View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Friday, July 18, 2003

Operation: Hidden Agenda Card Deck

High school teacher Kathy Eder got tired of BushCo's deck of "Most Wanted" playing cards and designed her own deck. The card feature pictures of Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and others in the administration along with quotes that question the U.S. rationale for going to war. The backs feature a photo of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam.

Although many retailers have refused to sell the cards, Eder sold 3,000 decks in three weeks and has placed an order with the printer for another 5,000.

You can buy them on-line here.

Play Twister! (Geo. W. Bush Credibility Twister, That Is)

Head on over to the DNC to play Twister and get the facts on the administration's ceaseless mendacity. Then scroll down and sign the petition calling for a bipartisan investigation that will answer questions about the whole WMD intelligence mess and hold Bush and his cronies accountable.

(Many thanks to Cheryl Franz for putting me onto this.)

Bush Does Senegal

So much for Bush's trip to Senegal resembling anything remotely resembling a good will tour.

The San Francisco Bay View, named National Black Newspaper of the Year, printed a devastating account of Bush's trip by a resident of Senegal. The upshot of the visit, according to the writer, was to convince the Senegalese "that everything has been done to convince us that we are nothing and that America can behave the way it wants, everywhere, even in our country."

Why would they have such a conviction? Maybe it has to do with
  • the more than 1500 arrested and jailed
  • the 700 security people who came with Bush, bypassing completely the Senegalese security forces
  • every tree on Bush's route being cut down, some as old as 100 years
  • the residents of Goree Island all being taken to a stadium on the other side of the island prior to Bush's appearance there
  • the closing of the ferry from Goree Island to Dakar
  • Bush bringing his own journalists and forbidding Senegalese journalists from entering the airport and other places he visited
  • Bush bringing his own armchairs, meals, drinks, and cars ("he did not want to use our things")
The article points out that
Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton and, before them, Nelson Mandela, the Pope and many other distinguished guests and ordinary tourists visited it without bothering the islanders. But for “security reasons” this time, the local population was chased out of their houses from 5 a.m. to noon. They were forced by the American security to leave their houses and leave everything open, including their wardrobes, to be searched by special dogs brought from the U.S.
His speech on Goree Island--while not heard by the residents of that island--has been widely called eloquent, and so it is. Too bad the WH occupant can't speak as well off the cuff. On the dailyKos comment board, "moeman" quotes David M. Loucas, MD:
I have no doubt that when Mr. Bush addressed the people of Senegal during his jaunt through Africa that he left them all bothered, bewildered and confused when he stated, "...I had the opportunity to go out to Goree Island and talk about what slavery meant to America. It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America. America is what it is today because of what went on in the past..." This is exactly what he said, and I have no idea what message Mr. Bush is trying to convey because he is limited to the language and syntax of a seven year old. I do know that if this is to be understood that African slaves came to America to practice their religion and to have freedom that this will certainly offend Americans whose descendants suffered forced labor and intolerable indignity because of slavery.
Eloquence is made possible by Bush's speechwriters, as we all know.

Another Ray of Hope

From MoveOn.org comes this:
75 television executives from network affiliates descended on Capitol
Hill yesterday to prevent the House appropriations committee from voting for a partial rollback of the FCC rule changes. ... Congress did something unprecedented yesterday. Republican committee member Frank Wolf urged his colleagues to vote their conscience, and stand up to the lobbyists. And they did just that, delivering a 40-25 vote against big media
And from the NYTimes:
The recent decision by federal regulators to loosen media ownership rules, already under fire in the Senate, took another blow in Congress yesterday. This setback was dealt by the House Appropriations Committee, which approved a budget amendment that would make it harder for big broadcasting companies to acquire more television stations.

The vote represented a defeat for Michael K. Powell, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, who has led the effort to change the rules. It was also a rebuke to the Republican House leadership and the Bush administration, strong supporters of the commission's efforts.
The bill may go to the full House as early as next week, and the fight is expected to be bitter. Moreover--as you won't be surprised to learn--the pResident has already threatened to veto any effort to curb the FCC's authority.

On the bright side, opposition to the latest easing of rules on media ownership is even greater in the Senate, and the very fact that 11 Republicans deserted to vote with the Dems "breathes new life into the effort to overturn the F.C.C. decision," says Gene Kimmelman, senior director for public policy for Consumers Union.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Concentration Camps in Baghdad?

On the edge of Baghdad International Airport, US military commanders have built a tent city that human rights groups are comparing to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Remarkably, the Americans have also set up another detention camp in the grounds of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. Many thousands of Iraqis were taken there during the Saddam years and never seen again
Iraqis as young as 11 years old have been arrested and placed in these camps, if what McGrory writes is true. Relatives line up at the camps in an attempt to get information on those who have been taken, but are turned away. Some have been arrested in the house-to-house searches that often occur in the middle of the night, and the families re-live the fears that were a fact of life under Saddam Hussein.

