsletter. At this rate, tomorrow's port story will inform us of whether or not the Bully Boy is still regular or if constipation has set in as a result of (backdrop) the controversy over the ports issue.

Are these the voices that matter to you? Or are you like me and more interested in the Kevin and Monica Bendermans of the world? Their story isn't important enough to the paper of record. That's exactly why that paper is so useless.

"Letters from Fort Lewis" (Kevin Benderman, Feb. 8, 2005):
The American people need to wake up to the reality of what this admininstration is doing to our country. They claim to be creating economic growth for the country, but I wish someone would explain to me why General Motors and Ford are eliminating 30,000 jobs each and why Kraft Food is eliminating 6,000 jobs IN AMERICA. The mega-oil corporations are bragging about the record profits they posted in 2005, while Jane and Joe "average" America are having to pay record prices for heating oil for their homes and record prices at the pump.
Another news report stated that Americans, on average, were not able to put any money into their savings accounts in 2005. This situation has not occurred since before the great depression of the 1930's. While I am not an economist, I don't need a weatherman to tell me which way the wind blows.
The $440 billion spent on mass destruction could have paid Social Security, it could have been spent on the Gulf Coast states destroyed by the hurricanes, it could have been spent on a more reliable immigration system, it could have gone to help seniors afford their prescription medication, it could have gone into a student loan program, it could go into research and development for more reliable and cleaner energy sources, and, it could have benefited America to finance something constructive instead of funding absolute destruction.

Now tell me which you relate to more: Kevin Benderman's truth or spin out of the mouth of the Bully Boy? Think about Monica Benderman, fighting for her husband and for her country. Does it not scream "human interest story"? It does to me. But the corporate press isn't interested in that. If you ask me, most of us have far more in common with the Bendermans than we do with the Bully Boys. A real press would be interested in covering these stories of how the illegal invasion/occupation is impacting people's lives. All the New York Times wants to do is suck up to officials. We are all the Bendermans. We thought we'd be able to take care of ourselves, do the right thing and no problem. But look what happened when Kevin Benderman tried to do the right thing. That's a story. The corporate press may not care, but it is a story.

"Marines Conduct Secret Study Into Iran Ethnic Minorities" (Democracy Now!):
The Financial Times is reporting an intelligence wing of the Marines has hired a private defense contractor to conduct a secret study of Iran's ethnic minorities. This is a move that could indicate early stages of contingency plans for a ground assault on Iran. The Marines conducted a similar study in Iraq. A former intelligence officer said the ultimate purpose of the Marines intelligence wing was to “support effective ground military operations by the Marine Corps.” The study appeared to focus on whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq. The Financial Times reports several Iranians living in the United States refused to help with the study because they saw it as part of an effort to break up Iran. To conduct the analysis, the military hired a subsidiary of the defense contractor SAIC, the Science Applications International Corp.

To steal from Rebecca, more I could have guessed that news. Is there anything that this administration can do at this point that would surprise anyone? Maybe tell the truth. That would be shocking after five years of nonstop lies. Maybe our mainstream media could start telling the truth as well? Ted Koppel is shameless. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that the paper ran today. It read like something a suck up to Henry Kissinger would write. Koppel's long sucked up to Kissinger. When I got to work this morning, Sunny showed it to me and asked, "Does Koppel think he's 'brave'?"

I bet he does. I bet he thinks he's brave. He wasted how many hours of Nightline? We're all supposed to be thrilled that he showed the names of the fallen twice. Or maybe that he did a story (one) on PNAC (that disappeared from the website in it's lenghtier transcript)? This is the man who was for the war. He said so publicly.

Now he's written a self-serving op-ed that says, basically, "So what if we were lied, we have a regional interest in the area and it is about oil." First off, Teddy, no WMD was known when you were still hosting Nightline. So you could have made those comments while you had a show. Second of all, you're not saying, "It's about oil! People have died for oil!" Instead, you're saying, "It's about oil and we have a strategic interest to defend . . ." and droning on in his usual dull manner. Where there's superficial, there is Ted Koppel.

