June 19, 2005

Mocking the Downing Street Memo
by Robert Parry  

If American progressives think they have enough media clout to make a real issue of George W. Bush‚s possible impeachment over the Iraq War, they should read the account of Rep. John Conyers‚s rump hearing on the Downing Street Memo that appeared in the Washington Post.

The story by political correspondent Dana Milbank drips with a sarcasm that would never be allowed for a report on, say, a conservative gathering or on a topic involving any part of the American political spectrum other than the Left. more....

**********

John Conyers' Letter to the Washington Post

Dear Sirs:

I write to express my profound disappointment with Dana Milbank's June 17 report, "Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War," which purports to describe a Democratic hearing I chaired in the Capitol yesterday. In sum, the piece cherry-picks some facts, manufactures others out of whole cloth, and does a disservice to some 30 members of Congress who persevered under difficult circumstances, not of our own making, to examine a very serious subject: whether the American people were deliberately misled in the lead up to war. The fact that this was the Post's only coverage of this event makes the journalistic shortcomings in this piece even more egregious.

In an inaccurate piece of reporting that typifies the article, Milbank implies that one of the obstacles the Members in the meeting have is that "only one" member has mentioned the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is not only incorrect but misleading. In fact, just yesterday, the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, mentioned it on the Senate floor. Senator Boxer talked at some length about it at the recent confirmation hearing for the Ambassador to Iraq. The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, recently signed on to my letter, along with 121 other Democrats asking for answers about the memo. This information is not difficult to find either. For example, the Reid speech was the subject of an AP wire service report posted on the Washington Post website with the headline "Democrats Cite Downing Street Memo in Bolton Fight". Other similar mistakes, mischaracterizations and cheap shots are littered throughout the article. more....

June 18, 2005

The Social Security Non-Crisis
by Noam Chomsky

In the debate over Social Security, US President Bush‚s handlers have already won, at least in the short term. Bush and Karl Rove, his deputy chief of staff, have succeeded in convincing most of the US population that there is a serious problem with Social Security, which opens the way for considering the administration‚s programme of private accounts instead of relying on the public pension system. The public has been frightened, much as it was by the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

The pressure on politicians is rising as leaders in the US House of Representatives hope to draft Social Security legislation by next month.

For perspective, perhaps it should be noted that Social Security is one of the least generous public pension systems among advanced countries, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Bush administration wants to "reform" Social Security ų meaning dismantle it. A huge government-media propaganda campaign has concocted a "fiscal crisis" that doesn‚t exist. If some problem does arise in the distant future, it could be overcome by trivial measures, such as raising the cap on the regressive payroll tax. more....

June 17, 2005

The Exception Is the Rule
by Jonathan Schell  

"The American press often discusses the political makeup of the insurgency, but no one until now has suggested that some of the very forces being trained by the United States might be longing for the return of Saddam. To the extent that this is the case -- or that these forces are otherwise opposed to the occupation -- the United States, far from improving "security," is now training the future resistance to itself. Indeed, the soldiers of Charlie Company told Shadid and Fainaru that seventeen of them had quit in recent days. They added that every one of them planned to do the same as soon as possible. Their reasons were simple. They were bitter at the United States. "Look at the homes of the Iraqis," one soldier remarked. "The people have been destroyed." When asked by whom, he answered, "Them" -- and pointed to the Americans leading the patrol. The Iraqis had enlisted in the new army only for the salary -- $340 per month, an enviable sum in today's ruined Iraq. But the money had come at the price of self-respect. The new recruits had been bought off and hated themselves for it." more....

June 16, 2005

Big, Big Win for Freedom.
Bush, Of Course, Threatens Veto as If He is Mussolini.

Advocates of rewriting the USA Patriot Act are claiming momentum after the House, despite a White House veto threat, voted to restrict investigators from using the anti-terrorism law to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

Wednesday's 238-187 vote came as lawmakers ramped up efforts to extend the Patriot Act, which was passed quickly in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When Congress passed the law, it included a sunset provision under which 15 of the its provisions are to expire at the end of this year. more.....