Amnesty International says that 80 juveniles have been detained, some "accused of petty offences including writing anti-American graffiti or, in the case of two teenage boys, climbing on the back of a US troop carrier to hitch a lift through a main street in Baghdad."
One of the most disturbing incidents concerns Sufiyan Abd al-Ghani, 11, who was with his uncle in a car that was stopped near his home in Hay al-Jihad at just after 10pm on May 27. The boy’s father heard a commotion and rushed outside to see him sprawled face down on the road with a rifle muzzle pressed against his neck and US officers shouting that someone in the car had shot at them.

Sufiyan was made to stay on the ground for three hours, while more than 100 soldiers poured into the neighbourhood, searching houses and cars. Eventually he was taken away with his hands trussed behind his back and a hood draped over his head. No weapon had been found. The boy said that soldiers dug rifle butts into his neck and back and that the first night he was handcuffed and left alone in a tiny room open to the sky
U.S. officials say that they are the only force for law and order until an adequate police force can be established and trained, and that there is no other place to put detainees until jails can be repaired. They refuse to give the Red Cross any information about the detainees until 21 days after their arrest.

Well, that's going to make us a lot of friends in Iraq ...

Good News About TIA

We don't get too much good news lately, but here's an item that caused me to sigh with relief:

Senate to Kill Pentagon Surveillance Bill

Well, okay, it's only a proposed move to eliminate all funding of the Terrorism Information Awareness program, but still, as James Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology says, even proposing such a thing "reflects deep, deep skepticism in Congress of the Pentagon's assurances about this system."

The provision reads: "No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense ... or to any other department, agency or element of the federal government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program." This is much stronger language than that of the Wyden amendment enacted earlier this year, which bans the use of any funds, without further specific consent from Congress, to implement the program domestically against U.S. citizens. That amendment does allow implementation of the program against anyone abroad and against non-citizens in the U.S., and it allows continued research.

You might want to contact your senators about this matter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Take Action!

There are some crucial decisions coming up that you can and should have a say in. As usual, BushCo has been busy undermining the pillars of democracy, and it's up to us to hold some elected officials' feet to the fire.

Urge Arlen Specter to Vote Against the Nomination of William Pryor

Tomorrow is the vote in the Judiciary Committee on whether to approve the appointment of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The man is an extremist (but what else would you expect?) and should never have even been considered for such an important judiciary assignment. Pro-choice Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has told AP that he was still undecided about whether or not to support the nomination.

For more information on Pryor, and to send an e-mail to him, go here. In addition, please call the Senator. Phone calls make a greater impression than e-mail or snail mail, and besides, time is of the essence. Call 202/224-4254.

Urge Senators to Oppose Appointment of Judicial Nominee Carolyn Kuhl

From True Majority:
The Senate is expected to vote by the end of July on the confirmation of the next truly offensive judicial nominee, Carolyn Kuhl, who has a record of attempting to undermine laws protecting basic civil rights:

* She favored weakening laws against sexual harassment in the workplace;
* She supported tax exemptions for Bob Jones University, despite its racist policies;
* She advocates overturning laws giving environmental, labor, and other organizations the right to defend their members' interests in court.
Click here to send a fax or e-mail to your senators.

Oppose Bill That Would Erode Roe v. Wade

The bill is S.1019/S. 146, H.R. 1997, the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," drafted with the assistance of the National Right to Life Committee. From the ACLU's website:
It would be the first federal law to recognize a fetus at any stage of development, from conception forward, as an independent "victim" of a crime with legal rights distinct from the woman who has been harmed by a violent criminal act.

Although proponents claim that this bill is intended merely to punish violent offenders, it is in reality a dangerous attempt to separate a woman from her fetus in the eyes of the law. Such separation is the first step toward eroding a woman's right to determine the fate of her own pregnancy and to direct the course of her own health care. It is no accident that anti-choice lawmakers have rejected alternative proposals that would appropriately punish violence against pregnant women without undermining reproductive freedom
To take action against the passage of this bill, go here.

Oppose Overtime-Pay Cuts

From Jobs with Justice:
Overtime pay cuts being pushed by the Bush administration are slated to go into effect for millions of workers as soon as September of this year. These changes would erode the 40-hour workweek and mean that if you receive overtime pay now, you might not in the future.

New analysis shows millions could lose overtime pay, possibly including firefighters, police officers, nurses, retail clerks, certain medical technicians, military reservists, tech workers and many, many more. Under the Bush plan, you still may be forced to work overtime hours—but you might not be paid for the extra hours
Click here to send a message to your senators, Congressperson, and the White House resident.

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