I was so glad when C.I. wrote the thing on Koppel. It was embarrassing enough that the mainstream was acting like we were losing something of value but for the left to do the same was shameful. Did they never read anything by FAIR about the "balance" on Nightline? Were they not aware he was sucking up to Kissinger on air over and over. (Kissinger was one of Koppel's most booked guests.) Ted Koppel was George Will without the bow tie.

"The end of a (bad) era" (The Common Ills):
Tributes will probably roll out to remind us of what we're going to "miss." Yes, it's true there was little of the screaming found on CrossFire, The McLaughlin Group, et al. It's also true that there wasn't much for the left to applaud on Nightline.
As Gore Vidal's noted, ". . . if you want to know what the ownership of the country wants you to know, tune in to Nightline and listen to Ted Koppel and his guests" (Vidal, The Decline of the American Empire, p. 44). Vidal also cites a study by FAIR for the years 1985-1988 of Nightline. Koppel mentor Henry Kissinger racks up 14 appearances as does Al Haig -- other multi-appearance guests included Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell.
[. . .]
We're so starved for TV news (as opposed to "news") that there may be a temptation for some to extoll Nightline as "serious." What show were they watching? Let's trip down memory lane.
Let's drop back to July 29, 2004, Democracy Now!'s "ABC's Ted Koppel Refuses To Apologize For Pre-War Iraq Coverage:"
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that ABC and the other networks should apologize for providing an uncritical forum for the administration to lay out their unsubstantiated claims of weapons of mass destruction?
TED KOPPEL: I am glad you phrased your question so nicely. No, I don't think an apology is due if what you are saying is could we all have been more critical? I think the answer is yes. I must tell you, I am going to be responsive in behalf of Nightline over which I do have some control. We did do a 90-minute town hall meeting, the title of which was Why Now? and the essence of which was: Where is the evidence that there's an immediate danger to the United States? Did we do enough programs like that? I concede we did not. But that's a function of perhaps incompetence on my part, but certainly not ill will and I will try and do better the next time, but I don't think I need to apologize for it.

Amy Goodman, Robert Parry, Norman Solomon, FAIR, Gore Vidal, go down the list. (And C.I.'s got a ton of sources.) Ted Koppel was everything that was wrong with the mainstream press. But you wouldn't have known it to read some of the coverage. But there are people who think he was a "serious" journalist just because he spoke in that annoying tone instead of shouting. He was serious -- about conveying conventional wisdom. He was Cokie Roberts with less attitude. That's all he was. So it's fitting that he ends up at NPR which doesn't know how to report these days but sure knows how to bore the hell out of you with chatter amongst the hosts and really lame stories.

Do I seem upset tonight? I am. I can't believe Bully Boy's plans for Iran are starting to come out. The level of incompentence in the White House is not to be believed. Presumably, after he starts his third war, he'll immediately begin planning for North Korea. It's as if he's leading a one man march for WWIII.

"War Criminal Quote" (Colin Powell on the lies in his UN presentation via Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were," The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Sex-ed should teach you about sex"

Brenda e-mailed to ask if I was feeling better today? I am and that's due largely to some good news that I'll note in a minute. Remember to please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on the following events.

"Supreme Court To Reconsider Banning Late-Term Abortion" (Democracy Now!):
And the Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will consider reinstating a federal ban on late-term abortion. Recent President Bush appointee Samuel Alito could hold the tie-breaking vote when the court hears the case. The court last ruled on the issue in the year 2000, when Judge Sandra Day O’Connor cast the deciding vote to strike down a state law banning the procedure. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: "Today's action means the core principle of protecting women's health as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade is in clear and present danger."

Rebecca said it best, yesterday, when discussing another bit of Alito news:

so we got what we knew we were getting.

Mike and I were discussing this earlier today on the phone and we're not really sure what it is people want? Are we supposed to be shocked? Rebecca's right, we knew. Whether you were for Alito or against him, whether you were a coward who wouldn't support a filibuster or a reporter who wouldn't report facts, we all knew.

As for hearing from NARAL on this issue? I have no use for them. That's not blaming them for Alito's confirmation. That is saying they are a weak, ineffective organization. I objected to them rushing in to defend Hillary Clinton in January 2005. She was obviously repositioning herself (as few would argue now) and when there was real outrage being expressed, NARAL -- supposed champion of reproductive rights -- comes along to say, "Back off gals, Hill's our friend!"

