USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Democracy Now! Headlines on Iraq, Israel, Al-Arian

Posted by uscsjp on March 26, 2007

Democracy Now! – March 26 Headlines

House Approves War Spending Bill & Timetable to Withdraw Troops
On Capitol Hill, the House voted Friday to give President Bush $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while requiring combat troops be withdrawn from Iraq by September 2008. The vote was 218) to 212.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Proudly, this new congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq. It took one big giant step in that direction, it voted not to give a blank check to an open-ended commitment to a war without end to the President of the United States and yes, to begin the end of the war and deployment of our troops.”

On Saturday Vice President Dick Cheney lashed out at House Democrats. Cheney said “They’re not supporting the troops. They’re undermining them.” President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

  • President Bush : “Democrats in the House, in an act of political theatre, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground.”

Eight Anti-War Democrats Vote Against War Funding
A total of 14 Democrats voted against the bill including eight who oppose any more funding of the war. The eight anti-war Democrats were, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Diane Watson and Barbara Lee, all of California, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Lewis of Georgia, Mike McNulty of New York and Mike Michaud of Maine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi managed to secure passage of the spending bill because she received the support of many Democrats who had voted against previous supplemental spending measures. The Senate is taking up a similar spending bill this week.

U.S. Envoy Held Talks With Sunni Militants
In news from Iraq, the New York Times is reporting that U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad held secret talks last year with Sunni militants. He is the first American official to publicly acknowledge holding such talks. Included in the discussions were self-identified representatives of the Islamic Army of Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigades. Khalilzad declined to give details on the meetings.

UN OKs Iran Sanctions
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the sanctions and said Iran would limit cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

Report: NYPD Conducted Widespread Spy Campaign Before RNC
The New York Times has revealed that undercover New York City police officers traveled around the country, Canada and Europe to spy on protesters planning to attend the 2004 Republican National Convention. The city set up an “R.N.C. Intelligence Squad” and sent undercover officers to attend meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists. We”ll have more on this story after headlines.

Poll: 64% Believe Iraq War Not Worth Fighting
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll has found a record 64 percent of the country now believes the Iraq war was not worth fighting. The same poll put President Bush”s approval rating at just 36 percent. Bush hasn’t had a majority approval in more than two years — the longest run without majority support for any president since Harry Truman in the early 1950s.

Government Terror Database Has Quadrupled In Size
The Washington Post is reporting the size of the government database on terrorism suspects has quadrupled in size over the past four years. Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world are feed them into the database known as TIDE — for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment. This includes field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip. The database is used to decide what names to put on watchlists and no-fly lists. This marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it.

Ban Ki-moon Criticizes Israel For Building West Bank Wall
Ban Ki Moon visited the West Bank on Saturday for the first time since be became the Secretary General of the United Nations. He met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and toured a Palestinian refugee camp. He also criticized Israel for a building a 450-mile wall through the West Bank.

  • Ban Ki-moon: “This is a very sad and tragic to see many people suffering from this construction of walls, depriving the opportunities for living, basic living, education, and health services.”

Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the West Bank came just days after a UN human rights envoy likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to “apartheid.” The South African attorney John Dugard said restrictions on movement and separate residential areas gave a sense of “deja vu” to anyone with experience of apartheid in South Africa.

Sami Al-Arian Ends Hunger Strike After 60 Days
Here in this country, jailed Palestinian professor Sami Al-Alrian has ended his 60-day hunger strike at the urging of his family. Over the past two months Al-Arian lost 53 pounds and became too weak to walk. Al-Arian remains in jail despite a jury’s failure over a year ago to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges brought against him. The U.S. government had accused him of being a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He eventually signed a plea deal with the government in exchange for being released and deported. He was scheduled to be released in April. But in January a judge sentenced him to an additional 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before a Virginia grand jury. On Friday, a federal appeals court affirmed that judge’s decision.

200th Anniversary of End of UK Slave Trade
On Sunday Africans marked the 200th anniversary of Britain’s abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at a ceremony at a former slave fort at Elmina in Ghana. Elimina was sub-Saharan Africa’s first permanent slave trading post. South African musician Hugh Masekela spoke at the ceremony.

  • Hugh Masekela: “If you look at Africans all over the world in any society, whether it’s Brazil, Colombia, United States, the Caribbean, we live in squalor. So the state of slavery from a dungeon point of view hasn’t changed. And it’s very important for us to realise that the impact of slavery hasn’t changed, if anything it’s getting worse.”

Activists in Sacramento End 52-Day Occupation of Lawmaker’s Office
Protests are continuing across the country against the war in Iraq. In Sacramento seven activists were arrested on Thursday in the office of Democratic Congresswoman Doris Matsui as they attempted to read the names of people killed during the Iraq war and occupation. The activists had all taken part in a 52-day peace-in at Matsui’s office. The action began on Jan. 8th and ended on Thursday. The protest has been described as the longest occupation of a Congressional office in U.S. history. In New York police arrested five members of Peace Action Staten Island on Friday while they were occupying the office of Republican Congressman Vito Fossella. (full link)

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