June 15, 2005

Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Odds on Favorite to Succeed Independent Jim Jeffords in the Senate in 2006

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

Bernie Sanders, the only Independent (I) member of the House of Representatives, is the favorite bet to become the next Senator from Vermont, replacing the only Independent member of the Senate, Jim Jeffords. In fact, the last poll showed him with an average of a 40 point lead over two potential Republican opponents.

June 14, 2005

Building a New "Movement": The Downing Street Memos
By Bernard Weiner

Not just because many of my relatives got wiped out in the Holocaust, or because my wife is Bavarian, but, like so many others around the world, I am ineluctably drawn to the Hitler period in Germany. How could this have happened -- 6 million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and others herded into camps and slaughtered? More than 50 million killed on all sides in World War II? It's too much for the mind to comprehend.

And yet, I know that given the right set of circumstances, shameful atrocities could, and in many instances did, happen in our own country (to African slaves, to Native Americans, to Japanese-Americans, et al). Fold in the current rise of anti-rational thought and militarist leadership in Bush America, symbolized best perhaps by the fact that torture is now officially sanctioned U.S. policy, and America would seem ripe for even worse excursions into the shadow world.

---snip---

After the 1964 defeat of the GOP's rightwing presidential candidate, Sen. Barry Goldwater, the HardRight began its long campaign to assume power, knowing that it would take them decades to build the required political/media/think-tank infrastructure that would lead to victory, as it did in 1980 with Reagan's election and later with Newt Gingrich's mid-'90s reign in Congress and then Bush2 in the White House in 2000.

We don't have the luxury of decades. We who want to return our country to its moral, Constitutional foundations must jump-start the process of building and enlarging our political infrastructure right now. If we don't, the forces of repression, militarism and incipient fascism will suck us all further into their shadow vortex.

The time to move, to "Movement," is now. more....

June 13, 2005

from Democracy Now,
The War and Peace Report:
Declassified U.S. Documents Link Posada To 1976 Cuban Jet Bombing

New evidence has emerged linking the Cuban-born Luis Posada Carriles to the downing of a 1976 Cuban commercial airliner. Posada recently sneaked into the United States and is seeking political aslyum. He is currently in U.S. custody. The U.S. has refused to extradite him to Venezuela where he is wanted in connection to the airline bombing that killed 73 people. Newly declassified U.S. documents show that Posada said in 1976 "We are going to hit a Cuban airplane." Other declassified documents offer new proof that Posada was used by the CIA as an informer on Cuban exiles in Miami. Meanwhile the Miami Herald is reporting lawyers for Posada plan to ask an immigration court judge today to set him free on bond while he waits for his immigration status to be determined by federal authorities. And Venezuela is threatening to take the United States to an international court if it does not extradite Posada. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said "we'll have to go to an international court and accuse the United States of violating democratic charters [and] human rights charters."

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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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Campus Bay

On April 28, 2005, More than 50 people representing many officials, community groups, and other concerned citizens gathered at the Campus Bay site to demand strict oversight of health and safety standards designed to protect the community during and after cleanup of these former industrial sites. Two months have gone by since the Richmond City Council asked the state to authorize the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to take the lead on environmental cleanup for the entire Stauffer Chemical / Zeneca / Campus Bay (called Campus Bay in short) site. Meanwhile, DTSC does have oversight on a portion of the site and cleanup will continue before development plans are approved.

The main health concerns include:
That the soil is so toxic that future residents would be exposed in the long term with unknown health effects due to gases from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and direct exposure to toxic soils. They would almost certainly not be informed about the site history or any potential health threats. The developers idea of mitigation, by the way, includes fans inside the high rises to prevent buildup of VOCs where residents live (!!!!!).

Additional concerns:
Many organizations have additional concerns including the visual impact of the high rises on adjacent neighorhoods, visual impact on the coastal zone, proper clean up and restoration of the site in general and the marsh in particular which is critical habitat for many species including the endangered Clapper Rail etc.

A few additional Photos (Most of these photos are not edited or corrected in Photoshop).

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This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.


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