They are useless. Keesha, Kara, Gina and myself were very vocal at The Common Ills about that nonsense. (Here's the first entry where C.I. noted Hillary's repositioning. I can find the initial reaction but I'm having trouble finding the repeated reactions because this was, and is, a big deal to our community. Here's one entry where Krista and Keesha are weighing in.) I think it was Keesha who said then, "Don't make them a link, don't give them money." They made themselves useless. They need to come up with a new strategy and they probably need new leadership.

NARAL was once an important group. It isn't anymore.

"Three Ohioans Charged With Conspiracy To Attack US Troops" (Democracy Now!):
Back in the United States, the Justice Department has charged three Ohio men with conspiracy to kill US troops in Iraq and other countries. The three -- Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Wassim I. Mazloum, and Marwan Othman El-Hindi -- are originally from Jordan and Lebanon. Amawi is also charged with making threats to kill President Bush. They each pled not guilty Tuesday. El-Hindi’s attorney, Steve Hartman, said: "It doesn't help that he's Jordanian. I think he's caught up in the Justice Department's vigorous work."

I really don't know what to say here. I don't make a point to read the New York Times but a Neil A. Lewis was noted (and then some) by C.I. this morning in "NYT: One sided 'reporting' (Neil A. Lewis)" so I read his article. How does C.I. take on the New York Times every morning? I couldn't do it. I read Lewis' press release for the Justice Department and was shocked at how one-sided the "reporting" was. Does anyone read over the articles before they go to print? I don't see how Lewis' article made it into print. Read C.I.'s critique and then read the article and you'll see that Lewis wasn't reporting on anything other than what the government was saying. It's as though Lewis is nothing but a flunkie for the Justice Department.

I called C.I. to ask, "Sick or better?" Still sick. But I was asked if I could note something. My only problem is that I wasn't able to get Mike back on the phone because I'm sure he'd want to note it as well.

"NEWS UPDATE!The Rebel is Free!!!" (CodePink):
Feb 21st '06 Mon, Cypress, TX
By Krishnaveni Gundu
County Criminal Court #9 (Republican Judge Analia Wilkerson), forgot to put her case on the docket which may have been a good thing after all b'cos the attorney managed to plea-bargain and got the charge reduced from a 'Class B misdemeanor' to a 'Class C misdemeanor'. Class B was for possessing fake id - max. $4000 fine + max. 1 yr. in jail. But Class C is simply 'not having a valid TX Driver's License' - max $500 fine.
So she pleaded guilty to Class C, paid a $50 fine plus $200 court costs and that's it! Now she's truly a freebird and on her way back to dear ol' Seadrift.
Native American friend Wolf pitched in $100, Goldstar Families for Peace pitched in with a cheque of $150. Still no idea if I'll get back the $1500 cash I put up for bail.
We, i.e. Diane, Ann Wright, Cindy's sister Didi (adorable tiggerloly) and I were out of there by 10:45 am CST and on our way to Katie Heim's place where we had a wonderful breakfast celebration with homemade biscuits, eggs, mashed potatoes and mimosas (champagne & orange juice)!

I wish I'd know that news yesterday -- it would have helped my negative mood. Diane Wilson is free -- as she should have been all along. A banner is not a weapon anymore than ideas are weapons.

Tonight, we end with a reality check. I never did find the thing that had Keesha and my comments (it's probably a month or two later because Hillary's repositioning was a huge issue to our community); however, reading over Keesha's remarks, I wanted to note some of them here.

Reality Check: "Keesha on the Facts of Life"
Sex-ed should teach you about sex. Abstinence is a position families need to address on their own. On the issue of evolution, NYT has yet to urge that creationism be taught (though that day may soon be upon us). There's not a real difference. One is a belief, one is science. Sex-ed should be based on science. Personal beliefs can be taught at home and in religious halls.

