Good Morning Conflucians! It’s been a long week for me. I’ve been trying to get caught up from missing a week of work for my dad’s funeral. Thank goodness the semester is almost over. But I must say, we had some beautiful spring weather in the Boston area this week. Today it’s cooler and overcast–a good day to stay inside and get some work done–or maybe read a good book.
So what’s in the news today? I couldn’t find much in the mainstream media about the two stories that have affected me most this week: President Obama’s order to kill a U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and the massacre of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops in 2007, recently seen in a video released by Wikileaks. But Democracy Now has good coverage of both stories.
Here is their video discussion of the al-Awaki story: Is the CIA Assassination Order of a US Citizen Legal?
Spencer Ackerman also writes about the story in the Washington Independent: Are Anwar al-Awlaki’s Ties to 9/11 Strong Enough for the Government to Kill Him?
And here is Glenn Greenwald’s latest post on our war criminal
King President. (WARNING: it includes praise and video of Keith Olbermann).
CNN reports that al-Awlaki’s father is begging the U.S. government to allow him to talk to his son before they blow him off the face of the earth without a trial.
The elder al-Awlaki, an agricultural economist, said he was “distressed and disappointed” to learn that his son had been singled out for killing or capture.
“What they have decided is to hunt for Anwar al-Awlaki and kill him by a drone as they do every day in Pakistan. I think this kind of policy will only make the U.S. look more ugly to Muslims all over the world,” he said.
“The U.S. is a powerful country and has the means to reach anyone anywhere in the world, but is killing people — and especially American citizens — without legal justification the right way to show American justice and power? I think not.”
It turns out that Democracy Now covered the 2007 helicopter massacre of Iraqi civilians the day after it happened. I highly recommend watching the entire episode and got reactions from witnesses at the scene. Thank goodness we still have a few independent news sources like Democracy Now!
Finally we are seeing some justice for people murdered by “law enforcement officers” in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Judge in Danziger case sickened by ‘raw brutality of the shooting and the craven lawlessness of the cover-up’
A New Orleans police officer who fired his gun at civilians on the Danziger Bridge a week after Hurricane Katrina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday, offering a chilling account of what transpired on the bridge that early September day in 2005.
The seven officers were charged on an array of murder and attempted-murder charges.
Michael Hunter, 33, became the first officer who actually participated in the shooting to enter a guilty plea. Two investigators have already confessed to playing roles in a wide-ranging cover-up of the police shooting, which injured four unarmed civilians and left two men dead.
Hunter, who resigned last week after he was charged in federal court, contends that fellow officers shot at people they should have seen were unarmed. The account of events Hunter signed Thursday afternoon, called a factual basis, provides the most specific details to date about officers’ actions on the bridge, which spans the Industrial Canal at Chef Menteur Highway.
Hunter, 33, said a New Orleans police sergeant fired an assault rifle at wounded civilians at close range after other officers stopped shooting and after it was clear that the police were not taking fire. He also says he saw another officer in a car fire a shotgun at a fleeing man’s back, although the man did nothing suggesting he was a threat to police. That man, 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who was severely mentally disabled, died of his wounds.
As part of his plea, Hunter also acknowledged taking part in a conspiracy with colleagues to conceal the circumstances of what he considered an unjustified shooting. At one point, in a meeting with other officers, a supervisor said “something to the effect of, we don’t want this to look like a massacre,” the court document says.
Also down in New Orleans, the Republicans are holding a “Southern Leadership Conference,” and Newt Gingrich is the man of the moment. He supposedly “made a rock star’s entrance,” and then gave “a self-assured address peppered with historical allusions.” Here are some highlights:
Democrats in Washington, he said, had put together a “perfect unrepresentative left-wing machine dedicated to a secular socialist future.”
Mr. Obama is “the most radical president in American history,” Gingrich said. “He has said, ‘I run a machine, I own Washington, and there is nothing you can do about it.’”
“What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.”
Gingrich discussed passage of the health care bill, saying the “decisive” election of Sen. Scott Brown sent a message that Democrats decided to ignore in order to “ram through” the bill against the wishes of the American people.