Tell you what, NYT, when priests and nuns can keep their vows, I might consider agreeing with NYT that abstinence education has educational merits. I'm remembering that lost in the coverage of priests and young boys was a story of a priest who paid for the abortion of a nun.
Did he not understand the concept of "abstinence?" Or did he understand it as what it is, a morality position, and choose to reject it? D.A.R.E. hasn't worked, prohibition didn't work and studies have found that abstinence education at best delays the onset of sexual activity for a very limited time.
It's not science. It doesn't have it's place in sex-ed.
Those on or near the left who attempt to make this argument better reconcile their endorsement of it with their refusal to embrace creationism being taught because both positions reject science.As for the position NYT's editorial board takes, considering that they are always attempting to push the Clintons to the right (and feminists as you noted last month discussing their slam of NOW during the primaries), I'll take it about as seriously as I take the majority of their weak editorials.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Remember that my life is but a breath"

Late last night, we all worked on several news items and posted them at our sites. I mention that because I have a visitor who's e-mailed to say, "You really like your time off, don't you?" For the record, I do like my time off. But the process of working on those entries last night was not time off. We all discussed topics (including the mining disaster in Mexico) and made a list of which ones we wanted to hit hard on. Iraq and Guantanamo were natural choices. The additional ones were harder to decide upon. Everyone hunted down resources and for the items that did make it into the posts, there were more resources than we linked to. We discussed the research, in depth discussion, and then went about writing the thing. I would guess we worked about three to four hours on that.

For tonight, please visit Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's take on the news.

"Navy's Top Attorney Warned Against Administration's Detainee Policies" (Democracy Now!):
The New Yorker magazine has revealed that two years before the Abu Ghraib photos were first published, the Navy's general counsel, Alberto Mora, began challenging what he described as the administration's "disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects." Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush's decision, in 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions. He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held detainees was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described the novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse as "unlawful," "dangerous," and "erroneous."

So what everyone knew is confirmed. "A few bad apples" weren't responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib, it was a policy at Guantanamo that was carried over (read Jane Mayer's article). While the country wants to pretend that "justice" had been done as a result of Lynddie England and a few other, low-level people getting show trials, the reality is that those who crafted the policies and transferred them, the higher ups, have not been punished, have not even been forced to answer serious questions.

"The Memo" (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker):
There was only one copy of the opinion, and it was kept in the office of the Air Force's general counsel, Mary Walker, whom Rumsfeld had appointed to head the working group. While Walker sat at her desk, Mora looked at the document with mounting disbelief; at first, he thought he had misread it. There was no language prohibiting the cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment of detainees. Mora told me that the opinion was sophisticated but displayed "catastrophically poor legal reasoning." In his view, it approached the level of the notorious Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. United States, in 1944, which upheld the government’s internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.
The author of the opinion was John Yoo, a young and unusually influential lawyer in the Administration, who, like Haynes, was part of Addington's circle. (Yoo and Haynes were also regular racquetball partners.) In the past, Yoo, working closely with Addington, had helped to formulate the argument that the treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects, unlike that of all other foreign enemies, was not covered by the Geneva conventions; Yoo had also helped to write the Torture Memo. Before joining the Administration, Yoo, a graduate of Yale Law School, had clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and taught law at Berkeley. Like many conservative legal scholars, he was skeptical of international law, and believed that liberal congressional overreaction to the Vietnam War and Watergate had weakened the Presidency, the C.I.A., and the military. However, Yoo took these arguments further than most. Constitutional scholars generally agreed that the founders had purposefully divided the power to wage war between Congress and the executive branch; Yoo believed that the President's role as Commander-in-Chief gave him virtually unlimited authority to decide whether America should respond militarily to a terror attack, and, if so, what kind of force to use. "Those decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make," he wrote in a law article.

In the case of John Yoo, not only has there been no accountability, he's been rewarded outside the government. He teaches at Berkeley. So UC Berkeley is okay with this? They're okay with his actions? As C.I. pointed out, this isn't "speech" -- this is action. Yoo has the right to say anything. He can argue that the world would be better off if London wasn't in it. But if he takes actions to ensure that London's not around, we've gone beyond speech and landed in the area of action. By keeping him on their faculty, UC Berkeley is saying that they condone his actions which were war crimes. (C.I. covered this Monday in "Other Items." I agree 100% with C.I.) This is not the case of a professor arguing, with free speech rights, that we should torture, this is the case of a man who crafted plans and orders that led to the torture of many and the violation of Congressional acts and legislation as well as the Geneva Conventions.

"Report: U.S. Used Bogus Call Sign to Hide Secret Flights" (Democracy Now!):
The Sunday Times of London is reporting the U.S. military has been operating secretive flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use. This has allowed the U.S. to carry out covert missions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Sunday Times reported one flight apparently transported 45 tons of surplus weapons and ammunition to Rwanda in defiance of a UN embargo. In another case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of "extraordinary rendition" left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign.

Why are we arming Rwanda? "[I]n defiance of a UN embargo"? Hello, Iran-Contra. When Reagan and Poppy (along with their underlings) were allowed to escape responsibility and accountability for their actions (and Poppy Bush pardoned those who could rat him out -- with all the outcry over Bill Clinton's last minute pardons, you didn't hear too much about Poppy's, did you?). That's what happens when there's no accountability, people escape and think they can degrade the nation again.

I wish I had an uplifting quote to go out on tonight, but I don't. Tonight's quote captures my current mood.

Remember that my life is but a breath, my days have passed and vanished.
-- Job


In the United Kingdom today, over 200 people gathered at St Nicholas and Writhington Church, in Radstock, Somerset for the funeral of Corporal Gordon Pritchard who died in Basra on January 31, 2005 becoming the 100th British soldier to die in Iraq. 101 British troops have died in Iraq, official count. Gordon Pritchard, who was 31 years-old, is survived by his wife Julie-Ann and his children Stacey, Harrison and Summer.

Alexander Panetta, of the Associated Press, is reporting that Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay maintains that "latest intelligence" indicates that the four memebers of Christian Peacemaker Teams are still alive. The four members, kidnapped in November, were last seen in a January 29th videotape. The four members are:

James Loney, 41, of Toronto; Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a former Montreal resident; Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., and Norman Kember, 74, of London
[. . .]

Sunday's upsurge in violence continued on Monday. Reuters is reporting that bombings in Mosul and Baghdad today killed "at least 19 people." The Associated Press reports that in Karbala one American soldier was killed in a bombing and that in Mosul, a bomber killed himself in a "restaurant packed with policemen eating breakfast, killing at least five people and wounding 21, including 10 policemen". The Department of Defense has identified Capt. Anthony R. Garcia of Fort Worth, Texas as one of the 34 US military fatalities this month. Garcia died of from gunshot wounds after a February 17th shooting that took place on a military base in Tikrit. Garcia is survived by his wife Doris and his children Kelly and Garrick.

Brian Zimmerman, of Gannet News, is reporting that questions still surround the shooting death of Army Reservist David Douglas who died two weeks after returning to the United States from a one-year stint in Iraq. Commenting on the violent deaths of many returning veterans, National Guardsman Alfonso Williams told Zimmerman:

You have a whole lot of built-up anger from being over there. . . . You can't explain (what it's like) to anybody. And to them, what they may think is screaming and hollering to you is a normal tone.

In 2005, the military reports that 136 active duty personnel committed suicide. No figures are kept for those who are inactive. The current number for US military fatalities in Iraq stands at 2276.

As Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker, early warnings were ignored by the administration about the environment created for abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo. Noting that "Human rights are under threat," Amnesty International is calling for the closing of Guantanamo. Tuesday, Amnesty International will host a live online discussion:

Live chat with Moazzam Begg, ex Guantánamo detainee, on 21 February, 6-7pm GMT

Moazzam Begg, British citizen, was held for "nearly three years," as noted on Democracy Now!. Amnesty International's call echoes the call of the UN investigation team as well as the prime ministers of Germany, France, England and Malaysia. U.S. Charm Minister Karen Hughes, speaking to Al Jazeera, rejected calls to close Gitmo and reportedly maintained that not only are the people imprisoned in Guantanamo wanting to kill Americans but that some released "have gone back to fighting and killing Americans." If the report is accurate, it is surprising that such an assertion would be made by the Minister of Charm and not Bully Boy himself.