“The longer Obama talks the less the American people believe him,” Gingrich said, citing the decline in poll numbers for the health care bill as the president kept trying to sell it to the public.
Gingrich said that when Republicans take back the House and Senate in the midterm elections they should “refuse to fund” the administration’s proposals, drawing huge applause from the crowd.
Politico notes that there was no mention of Katrina at the “Leadership Conference.”
As for the Democrats, the latest Gallup Poll shows that
Americans’ favorable rating of the Democratic Party dropped to 41% in a late March USA Today/Gallup poll, the lowest point in the 18-year history of this measure. Favorable impressions of the Republican Party are now at 42%, thus closing the gap between the two parties’ images that has prevailed for the past four years.
Gallup last measured party images in late August/early September of last year. At that point, the Democratic Party enjoyed an 11-point favorable image advantage over the Republican Party. Now, the favorable ratings of the two parties are essentially tied.
Lots of graphs at the Gallup link.
MABlue posted this story in the comments last night: Power Struggle: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party If you ask me, it’s far too late. The Democratic Party already sold it’s soul to the devil–cheap.
I hate this story. It just makes me so angry!
To prevent Constance McMillen from bringing a female date to her prom, the teen was sent to a “fake prom” while the rest of her class partied at a secret location at an event organized by parents.
McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn’t much to keep an eye on.
“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”
Last week McMillen asked one of the students organizing the prom for details about the event, and was directed to the country club. “It hurts my feelings,” McMillen says.
Shame on the Itawamba County School District in Jackson, Mississippi and the parents who brought up the bigoted kids who shut out a young girl because she’s gay. They make me sick to my stomach. Here is another more positive story about this situation.
The West Virginia coal mining disaster continues: Crews unable to search West Virginia coal mine on Friday
Toxic gas kept rescue crews out of a West Virginia mine on Thursday and that appears to be the case already on Friday morning.
Rescue teams had to stop searching the coal mine where four people are believed to be trapped. Search crews got to a refuge chamber where they hoped the missing miners would be, but were forced to turn back when they found signs of fire and smoke. It now looks like rescue teams will not be able to physically search the mine.
But don’t worry, because Massey Energy, the owners of the unsafe mine where 25 men are confirmed dead and four more are missing and presumed dead, will make up for lost revenues by forcing workers at their other mines produce more coal.
The accident at the UBB mine in West Virginia was one of the deadliest at a U.S. coal mine in recent years. The mine, owned by Massey’s Performance Coal subsidiary, is about 30 miles south of the state capital Charleston.
Massey Energy said in the filing that it had third-party insurance coverage that applies to litigation risk.
“We believe this coverage will apply to litigation that may stem from the UBB explosion.”
The UBB mine has had three fatalities since 1998 and has a worse-than-average injury rate over the last 10 years, according to federal records.
I don’t quite understand what this is about: Israel’s PM Cancels Nuclear Summit Trip
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called off his trip to Washington next week to attend a conference on the spread of nuclear weapons, officials in his office said Thursday night, fearing Israel would be singled out over its own nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu had said he would attend the conference to underline the dangers of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, but suddenly called off the trip less than two days after he announced he would take part.
Army Radio reported that US sources informed Israel that a group of participating Arab countries led by Turkey and Egypt plan to use the summit to demand that Israel sign the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and allow its alleged nuclear capabilities to be placed under international inspection.
Perhaps it is related to the following story: Obama’s New Policy : All Israeli Nuclear Workers Now Refused US Visas
I hope someone more knowledgeable can enlighten me about this. I’m curious.
So what are you reading this morning? Post your links in the comments, and have a fabulous Friday!!
Filed under: General Tagged: | Anwar al-Awlaki, Constance McMillen, Democracy Now, Democrats, Glenn Greenwald, homophobia, Hurricane Katrina, Iraqi masscre, Israel, New Orleans, Newt Gingrich, nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Republicans, rogue police officers, West Virginia coal mind disaster