In this country, the Associated Press is reporting that Republican governors George Pataki (New York) and Robert Ehrlich (Maryland) have joined the chorus of voices objecting by administration plans to turn over control of "six major U.S. ports" to Dubai Ports World. Senators Robert Menendez (New Jersey) and Hillary Clinton (New York) are also objecting to the proposed plan. Speaking out against the plan involving the Arab company, Mendendez stated today, "We wouldn't turn over our customs service or our border patrol to a foreign government. We shouldn't turn over the ports of the United States, either."

Feminist Wire Daily is reporting that CWIG (Center for Women in Government and Civil Society) has conducted a study on "the percentage of women in policy-making positions - such as state legislators, elected officials, high court judges, department heads, and top governor's advisors" for the years 1998 to 2005 and found that the rate of growth for women in those positions increased by only 1.6% -- "from 23.1 percent to 24.7 percent." FWD notes:

Slow progress for women in state government has national implications, says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers. State and local office serve as a "pipeline" to draw women into national politics. Not to mention, adds Walsh, state legislatures themselves are "making a tremendous amount of policy" –- in 2005, 48 state legislatures considered over 500 anti-choice bills.

On the national level, NOW notes, that although "almost nine million more women voted than men" only fourteen women serve in the United States Senate and only sixty-seven in the House, while of the fifty governors in the United States, only eight are women.

As noted on Sunday's KPFA Evening News, Saturday Feb. 25th, a Counter-Recruiting workshop will be held, open to the public, from 2 to 5pm at the Veterans' Memorial Building, Room 219, 401 Van Ness Ave. March 1st is the National Law Student Day Against the Death Penalty (SDADP)

In other news, Philadelphia Indymedia is reporting that Governor Ed Rendell vetoed the Pennsylvania's Voter ID bill. Rendell, who spanked Casey Junior in the 2002 election race, stated, "I see no reason to enact laws that will result in voter confusion and disenfranchise legitimately registered voters." Member of Protect the Vote had successfully fought against the proposed legislation and were on hand for the veto ceromny.

In other civil liberties news, following what BuzzFlash has called "Just Your Average Week of the Bush Administration Betraying America," the ACLU features a snapshot of governmental spying/snooping in the form of Betty Ball who states:

It is true that I have become more motivated to work for justice and social change knowing that the government is abusing its powers like this. But I am worried about how far the government will go to squelch First Amendment rights and silence dissent. Will we all be rounded up and incarcerated? Already so many people have been frightened away from participating in our events, and have asked to have their names removed from our mailing lists, for fear of the consequences of associating with us. I hesitate to call people to discuss plans for rallies or protests because I don’t want them ending up in an FBI file labeled as a "domestic terrorist."

Meanwhile, author and activist Diane Wilson remains in a Victoria County jail in Texas. Wilson was arrested for unfurling a banner that read "Corporate Greed Kills--From Bhopal to Baghdad" at a Dick Cheney attended fundraiser in Houston on December 5, 2005. Wilson's banners are apparently too much for the delicate sensibilities of the foes of democracy. She is currently serving a 150 day sentence for a 2002 action where she climbed a Dow Jones tower and unfurled a banner which read "Justice For Bhopal." CODEPINK is calling for Wilson's release.

In other take action news, is asking you to Take Action: Demand Coverage of Able Danger (more info on the Able Danger program can be found at Able Danger Media Monitoring).

Finally, Monday's Democracy Now! featured:

"Readings From Howard Zinn's 'Voices of a People's History of the UnitedStates:'"
Today we spend the hour with readings from a Voices of a People's History of the United States edited by historian Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. It is the companion volume to Zinn's legendary People's History of the United States ­ which has sold over a million copies.We will hear dramatic readings of speeches, letters, poems, songs, petitions, and manifestos. These are the voices of people throughout U.S.history who struggled against slavery, racism, and war, against oppression and exploitation, and who articulated a vision for a better world. Performances include Danny Glover as Frederick Douglass, Marisa Tomei as Cindy Sheehan, Floyd Red Crow Westerman as Tecumseh and Chief Joseph, Sandra Oh as Emma Goldman and Yuri Kochiyama, and Viggo Mortensen as Bartolomeo de Las Casas and Mark Twain.

This entry was compiled by:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of
The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of
Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of
Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of
The Daily Jot.